Alex Garland‘s ‘Devs,’ starring Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno, has launched as FX on Hulu’s first original series. The sci-fi show oozes futuristic paranoia and pairs a beautifully frightening aesthetic with charismatic performances, all of which bring a disturbing parable to life. Here, we’ll break down the show’s many mysteries as the season unfolds around the works of a tech CEO with a possible messianic complex.
We’re only on week 4 of Devs (halfway through the limited series), and Nick Offerman’s Forest has already gone through some distinct phases. He began the series as a portrait of tech CEO eccentricity (that poor lettuce), and before the end of the premiere, he stood still and watched while his fixer, Kenton, murdered a coding genius (Sergei) who apparently committed industrial espionage. Then Forest took a break from being an openly bad dude and appeared to be super concerned about the seemingly suicidal girlfriend (Lily) of Sergei, but this week, he’s going back to his ominous ways, not to mention vicious ones.
After an episode that begins with literal earthquake tremors, Forest spends his time worried about about a couple of youthquakers: (1) Lily, who is regarded as some sort of threat to Devs; (2) Lyndon, who’s even younger (a teenager), who he fires from Devs for “undermining” the project by making an enormous breakthrough. And there’s a death threat from Forest too, so yup, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Let’s also not forget that Alex Garland is writing-directing here, so something major might happen to the fabric of reality by the end of this show, and not everyone shall survive. With that said, let’s wildly predict where these characters will end up — from most to least likely to make it out alive — after they also get ominous:
This guy gets it. He sees everything that happens inside of Devs, and he knows how to play the game. Stewart realizes that there’s some unorthodox sh*t going down, but he seems to believe that he’s working some good. He also seems like a really decent (and funny) guy, and everyone on the Devs team likes him. He’s exudes a genuine warmth. Hell, he’s practically the only character who doesn’t seem hardened by inhabiting this arguably soulless world. I do worry that he’ll end up being collateral damage during one of Forest’s anger fests. I don’t wanna see Stewart dragged out into a field and suffocated like Sergei, but I don’t think that will happen, although I do fret for his well-being. It’s not healthy to work somewhere that doesn’t believe in clocks or downtime, and much like Vegas, what happens in Devs stays there. That goes for both the good and the bad.
Katie seems pretty safe and like she’s the one who holds the most cards in this game. She’s Forest’s right hand, and he appears to trust her every judgment, although she’s given him no reason to ever doubt her adherence to the Devs rules. Her fierce sense of determinism also strongly appeals to him because it justifies everything that he must tell himself in order to keep processing his daughter’s death. Katie’s cold as hell, and I could kinda see her being in charge at the end of this mess. Forest’s simply too emotional (and fragile, and volatile) to keep running the company forever. If both of them survive, I really wouldn’t be surprised if he goes meditating on mountaintops while she runs the joint. As for what Katie and Forest were staring at during this conversation. It sure looks like Lily as rendered by the deterministic Devs system.
Who is this guy, really? I don’t know, man. Alex Garland clearly wanted Pete to serve a purpose, or he wouldn’t be receiving such pointed screentime, but I can’t tell what his purpose in this story might be. He’s awfully protective of Lily, although it’s difficult to tell from where his loyalty springs. Pete’s not afraid of Kenton, though, and you gotta give him props for that because Kenton could easily raise the hairs on anyone’s neck.
Forest is a complete mess, and a powerful one. He’s a genius who constantly second-guesses himself, and he can’t handle any challenges (other than, occasionally, from Katie) to his Devs project, although it’s clear that Forest takes everything personally. When he frets over being a “magician” while speaking with Katie, he’s mainly afraid that since they are magicians, they can decide to view the future and change it right after the fact. Is this fear rooted in Forest’s that his daughter’s death may have been preventable through a different course of action on that fateful day? It’s difficult to tell, but every decision he makes revolves around how haunted he is by young Amaya.
