Have you ever struggled to explain something you like that’s considered weird? No matter how you try, there’s no way to put together a coherent series of thoughts to strengthen your position. For example, I enjoy watching pimple popping videos. I’m fully aware it’s super weird and I can’t describe why I continue to watch, but I like seeing blackheads removed from someone’s face. It’s satisfying and entertaining. Apply the same logic of “weird and enjoyable” to a television show and the result is Devs.
Welcome to the weird and compelling world of Alex Garland, the creator, writer, and director of Devs, which streams on Hulu. Garland, the genius mind behind Ex Machina and Annihilation, has once again created another sci-fi thriller that will blow your mind for all the right reasons. In typical Garland fashion, there are more questions than answers. It’s a show that not only challenges the viewer to think critically but to suspend disbelief in the process.
The initial premise of Devs revolves around Lily, played by Sonoya Mizuno, a computer programmer at the giant tech company, Amaya. When Lily’s coworker and boyfriend, Sergei (Karl Glusman), dies at the facility, she believes that Amaya and its CEO, Forrest (Nick Offerman), are responsible for his death. Lily begins to investigate Amaya and quickly learns that both Sergei and the Devs team are full of secrets. After the first episode, the show’s murder mystery premise acts as a launchpad for debates over free will, predestination, and determinism.
Much like the characters in the show, I, too, struggle to explain what Amaya does with the Devs team and how they do it. Quantum computing isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Don’t freak out. Devs isn’t a Harvard bar with equations and shit on the walls. It’s more interested in questioning powerful technology and what people will do to acquire and protect it. Can a group of computer programmers play God? Set in San Francisco, Devs is fucking beautiful to watch. With its funky style and emphasis on light, episodes are like watching the video to “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. The spectacular drone shots of San Francisco, the warm, illuminating lights at the Devs lab, and the giant statue of a little girl in a redwood forest at Amaya are just some of the fantastic images that make Devs so visually appealing.
Though Garland is the concertmaster, he’s nothing without his performers. Mizuno’s inquisitive performance perfectly represents the ideas of the audience, who look for answers after every turn. Offerman’s deadpan comedy on Parks and Recreation skyrocketed his popularity, but his dramatic turn as a powerful, godlike entrepreneur grieving the loss of his daughter is a revelation. However, Zach Grenier’s performance as Kenton, the head of security at Amaya, is one of the many reasons why I keep coming back to the show. Kenton is a cold-blooded and ruthless fixer that would make Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad nervous if the two ended up in the same room. Kenton’s monologue to open the show’s fourth episode was so damn evil and scary that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Devs may be on the of the wilder shows out right now, but it’s by far one of the best on television. The confusion only adds to the suspense and amplifies the action. It’s fully ok to admit that Devs can be weird and still acknowledge it’s greatness. Embrace the unknown in Devs.
What are your thoughts on Devs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.
Devs streams on Hulu as part of FX on Hulu. As of 4/8/2020, six of eight episodes have been released. New episodes arrive every Thursday at midnight.