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.
The sixth episode of Devs finally got down to doling out answers about what Amaya’s mysterious Devs program does and what Forest (and his right-hand, Katie) believe. The answers are not entirely comforting ones, neither for Lily nor the audience, but this week, writer-director Alex Garland gives everyone tons to think about while staring down the two remaining episodes. It’s particularly nice to receive these answers after last week’s agony-filled turn from Nick Offerman after we saw the accident that killed his family and forever changed his outlook on life.
Now, we’ve got an exposition-filled installment that doesn’t answer every question, but it sure gives us some hefty clues. As far as recapping goes, the structure of this episode is startlingly simple: a fed-up Lily (and an accompanying, doting Jamie) decides to visit Forest and Katie at his home. No one is surprised to see them show up because this probably popped up as a vision in the Devs machine. What does it all mean, though?
Is Forest good or evil?
Throughout this season, and even more so during this episode, I kept thinking about that quote that’s frequently misattributed to Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The actual quote comes from John Stuart Mill and goes like this: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” Same effect, and both condemn Forest.
Basically, we’ve watched Kenton do bad sh*t all season long while Forest stands there, looking haunted but doing nothing. He watched Sergei’s murder happen, and the Devs group accepted the death as predetermined. Forest truly believes that he cannot interfere in such things (even after he orders them to happen) because whatever happens was meant to happen. It sure looks like Forest is attempting to justify his own bad behavior (at best, he’s an accessory to murder!) by claiming that nothing happens without a reason. It’s all in the cards. In the machine. Don’t blame him, man.
The infuriating aspect of Forest’s belief system is that he genuinely appears to think he’s inherently “good.” As in, he’s doing nothing wrong, and he actually extends this claim to Jamie while reasoning that he had no idea that his “attack dog” broke Jamie’s hand. Sure, Forest knew that someone was terrorized, but damn, he’s so sorry this happened. And he paints himself as free from culpability because of predetermination. On one hand, that’s convenient for Forest, but do we really want someone insane running an incredibly powerful machine that can predict the future? The answer seems obvious, and let’s make things very clear: Forest might not be straight-up evil, but he’s definitely not a benevolent entity. He’s only in this whole thing to resurrect his daughter, and anything else is an obstacle or gravy to him.
What is Lily’s role in this hot mess, and what is Devs?
Quite understandably after Sergei’s death, Lily has wanted to know what Amaya’s mysterious “Devs” group was really all about. Katie, surprisingly, does not hold back, and she gives Lily almost the full run-down about how the machine can revisit all past moments and, to a degree, see into the future. Katie acknowledges that she’s the chief engineer of this thing, and it’s only bolstered her belief in determinism. However, and as she explains to Lily, there’s a point in the future where the Devs machine sputters. It can no longer see the future, and that is why Lily is a target. She apparently does something according to the machine, that breaks the very fabric of the universe.
That turns into quite the argument between Lily and Katie, understandably so. Lily, like much of the audience, believes in free will and actions having consequences. Whereas Katie argues that “nothing ever happens without a reason,” and “everything was determined by something prior.” Katie insists that Lily will do this mysterious thing (some unknown event), and that creates a chicken-and-egg type of dilemma. Will Lily show up at Devs (like the machine shows) because she wants to show up, or will she do this thing because Katie convinces her that she’ll show up and do something? Katie conceded that reading the future is a problematic thing, but she still went there. Still watched the future. Still told Lily what she would do.
Well, Katie admitted later to Forest that she didn’t tell Lily 100% of the story. Also, there’s this: either Katie’s telling the truth, and the Devs machine cuts out in the midst of Lily’s actions — triggering “a total breakdown of cause and effect, a breakdown of determinism, a breakdown of the literal laws of the universe” — or Katie’s masterminding what she wants to happen. Lily comes away from the conversation thinking that Katie’s delusional, but we’ll see what happens next week.
In the meantime…
Is frisbee a sport? As all of this enlightenment (and confusion) is going down, here’s what Forest was doing.
I dunno, man. This is like when Forest was stuffing salad in his face, all granola-like, when his motivations for Devs had nothing to do with environmentalism. He’s projecting himself through a facade, and as someone who simply stands by and lets evil happen because “everything happens for a reason.” Like Lily, said, this sounds like “bullsh*t.” It’s scary, and here he is, forcing Jamie to play frisbee in the street while claiming that it’s a “sport.” (I’m no sports expert, obviously, but this ain’t Ultimate Frisbee.) All the while, Forest damn well realizes that Lily’s getting the lowdown on some disturbing sh*t, but he’s just being casual. Like I said, not a good dude.
What of the fixer? All night long, Kenton has been watching everything. He’s already warned Forest that he’s gonna watch out for himself and won’t take the fall for all that murder business, so watch out, everyone.
FX on Hulu’s ‘Devs’ airs new episodes on Thursdays.