Much like its lead-in the hour before (although calling Game of Thrones the “lead-in” to Silicon Valley is like calling an Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Bowl® the lead-in to one Andes mint), the season premiere of Silicon Valley picks up right where last season’s finale left off. Except instead of Jon Snow’s cold, lifeless body filling the frame at Castle Black, it’s Richard Hendrick’s angered, animated frame reeling at the end of Erlich’s dining table.
Raviga just fired him from Pied Piper, so he assembles his crew, i.e. Erlich and PP laywer Ron, and heads back to the firm to suss out from Laurie exactly what all of this means. It turns out that they just don’t want Richard as a CEO, but are willing to keep him on as CTO, where he’d also be able to retain his shares and board chair. Displeased with this, he essentially quits, proving that fighting it is fruitless, which mirrors the previous scene in which Erlich tries to kick in the dick of a Stanford Robotics “Bam-Bot” that he smashes his Aviato SUV into, but ultimately gives up as the robotic deer keeps getting back up onto its dumb robotic feet.
Speaking of Aviato, Raviga hires noted fan of Erlich’s airline fare aggregator, and possible asshole that can’t even cure cancer, “Action Jack” Barker to be Pied Piper’s new CEO. Erlich and Barker bond over the pronunciation of “Aviato,” and also poppy seed muffins, and in a matter of minutes Erlich abandons his Friar’s Club-pulled list of premium old-man jokes in favor of championing Barker as the right man for the job. I’ve listed the nine burn jokes below for posterity and also ranked them because why not:
Barker: Mr. Bachmann, pleasure to finally meet you. I’m a big fan.
Erlich: Oh, really? Of what?
8. the phonograph
7. segregated water fountains
6. senior citizen discounts at Perkins Family Restaurants
4. a nice piece of fish
3. erectile dysfunction because of corroded penile arteries
2. liking Ike
1. deviled eggs as an entrée
Meanwhile Richard is shopping around other CTO offers—which Jared graciously put together for him—and gets brought in to Flutterbeam to essentially cut down the “stache lag” on their 3D holographic platform that adds a mustache to your face in a live video chat, aka a glorified Snapchat filter. Disenchanted by this role, he consults his disbarred attorney and current California state inmate Pete Monahan, who after reviewing the Flutterbeam contract, advises that Richard at least meet Jack Barker and consider swallowing his pride in a return to Pied Piper. So Richard does, and in a meeting of the minds, Barker fawns at the brilliance of Richard’s brain, ultimately deciding that if Richard doesn’t work at Pied Piper then he won’t take the CEO position.
Over at Hooli, Gavin Belson falls on his sword and stoically, admirably, HEROICALLY fires all of the Nucleus division. This presents an uptick in his image, and with this he axes 1,700 employees, which returns 780,000 negated shares of stock back into the company. With this money he attempts to buy out Big Head’s contract to the tune of $20 million, and in return Big Head is to never utter a negative word about Hooli ever, or discuss what he did there, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. He has to mull this over in order to reassess where his loyalties, if any, lie. Deep in the recesses of his sugary, Big Gulp-soaked mind, Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” is surely playing on repeat.
Finally, Dinesh and Gilfoyle frankly discuss their own loyalties to Richard. Do they stand by his side in solidarity when he quits Pied Piper, or does he deserve to eat a shit burrito after taking advantage of their tireless work with little to no compensation while constantly speaking on their behalf as if he has their best interests in mind, like the asshole he can oftentimes be? RIGBY.
The episode closes with the hope that the gang will make it through this rough patch just fine under the dependable leadership of Action Jack, and perhaps even with a nice, Big Headed windfall, if squabbles can subside. Fittingly, a new DJ Shadow song featuring Run the Jewels, called “Nobody Speak,” takes us into the credits.
Welcome back, Silicon Valley.