Silicon Valley Season 2 Episode 2 Review: “Runaway Devaluation”

Silicon Valley

After reveling in their success from Tech Crunch and negotiating the highest offers possible in the Season 2 premiere, the Pied Piper gang is brought back down to earth thanks to Gavin Belson’s lawsuit in this week’s Silicon Valley. Tonight’s episode finds Richard, Erlich, and the rest of the guys in their much more familiar underdog territory, as they do their best to find someone that will fund them after they’re dropped by Raviga. And while it perhaps isn’t as ridiculously as funny as last week’s premiere (although anytime Jared said the word “bro” I couldn’t stop laughing), “Runaway Devaluation” is still another strong installment of Silicon Valley, as the series continues poke fun at the tech world while also telling a really compelling story underneath the satire.

At the center of that compelling story is Richard. While I, and I’m sure many others, love to praise T.J. Miller’s Erlich Bachman, who has become even more over-the-top in Season 2, Silicon Valley really is Richard’s story, and we continue to see him struggle as Pied Piper’s leader in this week’s episode. Richard has always been calm and confident when dealing with all of the technical components of Pied Piper, but he’s never been ruthless or calculating enough to be a great CEO. He wants to be someone better than Gavin Belson, and he wants to turn Pied Piper into something that is better than Hooli.

However, ideals can only harm you in the world of Silicon Valley, and Richard is far too honest and trusting to remain unscathed. Richard doesn’t believe that Gavin Belson will try to stop Pied Piper again, and soon after is treated to a lawsuit from Hooli’s head honcho, who, despite having so much else going for him and his company, can’t let Pied Piper go, even offering to acquire Richard’s company at the end of the episode. For Belson, as long as he’s in control, everything is fine.

But it’s just not Gavin Belson and Hooli that are threats to Pied Piper. The company’s compression algorithm is so sought after that Jared and the guys get tricked into a meeting with possible funders, who, it turns out, only want to steal their ideas. And again, it’s not Richard, who still believes in the good of people in this industry, that realizes what these guys are trying to; instead, Erlich and Jared literally have to pull him out of the meeting, after Erlich realizes that they are getting, as he so eloquently puts it, “brain raped.”

Underneath all of the crude jokes and cursing, it’s the question of whether or not Richard can continue to be who he is and still achieve success that drives Silicon Valley. The show remains an underdog story, but it’s also dealing with issues and themes that are greater than a simple “David versus Goliath” tale. Sure, “Runaway Devaluation” features the head of one of big shot firm putting his testicles on a board room table in front of Richard and Erlich, but it also takes time to reflect on whether or not a person could remain sincere and unsuspecting in an environment that is as corrupt and cutthroat as Silicon Valley, providing us with another strong chapter in what is quickly becoming not only HBO’s funniest but also its most captivating comedy.

Other thoughts:

– In addition to the main plot with Richard, Dinesh gets a story of his own this week involving his cousin, Wajeed. I really enjoyed this part of the episode. It allowed for us to learn more about Dinesh and his family and led to some great comedic moments from both Kumail Nanjiani and Martin Starr. My personal favorite: Dinesh’s made-up explanations for what “bro” really means in different languages, as he tries to dissuade people from donating to Wajeed’s Kickstarter.

– The scene I mention in the final paragraph, involving Richard, Erlich, and the head of the firm, is just one of many great ones in a sequence that acts as a type of sequel to last week’s negging montage. However, this time, Richard and Erlich struggle to get interest from any of the firms they sit down with and are instead met with much displeasure in response to the many colorful comments that were made by the latter of the two in the Season 2 premiere.

– Monica and Laurie don’t have much to do in this week’s episode, but the couple scenes they do have are a lot of fun, especially everything have to do with the “beige ensemble” Monica wears to break the bad news to the guys.

– Anything involving Jared and the “Bro” app was pure comedic gold.

– Good to see Ben Feldman back as Ron LaFlamme. I really like Feldman as an actor, and he does solid work here in a small role.

– The mariachi band cutting off Richard as he’s about to give Gavin his answer was a pretty terrific way to close the episode. So awkward, unexpected, and, of course, funny.

– “It’s different in Pakistan.” “I’ve never been, but I know it isn’t.”

“At least I had the decency to shave mine…We live in a society.”

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of Silicon Valley?

[Photo via HBO]

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