DEVS S1E5: Visually Alluring Episode Also Fills In The Gaps

Back at it again! Episode 4 left many of our characters in precarious positions. Lyndon (Cailee Spaeny) had been fired from Devs, Forest (Nick Offerman) was shaken while watching a full projection of his daughter, and, worst of all, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) had been sent to an institution while we still don’t quite know what happened to Jamie (Jin Ha). Hopefully things turn out a little better for our characters this time around!

Aimless Wanderings

Devs starts out perhaps in the most unique manner this episode. We first see Lily laying in bed, with a card from Kenton next to her telling her to get better soon. She then gets up, though, and approaches Sergei (Karl Glusman) in the other room. Then, Jamie appears, and more, differently-dressed versions of Lily as well. Soon, we realize that we are looking at different iterations of time that Lily spent with either of her significant others. All the while, the song “Oh I Wept” by Free plays in the background. It’s a fittingly hypnotic way to start the episode.

DEVS S1E5: Visually Alluring Episode Also Fills In The Gaps
source: FX

Soon, though, it opens up to a scene that is far less pleasant. Jamie is currently being drowned in his own bathtub by Kenton (Zach Grenier). We are already well into the torture at this point, as you glimpse blood around the bathroom. Jamie appears unwilling to even fight back, shaking with cold and fear. Kenton then stops holding his head underwater to tell him a story about his time in the CIA, and his witnessing of the Tiananmen Square incident. He compares it himself, in that the Chinese were willing to do what it takes to stop dissident behavior from getting out of hand. It’s a chilling moment.

We then zoom out to the Devs building, where Katie (Alison Pill) is in the static room watching the very incident that we just witnessed; it then switches to Lily as a child playing backgammon with her father; then, Lily talking with Sergei, in which it appears she has just broken up with Jamie; Jamie sitting at his computer; and finally, Lily sitting with Sergei while they watch something, and Sergei tells her he loves her for the first time. It’s a sweet montage of tender moments.

Then, in another projection, we see Katie herself sitting in a lecture hall, listening to her professor talk about photons. She speaks up, marking her disagreement with the professor, and subsequently storms out of the class. None other than Forest follows her out; it appears to be their first meeting, and he offers her a job. Fast forward to later on, and the Devs team of Stewart, Lyndon, Katie, and Forest are examining various objects, such as a sugar cube and a dead mouse, scanning them almost like you would for a 3D printer. It’s the early stages of the program.

We then catch a glimpse of Forest reading with his daughter, followed by a much grimmer scene of his daughter and wife’s accident, which he had actually witnessed firsthand. Forest then discusses with Katie his purpose behind Devs, saying that if he is wrong about determinism, he is damned.

DEVS S1E5: Visually Alluring Episode Also Fills In The Gaps
source: FX

Finally, we appear to be in the present. Jamie calls his father and tells him to take everyone away for awhile, and Kenton discusses his working relationship with both Katie and Forest, calling out Lily as a threat. Back in the past, Lily is at her father’s deathbed. The final projections are of Lily: playing backgammon as a child, dying on the floor of the Devs building, and then where we first saw her, at the institution. Jamie enters through a window, and he carries her out.

Highlights and Observations

-I said it last week, but I’ll repeat it now: wow, what an episode! Completely changing tone from the action-packed previous episode, this one mostly just filled in the gaps, opening up more on the relationships between the characters and saying a lot about the concept of choice and how that echoes through time.

-Even more than just the projections themselves, the dissolve transitions between them added to the illusory effect, and that’s without even mentioning the projections within the projections. For instance, while we witness Forest’s anguished face at seeing his daughter and wife get in an accident, we also witness a version of him greeting them at their car door, in which the accident never occurred. It’s a trippy concept that is executed really well here by the visuals effects team.

-The interaction between Kenton and Jamie early on in the episode is a highlight, allowing us to gain more of an insight into his character, and the reason for the choices he has made.

-It was nice to see the return of Karl Glusman‘s character Sergei this episode, including the first budding of his relationship with Lily, and later the tender moment of telling Lily that he loves her. It adds more to the depth of Lily having lost him.

-The scene where the Devs team is analyzing various objects was almost David Lynchian in its execution, as we sometimes witness solitary objects surrounded by neon lights, or at one point the minute details of them down to a molecular level. Alex Garland is clearly influenced by the best, but he makes it his own as well.

-Great acting by Nick Offerman during the car accident scene. His expression is absolutely brutal once the shock wears off and it finally settles in what has occurred.

DEVS S1E5: Visually Alluring Episode Also Fills In The Gaps
source: FX

-More excellent needle drops this time, from the bookend song “Oh I Wept” played both at the start and conclusion of the episode, to the frenetic high-volume shrieks during some of the Devs scenes.

-Excellent quote, said by Lily’s father: “No man ever steps in the same river twice. Because it is not the same river. And he is not the same man.” This seems to once again echo the concept of how slight changes over time make a massive difference in the person you become.

Questions

-What leads to Lily’s death? If it seems possible that in some timelines, people live, will we (hopefully) be able to glimpse that one?

-What did Katie mean that Kenton did not have the “power” to kill Lily? Does she know exactly what his role is in these final few episodes?

-Why is Lily so important to Forest and Katie?

-Will Lyndon return to Devs?

-What is Jamie’s plan after he saves Lily from the mental institution?

-Will Forest finally uncover the true underlying meaning behind the concept of time that Devs suggests?

Alex Garland has really impressed me with this show so far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Tune in next week!

What are your thoughts on the latest episode of Devs?

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