Devs: Yup, It’s Pretty Damn Good
All right now. You’ve probably heard about Devs. Hulu’s latest offering to the masses and Alex Garland’s latest stroke of creative genius. Well, as you may have heard, I’m a huuuuge Alex Garland fan, and as such it is my personal prerogative to devour everything that he creates.
Case in point. Devs. Granted, up to the publication of this post, there are only 4 aired episodes (out of 8 in total), but it comes as no surprise that when something is good, you just know it. Immediately. You don’t necessarily need full season to form an opinion. Sometimes, it’s a love at first sight (or in this case love at first episode), and the fact that Nick Offerman is in it, doesn’t hurt either.
But, what makes Devs, so special? Well for a mini-series, it’s pretty bold and ambitious despite the fact that it doesn’t waste too much of your attention or time for that matter. Sure it has plenty of exposition, but it also sets up the basic plot fairly quickly. Devs doesn’t wait to come midway (in airtime) to actually get to the point. Nor does it wait to become interesting, trilling, and thought provoking by that point. Yes, I’m aware that I watched the first four episodes it during a nation-wide quarantine (and pretty much everything sounds amazing in such circumstances) but I’m certain that I’d love Devs even if that wasn’t the case.
Yes, Mr. Offerman is good but you know what’s better in Devs? The slow burning reveal of the sub-plots. When you set up the main problem (murder cover-up perpetrated by a tech start up) in the first episode you have to make it interesting in the remaining 7 episodes. And how do you do that? By thickening the plot ladies and gents. You see, Alex Garland’s writing manages to remain interesting and engaging by spicing things up as the episodes progress. Throw in some corporate espionage, philosophy, past trauma and just enough tech stuff to the basic murder mystery to make you go AAAAHHHHHH (supercomputer’s ability to reconstruct the past and make projection of that event is pretty bad-ass in my book) and you have a pretty straightforward recipe for TV success.
The SF part of the SF/drama/techno thriller comes from the script, the setting (the artsy gold set-designs are marvelous to look at) and from Garland’s work the camera as well. Garland really shines in both areas, but I’m afraid that cannot be said about the leading actress. Sonoya Mizuno’s performance is weird at best. It’s probably the only flaw in this otherwise great mini-series. I can’t tell if it’s her attempt to do an American accent that’s slowing her delivery, or her lack of acting talent in general, but in 99% of her screen-time Sonoya Mizuno’s character Lily Chen sounds awful.
Stephen McKinley Henderson is always a pleasure to watch and I’m loving the cunning quantum physicist Katie (played by Alison Pill) too. Katie is second in command to Nick Offerman’s Forrest character and they make a great evil pair here in Devs for sure. Oh, last but not least… Zach Grenier is once again amazing as Kenton- Forrest’s henchman and head of security. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Devs also shines a light on how high-tech Silicon Valley tech companies (especially those dealing with quantum computing technology) are heavily controlled, monitored or preyed like vulchers by the predatory Uncle Sam. It also gives you a great idea on how disposable and susceptible you are (as an employee in such company in such working environment) regardless of how genius you might be. If you don’t play by their rules, you’re out. Cailee Spaeny’s character Lyndon learned that the hard way, despite the fact that she was offered a big severance package.
With the risk of revealing too much, i’ll stop here. I’ll just say, that I can’t wait for the next 4 episodes to air. To tell you the truth, I’m not particularly invested in Lily’s struggle to expose her boyfriend’s killer. Yes, I’d like that to happen of course, but I’m more interested in what awaits Devs in the tech field. What with Devs team discover next is what I’m after, and frankly, I think that it’s a true testament of Alex Garland’s talents. To make us wanting more.
I can’t recommend Devs enough. Watch it if you have a chance, and tell me what you think. Tell me if you’ll love it as much as I do.