Tue. Jul 14th, 2020

TV Recap: ‘Devs’ — Episode 7

Alex Garland’s Devs has never been in a rush to get to the climax of its story. Its penultimate episode taught us that lesson once again. Featuring a burst of violence, surrounded by long conversations and quantum questions, Episode 7 focuses on Katie (Alison Pill) and Forest (Nick Offerman), and the projections of their Devs system. 

Opening up prehistoric women talking and painting caves by a fire, this pre-finale episode gave more screen-time to the coders of Devs, including Lyndon (Cailee Spaeny) and Stewart (Stephen McKinley Henderson). It gave fitting endings to certain characters and a few surprises relating to others. Though not as strong as the previous episode, it sets up the finale of epic proportions, an ending that has a greater meaning.

Code 1: The End of Jamie

To refresh, at the end of Episode 6, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) and Jamie (Jin Ha) slept together following a night of realizations at Forest’s home. She called him to bed, and the next morning, when he wants to chat about what just happened, she pushes him away, instead focusing on the Devs system itself. “They’re having the tech nerd’s wettest dream,” Lily tells her ex-boyfriend that is now sort of her new more-than-a-friend. That statement describes Devs as a TV show too, and is the type of meta commentary Garland can throw in when he pleases. She goes one step further: the people at Devs have made everything computational, unpackable, re-packable, and predictable.

A few hours later, it looks as though not much has changed, as Lily forces herself to stay inside and spurn the predictions of Katie in the previous episode, who told her she would go to the Devs facility later that night. Kenton (Zack Grenier) though has different motives, and sneaks into her apartment, shooting and killing Jamie in the process. As he attempts to choke Lily to death, homeless Pete (Jefferson Hall) saves her, killing Forest in the following moments. Big reveal: homeless Pete isn’t actually homeless. He’s a spy that was working with the Russian government to protect Sergei and then protect Lily. A huge twist that I, for one, didn’t see coming and continues to show Garland’s constant knack for laying the groundwork episodes prior.

Oh, Jamie. Sweet, poor Jamie. A loving and tender figure in the Devs world, Jamie nearly always did the right thing and supported Lily. He will surely be missed by her and by us. After telling her that her life is ruined, Pete runs off, while Lily heads to the Devs facility as predicted. 

Code 2: The End of Lyndon

Appearing last episode in Stewart’s mobile home and begging for her job back, Lyndon once again shows up in a random place: the backseat of Katie’s car. Together, they drive to a dam off the highway, walking to the middlest point. Katie acknowledges that Lyndon’s “many worlds” theory is correct, which also enforces Forest’s wrongness in this regard. Katie then explains to Lyndon what will happen next: how Lyndon will climb over the railing and put her full trust in this theory, and if she lives, she’ll be accepted back into Devs.

To put it in a better perspective, Lyndon will “only be conscious of the worlds in which you remain alive, and these are the worlds you can get back into Devs.” The stakes couldn’t be higher for Lyndon, but are nearly zero for Katie, who has already seen this scene play out in the projections, yet won’t tell the young coder the outcome. Though not surprising, it still breaks your heart when Lyndon falls to her death, mostly because she falls every single time in every universe. She didn’t have a chance to survive.

Code 3: Stewart Opens His Mouth

Lyndon’s best friend in the office, Stewart, shows the rest of the Devs team the power of the simulation and of the machine by having them watch the Earth be created, followed by a projection of themselves in that very room. He, and he’s one of the few, understands what Devs can do and what it is. 

He shares his thoughts by quoting a lengthy passage from Shakespeare to Forest, who doesn’t get the reference, which I find hard to believe. “Such big decisions are being made about our future by people that know so little about our past,” Stewart tells the boss. Way to stand up for yourself Stewart.

Code 4: The Set Up

Katie joins Forest in the projection room to watch the cave women from 30,000 years ago from the opening credits. Forest tells her he’s watched one of the girl’s complete life, with her five children, and her death in her 30s. He talks of living in caves and how nothing changed for such a long time. Centuries and centuries went by without major change. Nowadays, the world changes every few months, few days, or even few hours.

In the meantime, Lily arrives at Devs and runs into Stewart, who warns her of the utter badness inside the building. “This place is not good for anybody, he says, which is most likely the case, as people have started to die in rapid fashion. “What’s inside?” she asks. “Everything,” he replies. A short but powerful exchange, it shows how unprepared Lily is for the moment, but how confident she remains.Stewart lets Lily inside the building and Devs is set for a slam-bang finish.

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