Spoilers for the Silicon Valley series finale follow below.
The critically acclaimed and popular HBO comedy series Silicon Valley came to an end this past Sunday, and fans got an unexpected treat when it appeared the show was going to address what happened to Erlich Bachman. The character was played by T.J. Miller on the series for its first four seasons, but Miller pretty publicly left the show at the end of Season 4. The exit wasn’t necessarily harmonious, as Miller spoke candidly in interviews about his dislike of executive producer Alec Berg and fellow cast members, and in turn the cast made allusions to the fact that the set was a more pleasant place with Miller gone.
Last we saw Bachman, he was abandoned in Tibet by Gavin Belson. At the start of Season 5, Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) claimed that Erlich was dead and was attempting to gain control of his assets. But in the series finale, Jian-Yang catches wind that Erlich is alive and in Tibet, and last we see him he’s venturing off to Tibet to do… something. In the “10 Years Later” documentary crew footage, the crew goes to Tibet and finds the compound belonging to Erlich Bachman, but when they approach “Erlich” we see that it’s actually Jian-Yang, surrounded by folks with guns.
It’s never explicitly stated what exactly happened to Erlich and Miller did not return to the show after Season 4, but in an interview with THR, Berg and showrunner Mike Judge revealed that an alternate version of the finale made explicit that Jian-Yang had gone to Tibet and murdered Erlich Bachman:
“We wanted to deal with that character one way or another. And we went around to a lot of different versions, including one we came very close to where it was pretty clear that Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) had actually murdered him. But we backed off from that one and decided to leave it. It seems funnier that you don’t know what actually happened to him.”
Berg adds that as it stands now, fans can take it a number of ways—including that Jian-Yang and Bachman are now happily working together:
“The more definitive ending of what Jian-Yang had done to him and just felt a little ghoulish and it didn’t feel like our show. So this way I think it’s up to interpretation. Is he working in concert with Erlich? Is Erlich buried in the basement? We don’t know.”
I’m glad Miller didn’t return to the show (it wouldn’t been too much of a distraction as we really just cared about the core characters still on the series), but I’m also glad Berg and Judge addressed what maybe, possibly happened to Erlich when all was said and done. Even if that means he was brutally killed by the ever-malevolent Jin-Yang.