[This is a review for the Silicon Valley season 2 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
After scratching and clawing for funding; coming close to compromising their core beliefs to secure that funding; having their prized algorithm stolen; accidently deleting a large portion of a client's data; and operating with a high-profile lawsuit from a tech giant looming over them, it's safe to say Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and his tiny tech startup Pied Piper have been through the wringer in Silicon Valley's second season. In fact, the only good news Richard and his band of misfits had left heading into last night's season finale, 'Two Days of the Condor', was that the agonizing venture they embarked on together would likely be over soon.
With Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) poised to seize PP's intellectual property after a costly slip-up by Erlich (T. J. Miller) revealed that Richard did indeed use Hooli resources to test his platform, Pied Piper needed a miracle to win its arbitration case. Fortunately, it found one in the form of an invalid employee contract that cleared Richard of any wrongdoing during his time at Hooli. However, as has been the case all season, his victory was extremely short-lived, as Richard learned that his former angel investment firm, Raviga, had acquired a majority stake in Pied Piper and fired him as CEO based on some questionable decision making.
Of course, this "development" is actually just another setback for our sympathetic protagonist in a season has been full of them. For some Silicon Valley fans, the season's constant twists, turns and narrative stalls have been downright maddening at times, but each episode within the season - including its finale - has undoubtedly accomplished its goal of generating big laughs, while keeping viewers on their toes at all times.
In fact, the show's deftly executed balancing act of intelligent character-driven comedy on top of an emotional rollercoaster of a narrative throughline has been impressive to watch, to say the least. Through the major ups and downs, the series has never had to sacrifice laughs and the finale was no different, making room for Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh's (Kumail Nanjiani) immature sibling-like rivalry, a particularly awkward confrontation between Gavin and Richard and another hilarious appearance by maniac billionaire Russ ("three-comma") Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos). Amongst the comedic chaos, highlights of the episode also included Erlich harshly turning away a potential buyer of the incubator, an impassioned speech from Jared (Zach Woods) about Pied Piper's "magical" place in all their lives, and the team's struggle to keep its homemade server humming as hundreds of thousands of viewers flocked to its live stream of a museum employee helplessly trapped at the bottom of a ravine.
That chaotic energy of the finale's tense scenario ultimately resulted in more bad news for Richard, but it still managed to open up some interesting doors for other characters heading into season 3. At the end of the episode, we overhear two Hooli employees talking about the hot water Gavin could be in following the reveal that possibly half of all Hooli workers have been issued illegal contracts, while simultaneously marveling over Big Head's (Josh Brener) meteoric rise within the company. Could this be setting up a changing of the guard at the tech giant? Having the perpetually confused Big Head at the top of the tech world would certainly give Silicon Valley writers an even bigger comedic sandbox to play in.
As for our main players at Pied Piper, the events of last night's finale pose some interesting questions surrounding their futures as well. If Richard is really out at PP, will he bring the guys along on a new project? Will they continue on at Pied Piper without him? Considering Erlich's track record of subpar investments (and the fact that he no longer has any pull at Pied Piper with Raviga back in the picture), we could certainly see him turning his incubator into a home for a new and probably less ambitious startup idea.
Fortunately, no matter where the series goes from here, we're pretty confident its comedy will remain strong, so long as its ensemble stays together. Like its Sunday night sitcom compatriot Veep, Silicon Valley fires on all cylinders when the entire team is in a room playing together and the actors are generously serving up comedic assists to one another. Silicon Valley fans received a good helping of that in season 2, so here's hoping the show's writers stick with the formula in season 3, and add in a few new wrinkles along the way.
What did you think of the season 2 finale of Silicon Valley? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Look for Silicon Valley to return to HBO with season 3 in 2016.