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Devs S1E3 Is Bookended by Two Mind-Bendingly Great Scenes

The opening scene of Devs S1E3 erased any apprehensions I may have had about the show’s quality taking a dive after its strong premiere. I found myself speechless after watching the scene, sitting there with a confused dumb grin on my face. This is officially my kind of show, I thought.

S1E3 opens with the static we saw within Devs previously, forming a rotation of new visions this time around. I believe the events depicted throughout history occurred in chronological order. The first is some hand making a handprint on a wall. (I wasn’t sure what this represented—perhaps an image from prehistoric times.) Next we see another image of Jesus with distorted dialogue and all audio periodically cutting out. I’m not certain of the next image, but I think it might be of some crusaders. In the next vision we see Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, with more indiscernible alien-like dialogue. Whatever this technology is, it hasn’t perfected the ability to re-create audio.

Next up in the static Devs machine is Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, followed by another vision we saw last week—a bubble-blowing girl who I’m assuming is Forest’s (dead? missing?) daughter. Finally the static transforms into a couple of events that occurred in the Devs premiere: Sergei dying via a plastic bag over his face and Lily placing the F*ck You sign in her window for Anton.

I loved every second of this sequence—that I’m sure of. As to what was actually going on? Not quite as confident in that. I pondered last week whether the purpose of Devs would be to create real projections of past events. After this week’s episode, that theory doesn’t seem fully right. But it’s clearly part of what Devs is doing.

Later in the episode, Katie walks into the Devs static room and Stewart and Lyndon are watching a projection of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller having sex. She reminds them that Devs has two rules: “One, we don’t look forward, we only look back. Two, we don’t invade privacy.” (She believes they are invading privacy by watching this act, although Stewart disagrees.) So, interestingly, the Devs technology can apparently be used to look into the future—but that’s against the rules. Something tells me the first rule will be broken at some point, if it hasn’t already.

Lyndon wearing a Primus shirt sitting with a laptop in front of a golden wall

We also get more vague insight from Forest about what Devs does. A local senator (Janet Mock) visits Amaya, informing Forest she intends to call him into to a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Tech Oversight. After some badgering, the senator is able to get a few details out of Forest. He tells her “We’re using our quantum system to develop a prediction algorithm.” This would seem to be breaking the first rule Katie mentioned, although I don’t trust that Forest is being very forthright with the senator.

Forest is clearly not interested in helping the government. In Episode 1, he told Sergei he didn’t care about national security. In S1E3, he dismissively assumes the senator is looking to use his technology for the NSA, but she responds that she wants his systems “for America.” I wonder if Forest’s lack of interest in helping is because of a general dislike of government control and oversight. Or perhaps the government had something to do with the loss of Forest’s daughter?

I’m still very unsure of what Devs is doing, but I’m now leaning toward it being related to Forest’s daughter. And for some reason not yet explained, I think he wants Lily to play a role in his plans.

Lily’s Scheme

Early in Devs S1E3, Lily is grieving on her bed when she appears to come to a realization. We next see her enter the encryption department of Amaya. One interesting detail to note, when she walked through the office doors, the same garbled dialogue played as when Joan of Arc was shown at the beginning of the episode. What’s that connection?

Lily opens up to her supervisor, Anya (Aimee Mullins), that she thinks Sergei didn’t commit suicide. Jen joins the conversation and backs Lily’s suggestion that she go speak with Kenton. He’ll know what to do. This seems like a terrible idea, knowing what we know about Kenton, and Anya tends to agree. But Jen helps convince Anya it would be best (by mentioning that Lily suffers from schizophrenia), and she agrees to make the call.

Meeting with Kenton, Lily—with Jen present as well—repeats her worries about Sergei not committing suicide. And that he may have even been murdered. Kenton clearly knows this is a true statement; he literally did the murder. It’s fun to watch the wheels spinning in Kenton’s mind here while keeping a stoic demeanor.

Lily then launches into an elaborate story about how this all happened before years ago when she was working for a start-up in Brooklyn, and Jen knew her then as well. Things take a turn as Lily brings up the Fibonacci sequence and how she counted the number of scales in her boyfriend’s dragon tattoo, and finally storms out of the room after hyperventilating.

Quite the impressive and bizarre performance by Sonoya Mizuno. However, when I first was watching this moment, I was a bit confused. The schizophrenia detail seemed to come out of nowhere and I feared Devs might be taking a dive. These concerns were short-lived.

Lily climbs out onto a narrow ledge, and Kenton is called to get her down safely. While he’s out, Jen downloads security footage from Kenton’s computer onto a flash drive.

Lily standing on a ledge against a bank of reflective windows

So this was a ploy the entire time to steal the footage. Was Jen in on it from the very beginning, even before Lily talked to Anya? Had Lily called her on her way over to Amaya? I feel like she must have.

