‘Devs’ is a science-based thriller that is created, written and directed by Alex Garland (‘Ex Machina’). The series follows a tech firm employee, Lily who tries to investigate how her boyfriend died after being invited to work in the company’s secret division. The first episode set up this premise exceedingly well, in a slow-burn fashion.
In the previous episode, Lily’s boyfriend, Sergei is depicted to be going to the futuristic workstation of the secret research unit, “Devs.” After getting worked up by what he sees, Sergei leaves, only to be killed by the orders of Forest, the CEO of the company, Amaya. Apparently, Sergei betrayed him by attempting to steal the code of the “Devs” machine.
Several questions were raised, mostly pertaining to the kind of research that is being carried out in “Devs.” Resultantly, the series sets up several mystery/suspense points which can be expected to be developed in the coming episodes.
Devs Episode 2 Recap:
The second episode of ‘Devs’ begins with seemingly random shots of Devs employees thinking about something and one shot of two men wrestling each other in a parking lot. At the Amaya campus, Forest tells Lily about his deceased daughter, indicating the fact that the giant statue of the little girl might be a representation of Forest’s daughter.
Then, Forest is depicted returning home. He stays in a modest, suburban home despite being extremely wealthy. His daughter’s room is still intact, the way it would have been before her death. On the other hand, Lily tries to guess the password to the Sudoku app that she found on Sergei’s cloud and fails. Then, she uses the fire exit to get to her ex-partner, Jamie’s balcony. She knocks so that Jamie can let her in and requests him to crack the Sudoku app password once more.
Jamie tells Lily that the sudoku app is actually a messaging app that is operated by the Russian state and that Sergei might have been a spy. Lily asks him to attempt cracking the password despite the risk of losing all the data. Luckily, the password gets cracked.
Amaya’s head of security, Kenton (the man who killed Sergei) visits Forest at his house and tells him that Lily might be a problem. At the Devs building, the employees are attempting to get a code to work. After a while, white pixel-sized dots on a giant screen coalesce to form an image of several men crucified on a cross like Christ.
It is revealed that the image is actually of the crucifixion of Jesus. They have managed to make a projection of an event 2000 years in the past. Does this mean that the Devs machine can project images from the past (despite being hazy)? However, Forest thinks that the team can do better. Alone in the room, he proceeds to see a past projection of his daughter blowing bubbles in her room.
Lily sees extremely curt texts on the messaging app with the conversation having mostly taken place with affirmative/negative (Yes/No) responses. However, she notices that the person at the other end had stopped responding after Sergei informed him/her of being invited to Devs. She texts asking to meet. The responder replies asking if Lily is using the app. She gets a response with an address and a time.
When she goes to the place at the time mentioned, a man named Anton greets her. He works for Russian intelligence and tells her that Sergei did too. He asks Lily to not believe the fact that Sergei committed suicide. However, he tells her that she would have to work for him if she wishes to know more. He asks her to post a message outside her bedroom window if she chooses to work for him.
Kenton follows Anton into a parking lot. Then he confronts him and tells him to stop making Lily spy for him. Anton disagrees and stabs him in the abdomen. Then, the two wrestle each other and one realises that this is the scene that was randomly shown at the start of the episode (not completely, obviously). Kenton manages to kill Anton. However, it is slightly unclear how he manages to do so as the two men are just shown wrestling on the ground till Anton finally stops moving. Lily sticks a sign saying “Fuck You” to her bedroom window.
Devs Episode 2 Review
Alex Garland’s ‘Devs’ is turning out to be an intriguing mystery of the highest quality. After an engaging premise-setting first episode, the series has advanced its plot without wasting any time. Yet, the second episode does not feel rushed at all. In fact, the pacing is what has been the hallmark of ‘Devs’ so far.
The series tackles its suspense in a slow-burn fashion. The science fiction plays an integral role but does not overpower the narrative like it would have on a standard science fiction show. This is the reason ‘Devs’ is being described as a “science-based thriller.” The science functions like the monster in a horror mystery: something whose exact nature is the suspense that is being uncovered.
Moreover, ‘Devs’ is also cementing itself as a “smart” thriller. There have been some moments when viewers could say that the characters act in a genuinely smart fashion. Lily using Sergei’s cloud account to access his data on her phone in the first episode was the first indication of that. This is further accentuated by the tech jargon that is thrown around routinely (the technicality does not hamper the narrative) making the science fiction feel grounded to reality.
Moreover, the immaculate characterization of the show also shines in the second episode. With the revelation of Forest’s deceased daughter, he stops becoming an all-out greedy, corporate antagonist. It also answers one major question (the giant statue) that viewers might have anticipated being answered much later.
This is where the series exceeds. ‘Devs’ seemingly sets up narrative molds and dismantles them as quickly as they surface, making viewers wonder what would come next and what form Lily’s investigation would take. The plot arc surrounding the involvement of Russian intelligence is introduced and concluded in this episode with Anton’s death. The show risked being yet another post-Cold War espionage drama but manages to avert that.
Read More: Sci-fi Shows like ‘Devs’