Devs (TV)

Computer engineers Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno) and Sergei Kenton (Karl Glusman) work at the mysterious tech company Amaya. A giant, creepy statue of a young girl looms over the company’s wooded campus. The company was named after the deceased daughter of Forest (Nick Offerman), its enigmatic CEO.

Like his work in Ex Machina and Annihilation, writer-director Alex Garland deftly juggles heady sci-fi concepts with real-world issues.

What is Amaya?

Amaya is an open-source Web development tool for editing and publishing XML documents. It is able to combine a variety of XML vocabularies, including SGML, XHTML, MathML, and SVG. It also supports a number of collaborative annotation applications.

What if a Silicon Valley behemoth ran a top-secret project that could peer into the past and glean insight someone would only get with a time machine? That’s the intriguing premise of Devs, a new limited series from Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland.

The first three episodes have focused on the mysterious “Devs” department of Amaya, the tech company run by Forest (Nick Offerman). They’ve been working on quantum coding that allows them to view projections of the past. But what exactly is their endgame? A lot remains unclear, but episode four provides a bit more clarity. It turns out that they’re actually a way for Forest to see his dead daughter again. This theory ties into the show’s frequent references to wave function imagery and its strong belief in determinism and lack of free will.

What is Devs?

Devs is a science-fiction limited series from writer-director Alex Garland, who made his mark with the transfixing Ex Machina and Annihilation. The show follows software engineer Lily Chan, who investigates the mysterious development branch of her employer, a cutting-edge tech giant called Amaya. It stars Sonoya Mizuno as Lily; Nick Offerman as Forest, the CEO of Amaya; Karl Glusman as Sergei, her long-term boyfriend and nemesis at work; Cailee Spaeny as Jamie, a smart, young colleague; Stephen McKinley Henderson as Stewart, one of Amaya’s top scientists; and Alison Pill as Katie, Forest’s second-in-command.

Katie and the other Devs staff have designed a computer system that can see everything that has ever happened, and predict what will happen in the future — but it operates on the theory of multiple universes, so the timeline in which Lily shoots Forest may not actually be the only possible outcome. When a senator visits to discuss using the system for government purposes, she reveals that her death was predicted by the Devs software.

What is Lily Chan?

A software engineer for enigmatic tech company Amaya, Lily Chan is drawn into a project with profound consequences. Streaming Thursdays on FX and Hulu, the new series is directed by Alex Garland, who wrote and directed “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation.” The cast includes Nick Offerman as Forest, Amaya’s CEO; Alison Pill as Katie, a physicist; Sonoya Mizuno as Lily; Jin Ha as Jamie, another physics whiz; Zach Grenier as Colin; Stephen McKinley Henderson as Stewart; and Cailee Spaeny as Lyndon.

The show centers on the mysterious Amaya, which develops quantum computing. It has a super powerful computer system that can see and predict human behavior. Founder Forest names the company after his daughter, but she died as an infant. A creepy child statue looms over the headquarters. When a coworker named Sergei dies suspiciously, Lily suspects he was killed by Kenton, Amaya’s chief security officer. He suffocated him. Then he broke into his RV and tried to steal the project’s code.

What is Forest Fores?

Forest, played by Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman, is the CEO of a vaguely Google-esque tech company. He is able to hire top-notch programmers like Sergei, who is gifted a coveted position on Amaya’s quantum computing team known as Devs.

They work inside a massive, ominously gleaming lab that looks less like a modern corporate research facility and more like a fever dream of a Stanley Kubrick set. Despite the claustrophobic atmosphere and the cryptic language, there are glimpses of warmth in this world. For instance, a statue of Amaya holding an object that resembles a frisbee.

It becomes clear that the main end game of Amaya’s coding project is to bring back her lost daughter. To do so, the scientists must peer into time and glean insight they could never get with a normal machine. But that insight comes with a cost, which inevitably is deadly. The FX/Hulu series is a claustrophobic sci-fi thriller that’s difficult to navigate but well worth the effort.

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