“Silicon Valley” returned to HBO for its sophomore season Sunday, but the acclaimed HBO comedy was without one of its fans' favorite characters from Season 1. Christopher Evan Welch, who played eccentric investor Peter Gregory, died from complications due to lung cancer in December 2013 in the middle of filming for the first season. Sunday’s premiere addressed Welch’s absence with an elaborate and irreverent tribute to both the actor and his quirky character.
Early on in the episode, “Sand Hill Shuffle,” while startup Pied Piper waited on an offer of funding from Gregory’s company, Raviga, an employee casually noted that the billionaire had died. Soon, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and Erlich (T.J. Miller) were at the Raviga offices getting the news from Monica (Amanda Crews). Monica described an absurd incident -- between a series of painfully misleading pauses -- involving a few gun shots, a safari and a hippo before telling them, “He hadn’t run in a long time, maybe ever, and he just … that was it.”
Later, Monica met Gregory’s replacement, the equally quirky -- and somehow less compassionate -- Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer). Bream seems to have many of the same odd ticks as Gregory in a not-so-subtle nod to the departed character. In her hilarious introduction, she talks at length about why she will stand during a meeting with Monica before abruptly deciding to take a seat anyway. Bream is played by Suzanne Cryer, a TV veteran who has appeared in “ER” and “The King of Queens,” in addition to starring in “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.”
Toward the end of the episode, “Silicon Valley” gave Welch and Gregory a more traditional tribute, as the Pied Piper boys attended Gregory’s memorial service adorned with giant photos of Welch as Peter Gregory. The service included eulogies from tech giants both fictional and real -- including Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who insisted that Gregory was “not disappointed in Snapchat.” Finally, Gregory’s rival, Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), gave a touching speech about their former friendship and the need for everyone in the tech industry to come together to change the world. However, as Belson released doves into the air at the conclusion of his remarks, Richard found out that Belson was suing Pied Piper for copyright infringement.
The “Silicon Valley” tribute was equal parts funny and touching. Though fans will miss Christopher Evan Welch as Peter Gregory as Season 2 continues, the premiere found a way to keep the show moving forward while still acknowledging the love fans had for the character.
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