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Silicon Valley - Grow Fast or Die Slow - Review: "The Gang is Back"



Silicon Valley 5.01 "Grow Fast or Die Slow" - Review:
Directed by Mike Judge & Written by Ron Weiner

The first episode of Silicon Valley's fifth season aired on Sunday and it wasn't aired back-to-back with Veep, which feels kind of weird given how often the shows have normally came back around the same time. I'm still not entirely used to there being no Game of Thrones before the two comedies, but in whatever form it's returned in, it's great to have Silicon Valley back, especially now that they've done what Deadpool 2 seemingly could not find a way to do and ditched T.J. Miller, having wrote him out at the end of the fourth season by sending his character Erlich on an opium-induced odyssey in China where he will presumably live out the rest of his days.

This left Richard, Dinesh and Gilfoyle in new, uncharted territory, as they found themselves facing the problem of expansion. It's often frustrating to see that Silicon Valley frequently resets the status quo back to normal at the end of each season, but this refreshing change of putting the incredibly immature heads of Pied Piper in a position of responsibility where they have to recruit and manage people that aren't just the four of them. And they also have problems at home, with Jian Yang allowing people he knows to squat in the house while they're not there. He's also doing his best to get Erlich declared dead so he can essentially take his place on a more permanent basis. I'm very interested to see what side characters get a much needed boost by Erlich's absence this season, and I'm already liking Jian Yang's new, extended role.

Much like the show itself which is having to step outside of its own comfort zone, Gavin is also having problems about losing touch and growing antiquated with the current market and it's leaving him frustrated especially after the hard work he's done in the past. He was fired by Hooli and linked up temporarily with Pied Piper, but that was a union that could never last and he's now back at his old job, having returned from his time with Erlich to save Jack Barker from the Chinese factory workers who made Hooli's phones.

Gavin is typically as egotastic as ever, viewing himself as "The ideal version of myself was the man I already was", and he still hasn't gotten over the fact that Richard didn't offer to team up with him by the looks of things, having gone on to hire all sixty-three programmers that Gilfoyle and Dinesh were too stubborn to recruit during their initial expansion phase, with the sole reason being to rub it in Richard's face.

The show moving on from Erlich so far has proven to be a good thing, and considering he was someone who once played an almost as important part to the show as Richard himself is barely missed at all. The fact that he's gone hasn't changed the quality of the show's writing team, and the rest of the cast is just as brilliant, if not better than Miller ever was. The show finally starting to evolve is a good thing, and the fact that we're spending less and less time at Erlich's house is probably for the better, as there's only so much that can be done there.

It was great to watch Dinesh and Gilfoyle bicker back and forth about the programmers that were eventually hired by Gavin, bringing out the best in Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani's comedic talents. One of the best moments in the premiere too was seeing their reaction when Richard took the whole gang through a complex, high-tech building that they thought was going to be theirs only to lead them through to the bright room at the back of the building with no windows whatsoever that had no rights to be the headquarters of any company, let alone Pied Piper.

At the reception where Gavin is being honoured, Richard runs into Duncan, who doesn't want to work with Pied Piper now that his Sliceline pizza app is on the up. It's an app that never feels like it should work, but that has never stopped investors. It's a pizza app shows that basically showcases the cheapest and quickest way to get your pizza in the area. Typically, Duncan ends up getting $8 million of funding from Optimoji despite competition from Richard - who wants 12 programmers rather than the 30 that Optimoji's CEO Kyra is willing to provide.

Gavin is soon finding himself faced with the problem of The Hooli Box being obsolete (and in true Gavin fashion, doesn't take the news well and de-assigns all of the programmers that pointed it out) when Richard finally gets his own project into gear (which knowing Richard, will take a while) Gavin ends up hiring Patrice, who last appeared in Season 3's The Uptick, even though she was fired by him in the past. However, she is quick to remind him that his previous projects were all failures, which naturally, is not the best of impressions to make on your boss when you're given a second chance. Gavin is at the very least relieved to find out that the Presales of Hooli's new box are actually doing really well, and it's the first good news that he gets all episode.

Richard ends up coming up with an way to finally get his new programmers by acquiring not only Sliceline but also Optimoji after finding out a way to subvert Sliceline by essentially breaking their business model. He now has fifty programmers, and a victory over both Duncan and Kyra, something that Laurie is quick to approve of his methods. Trusting Monica's judgement, Laurie ends up approving Pied Piper's staff (minus the former CEOs), not taking into account the fact that Pied Piper are now dangerously over budget.

Grow Fast or Die Slow seamlessly finds a way to get is re-acquainted with the gang of Silicon Valley by pulling us back into the thick of things as Pied Piper attempts to evolve. Whether they'll succeed or not remains to be seen, but given that this season looks set to focus on how Pied Piper manages their newfound success, I remain optimistic that things can only get better from here.

What did you think of Silicon Valley's's fifth season premiere? Let me know in the comments section below and don't forget to keep an eye out for the next episode, which airs next Sunday on HBO.


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