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'Silicon Valley' review: Underappreciated HBO comedy goes out a winner

Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods, Amanda Crew and

 Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods, Amanda Crew and Martin Starr in HBO's Season 6, Episode 7 (finale) of "Silicon Valley." Credit: HBO/Eddy Chen

SERIES "Silicon Valley"

WHEN|WHERE Series finale Sunday at 10:06 p.m. on HBO

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The big day has arrived. Pied Piper, with its revolutionary compression algorithm, is about to launch on hundreds of millions of AT&T phones, changing the world forever and for the better. The boys have done good, and will reap the rewards. And then, Murphy's Law makes an unexpected cameo. Speaking of cameos, there are dozens in Sunday's series finale. This two-parter toggles between the past and present, and seeks to answer this riddle: Whatever did become of Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) anyway? 

MY SAY "Silicon Valley" was usually about making a choice, or the choice. But over six seasons, most of the choices were between the devil or the deep blue sea. Sell-out to a megalomaniac like Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) or make the digital world a better place? At launch in 2014, this still-criminally underappreciated series anticipated the choice left to the rest of us. Who even knew there was one to make back then?

Well, to quote the Notorious B.I.G., now ya know. Click by click, we've given up our identities — to an extent ourselves — to digital overlords. Big money and the Gavins of the world rule supreme. This TV Cassandra not only told us this would happen but how it would happen. We can't say we weren't warned. 

Brilliant satires need characters to put the moldering ethics of their target in sharp relief. "Valley" had them in abundance, including Jared (Zach Woods), the melancholic sycophant, Guilfoyle (Martin Starr), the gimlet-eyed misanthrope, and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), the pirate with the irresolute conscience.

And most of all, Thomas Middleditch's Richard Hendricks. When confronted with a dilemma, his limbs seemed to enfold within themselves turning him into a pretzel of tortured anguish. When offered a billion dollars for a stake in PiperNet by a Chilean psychopath earlier this season, he wondered whether the magnitude of the sum "makes this way less evil or way more evil?"

Funny but also profound, "Valley" always had a deceptively simple throughline. What was the right thing to do when "wrong" was so much more profitable? Money was the easy choice, the easy out. Not so for Richard. He knew what was at stake — his soul, and by proxy ours, too.

Over six seasons of complex financial gerrymandering, Pied Piper morphed from an app to help musicians to a brand-new "internet we all deserve." Richard innocently has that tagline plastered on billboards in Sunday's finale, unaware that it's already been used to splenetic effect. (Recall all those "the president we all deserve" memes.) The joke's on us. We already have the internet we deserve.

Good finales distill what's best known or loved about a cherished series. Sunday's accomplishes precisely that. The ambiguity of the term "Pied Piper" arrives in one hilarious, showstopping moment. These wonderful characters reveal their true selves (in the most reassuring way). Showrunners Mike Judge and Alec Berg aren't sentimentalists, but they did love these guys, and loved the target too.

That didn't stop them from asking whether Silicon Valley has done more harm than good. You'll get no final verdict Sunday, but you will get a wickedly funny kicker. Meanwhile, the web --,just like us — remains a work in progress. 

BOTTOM LINE The finale that fans and — yup — Silicon Valley itself   deserve. 

 

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