The first season of “Silicon Valley” ends where a lot of viewers probably expected it to, with Richard and his band of misfits triumphing over Hooli and their own shortcomings and making their startup a hot commodity. Which is not to say it wasn’t satisfying: There’s a reason underdog stories are perennially popular, after all.
The finale also featured, as creator Mike Judge promised before the show began, perhaps the most elaborate, and certainly the most mathematically focused, penis joke in TV history. It was indeed very funny, and surprisingly it also fed the episode’s story — the massively nerdy way the guys went about figuring out the most efficient way to please all the guys in the auditorium gives Richard his breakthrough. Inasmuch as a d*** joke can be meaningful to a story, this one is.
The finale also introduced an extra layer of tension for Season 2: Now that they’ve gotten Pied Piper running, scored a victory over Gavin Belson and Hooli and attracted the interest of huge investors beyond Peter Gregory, what happens next? Can Richard, Erlich and his skeleton crew actually build a company, even with the help of someone like Monica*? The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff wrote an insightful piece earlier this week about how many comedies could stand to introduce more conflict into their stories. “Silicon Valley” has it baked into its premise, but the what-now? aspect of the show for Season 2 promises to up the stakes significantly.
(*Speaking of: The flirtation between Richard and Monica felt a little bit off. There had ben precious little in the previous seven episodes to suggest Monica had any personal feelings for Richard, beyond some belief in his ability as a programmer. That things are still in a very tentative and awkward place is probably a good thing, but their kinda-sorta agreement to go on a date felt unearned.)
It will be interesting to see how Judge and his fellow writers expand the show next season as Richard tries to grow Pied Piper. Does Matt Ross stick around as Belson, still trying to crush Richard? Will there be a new billionaire/guru to swoop in? It could go any number of ways.
Season 2 might also be when the loss of Christopher Evan Welch (to whom the finale was dedicated) might be felt a little more. Welch created such an indelibly eccentric character in the five episodes he filmed before his death that he remained a presence in the final three episodes. Of course he was building his own island and only just groaning into Monica’s phone. The relatively short time period of the final few episodes made it pretty easy to explain why he wasn’t around. It will be harder to do next season.
Still, “Silicon Valley” has built a pretty good foundation. Thomas Middleditch slowly found a little stronger spine in Richard as the season went on, and Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller drew their characters sharply from the start without taking over the show. It should be a lot of fun to see Richard and his pals try to handle success in Season 2.
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