Tue. Jul 14th, 2020

TV Recap: ‘Devs’ — Season Finale: Episode 8

Though much of the first season of Devs has crawled forward, its finale quickened the pace before bringing life to a screeching halt. As both Forest (Nick Offerman) and Katie (Alison Pill) waited for Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) to enter the Devs facility, we waited as well for an event of cataclysmic proportions, an event that defies big technology and major advances. 

The season has become a waiting game of sorts, with people taking turns giving long monologues and quantum explanations. For some actors, like Mizuno, we’ve been waiting for them to show raw emotion, to move past the blankness and into the feelings they should be experiencing. Alex Garland’s drama set itself up for a thrilling final act, and it sure delivers with this hour of sci-fi (yet human) television. 

Code 1: Lily Enters Devs

While previous episodes jumped between the past, the present, and the future simulations, the finale attempted to stay the course in present time. After entering the facility, she immediately finds Forest, telling him, “I don’t know what I am anymore…something that has no decisions.” They watch a projection of Forest’s daughter named Amaya (and I realized that the giant statue on Amaya’s HQ is of his daughter wow!) and Lily asks to watch the events that will unfold later that evening. Forest obliges, leading to:

A projection of what is supposed to happen to Lily, Forest, and Katie later that evening. Boom, there it is: the entire buildup for an immediate payoff. They watch the simulation of events together. Lily pulls out the gun she brought and leads Forest by gunpoint into the glass elevator. Moments later, she shoots him in the eye, killing him, while Stewart (Stephen McKinley Henderson), one of the few truly terrified by the Devs system, causes the elevator to fall, killing Lily. Right before she shoots Forest, he says something of note though.

“You know the thing about messiahs, don’t you? They’re resurrected.”

Code 2: Lily Makes a Choice

After Forest gives Lily a bit of information about the name Devs, which is actually Deus, the latin word for God, they start the reenactment of the projection they just watched. They go into the elevator and at the last moment, to Forest’s sheer shock, Lily throws the gun away before the doors close. She repeats a line back to the tech CEO, “You know the thing about messiahs, don’t you? They’re false prophets.”

She made a choice, quite possibly the first real choice someone has made in the Devs universe, one built on the idea of determinism. As the elevator travels across, Stewart makes another choice: to cause the elevator to still drop to the ground, killing Lily and Forest. 

Code 3: An Afterlife

Forest wakes up in the visualization chamber within the simulation, inside of the Devs system. They chat about Lily’s choice, about the idea of disobedience, and about the many worlds theory, a staple in this world Garland constructed. She essentially says goodbye, while crying in her first show of emotion, as Forest disintegrates. 

Lily wakes up with Sergei in their apartment, riding with him to Amaya, seeing Stewart and Lyndon (Cailee Spaeny) on the way. She remembers everything, and has no clue what’s going on. It was hard not to feel out of the loop, though, so hopefully Lily knows she wasn’t alone. She walks over to the Devs facility and sees Forest playing the field, accompanied by his wife and daughter. With Katie’s help, they’ve been resurrected and are now living in the projection. As Lily begins to exist in this afterlife, this variation, this second chance, she goes and finds Jamie (Jin Ha), giving him a hug in a redeeming final shot. Devs didn’t always make sense and sometimes became more confusing than grounded. It asked its viewers to ponder big ideas and even bigger questions about life, most of which they didn’t answer in the end. It looked at our own free will, the deterministic nature of our decisions, and the power of big tech, as well as its leaders. Beautiful to watch and stirring to think about, Devs lacked emotional punch in its performances, outside of Nick Offerman and Alison Pill, but it painted a world that felt more like reality than fantasy.

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