Silicon Valley’s fourth season starts comfortably—and makes us nervous

Enlarge / A white board for a potential blank-slate restart. (credit: HBO)

Stop me if you've heard this one before: On Silicon Valley, the show's main character, Richard Hendriks (Thomas Middleditch) is actually facing some small degree of success. But he panics in the face of it, then runs headlong into an awkward confrontation with his peers at tech start-up Pied Piper, before drastically changing gears.

That's exactly the quandary that Hendriks finds himself in at the beginning of Silicon Valley's new season, which premiered on Sunday. The last season ended with Richard's flailing company getting back on track by "pivoting" to a new idea: video chat, a side project invented by Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) that his coworkers mocked until it inadvertently became a success.

But this is Silicon Valley, which means good news never lasts for long. The fourth season begins with Pied Piper's video chat service running into trouble while still growing fast. Everyone else thinks this service is the company's best bet. But Richard can't focus on it. His "improvement" to the product, to his colleagues, looks worse than trivial. This leads to a personal confrontation with Dinesh.

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