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Silicon Valley Season Five Premiere: “Grow Fast Or Die Slow”

by Jason Godfrey
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Silicon Valley is back with the full crew (minus 10 percent shareholder Erlich Bachman) to work on Richard’s decentralized internet. The first episode of the season opens up with Richard showing off the new office space to the rest of the team. The building looks amazing like some sort of hotel you visit to retreat from work. The amazement only lasts a few seconds because this is Silicon Valley and we need a punchline before the title screen. We also need hte trailer one more time: 

SiliconValleyS5-Set-1-300x164Of course, in another bad decision, Richard shows off the new space: a white room filled with nothing but the bright light and buzz of the fluorescent bulbs overhead. There wasn’t even a window and I swear that Richard could almost reach the ceiling. To no surprise, Jared started to have a panic attack in this room. Just watching this scene gave me anxiety. Richard’s reasoning for getting a cheaper office was the decisions of leaders before him. You don’t need to look too hard to see how bad Richard is with his decision-making. That’s right. I’m going to criticize Richard a bit in this one.

The new office is a big improvement compared to the one before it. There’s plenty of space for the fifteen employees that Pied Piper is planning on hiring, three of which they have hired already: the Stallions. Richard is trying to decide on potential employees. By deciding, I mean he’s asking Gilfoyle and Dinesh to decide for him based on the pool of candidates that he has passed over to them. He narrowed it down to 63 engineers. Once again, instead of making a decision based on his team’s feedback, he expects them to make the decision for him.

It’s not long until Richard finds out that Gavin Belson hires all of the potential employees to stunt Pied Piper’s growth. Jared suggests a plan to buy Optimoji to get their staff. Duncan gives Richard more reason to hate him by blabbing about Gavin’s acquisition of the 63 coders. It’s not like It wasn’t enough for Richard to despise Duncan because he detests his app.

SiliconValleyS5-GavinB-300x206One of my favorite scenes in the episode was Gavin’s orientation with the 63 coders. He tries to convince them they were hired to help make Hooli Box 2.0. After a quick Q&A, he gets angry how they call his tech antiquated and pretty much makes them 63 Big Heads (with talent). In his eagerness to compete with Pied Piper, he realizes that he still can’t and his best days are behind him.

Jian Yang tried to make his ownership of the incubator more official by forging a note from Bachman-Erlich and giving it to Pied Piper’s lawyer. He wants it but he’s not quite sure how to get it, but he decides to fake Erlich’s death. I’m not sure if he’s just interested in the house or he is trying to get Erlich’s 10% of Pied Piper as well because he seemed a bit interested in it. The interaction between Jon-Yang and the lawyer was a little entertaining, but it was nothing compared to how Jian Yang and Erlich played off each other or even Gilfoyle.SiliconValleyS5-JianY-300x266

Richard learns that Slice Line acquires Optimoji and throws one of his fits and pretty much tells off the entire office. This is the final straw for Richard. He wants to see the demise of Duncan. The ups and downs of Pied Piper can’t be all bad luck and the irrational behavior of Richard is one of many factors that lead to how we see them fail in such an entertaining fashion. This leads to the discovery that Slice Line is reselling pizza. Jian Yang’s story about trying to get a fat white dead body is probably another favorite part of mine. Faking a death can be expensive.

Reselling pizzas can also be expensive. The team calculates it and Slice Line is selling pizza at a loss. Of course, if you leave Richard to make a decision, chances are that he will make a poor one. He decides that since his burn rate is low (having a small number of employees can have that effect) he will flood Slice Line with orders to devalue their company to acquire them. The total number of employees that he would be acquiring is fifty, which far exceeds their original goal of fifteen. Laurie describes in one word: reckless.

SiliconValleyS5-TheGuys-300x160Richard now has a staff of over fifty in a space that can’t hold all of them, but they probably aren’t too fond of him after his tirade at Slice Line and his aggressive acquisition of the company. He went full asshole and it’s probably going to bite him in the ass.

Overall, it was a good start to the fifth season. It seemed that the driving force behind Pied Piper and Slice Line was to grow fast while Optimoji was just trying not to die slow. Most of the scene time was spent on the quest for more employees while hinting at Gavin’s direction with Hooli and Jian Yang’s desire to own Erlich’s house. I hope to see more of Jian Yang in future as the season progresses.

Check out the preview for the next episode here where we just might see Richard’s aggressive tactics lead to a crumbling foundation.

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