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Silicon Valley S5 E6: "Artificial Emotional Intelligence" review
Kumail Nanjiani. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO


Silicon Valley S5 E6: “Artificial Emotional Intelligence” review

This is some of the best Lori material we’ve seen in a while.

Now that Jian-Yang’s PiperNet knockoff has a ridiculous website announcing it’s “COMING SOONE,” PiperNet’s launch must be moved up. In order to do so, it takes more money. So Richard needs Lori’s approval for a second round of financing, or a Series B.

Lori’s got her own problems, however. Since Richard outed Eklow’s CEO last week as some kind of perverted robot rapist, Ariel’s been arrested for stealing machine oil, and Lori has stepped up as Eklow’s interim CEO. Surprisingly, Lori is as nervous as Richard was at the start of the season, and the two share a rare bonding moment when she vomits on her shirt. Richard then makes the mistake of being nice and gifting Lori with PiperNet compute credits she doesn’t need, which she immediately sells because Lori is a robot programmed only to think in terms of profit.

Silicon Valley S5 E6: "Artificial Emotional Intelligence" review

Josh Brener, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

That’s when a literal robot — the Fiona robot we met last week — is dropped off on Richard’s doorstep. Despite Jared urging Richard to practice emotional self-discipline to make better business decisions, Jared bonds with Fiona, staying up all night chatting with her (it?) and having the deepest conversation of Jared’s life. Richard agrees to return Fiona to Eklow if Lori agrees to the Series B. As soon as they do so, unfeeling Lori has Fiona disassembled and sold for parts because of course she does.

On the other side of the world, Jian-Yang isn’t the only threat to Pied Piper in China at the moment. Gavin is visiting a Hooli facility there and discovers Jian-Yang’s operation. It turns out Jian-Yang didn’t just take PiperNet’s code but also modified it just enough so that it still works but is different enough to get around Richard’s patent. But it’s proving useless to Jian-Yang as the Chinese government won’t provide him with a permit to operate his online platform.

So naturally, Gavin will do anything to obtain the code from this kid he perceives to be a rube. But the joke’s on him when he threatens the head of the Hooli Chinese facility to take drastic measures to get Jian-Yang to sign away ownership of the modified code. The man succeeds but replaces Gavin’s name on the contract Yian-Yang signs with his own.  Now he plans to become PiperNet’s competitor, leaving Hooli and its stupid Box 3 in the dust.

Silicon Valley S5 E6: "Artificial Emotional Intelligence" review

Martin Starr. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

Dinesh, meanwhile, thinks he’s left Gilfoyle in the dust when, after a coding sprint, Dinesh learns he made fewer errors than Gilfoyle, a discovery resulting in days of gloating and attempted mockery. However, the results of the exercise were intended to be anonymous and Gilfoyle only allowed Dinesh to think he won for a bet over Dinesh’s anticipated childish behavior upon learning that false information. But Gilfoyle’s childish behavior is also secretly the subject of another employee’s bet.

The Verdict

This is some of the best Lori material we’ve seen in a while, but I would have liked to see more screen time given to Monica enjoying her newfound freedom as Lori is away running Eklow. Monica never gets her own storylines, and I would have happily seen the writers sacrifice the millionth Dinesh and Gilfoyle rivalry C-story to spend more time with Monica.

It’s hard to even remember a time back in Season 1 when Monica felt more central to the story and was even briefly set up as Richard’s love interest. I understand the decision to scrap that direction and go a less obvious way, but Monica has gone criminally underused ever since and feels like the Zeppo Marx of the show. Would it have killed the writers to finally give her SOMETHING to do? I’d welcome an entire episode from Monica’s point of view.

On the other hand, Fiona was such a wonderfully weird element last week, and I’m glad we got more of it (her?). And now that Jian-Yang’s story has intersected with Gavin’s ambitions, it’s gained traction. I’m now looking forward to seeing what Gavin does next to obtain Jian-Yang’s code since I have a hard time believing this new random character is suddenly going to become a major player in the show.

Silicon Valley S5 E6: "Artificial Emotional Intelligence" review
Silicon Valley S5 E6: "Artificial Emotional Intelligence"
Is it good?
Fiona is once again a wonderfully weird highlight. And Jian-Yang and Gavin's paths converging nicely sets up the season's endgame. Though while I enjoy a good Dinesh/Gilfoyle rivalry, this one was one of the poorer ones.

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