Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 19, 2017)
HBO’s Silicon Valley comes back for more nerdy fun via its fourth year. This Season Four set includes all 10 episodes. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.
Success Failure: “Richard (Thomas Middleditch) struggles to embrace Pied Piper’s new video-chat app. Erlich (TJ Miller) faces resistance. Gavin (Matt Ross) seethes at a slight.”
Season Four hits the ground running with the excellent “Failure”. Though much of it concentrates on laying pipe for the year’s overall arc, it still musters many laughs – especially via Gavin’s insane competition with Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky). “Failure” launches the season well.
Terms of Service: “Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Richard butt heads over PiperChat. Erlich’s interest is piqued by Jian-Yang’s (Jimmy O. Yang) new app. Gavin grows paranoid.”
Even if nothing else in “Service” succeeded, the sight of Dinesh in d-bag CEO mode would make it great. Happily, the rest of the episode soars as well. Add a hilarious end sequence and this turns into another winner.
Intellectual Property: “Richard works tirelessly on his next big idea. Monica (Amanda Crew) sets a trap. Dinesh goes on a date. Big Head (Josh Brener) goes back to school.”
Though not quite as good as the first two episodes, “Property” manages to move the season along well. Dinesh’s date amuses, as does Erlich’s challenges with a new app. It’s not a great show but it does fine.
Teambuilding Exercise: “Richard’s new alliance worries Jared (Zach Woods). Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) considers whether to put his pride aside. Erlich confronts Jian-Yang about his app.”
I find it hard to dislike the “hot dog/not hot dog” app, and other aspects of the episode amuse as well. I especially like the added focus on Jian-Yang this season, as he’s consistently a hoot.
The Blood Boy: “Richard deals with an unexpected interloper. Dinesh searches for a way out. Monica considers her options.”
On one hand, Amanda Crews is gorgeous, and she adds a much needed “not hot dog” perspective in this hot dog-oriented series. On the other hand, she’s not a very interesting character, and her scenes tend to drag. Even so, “Blood Boy” mostly entertains – at the very least, the title character adds spark to the proceedings.
Customer Service: “Richard looks outside the tech bubble for support. Erlich searches for a new endeavor. Jared tries to keep the peach between Dinesh and Gilfoyle.”
“Service” offers a fun throwback to a Season One episode – with a twist, as Richard becomes the object of attraction. Toss in a great show-ending kicker and “Service” moves along in a fun way.
The Patent Troll: “Richard takes on a patent troll. Gilfoyle battles a smart fridge. Jared embraces multiple identities. Erlich tries to hang with a new crowd.”
To my surprise, the Gilfoyle part of the show sputters and lacks much wit. On the other hand, Richard’s battle with the troll amuses, and Jared’s new persona gives the episode bite, so the end result works for me.
The Keenan Vortex: “Richard ponders a deal with the tech world’s latest ‘It’ boy. Jack faces setbacks.”
As Keenan, we find Haley Joel Osment, much changed from his peak in Sixth Sense. He adds a nice sense of perkiness here and becomes part of a fun episode that also benefits from more time with Tobolowsky.
Hooli-Con: “The Pied Piper guys try to pull off a stealth plan at Hooli-Con. Erlich takes a trip to get his mojo back.”
TJ Miller decided to make S4 of Silicon Valley his last, and “Hooli-Con” seems to act as his means of farewell. That part of the episode lacks much bite, but the rest works a bit better. Much of “Con” acts to build drama, so it’s not as funny as usual, but it still achieves its goals.
Server Error: “Richard finds himself in a web of lies. Jared plans his exit. Gavin plots a comeback.”
Season Four ends on a moralistic note, as Richard’s lack of integrity bites him. Of course, the show brings us to an end on a high note – kind of an artificial one, honestly, but that’s not a substantial impediment. “Error” concludes the year on a largely positive note and pushes us toward Season Five well.