Devs: Episode #1.7
April 10, 2020 10:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The Devs team perfect the system, and Forest and Katie wait for the completion of the Devs project. Lily and Jamie try to avoid its threat, but a visit from Kenton leaves Lily with no choice.
posted by paper chromatographologist (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This episode was good and made me so so angry multiple times.
posted by Gaz Errant at 10:33 AM on April 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


I was expecting Katie to push the kid off the dam.

Undercover homeless person seems like a rough assignment for a spy.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:02 AM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


He seemed more like Checkhov's Hobo. How did he get in the house so quickly??

Didn't Katie essentially push the kid off the dam? And why?
posted by armacy at 11:33 AM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Undercover homeless person seems like a rough assignment for a spy.

Yeah, but it brings the concept of "Hiding in plain sight" to a new level.

When he started counting in Russian, I honest to goodness yelped out loud. Can't remember a show that last did that for me.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 12:28 PM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Good ep. I’m glad that Kenton was taken out in this ep rather than having some shamelessly suspenseful/action-packed ending in the finale, with him jumping out of the shadows at the last minute or similar.

This ep also eliminates the theory that it’s Lyndon rather than Lily we saw dead/dying in the cube.
posted by adrianhon at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I wish they could have compressed the first 4 episodes into two. I was a bit unsure of this show because I thought the coverup and framing Lily as crazy stuff was tired and I just didn't want to see it. I think it turned around last episode, and in this one even more. I'm honestly curious as to how it's going to turn out.

The poem is Aubade by Philip Larkin.
posted by Catblack at 1:23 PM on April 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


I wonder if everyone dead is completely dead or only dead in some branches. And then there's some branch pruning at the moment that the screen goes black...
posted by condour75 at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2020


I mean, can it be as simple as Lily destroys the machine, and that's why they can't see past the event?
posted by valkane at 3:09 PM on April 10, 2020


I don't think the machine follows Dr. Manhattan rules -- it can see into the past before it existed, so it seems like it could see into the future after it's destroyed.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:32 PM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


So then Lily has to break the rules of determinism to fuck up their algorithm.
posted by valkane at 5:28 PM on April 10, 2020


She'll just use her free will.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:33 PM on April 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I must off or something today but the sound design in this episode bugged me a tremendous amount and left me with a headache. Also, the lemon slice in the glass of water was so so stupid. Wasteful of the lemon, doesn't actually flavour the water, lemon juice drop (sticky) rolling down the outside of the glass. Ugh.

As for undercover hobo, he identified a bad actor, stopped feeding the pigeons, put out his cig, and followed. I think Kenton left the outside doors and inside door unlocked. But who still leaves their apartment door unlocked in the first place?

Clever note by the open window by Lily, though. But... would have been more believable with a sticky note instead of a notebook page that needed ripping out, not to mention tape.
posted by porpoise at 6:37 PM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


The note was leftover from her message to the other Russian.
posted by armacy at 6:41 PM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


The note was leftover from her message to the other Russian.

Yeah, that was a nice touch when she closed that window/door.
posted by valkane at 6:50 PM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I love i when a suspenseful show is confident enough in its storytelling to have more than one suspenseful beat in an episode.
Lyndon on the bridge was good, waiting for Kenton was good, waiting for Hobo was good.
This was an excellent, taut hour of TV, and worth a few slower episodes in the lead-up.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:04 PM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I was convinced that Katie was going to push Lyndon too. And, I had no idea that Lyndon was played by a woman until this episode.

So Stewart is reciting Larkin, and Forest and Katie think it’s Shakespeare? That seems too dumb for them, or the show really wants us to think Stewart is right and these people know nothing about the world aside from their obsessions.

I swear, I’d just had the thought of how much I was enjoying the levity that Jamie’s role brought to the show and then he was shot. Does that make Forest and Katie’s pillow talk from the last episode even colder? They knew Jamie would die in the next few hours. And Forest reminding Katie about Lyndon in her car and “that whole thing.” I think we were supposed to take these reminders that these two are really so casual sacrificing lives for their cause. Or, determinism makes them so?

