Posted on April 25, 2023
Devs starts off as a compelling look into the cult of the tech bro through the eyes of Lilly, a coder whose boyfriend is killed when he’s caught out as an industrial spy.
Nick Offerman is excellent as always, this time portraying the tech guru at the top of a company that’s doing advanced hooha research into schmergin (not flornoy, not this time). As everyone knows, the very concept of schmergin renders human choice impossible. The schmergin force guides us through our lives like invisible tram lines from which we are unable to deviate.
The problem with schmergin, of course, is that it proves that all physical laws exist only to define one person who can break them, thus rendering the schmergin theory only 99% reliable.
The creator of Devs, Alex Garland, has a love for high tech, but I suspect he may not have a very deep understanding of it.
The series is a return to his other equally obtuse dive into this subject matter, Ex Machina, for which Devs is an inside joke (the V in Devs is Roman).
In this case, the hooha is quantum computing and the schmergin is the deterministic universe in which all time has already played out and we are merely noticing it moment by moment on those tram lines we talked about earlier.
Grieving for his lost wife and child (a condition so common to these movies it deserves its own syndrome), Offerman’s character, Forest (run!), has somehow built a machine that can, using advanced hand-waving and buzzword technology, trace those tramlines backwards and forwards.
All the way back to Jesus on the cross and all the way forward until a couple of days into the future when everything goes blank because Lilly is coming and she’s all out of bubblegum.
Up until the very end of the very last episode, this is actually an extremely compelling look at love and loss that asks powerful questions about destiny. Then it ends in the worst possible way and leaves you sitting there thinking, “Surely this isn’t it, right?”
But that is it.
Personally, I would still recommend it. It’s one great drama from the very start, but next time I watch it for the first time, I will deviate from my tram line and turn it off with fifteen minutes left.
Devs and Ex Machina are slick yet shallow forays into the complexities created by the power high tech gives us, but I would really prefer that Alex Garland spend his time doing something more productive, like writing a sequel to my favorite movie, Dredd.