"This guy falling off a cliff is the first piece of good luck we've had," says Dinesh of the booming Pied Piper live-stream that's following a museum employee who was injured while removing a camera from a condor's nest at the end of last week's episode. The circumstance is as bizarre and hilarious as Silicon Valley gets, and it sets up an excellent season finale. "More good news," Dinesh heartlessly continues, "There's a storm coming, no way the EMS teams can come up there."
Only in a thoughtless and small world can this be a boon, but that's just it, and with Pied Piper basically assured a loss in its IP arbitration against Hooli, the 127 Hours slash Ace in the Hole disaster scenario is the biggest success the team could hope for. Over at Raviga capital, Laurie Bream realizes that the stream has, in Internet fashion, become a meme as far away as the Philippines. "And Filipinos find this amusing?" she asks. "They are a fascinating people." Concerned that they'll now "fail by succeeding," the Pied Piper team cruelly notes of the museum employee —now poised to drink his own urine — that "even when he's sobbing and shakes the camera there's no blocking at all... the quality is great!"
Adding another layer of tension, Erlich is finally ready to cash in on the soaring property values in his area. He's even got an all cash offer for the place, because of course he has. As Erlich puts it, "market forces and random events have conspired against me to make the success of my incubator all but impossible." Okay, Erlich. But a giddy Jared informs him that he'll never sell, since what's happening with Pied Piper at the moment is "magical... it's intoxicating." It's an honest and thrilling moment thanks to Zach Woods' performance, and eventually getting in on the excitement, Erlich — who supposedly "doesn't code anymore... carpal tunnel" — throws on hand braces, pulls out an exercise ball to sit on, and starts typing as the room literally catches fire. The team keeps the stream up and running until a rescue team arrives to save the employee and cuts the feed. Not quite in need of their own rescue crew, Jared and the team extinguish the flames in the house.
The success is adulterated, though, since the whole time we're cutting back and forth to Richard and his lawyer who have been called in to receive a verdict. As the judge seems to announce the inevitable loss for Pied Piper, Richard texts his team to delete all of Pied Piper's code.
“The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it," Erlich quotes "Frank Herbert.... Dune.” as he looks over the computer that's ready to delete all their work. But in a satisfying if foreseeable twist, the judge notes of Richard's contract with Hooli, and perhaps most of Hooli's contracts generally, that "there is language in this contract that the California Supreme Court has deemed unlawful." As the New York Times notes, the unenforceability of “non-compete” employment clauses... "is frequently cited as one of the reasons that Silicon Valley became such a haven for start-ups in the first place." In this instance, it means justice for Richard, since if he wasn't legally employed by Hooli, he couldn't have built Pied Piper on their time. As Richard's lawyer excellently deadpans: "I used to take a tampon soaked in grain alcohol and put it in my rectum. That got me high, but not as high as this. You know what this drug is called, Richard? A second chance." With no claim to Pied Piper's IP, Gavin Belson looks to be out of a job. Even his spiritual advisor guru apparently turns on him, shifting his attention to Big Head who looks like he could be the next Hooli CEO.
But the text! Richard realizes he's forgotten to tell his team not to delete all their data just as his phone dies, and in a well-executed, self-effacing slapstick gag, Richard has to run all over town trying to borrow a phone. Fortunately, back at Pied Piper HQ the team is too busy stalling and toasting their success — or, in Erlich's case, taking bong rips out of a watering can — to delete the data. When Richard runs in, just as Dinesh hits "delete," the computer freezes thanks to his "shitty code." Pied Piper is saved, once again, by its own ineptitude.
When Monica calls Richard later that evening as the team is drinking and celebrating, he invites her over. "Party's already started," says Richard "and its getting pretty crazy." It is decidedly not, and yet, things are actually about to get out of hand. That's because Russ Hanneman was just over at Raviga's offices where, putting him "back over a B," Laurie Bream bought him out of Pied Piper, snagging his board seats in so doing. "Who's got two thumbs and three commas!" he says. And as Laurie puts it robotically to a concerned Monica, Russ "was substantially difficult... he described his erection for me, But I managed to buy 100 percent of his interest in Pied Piper. Let us never speak of him again."
The rub here is that Laurie has decided that Pied Piper's "core technology is visionary" but "the entirety of their recent stumbles... this was all routed in human error." It's fair to say that the team has excellent work and terrible instincts, and now, with Monica's seat to exercise too, the "board" holds an emergency meeting to oust Richard from his post as CEO. "I just got fired," is Richard's final line and the last of the episode and the season.
There we have it, Silicon Valley's second season finale, which may not have had the extended, crude gags that made last year's finale so memorable, but certainly contained all the same tension, excitement, and laughs that made that one great. In my mind, it's a bit of fitting redemption for a show that's had, in an opinion apparently not shared by commenters, a somewhat spotty second season. Watching the team succeed, not least in making us laugh, is a good reminder of what this show is capable of, and what it will undoubtedly deliver again in some measure next season. There's expert plotting, though yes, sometimes over plotting, and rapid-fire humor with lots of excellent throw away lines, not to mention pitch-perfect delivery from the cast.
What's happened so well for the show seems to be that, like lucking into a weird disaster video of its own in the style of the condor live-stream, Silicon Valley has taken a cultural moment and, without doing too much to dramatize or satirize it, has captured its ridiculousness. The mumble-core humor that's been interchangeable with nerd humor in similar comedy for some time has here gained a bit of confidence, even swagger. Silicon Valley isn't mumbling about the culture it's characterizing. Now it's speaking with remarkable clarity.