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Silicon Valley S5 E4: "Tech Evangelist" review
Zach Woods, Thomas Middleditch. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO


Silicon Valley S5 E4: “Tech Evangelist” review

A mixed bag of an episode.

There are two characters to whom the title of this week’s episode of Silicon Valley, “Tech Evangelist,” could refer.

The first is Gavin Belson, who fits the standard definition of the term in the tech world as a figure who preaches the good news about a product. In this case, the evangelical part is taken almost literally as the employees of Hooli nearly begin a holy war over dueling interpretations of Gavin’s cryptic final words before going off the grid for a few days to relax prior to the big launch of the Box 3.

The second evangelist reference relates to DeeDee, the web developer of the gay dating site FirstSight who Richard accidentally outs as being also a Christian, the one thing you can’t be in super liberal Silicon Valley.

DeeDee is one of Richard’s new “OctoPipers,” a name for the eight web developers partnering with Pied Piper’s new decentralized internet, or “PiperNet,” that Richard is tragically attempting to popularize. He intends to announce them publicly on the eve of Hooli’s launch of the Box 3 just to screw with Gavin.

Speaking of Gavin, Jared and Gilfoyle discovered Jeff is the Hooli mole spying on them. But instead of suing him for breaching Pied Piper’s aggressive Non-Disclosure Agreement, they decided to keep Jeff officially employed to feed fake intelligence to Gavin.

Silicon Valley S5 E4: "Tech Evangelist" review

Kumail Najiani, Armen Weitzman. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

But Hooli hardly needs Pied Piper as they’re doing a pretty good job of screwing themselves as everyone continues to not notice that the “Gavin” signature printed across their latest product looks more than a little like a penis. Also, what the Hell did Gavin’s nonsensical parting words before heading out to Jackson Hole mean? “Gavin speaks in parables” “You don’t speak for Gavin,” says one angry employee. “I don’t have to; this is the Word of Gavin,” shouts another.

While Hooli suffers, everything seems to be going great with Pied Piper as we welcome back Big Head, who, as it turns out, by dumb luck is still legally tied to Erlich and is therefore Erlich’s real legal next of kin, meaning bad news for Jian Yang’s claims to the incubator house built on the sale of Aviato as well as his claim to 10% of Pied Piper.

But even better news comes from Monica and Lori, who scored another big ally, K-Hole games, at least until Richard queers the deal by accidentally outing the gay dating site guy as a Christian, which leads to a reoccurring joke where “Christian” is substituted for “gay” in a series of gay coming-out clichés.

Of course leave it to well-established LaVeyan Satanist Gilfoyle to spell out The Valley’s widespread feelings about Christianity: “I find their theology to be illegitimate, and it’s clear that they are the source of the majority of the world’s problems.” Even Monica agrees it “freaks people out.” Richard doesn’t understand how serious the tech world’s concerns are about working with a Christian until Monica sums it up in the most succinct way possible: it’s like going from being a rock band to a being known as a Christian rock band.

In classic Silicon Valley formula, Richard is ultimately faced with a difficult choice to either make the best business decision by stabbing someone in the back or follow his conscience. And, as always, Richard does the right thing and gets a fleeting moment of pride before fate takes the wheel and throws a new challenge his way as his triumphant speech about acceptance is immediately followed by learning Deedee took another opportunity with Jian Yang’s brand new rival company that may or may not be called the “New New Internet.”

The Verdict

This was a mixed bag of an episode. Ever the Jared fan, I always love any time he (maybe?) hints at his wilder and potentially criminal backstory with oddly specific references, and this episode gave us one of the best.

Big Head returns and, as always, fell backwards into good fortune. His presence is always a welcome diversion from the central plot. Also, the potential promise of Jian Yang as true antagonist gives the character a chance to become more than just some poor man’s Erlich and be his own unique pain in Pied Piper’s ass.

But the episode brought with it some frustrations. The Richard either backstabbing or following his conscience right before the next shoe drops narrative is starting to feel overly repetitive. It would have been nice to have seen it take a week off after Richard almost destroyed Gilfoyle only last week. And the Christian coming out joke was strong enough to fuel one or two instances but wore thin as a whole subplot.

Still, this episode had some particularly funny standout quotes:

“Like killing someone to prove you’re not a narc or showing a john your genitals to prove you’re a legitimate male prostitute and not an undercover cop.”

“Truly open means open to everyone. No matter how repugnant their views are. How ignorant or stupid, or, to be honest, totally fucking wrong.”

Silicon Valley S5 E4: "Tech Evangelist" review
Silicon Valley S5 E4: "Tech Evangelist"
Is it good?
Overall mixed bag of an episode, but it was refreshing to see Hooli having more apparent problems than Pied Piper for a change and to explore more of the culture at Hooli than we typically get. I also enjoyed seeing an American show unapologetically mock religion from Christianity to various bizarre, quasi-religious futurist ideas about the singularity.

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