This was an excellently executed twist. However, I have one small complaint. I find it somewhat hard to believe that Kenton would have allowed Jen to remain in his office alone. This is a tech company clearly with some top-secret information, and Kenton is the head of security. How could he allow this?

Thoughts on Kenton

Putting that complaint aside, I’m really enjoying the character of Kenton. Zach Grenier’s facial expressions and deliveries have been top-notch in creating a nuanced and deliberate character.

As Forest’s fixer, he’s devious, quick-witted and at times emotionless. Kenton’s conversation with the senator’s security man Joe suggested he is likely ex-military (or potentially a former undercover cop). Joe asks if he “misses it,” and Kenton wonders if he means wearing a uniform but he was referring to the “adrenaline” of the job. Joe also mentions he used to go weeks without showering for his former job.

I wonder if there is more backstory here that we will learn or if it’s just a way to let us know Kenton probably used to be in the military. Either way, I thought the scene with Joe and Kenton in the waiting room was fantastically shot, with the odd green head sculpture providing a strange twist in mood.

Is Kenton on the same page as Forest regarding Lily’s importance? He tells Forest they have a future “ace” up their sleeves in Lily and her schizophrenia. Anything she does is dismissible. And anything done to her is explainable. But Forest emphasizes that nothing must happen to her. He says that Lily jumping off the building would have “nearly f*cked the universe.” I’m still thinking the reasoning for bringing Sergei into the fold at Devs and then killing him was merely to get closer to Lily and try and gain her trust.

I’m a little surprised Kenton isn’t more suspicious of Lily, or thinking that she might be lying. But perhaps, living in Forest’s atmosphere, he realizes that even if she is lying, everything is predetermined and it doesn’t really matter what he thinks. “We’re still on your tram lines,” he tells Forest. Regardless, this should be an interesting battle going forward, with what Lily knows about Sergei but doesn’t know about Devs.

That Final Scene

Lily takes the flash drive to her ex-boyfriend Jamie and tells him she can’t watch the footage alone. To which he responds with a fantastic line: “You want us to watch the man you left me for burn himself to death…together. That’s transcendently weird, Lily.”

They watch Sergei—or a projection of Sergei—light himself on fire. Lily can barely look, but Jamie notices something unusual. The flames are symmetrical. Or put another way, every frame has the same flame.

The flames are fake, a visual effect. But Lily saw a real body at the scene. She earlier wondered if the body was someone other than Sergei, and the investigators were in on a cover-up. But now she knows it was Sergei’s body. “The body is real, the suicide is fake. They murdered him.”

Devs S1E3 ends with a reveal of Kenton and other Amaya staff bringing Sergei’s dead body to the site of the giant creepy Amaya statue. They doused the body in gasoline and set it on fire. The scene would have been powerful in and of itself, but in a unique twist, the scene was shown in reverse. The flame is burning, it goes out, the gasoline flows back up into the canister, and the crew walks backward with Sergei’s body off the screen. Such a simple effect, but I loved it. And with the music playing, I felt like I was listening to Radiohead’s backward-vocal song “Like Spinning Plates.”

S1E3 was bookended by two incredible scenes, and I look forward to more moments like these throughout the series. I’m loving this show so far.

Final Observations

  • In the premiere, I got a strong sense that there was something up with Pete, the homeless guy who lives outside Lily’s apartment building. I’m not sure what his part of the bigger picture will be, but he seemed more than a background detail. Anyway, he wasn’t in this week’s episode, so that theory could be way off-based.
  • Not as many religious call-outs in S1E3, but there were still a few. As mentioned, the opening scene featured another projection of Jesus, one of Joan of Arc, and possibly an image of crusaders. Also, the senator told Forest she’d “crucify” him in a public hearing.
  • I thought the reference to the Fibonacci sequence fit very appropriately on Devs and is somewhat reflective of the show as a whole. On the one hand, you have the mathematical side of the sequence. To keep things very basic here, the Fibonacci sequence is when beginning with 0 and 1, every number is the sum of the two preceding numbers (i.e., 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…). This mathematical element could be related to the code used in Devs. The hard numbers. Then you have the phenomenon of the Fibonacci number occurring in nature, such as in flower petals, fruits and vegetables, and pine cones. Devs—Forest in particular—has this air of examining how everything is set on a determined path, there is order to the world. Also, the ratio between numbers in the Fibonacci sequence is commonly known as the Golden Ratio. Does this have any relation to the inside of Devs being gold?
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Written by Bryan O'Donnell

Bryan O'Donnell is a Writer and TV Editor for 25YL. In addition to TV and Twin Peaks, he loves music, baseball, reading, and playing video games. He lives in Chicago.

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