The first two episodes of Alex Garlan‘s new series Devs felt like a self-contained story. Episode 3 had the promise to broaden the depth of the show, to develop characters and situation beyond their introduction. Yet, Devs episode 3 surprises by twisting the narrative. Instead of depicting a cat-and-mouse game between Lilly and the leadership of Amaya we see her placating them.
With the 3 episode of Devs writer and director Alex Garland’s proves he is not beyond playing with the audience. Throughout the episode little is mentioned of the confrontation between Lilly and Sergei’s Russian handler Anton. Nor the latter’s death at the hands of Amaya security chief Kenton. Instead we see a downcast Lilly arriving back at work ostensibly to seek counseling to aid with mourning for Sergei. For the viewer this is not an reasonable turn of events – in the second episode Lilly rebuffed Anton’s offer to help her. Lilly tells Amaya counselor Anya (Aimee Mullins) all of her suspicions surrounding Sergei’s death. Naturally there is a lot of doubt. The viewer starts to consider if the events of episode even happened at all as Lilly states when her close-friend Jen tells Anya Lilly has suffered from Schizophrenia.
Devs episode 3 meets The Usual Suspects
However, despite this turn of events we also see evidence that Anton was real. During a visit from a US senator Laine we see Kenton straining to deal with the injuries he suffered with his fight against Anton. This ostensibly gives Forrest and Kenton a huge advantage. With Sergei and his handler dead there is no evidence of a cover up, and with Lilly’s supposed mental history no one will ever believe her. To top it off as senator Laine is leaving her discussion with Forrest they see Lilly standing on a ledge at the Amaya building. Kenton talks her down.
This appears to be another nail in her coffin with regards to finding out if and who killed Sergei. However, in a scene straight out of The Usual Suspects set to tune of Age of Aquarius we discover everything was an act. Jen planted the idea of Lilly’s Schizophrenia. When Lilly was standing on the ledge Jen copied the video of Sergei’s supposed suicide from Kenton’s office.
This turn of events drives the plot forward in a new direction. With the aid of her ex-boyfriend Jamie she discovers the footage of the suicide was faked. On its own it may not be enough proof Sergei was murdered. Lilly (Sonoya Mizuno) posits an interesting question to Jamie. What happened between the 24 hours of Sergei’s disappearance and his faked self-immolation. There could be a harmless explanation in that it took time to create the doctored footage, but the issue was mentioned and I do not think that is a coincidence.
Meanwhile on the Amaya side things are stirring as well. Senator Laine’s visit with Forest contained no small amount of subtle hints that she wants to know what Devs does. She hints at subpoena and difficult questions at hearings. Despite best efforts at a poker face Forest appears to be breaking under the strain. His own daughters death as well as guilt over Sergei’s death and Lilly’s mourning makes him somewhat sympathetic to the audience. Even if he is directly responsible for the latter two situations.
Conclusion to Devs episode 3
Kenton’s promise to Forest that he will not take action against Lilly felt disingenuous. A split within the Amaya team could be all Lilly needs to uncover the mystery of why Sergei’s death was a necessity. With Devs Episode 3 director Alex Garland continues his use of naturally flowing understated dialogue. There are long and intimate pauses as characters mull over their thoughts. The effect is a subtle tension as few characters are entirely open-hearted. With this there is the specter of the quantum technique the Devs team uses to look into the past.
Developers Stewart and Lyndon are seen looking into Marylin Monroe and Arthur Miller having sex, but the technology could be used to uncover any past event. The episodes starts with exactly a series of historic events: Jesus on the cross, the burning of Joan of Arc, the young life of Forest’s daughter Amaya and the suffocation of Sergei. How long before more of the mystery becomes known to those that should not. With these questions seemingly lingering I cannot wait for Devs episode 4!