Given the amount of turnover and plot machinations that go into the average season of “Silicon Valley,” more than a few episodes feel like the show hitting the reset button.
Last week’s “The Blood Boy” played out like a midseason finale, with Gavin Belson bidding farewell to his part in the Pied Piper-ssaince. Saying adieu to his part in Richard’s new internet, Gavin the enemy-turned-ally pulled his own version of the Terminator goodbye, ascending the steps of his private plane having just turned over his patent to Richard instead of lowering himself into a vat of sacrificial molten metal.
READ MORE: ‘Silicon Valley’: How Post-Election-Night Improv Led to Season 4’s Greatest Moment So Far
But earlier this week, news broke that another poster-worthy cast member would be leaving as well, with reports that T.J. Miller would not be returning for “Silicon Valley” Season 5. As a result, Sunday night’s “Customer Service” became the show’s first episode with a post-Erlich world as a reality, rather than a hypothetical. And it showed us plenty about what the show will prioritize in his absence.
Most of it started with Russ making a fiery return (blasting Live’s “I Alone,” as the “Silicon Valley” music supervisors churn through alt-rock radio standbys to punctuate the almost-billionaire’s fierce emotions). Feeling slighted by Richard’s brief courting of Gavin Belson as a partner, Russ denied the group’s request to reteam, using Erlich’s latest acqusition — Jian-Yang’s yellow Corvette impulse buy — as a urinal on his way out.
With Russ’ free cash no longer on the table, the week-to-week game of financial musical chairs meant that Richard and the newly reassembled team had an idea without any funding to back it up. Without enough money to put together a proper build, Richard lightbulbed an alternate strategy to build some runway. He and Erlich set off on another fundraising tour, pitching an investment system that would give firms a discount on use of the future technology rather than seed money to build it.
After a flurry of other firms balked at signing on after learning that Gavin’s out of the picture, one fateful visit brought Richard and Erlich to Fiduciated General Insurance and its CTO (and former Erlich face-puncher) Dan Melcher. With mutual horror and years of pent-up desire for additional revenge emanating from the other side of the conference room table, Melcher initially refused to get on board. But after threatening to lure fellow FGI employee and the future Mrs. Belcher, Liz toward the same extramarital fate that earned him a black eye at the end of season 1, Erlich got Melcher and the company as the first ones on board the new Pied Piper plan.
READ MORE: ‘Silicon Valley’: Thomas Middleditch Breaks Down Richard’s Big Gamble in the Season 4 Premiere
Meanwhile, the neverending Gilfoyle/Dinesh feud got another wrinkle, as a test of the new Pied Piper app accidentally merged both their phone’s memory. With both men having potential access to each other’s pictures and…other digital curiosities, an interoffice Prisoner’s Dilemma arose, leaving Jared to play mediator. Things weren’t looking good as Jared seemed destined to be the empty-suit sheriff in a deadly, “Tombstone”-style, oppo research shootout. But the destruction that was mutually assured turned out to be one of property damage, as Gilfoyle dispatches his frenemy’s phone into the toilet, while Dinesh returns the favor by crushing the other into oblivion.
Up next: Is Erlich popular because of the show, or the other way around?