Adekunle Bajo’s review published on Letterboxd:
When I first heard that Alex Garland had created a show I was a bit skeptical. I’ve heard how good Garland movies are but I could never get into them. Well, movie because I’ve only seen Ex Machina which I didn’t like very much if I’m being honest. It’s not a bad movie it just wasn’t for me for reasons I’m not quite sure of yet. I never bothered checking out Annihilation because of my experience with Ex Machina. Devs was going to be my last and final straw with Garland before I called it quits and boy was I blown away by this show.
With Devs, I believe Alex Garland has now cemented himself as one of the greatest filmmakers in modern sci-fi.
Devs is built around a philosophical question “Does anything we do happen without reason?”. It takes us on an 8 episode journey to tell us this story. Are our choices predetermined or not? The story follows Lily, a young computer engineer who works in a cutting edge tech company that decides to launch an investigation into the likely murder of her boyfriend who had just been promoted into the secret division in the company called Devs.
Lily was a pretty interesting character although I found her a bit dry I feel like that was intentional which worked in its favor. On the surface, Lily seems like someone who is not capable of fighting until she goes through the ordeal of losing her boyfriend where you begin to see a side to Lily you might probably never have realized existed. She never backed down no matter how many obstacles were stacked against her.
Forest was probably my favorite character. He’s the brain behind Devs and he just wants to be with his daughter again. He is an empty shell that’s living on borrowed time and you can see it in his actions. He moves with a certain desperation because he’s closer to his goal. There is a part where the many worlds theory is brought into the story and Forest is clearly upset as it defeats the purpose of what he wants to achieve with Devs which is to be with the daughter he knew and the one that knew him. Not one that belongs to another world that may not know him. It’s kinda sweet how he tries to keep to that goal even when a whole different discovery that any scientist will drool over is right at his feet.
The Devs computer was my favorite thing for a couple of reasons. It has the ability to predict certain moments into the future and can also take a look at the past as well as view the present. Most people when they have a scientific tool they mostly use it as MacGuffin. Garland, however, knows the machine is a big part of the world and story and he used it to amplify many scenes and push the story. My favorite part of its use was episode 5 which was a whole flashback sequence when Katie, Forest’s assistant uses Devs to look into the past which makes the experience a lot more immersive than cutting through scenes. It was a clever technique that worked marvelously.
The finale of Devs proves to me that deep down in that twisted mind Garland is a lover at heart.
The only problem I had with this show was the espionage subplot. It didn’t really need to be there for as long as it was. If you take it away it doesn’t take away the brilliance of the show.
Garland is a master at making minimalist sci-fi and it’s very clear in the production design of the Devs site. It’s a stunning and breathtaking piece of work. I wish it really existed. I need to see a BTS of this. The SCORE!!! It is haunting and unnerving it sends chills down my spine. I LOVE IT!! I don’t know if Garland will get an Emmy for this. I hope he receives a nomination. I may write a longer piece on the fifth of Devs soon.