“Signaling Risk,” Silicon Valley’s fifth episode, probably contained its broadest comedy yet. For a show that has thrived on subtleties and quick turns-of-phrase though, that also means that the episode didn’t quite live up to its prior standards. This time, Richard also took a backseat when it came to Pied Piper, allowing Jared to take over the anxieties of the business, and Erlich to run free with their finances. Hit the jump for why it’s lowercase, but at least it’s not racist!
In “Signaling Risk,” we got another look at how the fortunes of billionaires control the more micro world of Pied Piper’s existence. Gavin Belson’s history with Peter Gregory is what caused the crazy bidding war that kicked things off for Richard and Co., but it also means that (according to Monica), Peter Gregory doesn’t really care personally about Richard’s company outside of how it could potentially humiliate Gavin Belson.
This factor is also why Richard’s submission to the TechCrunch Disrupt competition for start-ups became not something to throw aside, but the crux of the rivalry between the two billionaires, as Belson will be debuting Nucleus there.
Pied Piper is not in any position to compete yet, though, as Jared points out to Richard after Erlich decides to spend $10,000 for graffiti artist Chuy to create a memorable logo for them (that is anything but lowercase letters in a box). At that rate, the company won’t have enough money to last, especially since their goals are still undefined (at least, to us). Jared does create a SCRUM system though to get Gilfoyle and Dinesh to work like Pied Piper is a job, and not a hobby that takes place in between masturbating and arguing.
“Signaling Risk” was still funny — because the show always is; its actors know exactly how to best convey every line — but it was probably the weakest of the current set of episodes. Halfway through the season, this half hour felt like it was moving sideways instead of forwards. Monica tells Richard he means nothing to Peter Gregory, but then end making a personal appeal (once again) to keep him positive about his future. Gilfoyle and Dinesh’s work ethic is addressed again, this time by Jared, who successfully uses Psych 101 to get them to do some work. The logos were hilarious, but also exceptionally broad for what the show typically does.
The best part of the episode was, per usual, it’s takedown of tech culture. Gavin’s “telehuman” going on the fritz, followed by a familiar Skype-esque video freezing, and even bad cell phone reception was a great, long joke sequence. But other things — like why Gavin would buy the Pied Piper mural but not acknowledge (or notice?) the name, or how Erlich got away with paying all of that money despite Jared’s protestations (or even what Dinesh and Gilfoyle have been assigned to do) — were not addressed so clearly.
Not that they have to be, but until now, Silicon Valley has been very precise in what it wants to say, and how it says it. “Signaling Risk” departed from that in some ways. Like Pied Piper, it floundered a little, but ultimately is still moving forward. Fuck freedom!
Episode Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Chuy ultimately playing into Erlich and Dinesh’s worst fears about his neighborhood was hilarious, as was Erlich not knowing exactly what is and isn’t racist (including the deconstruction of his appreciation of black porn).
— “Is one of those racist and the others aren’t?” – Erlich.
— So, an Aztec warrior penetrating the Statue of Liberty from behind … “even without the symbolism, it’s just aesthetically pleasing” – Chuy.
— Everything Peter Gregory says. Everything. Hilarious.
— “I want to be vulnerable around you right now, is this a safe place?” – Erlich to Chuy.
— You just can’t paint over graffiti. People get shot behind that!
— “Fuck you the audio is working! Audio worked a hundred years ago!” – Gavin.