Devs Episode 2 review
Lilly’s offered a new job
The second episode of Alex Garland’s Devs is very much a second episode. With the shock of the new and basic introductions out of the way, it has to perform some necessary housekeeping in terms of servicing the plot arc, especially as regards transforming Lilly from a reactive into a proactive character. In doing so, it’s a bit less stylish and bit more clunky than the impressive premier, with fewer wow moments and starling images.
Fewer, but not none, and sometimes quality is more important than quantity. That’s certainly the case here in the brilliant scene in which two Devs coders bicker amusingly about history, wokeness, the generation gap and the merits of John Coltrane’s music before peering into the past to witness the crucifixion.
Okay, so travelling back to the see the crucifixion is a well-worn trope of time travel fiction, and this is pretty much a spin on that old chestnut. But the scene remains incredibly powerful nevertheless, partly because of the performances, partly because it’s so understated. And it also gets you salivating to know more about what Forest has planned for his quantum machine. The central themes of the show are still forging its best moments.
The goings on at Amaya certainly make Lilly’s dealings with the Russian spy feel a little mundane in comparison. On the plus side, now that Lilly is taking control of events, Sonoya Mizuno is giving a very gutsy, engaging performance, although the rather touching little phone conversation she has with her mum (“Of course I have friends… in fact, I’m with them right now”) reveals a more vulnerable side that gives the character necessary depth. Mum’s, eh? They always know now to twist the knife even if they don’t know they’re doing it.
But mostly, the spy stuff isn’t terribly interesting. Perfectly watchable, but hardly the stuff that gets you posting “#Devs 2NITE! OMG!” on your social media platform of choice. Luckily, it all turns out to be a bit a plotline red herring, and the wonderful final moments if the episode – with a hilariously naff, slow-motion fight between Forest’s boot boy Kenton and Ivan/Anton the useless spy, and Lilly sticking up a sign in her window telling Ivan/Anton to “F**k off!” – leave you with renewed sense that this series won’t be treading familiar paths after all.
(Oh, and presumably Kenton knew about Lilly’s meeting with Anton/Ivan for the same reason Forest knew about Sergei – his quantum computer predicted it.)
A shout-out for the incidental music, too, which is delightfully bizarre at times. For Lilly’s meeting with Anton/Ivan it sounds like someone’s lobbed some rocks and a church bell in a tumble drier. You wouldn’t want to buy a CD of it, but it certainly gives the proceedings an edgy tension.
• The track that plays at both the beginning and end of the episode is “Congregation” by Low.
• Who is Pete? He’s getting enough screen time now he’s clearly got an important role to play. And is it relevant that he looks a little bit similar to Forest (ie, Thor at some point between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame)?
• Also, what’s the betting that the arrangement of Pete’s cigarette butts isn’t random at all, and he’s actually recreating some famous scientific wave or other?
• More circles…
• We now know that Amaya (the company) is named after Forest’s dead daughter, so presumably she’s also freaky giant statue. Because nothing says I love you like a gaudy 60 foot plastic girl that looks like she should have a massive slot in her head for charity donations. She’s also, without a doubt, who Forest was looking at on the screen inside the quantum machine when he was left alone.
• Any scientists out there want to let us know if there are any physics-related in-jokes in the graffiti below?
Devs is currently airing in the UK on BBC Two and available for a limited time on iPlayer