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Silicon Valley Season 1, Episode 5 Review

Silicon Valley Season 1, Episode 5 Review

‘Signaling Risk’

There is a lot to take in on this week’s episode of Silicon Valley. Erlich hires a convicted felon and graffiti artist known as Chuy to design a new logo for the company; Dinesh and Gilfoyle’s persistent arguing forces Jared to take action at the incubator, Big head is finding it difficult to communicate with Gavin Belson, and Richard realises that he’s made a huge mistake that could affect the company.

Signaling Risk is an example of an authentic sitcom – visual comedy, a chaotic narrative and ironic humour are all present and they work well together to drive the narrative. To get Chuy to paint the logo, Erlich lies to him about the heritage of Dinesh – he tricks Chuy into thinking that Dinesh is “Latino”. Afterwards, Erlich starts to question whether this was racist.
silicon-valley-signaling-risk-01The question of racism seems to be a key theme of the episode, but it’s used in a way to generate humour. We’re not laughing at the idea of racism, but at the anxiety caused by such a sensitive subject. Chuy paints a crude image of Dinesh and the statue of liberty, but this wasn’t what Erlich had in mind. He then confesses to Chuy about Dinesh, but this only makes thinks worse for the logo.

The main source of humour in Signaling Risk comes from the sheer irony. Big Head is called in to meet with Gavin Belson who is away at a business conference. Gavin recently invested $20 million in hologram technology so that he could communicate with his staff even when he is absent from Hooli. Unfortunately, the technology fails, so they have to talk using Hooli Chat – Hooli’s own version of Skype – but this also fails due to a poor connection. Finally, Big Head speaks to Gavin via a mobile phone, but again, Gavin and Big Head cannot seem to communicate. What’s ironic about this is the fact that Gavin Belson is a billionaire with a successful technology company, but even so, he still has basic technological problems.

Dinesh and Gilfoyle really drive the narrative in this episode. Due to an approaching and unexpected deadline, Jared pits Dinesh and Gilfoyle against each other. Dinesh and Gilfoyle constantly argue, which causes a lot of friction in the incubator – they even argue about what metaphor to use to agree with each other. By pitting them against each other, Jared is able to increase productivity and help Richard, who is already under a huge amount of pressure.
silicon-valley-signaling-risk-02Back when Pied Piper was just a simple music app, Richard entered his software into the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield – a technology conference that pits unseeded startups against each other for a prize of $50,000. But Pied Piper is a seeded company, as Peter Gregory has already invested. When Gregory hears about this, he is furious with Richard. Richard offers to withdraw, but an unfortunate meeting between old friends provides some interesting information. Gavin Belson will present and release Nucleus at TechCrunch, so Monica informs Richard that he has eight weeks to present a demo at the conference.

Everything works out in the end for most of the guys. Chuy paints a new logo for Pied Piper and Dinesh and Gilfoyle increase productivity. Unfortunately for Richard, it’s all a bit too much for him to handle, and again he is left regretting rejecting Gavin Belson’s $10 million offer.

Signaling Risk turned out to be a chaotic half-hour of television – there was so much happening within the narrative but it worked really well. The gags were great and the narrative sets everything in motion for the second half of the series, as we get a clear sense of what Richard has to do in order to develop Pied Piper into a brilliant software compression app.


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