‘Silicon Valley’ brainiacs reel from character’s death
Season two of HBO’s brainiac-centric comedy series “Silicon Valley” kicks off with a bang, as the story adjusts to the unexpected departure of a cast member.
Christopher Evan Welch, who played eccentric billionaire financier Peter Gregory, died of lung cancer in December 2013.
In the second season’s first episode, Welch’s character, an investor in the startup company of genius Richard Hendriks (Thomas Middleditch), is announced to have met an untimely demise.
The death figures heavily in the story, allowing a rocky, unstable future ahead for Richard and his team of socially awkward techsperts and smart alecks.
It’s not grimly and heavily tackled at all; there’s even mirth in explaining how the character died.
Weird replacement Peter’s replacement is the similarly weird Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer), who is keen on continuing most of her predecessor’s projects, despite her fears.
Most, because when Peter’s estranged friend and rival Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) wrongfully sues Richard for infringement, she drops the genius and company like a hot potato.
Richard’s story continues to amuse; the mild-mannered algorithm developer’s more subdued demeanor—and conscious attempts at humor—are offset once again by his “discoverer” Erlich Bachman (TJ Miller), who is still the vulgar but wise entrepreneur.
Gavin shows his more calculating, despicable side; he is quite moving during his appearance at Peter’s funeral, but is more active in discrediting and crushing Richard.
Like in the previous season, Richard is very much the underdog, often dismissed but sturdy enough to bounce back despite the abuse and the constantly entertaining business naiveté.
Familiar figures And as the Mike Judge-created series shows, the dog-eat-dog world of cyber-technology has more than its share of familiar figures—the shrewd businessmen, the bullies, the pushovers, the quirky ones, and a combination of the above—offering situations to be mined, relationships to be exploited, and conflicts to escalate.
The timely satire of “Silicon Valley,” while poking fun at the information age, also acknowledges the vastly complicated world that this booming industry continues to explore, keeping things accessible.
The series creatively taps that nigh-otherworldly atmosphere, but gives us people to root for, and challenges that rightly and pleasantly befuddle.
The new season has 10 episodes, two more than the first one. It deserves more episodes, sure, but as long as it consistently entertains with its well-written combination of highbrow and crude absurdities, viewers will keep coming back to “Silicon Valley.” (The show airs Mondays, 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on HBO)