This is the first week I’ve been angry at the show’s ending. I really wanted to get to the moment instead of seeing the credits.
posted by gladly at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2020


What I don't understand is why no one on the Devs teams seems to even try and show their free will by not doing what is shown in the predictions? When they're in the room in the Devs building with it showing themselves one second in the future, why does no one try to move differently than their future image? Why don't they even talk about the possibility of doing it? I'd be OK, if they tried and had something like an unexplained compulsion to do so, but to not even try or talk about trying is just unbelievable.

Lily is the only one who says she's planning on not fulfilling the prediction by staying in her apartment instead of going to Devs.

And why would Katie and Lyndon's conversation wait until they arrive at the dam? They're in the car together; there's plenty of time to talk privately. What's the point of Lyndon wanting to wait to talk until they're at the dam? (Well, other than it makes for more scenic imagery than a conversation in a car.)
posted by ShooBoo at 11:48 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


And, I had no idea that Lyndon was played by a woman until this episode.

She plays the murderous psychopath younger sister in Bad Times at the El Royale (definitely a movie everyone should see), which is about the most opposite character possible from Lyndon.
posted by sideshow at 11:53 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I believe the show is telling us that the many worlds interpretation is the correct one because of the multiple versions of events they keep showing. The characters in the show seem to believe that the many worlds interpretation implies free will, but I don't think it is either necessary or sufficient to imply free will. I'm beginning to suspect Katie agrees with me on that. She believes the many worlds interpretation is correct, but I don't think she believes in free will. If you believe that determinism is incompatible with free will, the many worlds hypothesis is no different in that regard because as Lyndon says it's “as deterministic as you can get”.

Personally, I believe in free will, but I don't believe we can compute the universe inside the universe. Maybe they can't either. What if Stewart is right and they turned things inside out, what if by creating a perfect simulation of the universe, they created the universe and the point they can't see past is the point at which the universe has outgrown it's incubator and Lily's arrival is simply incidental (she's only there because Katie and Forest are crazy people).
posted by thedward at 2:45 PM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Why did ever so smart Lily and Jamie never even think about getting on a plane to the other side of the world. Somewhere so far away, you couldn't get / be dragged back in time to go to Devs that night?

What was up with the sound effects of the opening. I literally thought I had some glitch. Aside from the music, was the interjection of that voice saying a line from a poem or speech?

Re: the prominent featuring of homeless people - I knew that would come back in some way. However, Lilly was never particularly nice to that guy, why did he have such a strong feeling of protection?

Also, her performance - I can't tell if she's nailing it, because that's how the character is, or if it's just flat. (See also whether "the heavy" really seemed that menacing.)

When the show first aired, without looking too closely at credited actors, I thought Lyndon ID'd male, tho androgynous. Then I learned they're played by an actress who appears to ID as female. And I have seen reviews referring to Lyndon as both he and she.

So, I'm not sure if there was a deeper intention, or just a desire to have fluid, non-trad casting.

Did any of the others (besides Forest/Katie) ever think the project would have functional ("practical") use?
posted by NorthernLite at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2020


If you have a device that purports to predict your behavior, why isn't the first thing you do to set up an experiment? 2 buttons, fast forward 5 seconds, see which one you hit in the future. Then hit the other one.
posted by condour75 at 3:24 PM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


Or what ShooBoo said above.
posted by condour75 at 3:28 PM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


What was up with the sound effects of the opening. I literally thought I had some glitch. Aside from the music, was the interjection of that voice saying a line from a poem or speech?
The sample was a piece by Steve Reich and the music I think was innuit throat music - some examples here.
posted by pmcp at 3:31 PM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


Why did ever so smart Lily and Jamie never even think about getting on a plane to the other side of the world. Somewhere so far away, you couldn't get / be dragged back in time to go to Devs that night?

That was my thought. Start driving until you've reached a point where you couldn't possibly be back to Devs by whatever is the witching hour. That way you only have until the time you reach that point to know you've succeeded, then you can relax.

Taking the Russian's offer and going to the airport would have worked as well.

I guess we're going to find out why Lily goes to Devs after all. It seems she doesn't know that Kenton was her nemesis more than Forrest or Katie. If F/K were so convinced of determinism, why not warn Lily and Jamie to give them the same chance that Lyndon had?

Pretty shitty of Katie to mindfuck Lyndon into suicide. It would have been one thing for them to have thought of the puzzle on their own to prove their loyalty to Devs. Hey look I'm willing to risk my life to get back in; but Katie suggesting it just makes her a murderer.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:40 PM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the predictor can get into a feedback loop with itself, or, like the Halting Problem, in some handwavey sense.

