Alex Garland‘s series Devs was one of the most anticipated series of the year – even when we knew very little about it. Then earlier in the year came a mysterious trailer that got a significant buzz going. After eight episodes the fantastic show is over and I for one never regretted the experience. Devs taps into our subconscious bewilderment at the tech-industry. Few of us really know what companies such as Google and IBM are doing with quantum computing. That along with a mentality to venerate their founders as gods is a perfect recipe for a miniseries. Devs did so many things rights – a deliberately slow pace of dialogue that became almost hypnotic, followed with quick action. That combined with beautiful set design, cinematography and soundtrack will ensure Devs will be remembered for years to come.
How to end Devs
As for the finale – Devs Episode 8 it was everything I had hoped it to be. For a few episodes we know that Katie and Forest aren’t really villains. They may have had Sergei killed and did other horrible things. They can’t blame everything on the fact they discovered they live in a fully-deterministic universe. But how would the show end? What would Lily’s presence at the Devs do to ensure the universe would end up non-deterministic again.
Well, Forest and Katie already know and they decide to show Lily. The recording made with the Devs system shows Lily forcing Forest to leave with her at gun point. After a discussion on the platform Lily kills Forest and the platform falls to the ground. This kills Lily but also stops the system. The viewer of course does not want an ending like that – that is why Alex Garland is showing it to us. Naturally Lily does not want it either but Forest seems resigned to his fate. After the recording has ended the discussion turns to how this scenario can be prevented.
Deterministic, but with choices
Forest argues it cannot – not in the universe he believes exists, one that is deterministic. This is contrary to Lyndon’s hypothesis. When events finally unfold Lily decides to throw away the gun. This unexpected turn of events shatters Forest’s world, but for Lily it is a veritable mind-over-matter victory. It is the moment when her character arc is complete. When Lilly threw the gun away everything started making sense. I will never forget the look of shock on Forest’s face when she did that one simple thing.
A fully deterministic universe does not really make sense, even if it brought solace to Forest. To know that every thought you have was already pre-determined is an apparent contradiction – especially if you know them beforehand. A fully deterministic universe can only function for so long – until the urge is too great to break the cycle. However, Lily and Forest plunge to their deaths when Stewart deactivates the electromagnetic platform.
To some this may seem like a bitter end, but both Forest and Lily live on in a quantum simulation of our own world – fully aware of their deaths. Lily converses with Forest inside the simulation – in a world in which his daughter never died. In the last scene we see Katie talk with senator Laine – asking her to help keep the system alive. Inside the simulation Lily meets with Jamie and embraces him.
Concluding Devs Episode 8
As I stated I really enjoyed Devs Episode 8. For weeks I have been considering how this show can end. First came the mystery of why Forest and Katie weren’t using the Devs system to manipulate the future. I felt perhaps because they couldn’t. They were onlookers and thus denied the ability to do so – or the ability simply did not exist. Then came the revelation – or conclusion to an idea – that Lily’s world is fully deterministic. How this came to be is not answered, though I suspect that Katie’s attempt to look into the future had something to with it. To end the deterministic cycle the Devs systems had to be switched off. This series – Devs – show how the characters walked along one specific track to do exactly that.
Alex Garland did a fantastic job with Devs and I am eagerly awaiting his next movie or series. My hat also goes off to Sonoya Mizuno and Nick Offerman. Neither I was familiar with before Devs but I sure as well hope to see more of them. I have seen Alison Pill and Stephen McKinley Henderson before and I will be seeing the latter again as Thufir Hawat in the upcoming Dune movie. If you liked my review of Devs Episode 8 and want more content like it hit the subscribe widget on the right.