Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2018)
Once more into the digital breach we go with more fun from Silicon Valley. This DVD includes all of Season Five’s eight episodes. The plot synopses come straight from the series’ website.
Grow Fast or Die Slow: “Richard (Thomas Middleditch) faces new challenges as a leader as Pied Piper levels up. Gavin (Matt Ross) worries about being antiquated.”
“Slow” offers our first look at Valley since TJ Miller’s departure, but his Erlich character remains involved in the show, mainly via Jian-Yang’s (Jimmy O. Yang) attempts to fake his death. That becomes one of many amusing subplots in a largely successful season premiere.
Reorientation: “Richard faces challenges while trying to unite new employees. Jian-Yang goes to court. Gavin is questioned over his signature.”
It’s not even vaguely clear what legal reasons Jian-Yang could claim to take over Bachman’s estate, but hey, I don’t watch Valley for flawless jurisprudence. That side of the show produces amusement, and the main theme about Richard’s leadership helps make this an effective show.
Chief Operating Officer: “Richard's infatuation with another company's COO (Ben Koldyke) causes friction with members of Pied Piper. Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) gets a new roommate (Armen Weitzman).”
The semi-cutesy way that “Chief” plays Richard’s dalliance with the COO gets a little tedious, but other aspects of the show work better. “Chief” also moves along a mix of season narrative points well, so it’s a good program overall.
Tech Evangelist: “Richard attempts to woo a new client. Gavin's team ponders a cryptic message. Jared (Zach Woods) gains intel from Big Head (Josh Brener).”
“Evangelist” goes a bit edgy with its comments about Christianity, but since it also uses these barbs to cast Valley denizens as tolerant of pretty much everything other than that religion, it scores some points. Other aspects move the needle as well to turn this into a solid show.
Facial Recognition: “Richard's confidence takes a hit. Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) worries about an artificial-intelligence partner. Gavin questions his future beyond Hooli.”
Via the “Fiona” AI robot, Valley takes an odd path toward the #MeToo movement. That’s a somewhat unsuccessful choice, but I like the ways the episode motivates other characters.
Artificial Emotional Intelligence: “Richard decides to help out Laurie (Suzanne Cryer). Gavin struggles to bargain with a new partner. Dinesh relishes a rare win.
Dinesh’s “win” becomes the most entertaining aspect of the show, especially since we know he’ll eventually end up back on the bottom. Aspects related to Fiona fare less well, but the show still hits its goals overall.
Initial Coin Offering: “Richard gets unsettling news. Gilfoyle suggests a risky proposition. Dinesh tries to compete with a coworker.”
With only one more episode to go, “Coin” exists largely to set up the finale. It does so in a satisfying manner, as it pushes us toward the last show with a good gust of wind.
Fifty-One Percent: “When PiperNet's launch is met with unexpected threats, Richard makes a surprising move.”
Every season of Valley follows a similar arc during which it takes Richard and company along a rollercoaster of tech-related ups and downs before it makes everything right at the end. Does S5 deviate from that path?
Nope, but that’s fine with me. Though “Percent” delivers the usual twists, it does so in a rousing fashion that finished S5 nicely.