Devs (TV) Review

After the success of his intoxicating sci-fi thrillers Ex Machina and Annihilation, writer-director Alex Garland moves his sights to television for Devs. His new FX limited series follows a computer engineer investigating her missing boyfriend’s mysterious disappearance at Amaya, a Silicon Valley tech giant.

Symbolism, ominous foreshadowing and layers upon layers of code fill this hypnotic, engrossing thriller about technology and our place in it.

Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno)

Sonoya Mizuno is a talented singer with a sweet, mellow voice. She started her singing career at age 10 and won numerous awards in the National Children’s New Song Competition, the Guangzhou Children’s Art Flower Show etc.

She has starred in movies such as Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, Crazy Rich Asians and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation. She plays Lily Chan, a software engineer who works at cutting-edge tech company Amaya and becomes suspicious that her employer is behind the disappearance of her boyfriend.

Mizuno delivers a convincing performance as the headstrong, no-nonsense Lily. She can be a little robotic at times, but it fits with the character’s tech-industry persona. It would have been nice to see a bit more of her range, especially when she’s scared or angry. But that may have been difficult given the circumstances of the show. She also has some issues with her accents. They sound a little too fake and forced to some people.

Forest (Nick Offerman)

Forest is a fascinating character because, unlike Ron Swanson, his obsessiveness is driven by real grief. Though he is doing sinister things — such as firing employees and threatening them with death when they talk about their work on the Devs project — his desire to resurrect his daughter is pure and empathetic.

He has named his company after her, uses her face as the logo, and even has a statue of her at corporate headquarters. While that may seem overly sentimental, it reveals the depth of his love for her and how much she means to him.

It’s also a reminder of what makes Offerman such a great performer. He hasn’t lost any of the dry humor that made him such a hit on Parks and Recreation but has added a new layer to his character in Devs, which has him playing a Silicon Valley God with an intense desire to reshape the universe.

Katie (Alison Pill)

Devs is a heady meditation on the concepts of free will and determinism, and its final episode offered some stunning twists. Sonoya Mizuno’s Lily is devastated to learn that Sergei’s memory lives on within a simulated world inside Deus, but she’s a much more steadfast believer in determinism than her boss, Amaya’s CEO Forest (Nick Offerman).

Katie, who runs the team at the secretive research division of tech company Amaya, is one of Lily’s best allies. She’s a quantum physicist and is tapped by Forest as his second in command at the company.

The FX-Hulu series co-created, written, and directed by Alex Garland offers a dark vision of Silicon Valley that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking. Inverse spoke with Alison Pill, who plays the resolute right-hand of Katie, about her character’s role in this mindfuck. Click through for our full conversation. Spoilers ahead!

Sergei (Karl Glusman)

It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that a programming employee named Sergei (Karl Glusman, another frequent Garland collaborator) gets a coveted promotion at Amaya and promptly disappears inside the company’s top secret facility Devs, where he is supposed to be working on quantum predictive software. Then, mysteriously, he shows up dead.

Forest, the eccentric CEO of Amaya and Sergei’s employer, has him killed after he realizes that he won’t be able to keep quiet about his new project. He has security head Kenton (Zach Grenier) kill him and make it look like he committed suicide by burning himself alive.

Lily, who has a long history with Amaya and is Sergei’s girlfriend, suspects that something sinister is going on and joins the team of Devs employees, which includes Stewart (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and young coding prodigy Lyndon (Cailee Spaeny). She also meets a senator who wants to use their technology for government purposes. He invites her to come along, but she declines, revealing that she believes the program is killing people.

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