‘Silicon Valley’ gave Erlich a pretty anticlimactic sendoff in the Season 4 finale
This truly is Bachmanity insanity.
This post contains spoilers for Silicon Valley Season 4, episode 10, titled "Server Error."
Much like everything Erlich Bachman has ever attempted, T.J. Miller’s Silicon Valley exit was kind of ridiculous.
In the Season 4 finale, after venturing to Tibet to catch up with former Hooli CEO Gavin Belson for a fresh start, Erlich wasted no time going back to his old habits — literally — and getting cozy with an opium pipe.
As Gavin left to rescue Jack Barker from a hostage situation in a Chinese factory to try and curry the favor of the Hooli board, he encouraged Erlich to come with him, but the curly-haired miscreant was too high to pay any attention to him. Instead of dragging him along while stoned, Gavin paid the owner of the drug den enough cash to allow Erlich to stay there for five years, and left him giggling up at the ceiling in a fugue state.
Back in the US, after once again trying (and failing) to acquire Pied Piper from Richard, Gavin lied when asked whether Erlich ever showed up in Tibet, telling Richard no. And that’s the last we saw or heard of Aviato’s troublemaking founder.
Still, the showrunners left Erlich’s exit purposefully open-ended in case T.J. Miller decides to return to the show at some stage, executive producer Mike Judge told the Hollywood Reporter.
"It was kind of becoming clear that he didn’t want to do the show anymore, but we wanted to leave it so that there would an opportunity to come back at some point. And so we just talked about how to do that," Judge explained. "We had already written the part about Gavin going off to a monastery … So we thought, maybe we have Erlich go look for him. And then when the season was done, we talked to T.J. and said, ‘Do you want to come back for part of it?’ And he just wanted to move on. We wanted to give him an out if he wanted to go."
But don’t expect an Erlich return any time soon, Judge added: "That’s probably the last [you’ll see him]. Down the road, if there’s a Season 6, I don’t know. You never know. But that’s the last for a while at least."
Miller explained to THR that HBO had approached him with a potentially reduced role for Season 5, because his schedule was too hectic to appear in the full season, and that conversation opened the door for his eventual exit.
"They came to me and said, ‘Look, we’re not going to pick up your contingency because we want to offer you doing five episodes out of the ten, or three episodes.’ And then when I said, ‘Oh perfect, I had been wanting to ask if you guys would open to me leaving the show.’ And then they suddenly said, ‘Wait, no, what? You can do whatever. What? What do you mean?’ And that was so good of them. They said, ‘Look, we wanted to reduce … We just wanted you to have more time to do all of the things you’re doing.’ And I said, ‘Well, the best way for me to be involved in the show is by no longer being on it.’"
Miller also praised the collaborative nature of his relationship with HBO, but reiterated that he has no plans to be back on the show, "I would love to work with them forever. It’s just that I will never be on Silicon Valley again. That character, as you have seen, disappeared into the ether. And he did it at a time when no one was sick of him, when he had worn thin but not worn out."
In a separate interview with EW, Miller pointed out that Erlich’s exit was entirely apropos for the character. “He’s an outsider. He never belonged there. Nobody wants him there. Nobody likes him. He doesn’t have any friends. Someone would pay to have Erlich go away. And I thought, ‘Why not make that permanent? Why not make that real? In a show that is so cyclical, why not have instead of a cliffhanger just a permanent ending? I mean, that’s why everybody loves Game of Thrones.’"
Erlich may be gone, but one lingering question remains: what is Silicon Valley without him? We’ll have to tune in next season to find out.