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.
Devs begins as a riveting watch, and viewers got a chance to wrap their heads around two episodes this week. We saw the beginnings of Nick Offerman’s portrayal of Forest, a very non-Offerman type of role, in which he (almost entirely) drops his comedic chops for an ambiguously ominous air. The role gives him a chance to escape his Ron Swanson image, and it’s difficult to know what to think of the guy. Forest is a tech CEO and appears to be unstable, possibly with a messianic complex, and his Amaya company’s attempting to evade government oversight. We quickly learn that the government is trying to do its thing, but that appears to be the least of Forest’s concerns when the credits roll. Let’s get this series started with some straight-up questions and speculation.
First, I think we need to take a moment to acknowledge one of the only scraps of humor in the series so far. Forest absolutely murdered some mixed, leafy greens while watching Sergei predict how a life form will behave, 10 seconds into the future. It’s an out-of-place moment, yet no one seems surprised. Forest’s clearly into his veggies but later tells people that he’s not interested in saving the environment. Perhaps there’s a see-the-Forest-for-the-trees metaphor at work. Maybe Amaya doesn’t do forks?
At this point of the series, it’s worth touching upon introductory matters as the mystery of Sergei’s fate unfolds.
What is “Devs”? C’mon, the show’s not going to answer that question right out of the gate. We learn, after Sergei is invited to this mysterious Amaya developers’ group, that most of the Devs members don’t even know the purpose of Devs. Forest tells Sergei to take a guess and counters his employee’s “cold fusion” with “alchemy,” and things only grow more bizarre. Sergei freaks the heck out after Forest tells him — after entering a floaty gold office space surrounded by magnetic fields — to sit and read code until he figures something out. Well, Sergei is mystified and horrified by what he sees. He seeks reassurance from Forest’s right hand, Katie, about whether he’s reading something real or theoretical. She responds that it’s “not theoretical,” which isn’t an actual answer. We see Sergei apparently capturing the code with his “James Bond” watch, and soon after, this happens. (Heads up: there’s lots of “ominous music” in this show.)
Is Kenton the most intimidating fixer that we’ve seen in years? That’s an easy one to answer: hell yes. Amaya’s head of security is cut from the Mike Ehrmantraut (of Breaking Bad) cloth. He’s ruthless and not a fan of Sergei or Lily at all.
Kenton even manages to take out Anton/Ivan at the end of episode two. These two put up one hell of a fight, and I’m not sure how Kenton, after being stabbed, managed to wrestle Anton under a tire and break his neck. That slow-mo snap was brutal.
I imagine we’ll hear more about Kenton’s true purpose as the show progresses. We should probably talk about the losing party right now.
Was Anton worth trusting? That’s a tough one. Lily had no earthly idea that Sergei was using a fake Sudoku app for messaging with a Russian agent, who ends up being Anton, who urges Lily to trust him. She decided to tell the guy to shove off, but that decision doesn’t matter because, obviously, he’s now dead. Exactly why Sergei was apparently committing “industrial espionage” for Anton, we’re not too sure. However, the evidence seems very clear-cut here. The app was written with state-sanctioned Russian code, meaning that Lily’s boyfriend was indeed a spy. What he wanted to learn from Devs remains unclear, other than we know that he purposely infiltrated the department as part of a long game. Sergei’s death is ruled a suicide, but he’s not the person setting himself on fire here. So who is it, and does that answer even matter?
Did Forest know Sergei’s spy status during his Devs recruitment? Forest has a love for spouting long monologues on determinism. He’s convinced that everything in the world is objectively laid out and that subjective feelings and opinions don’t exist. Everything that happens is supposed to happen, free will isn’t a thing, and yeah, Forest is a real believer in that craziness. It looks like he knew that Sergei intended to steal the Devs code. He had Sergei killed for this betrayal, which he sure as hell seems to believe would have happened no matter what. Sergei looks bewildered when he’s confronted by Forest, but we later learn that he did, in fact, commit espionage. Did Forest figure all of this out in advance, or is he faking that knowledge and simply lucking out on hunches?
What’s up with the unsettling statue? We see this several-stories-high statue pop up pretty quickly on the series, and it acts as a landmark among the redwoods that cloak the Amaya work campus outside of San Francisco. During the second episode, Forest attempts to console Lily and reveals that he, too, suffered a loss, and the statue represents his late daughter, Amaya, which brings this question full circle, but there’s more to come. We soon see Forest crying by himself in a field, and his home is a surprisingly modest abode. Despite his apparently astounding wealth, he can’t move out of the house that he occupied when his daughter died. And it sure looks like Forest is watching her likeness in the Devs cube, at least to a degree?
A few more loose ends:
Oh boy, does Lily have a “type”? Yep, Lily’s definitely into guys who are into code. Jamie’s not too thrilled to see Lily track him down or show up on his apartment terrace later. We learn that Lily crushed his heart, but he eventually relents and agrees to help her figure out what happened with Sergei. Will Jamie end up in Kenton’s crosshairs along with Lily? My guess would be affirmative. Watch your back, Jamie.
This Pete guy seems significant, right? It seems unlikely that Pete, who sleeps on the steps of Lily and Sergei’s building, received so much airtime in these introductory episodes to be irrelevant. I can’t even begin to guess his true intent, since he doesn’t really feel like a double agent, but you never know. If he’s a figment of everyone’s imagination, that’s gonna be a lame twist, but we’ll have to see how this all unfolds.
FX on Hulu’s ‘Devs’ premieres on March 5.