Silicon Valley Review: Chief Operating Officer

This week’s episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley once again pitted Richard and the Pied Piper gang against some form of legal behemoth, leading to frantic scramble amongst other distractions from Richard’s new internet.

There were three plots to this episode; Richard considers stealing an enthusiastic Chief Operating Officer from another CEO, Dinesh’s desperation for a place to live leads him to room with Hooli’s mole, and the entire company deals with a lawsuit stemming from the time Gilfoyle hacked a smart-fridgey. While each of these plots were interesting and funny on their own, the episode spread itself a bit too thin, resulting in a rushed feeling that left everything unfocused.

Again, the plots themselves were great, but there was just a bit too much going on in this episode, resulting in fast edits, quick cuts and rushed storylines. The episode does a good job of giving Richard reason to want to throw Gilfoyle to the wolves when the lawsuit is presented, but if these instances (his lateness, his obnoxious alarms, etc.) were spread out a bit more, and perhaps if there was room for more of them, then the decision would have had a lot more weight to it. We also get a great moment in which Gilfoyle is so paranoid by the leak that he scrubs all his hardware and software and finds out he wiped his trail clean. However, while he was searching, he found out that the fridge company that was suing them, Sepper, had been listening in on conversations and uploading them to the cloud.

This is one of the strengths of Silicon Valley, the characters are presented with a deus ex machina that still doesn’t fix all their problems. Furthermore, the solution to the conflict is discovered by someone, it is not thrust upon them, it’s earned. This was a genuinely great moment where Gilfoyle finds out this information and Jared makes the decision to use it against Seppen. And, it is this decision that earns Jared the position of Pied Piper’s new Chief Operating Officer, wrapping a nice, and quite emotionally and dramatically moving bow on the episode.

However, as great as these small moments are in the episode, that’s the problem, they are too small. Because of all the plots in this episode, big, powerful, and funny moments didn’t get the spotlight time they deserved. The plot with Richard, another CEO named Dana, and Dana’s COO, Ben, is funny, yes, but it has trouble deciding wether it’s a focal point or a B-plot, which is the same problem the other storylines in “Chief Operating Officer” had. The source of the entire leak was Hooli’s mole, Jeff, who got Dinesh drunk enough to talk about the fridges, but there doesn’t seem to be any consequence for this, and the whole exchange between Dinesh and Jeff makes the former seem much dumber than he usually is, since he both leaks the information and has yet to figure out that his roommate is the mole.

Ironically, with how unfocused the episode was, writing this review proved to be a difficult task. The episode jumped between so many different plots at breakneck speeds, making it hard to delve too deep into a review, since the multiple plots were dropped and picked up at random, with only one of them having actual consequences on the story. Without proper breathing room, some of the most important moments in the episode felt like nothing more than one-off jokes or unimportant throw-aways.

There were a lot of great points in the episode, and the way it modeled Richard’s dealings with Dana and Ben as a cheating love-triangle was brilliant, but some of these finer points ended up being lost in the noise. Silicon Valley is usually so skilled at keeping things focused and streamlined with smart edits and streamlined storytelling, which is what made this episode just a bit disappointing, since we know it could have been better

Check back later for a review of next week’s Silicon Valley episode.

Silicon Valley: Season 5, Episode 3
  • S5, E3: Chief Operating Officer
3

Summary

Richard gets involved with a corporate love triangle as Pied Piper deals with a heavy lawsuit on this week’s Silicon Valley.

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