Silicon Valley Review: Initial Coin Offering

“Initial Coin Offering” was easily one of the best episodes of Silicon Valley‘s fifth season. It had the same level of humor we’ve come to expect from the series and laid out all the pieces of an interesting, upcoming finale. And while we’re on the subject, while there have been some low points of this season, the overarching narrative has been nothing but interesting, the adversary that Pied Piper will have to face being subtle, building up in the background over time to make larger, sweeping conflict that is sure to make for a great finale.

This week’s episode focused on Richard and Gilfoyle, who, after realizing their Piper Credits have sold for crazy prices, consider forgoing their series B for a crypto-currency-based funding. Gilfoyle says the math is sound and it gives them complete control over the Piper-net, where the series B would give Lori the power to sell ad space, which is out of the question. When they bring the idea to Monica, she scolds them, conversationally castrating Gilfyole, who thought he was a godsend by suggesting crypto-currency and was swiftly turned into a scared-stiff, silent statue of a man.

To further convince Richard, Monica sends him and Gilfoyle to meet with Russ Hanneman who got into the crypto-currency business and failed miserably, a notion that is made hilariously evident by the fact that he is paying people to find his discarded flash drive containing the last of his crypto, which was in a pair of pants that accidentally got thrown away, which is why their meeting is held at a dump (convoluted, but hilarious). Gilfoyle still thinks the math is sound, but Richard is prepared to go with the Series B.

That is, until Monica changes her mind upon realizing Lori, whom she thought she was partners with, seems to make decisions without her, including making plans to sell ad space on the Pipernet, which is all the convincing Monica needs to stop Richard from signing the Series B. It was interesting to see the cracks in Lori and Monica’s working relationship finally burst open, and it’s just as great to see Monica fully join the Pied Piper crew (coming on board to help with the logistics of their new funding plan), but I did have a bit of an issue with the way her realization was handled.

Yes, Monica came to the conclusion on her own that the Series B was bad, but the fact that two men are right about something, which she so angrily thought was incorrect, only to be proven wrong was a bit of a poor choice for her character. It’s not a HUGE issue, it just caught my eye and in turn pointed a spotlight on the sometimes poorly written female characters of the series. But, of course, the fact that Monica is proven right in the end, Pied Pipers Crypto Currency is a bit of a flop, does serve to redeem it, though the last leg of the Series B plot as a whole was a bit rushed to get to that point.

Throughout all of this, Gavin Belsin is attempting to find a factory to make his Box 3 after losing his China factory, who in turn is making a deal with Lori to be Pied Piper’s competitor (another great setup for the finale). Gavin tries to do it as cheaply as possible, which so perfectly blows up in his face. He finds a factory in America that is desperate for work and makes ridiculous demands, which forces the factory’s town to cut basic services, and after a fire breaks out in the factory, none of those public services are around to prevent the factory from burning down or the materials from being looted. It was a short scene that was just so brilliantly executed as Gavin sees the direct consequences of his greedy, cheap hubris (though that is unlikely to actually stop him).

Meanwhile, Dinesh continues to be the butt of every joke, attempting to be the one and only “Tesla guy” at the office, which is just sad to watch, but Kumail Nanjiani’s performance at least makes it funny to some extent, and the pyramid-scheme-like steps that he has to go through to get a new, more expensive, more exclusive, and more impressive Tesla model does manage to serve as a hilarious parallel for the risky world of crypto-currency. Furthermore, this side-plot didn’t take too much away from the rest of the episode, though the focus on Dinesh did make me wonder where the Hooli mole went off too, we never saw what happened to him…

Regardless, this episode was a strong one, funny, fast, topical, and it set up the pieces for what is sure to be a great season finale, with only a few bumps along the way.

Check back for our review of Silicon Valley‘s season finale, only on HBO. 

S5, E7
  • Initial Coin Offering
4.5

Summary

It’s not just currency thats crypto on this week’s Silicon Valley



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