Pied Piper’s central team is celebrating their impending Series B second round of financing at the start of this week’s show, but, by episode’s end, it may have all gone up in smoke like a new Hooli plant.

Last week, I lamented the criminal mishandling and under-use of Monica over the past several seasons. And, almost like the writers were reading, my prayers for increasing Monica’s role were immediately answered when, on the eve of closing the sure thing deal with Laurie and Monica for a $30M Series B to complete the new, decentralized internet free of ads and corporate harvesting of data, Gilfoyle comes to Richard with an unexpected proposal.

A few episodes back, we were introduced to Gilfoyle’s interest in cryptocurrency. But until now, we didn’t know just how strongly he was into it: “There are very few things that I will defend with true passion:  medical marijuana, the Biblical Satan as a metaphor for rebellion against tyranny, and motherfuckin’, goddamn cryptocurrency.”

Gilfoyle even has a PowerPoint presentation to sell Richard on why they should forget about Laurie’s $30M and finance PiperNet with their own cryptocurrency. The gist of it is that those decrying cryptocurrency as a bubble are establishment figures with an invested interest in it failing and that decentralized currency sounds no more sketchy than Richard’s own decentralized internet.

But the key point that sways Richard is that, even in the worst case scenario where their cryptocurrency makes less than the $30M they’d have gotten through the Series B, they would still gain control, autonomy, Board seats and shares, and they wouldn’t have to rely on a venture capitalist like Laurie who once fired Richard from his own company.

Amanda Crew, Thomas Middleditch. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

But Richard has both the good and bad sense to run the idea by Monica because they’re friends… apparently… despite never having been to her home, never discussing anything other than business, and his not even knowing about her brief 3-month marriage which was later annulled. She calls Richard and Gilfoyle morons for not even thinking about all the other services Laurie and her provide Pied Piper with:  marketing, networking, staffing, aid in negotiating partnerships, as well as navigating rapidly changing regulations. Also, she likens Richard coming to her for advice about whether to ditch she and Laurie for cryptocurrency to asking your wife for adultery advice.

To hit home her point that going with an Initial Coin Offering, or ICO, is a terrible idea, she refers them to their old acquaintance, Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), who’s used an ICO to fund all 36 of his companies. Of the 36, only one of them worked out. And just his luck, even the fate of that one now lies on a thumb drive that was thrown out by the maid, so now he and his employees are scouring a landfill looking for the drive. But Russ is still convinced it can work, and Gilfoyle still promises the math is sound.

Chris Diamantopoulos. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

Though watching Laurie callously destroy the Fiona robot last week has shaken Richard’s confidence that she will abide by his wishes to keep PiperNet ad-free, he ultimately decides to go with the safer Series B option after Monica reminds him that she and Laurie are partners and Monica wouldn’t let that happen. That is until Monica discovers Laurie isn’t ruling out introducing advertising to generate revenue and is reminded that Laurie still behaves like her superior instead of her equal partner.

Meanwhile, at Hooli, Gavin is struggling to find a manufacturing plant to make his Boxes since Yao, the man running operations in China, has now bought Jian-Yang’s patent-free code for a rival decentralized internet. But they can get a plant in the most unlikeliest of countries, the United States.  There’s a former DVR manufacturing plant in North Carolina that’s perfect for the job.

The town’s mayor is desperate for the jobs that would come from a Hooli plant, so desperate he even agrees to make cuts to all centralized services to make the deal happen …which turns out to immediately backfire and bring about the total destruction of the plant when all major public services and utilities fail at once. But unfortunately for Gavin, the federal government is still working as Hoover ominously reports the IRS has “found out about Bermuda.”

Back at Pied Piper, Jared is still aggressively stalking Richard’s new assistant, Holden, and questioning everything he does like a crazy person. And, when Richard tells Jared he likes Holden, Jared marches off in Holden’s direction like a psychopath. Just before the two disappear from Richard’s view around the corner, it looks as though Jared may just murder the little punk.

Then there’s Dinesh who is crying to Big Head about how now that Danny has a Tesla too, he’s no longer THE Tesla guy in the office. In fact, now that Dinesh is so bad at concealing the news of the impending Series B, the entire office is thinking of buying Teslas. Dinesh is determined to keep his higher status at almost any cost, even, as it turns out, practically buying an employee, Bianca, her own Tesla just to get himself a higher status Tesla.

Ben Feldman. photo: Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

As Richard finishes signing the Series B deal in his lawyer’s office (Ben Feldman), Monica bursts in to tell him not to sign it. Richard slinks down into his chair and laments his terrible fate in a wonderful over-the-top fashion that would make you think he were the victim of a Greek tragedy when his lawyer reminds him that it’s not a big deal and all they have to do is tear up the signed paperwork.

Monica now thinks the ICO is the right approach for Pied Piper and admits she was biased. She knows they can succeed where Russ failed because Gilfoyle can handle the technical side and they can find someone great to handle the business end. That’s when Richard offers that latter job to Monica and says he’ll only do the ICO if she does it with him. Surprisingly, she accepts.

Back at Pied Piper, the entire staff watches the value of PiedPiperCoin reach $0.07. It’s going to be a long way to get to the $68 they need it to be. Now Danny, Dinesh, and everyone else are ditching their Teslas because they can’t afford them after all. The only Tesla left is Bianca’s because that’s the one Dinesh bought for her. Monica is surprised at how well Laurie is taking her resignation. Of course, robot that she is, Laurie is already meeting with Yao to offer her VC services to PiperNet’s rival.

The Verdict

Last week, I said I wanted more Monica, and the writers delivered. This was the strongest Monica story in so long I can’t even remember. Hopefully, this means Monica will be a more permanent fixture around the Pied Piper offices than ever before and will no longer be the helpful outsider she’s always been. Given how sincerely invested she’s been in Richard’s efforts all these years even at the expense of her own business interests, it’s about damn time she’s become a true member of the team.

This was a necessary step that transitions us nicely to the finale. I knew Yao was too minor a player in the show on his own to make for an effective rival and had assumed Gavin was going to find a way to take Jian-Yang’s code from him. But having Laurie partner with him is an even better idea as it adds personal stakes to the rivalry. And whether it happens in the finale or next season, Jian-Yang’s role in this seems clear. It’s his code, so it stands to reason he’ll ultimately be the best weapon against it. If anyone can find a flaw in the code to exploit to bring it down, it will be him.

And though Dinesh’s character has grown more annoying in his pettiness, it was great to see them payoff what I thought was a weaker C-story a few weeks ago regarding Gilfoyle’s interest in cryptocurrency. Ever since last season’s finale, I feel like Gilfoyle has been really pulling his weight on the team while Dinesh continues to look more and more useless lately.

Then there’s Jared’s seeming jealousy. I wouldn’t be surprised if young Holden disappears mysteriously, leading people to wonder if Jared killed him. Though perhaps the writers are trying to mislead us and Jared’s watchful eye on Holden is serving a purpose we don’t yet know. After all, only a few weeks ago they had discovered a mole. Speaking of which, we haven’t seen the spy around lately, and Pied Piper hasn’t exploited him to spread much misinformation to Hooli yet. Hopefully, more will come from that story thread as well. Is Holden another spy? Does Jared at least suspect he is? Whatever happens, I fear bad things will befall young Holden and he is not long for this tech world.

Silicon Valley S5 E7: "Initial Coin Offering"
Is it good?
This is the best use of Amanda Crews in ages on this show. It's also nice to see usually very practical Gilfoyle passionately defend a direction that is the riskier of two options instead of Richard always being the noble gambler of the team. And the episode effectively set up more key pieces of the season's endgame.
9
Great