Likewise, when Forest fires Lyndon for allegedly undermining everything the entire Devs mission — Forest is not a fan of the multiverse theory, probably because it also means that maybe his daughter is elsewhere, happily ever after, and not with him — there’s the question of “splitting hairs.” Forest’s argument is that enough hairs might be split to alter the future and prevent Lyndon’s recovery of Jesus’ voice to not be “our Jesus” but “a Jesus.” In reality, he’s upset that changing the Devs code would be that “his Amaya” will be forever altered in the system, and therefore leave him for good. It feels like Forest is headed for a downfall, and he seems to believe that, too.
This guy, I swear. He’s like the damn Terminator, if the Terminator could be some physically unimposing character who still manages to make folks wet their pants in fear just by being skeevy. Kenton passes out after Lily crashes his car, and he somehow wakes the hell up within seconds to run down the highway after her. We also saw him kill Anton with a sickening crack of the neck after getting pretty darn beaten up, and he tackled and suffocated Sergei like it was no big thing. Yet I feel like Kenton’s (physical) luck will eventually run dry. He’ll likely upset Lily enough that she’ll really go off on him, or he’ll randomly walk into a sinkhole and meet his demise. In either event, there’s no way that he’ll be the last person standing. That’d be a really disappointing ending.
Lily knows that she’s being pursued by unstoppable forces following Sergei’s death and her refusal to accept that he killed himself. She’s definitely not in the wrong because it’s obvious from last week’s CCTV footage that Sergei’s suicide was faked by Forest and Kenton. This episode, she realizes that even her own therapist will turn on her, and when she calls the police to report a murder, they show up and arrest her. So basically, Lily’s a marked woman, who’s actions are being predicted-tracked by the Devs system, which I can’t possibly see as a positive thing. Very ominous, and the only people she’s really able to trust are Pete and Jamie, one of which might not be alive and well much longer. On her own, she’s scrappy but not as clever as she believes that she is when it comes to bringing down Forest.
Well, look out, Jamie. He seems like the clearest cut case. There’s not much mystery to Jamie, and his almost blind devotion to Lily might be what does him in, sooner rather than later. It’s really not looking good for him at the end of the episode because Kenton not only knows that he exists, but he was with the cops who arrest Lily. And once the cops leave, we see Kenton menacingly enter Jamie’s apartment, so yup, I’m guessing there’s no hope for poor Jamie, not even for another week.
Yeah, look at Forest’s face here. He’s not happy with Lindon, this poor kid. Lyndon’s brilliant, and has (as he declares in a bewildered state) “fixed his sh*t,” but Forest still fires him. The CEO does so under the guise of disliking the multiverse theory, which Forest publicly reasons is very dangerous and could “split hairs” to an extreme degree, presumably altering reality as we know it. We’ve already discussed how this relates to Forest’s fear of not confining the “real” Amaya in the Devs system, but as far as what Lyndon actually did? No rules were broken: he did not try to predict the future, and he did not invade anyone’s privacy.
Where Lyndon did screw up, in Forest’s mind, is by projecting 2000 years in the past and recording the presumptive voice of Jesus. There’s a lot of tech-speak, like how Lyndon abandoned “De-Broglie Bohm” (the pilot wave theory) for the “Everett method”, but I really don’t think that it’s worth placing too much stock on the intricacies of quantum physics to understand why Forest accused Lyndon of performing a “cute party trick” and everyone else of having “nerd hard-ons” before he fired the kid. Forest was angry because his system’s careful balance (and the most important ingredient, his daughter) might be altered by what’s presumably an amazing technological advance.
Yet Forest’s not really invested in the future, on a personal level, and everything is personal to him. He’d like to pretend that his daughter is still alive. He still lives in their old house. The future, because there is no daughter, frightens the hell out of him. He’s not interested in progress, and anything that offers said progress is obviously going to threaten him. That thing, right now, is Lyndon. Granted, he got a $10 million severance, and he could do anything! However, he’s clearly brainwashed into believing that being part of Devs is the only reason for living. I fear for Lyndon, and this can’t be the end of him on the show. As Forest threatened, if he says one thing about Devs, he’s not gonna make it. The strangest thing about Lyndon, though, is that he’s somebody’s kid, and I don’t know if Forest is monstrous enough to kill a child while mourning for his own. My guess would be “yes,” but one never truly knows reality in Devs-land.
FX on Hulu’s ‘Devs’ airs new episodes on Thursdays.