DEVS S1E8: Bittersweet Finale Ends The Show In A Fitting Manner

Last episode was a doozy, if you recall. Lyndon (Cailee Spaeny) died in a totally not suspicious way, Jamie (Jin Ha) was killed by Kenton (Zach Grenier), before Kenton himself was killed by Pete (Jefferson Hall), who subsequently revealed himself to be a Russian spy. Forest (Nick Offerman) and Katie (Alison Pill) await the supposed end of days. And, finally, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) arrives at Devs for the final time, accepting her fate. Let’s see how it all comes to an end!

The Second Coming

In typical Devs fashion, episode 8 starts off in a dizzying fashion. For this one, we hear Stewart’s (Stephen McKinley Henderson) voice reciting the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, all while seeing each of our characters framed in the yellowish blinking light of the Devs building. Finally, we see Lily herself show up at the establishment. What will she find?

source: FX

Lily enters the Devs building, wandering around a bit, before going inside the projection room, where Forest is quietly waiting. He discusses with her a bit more about the determinism that Devs shows, explaining that, though Lily is upset, everything that happened was going to happen no matter what. Forest also explains that his daughter is alive, through the data of Devs.

Lily then asks to see what she does to end the time projection of Devs. They watch together: in a few minutes, Lily exits the projection room with a gun to Forest’s head. They go to the movable platform between the outer section and center of the building, where Forest then taunts Lily, claiming that as a so-called “Messiah,” he will be resurrected. She shoots him, which also breaks the vacuum seal of the platform, plunging her to the depths below. After feebly crawling for a few moments across the room, she dies. Well, that was intense!

We’re back in the projection room. Lily seems to have accepted her fate, while Forest tells her the true meaning of Devs: the “v” is actually a Roman numeral, so the project is actually called “Deus,” which refers to a deity. That explains a lot! Lily then claims their time is up, and they proceed to the very scene we had just witnessed on the projection. But when the doors to the platform close, Lily instead throws the gun outside the closing doors, claiming that “we have left your system.” However, about halfway across, Stewart presses the emergency button, and the two still end up dying on the floor below.

Katie asks Stewart why he did what he did, and he said that somebody had to stop them, and that it was “predetermined.” And then things get really weird. Katie then talks to Forest on the projection screen, claiming that the reason Devs had come to an end is because Lily really did make a choice. He then disappears, before we then see Lily in her room with none other than Sergei (Karl Glusman), They travel to work together at Amaya.

source: FX

Lily is getting some serious deja vu, knowing she had been through all this before. After trying to get Sergei to show her the Sudoku app that he was using to communicate with the Russians, she heads to the Devs building. There, she talks to Forest, who appears to be the only one who knows what’s happening. Forest explains that they are in the Deus simulation, and that it’s essentially paradise even though they’re technically dead. Katie is watching them in the simulation, discussing with the Senator from an earlier episode that she needs help keeping it on. The episode/series ends with Lily meeting up with Jamie. They embrace, and the end title screen comes on, this time displaying “Deus.”

Highlights and Observances

-Well that was certainly unexpected! When we witnessed the supposed ending of both Forest and Lily only a few minutes into the episode, before subsequently launching right into it, I knew there had to be something more, since the episode was only half over. The two halves of the episode therefore have opposite tones: one dark and dreary, while the remainder hopeful. It’s a well-balanced blend.

-This show consistently has used poetry well, here choosing “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats. It’s clearly a fitting poem to use at the start of the episode, as it foreshadows what is to come: that there will, in fact, be a second coming, a messiah of sorts. Though the unexpected part is, of course, that we would’ve thought that it referred to Forest, the self-proclaimed messiah (who even resembles Jesus with his long hair and beard), but we know by the end that it is actually Lily. After all, the poem itself has a dark connotation to it, while the conclusion of the episode is more hopeful. This line might best sum it up, though:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

In the line, Lily could be seen as the former, and Forest the latter. Perhaps the only real messiahs among us are those that don’t claim themselves to be.

-My thoughts about the choice Lily makes: I was hoping the supposed end of projections would have something to do with Lily doing things differently. After all, if you see what your actions have led to, isn’t it possible to change that course? Apparently, only in the case of someone like Lily, who has the power of free will, and she becomes the “Deus” of the title. She essentially undoes the future projection technology of Devs, sorry Deus, and instead makes it a place where data exists and people can live inside of simulations. That sounds like heaven to me, doesn’t it? Also makes me think of the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror, where the same type of after-death simulation exists.

-The acting in Devs was consistently one of its strongest attributes. Here, the episode clearly belongs to Sonoya Mizuno and Nick Offerman. From their tense exchange in the Devs projection room, to their bewilderment within the hovering platform, to their final heartfelt conversation, they consistently bring some of their best acting moments to the finale. As a whole, the cast did a fine job throughout the series.

-The decision to reveal “Devs” as actually “Deus” in the final episode was very clever, especially in that final moment displaying it in its correct name. Devs always sounded a bit off to me, given the potential of its technology, so nice to know that it was actually referring to a deity all along, since they were playing God.

-The show’s discussion of free will versus determinism was thematically one of its most prominent. According to the show, free will for the most part isn’t possible, yet it did constantly question that idea, coming to a final twist in this episode where Lily chooses not to kill Forest. What makes us capable of free will, then – is it just a few among us that can alter their fates, with the rest of us just stuck in predetermined simulations? I suppose we’ll never know.

source: FX

Alex Garland has always been interested in AI and technology, seen in his past film Ex Machina, and here he takes that idea further, implanting the idea that perhaps we can similarly become self-aware technology if you consider our lives to be nothing more than a computer simulation, and maybe one day we can live within data like they do in Deus. It’s far from an original idea, but it works well within the context of the show.

-This show also made me think about the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. In that, one of the key lines is that nobody is ever really gone because at one point in time, they existed. Within Deus, that appears to be the same, even before they acquire the ability to have people actually living in simulations.

-In the end, it looks like Forest really did get his daughter back, though perhaps not in the way he expected. It’s a fitting ending for him, since he knows that it is a projection, which is likely what he deserved given what he had done in the context of the show.

Questions

I don’t have as many questions since this is the final episode, but here goes:

-Why did Stewart make the choice that he does? Did he know that it would lead Katie to insert Forest and Lily into a simulation, or was he instead just trying to kill Forest due to the nefarious possibilities of the Devs program, in a way also getting back for the death of Lyndon?

-Is it possible to insert anybody who has died into a simulation, in essence, making it so that they can live forever? Did Deus just create heaven?

-Is this what the many-worlds theory could be referring to in the context of the show, in that nobody can experience their own death because, in a simulation they can live forever?

-If Lily didn’t make a choice in the end not to kill Forest, would the living within a simulation have been impossible?

-What will happen with Lily and Jamie? Does Jamie somehow know what has transpired?

-And perhaps the most important question of all: Are we all just living in our own simulations? How can we ever really know?

Conclusion

That’s it for the final episode of Devs! What a great show all things considered; though it had its highs and lows, it was consistently entertaining and thought-provoking, with some finely written and watchable characters. It further confirms my theory that Alex Garland is one of our finest voices out there. I look forward to what he comes out with next.

What are your thoughts on the finale of Devs? Were you a fan of the series as a whole?

Devs can be streamed in its entirety on Hulu. 

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