I was bummed at Lyndon's exit.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:05 AM on April 13, 2020


Didn't Katie essentially push the kid off the dam? And why?

Her entire demeanor as she and Forrest have sunk into the future prediction reads to me as 'exhausted/resigned fatalism' - having seen what happens, she knows that going forward is just repeating the steps already laid out - including the steps of her demonstrating awareness of the steps. It feels inescapable, and part of that is out of her emotional commitment to Forrest's belief more so than her own.

What I find curious (and potentially deliberate) is that they've completely avoided discussing the Observer Effect - a principal in physics that observing a phenomenon invariably, in some manner, impacts the phenomenon. Which means the Devs computer shapes the present and future it predicts - it is, to some scale, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which might be the very reason it can't predict past a future point involving an Outside Context Problem that deforms its system in some critical fashion (destruction, revision, etc). What's curious is that while they know that there's a point they can't predict past, they haven't really spoken about what leads directly up to that point aside from (probably) Lily crawling through the woods - like 'someone setting the building on fire' or whatever. There's a number of things that could be noteworthy events in the minutes/seconds leading up to the Hard Stop.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]


Seems like the show's conception of Many Worlds is missing quite a few of them. They only showed inconsequential differences between realities. There was no world in which Lyndon didn't fall?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2020


I was wondering about that as well. They all fell at different times, presumably because of the quantum variations that they discussed as part of the multiverse theory. Does that indicate that there is a multiverse, but that the variations are finite, or somehow restriced, and some events are certainties?
posted by subocoyne at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2020


I knew Jamie was a goner from the beginning, because he was so interesting and...normal, and sweet. I was still incredibly disappointed that they went there. I also felt like they had telegraphed Pete's whole deal, so there was no big surprise for me there. I didn't get any of the discussion with Lyndon and Katie so why Lyndon had to die like that left me really cold.

The show keeps telling me, I feel, that we're supposed to care about these fucking creepy sociopaths because Forest is sad and this is game-changing blahlala. I don't care about those aspects, and don't fully understand most of the mumbo jumbo about the science stuff, so all I can really focus on is the character development and narrative choices and design. I love the look and feel, I love some of the characters like Jamie and Lily and at first, Stewart, but I just don't get it.

The undercurrent of sexism in the show is also intensely frustrating for me--the wife is never named unless you watch with captions on, the whole thing where Katie complains about them watching Marilyn have sex but then the scene just goes on and on and on (so gross), of course the main person behind the Devs whateveryoucallit is sleeping with the boss... I always feel like, for someone who creates interesting female characters, Garland has a lot of bullshit in his stories.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:55 PM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]


I should add that I am enjoying reading your guys' comments because they're at least helping me understand some small particle of what is happening in this thing.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:56 PM on April 13, 2020


I was not surprised at all by Homeless Rescue Squad. That he was Russian was a nice touch, but so much time was spent on him (very accurately!) playing an indigent street person, and specifically Not Being Afraid Of Kenton, that the reveal fell flat for me.

The opening sound design almost drove grumpybearbride out of the room.

I agree that sorely lacking from the show is anyone, aside from Lily, trying to test the system by not doing what it says will happen. Also, wouldn't they be all winning the lottery by now? And horse races? And making incredible stock picks?

I'm also not 100% clear on why Kenton killed Jamie and tried to kill Lily. Clearly he saw them at Forest's house the night before, so it wasn't on his orders. Maybe just to exert some control? Or fanatical dedication to The Mission? Anyhow, seeing his dead eye peek out from under the blanket while Lily collected her things was a great shot.

I agree with you, kitten kaboodle, that the show is hells of sexist. Where is the wife, indeed? Why doesn't Forest pine for her?
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:01 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]


Thinking you're too smart to be sexist has been a silicon valley trope at least since Snow Crash, so I can buy that Forest thinks of his wife primarily as an incubator.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:11 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


I for one was not familiar with the Larkin poem, and I am grateful to this show for introducing me to it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:26 PM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


The opening sound design almost drove grumpybearbride out of the room.

I recall a professor playing "Come Out" for us in class during a segment on sound collage and one of the students eventually got out of her seat, walked to the front of the classroom and turned off the player because she said she couldn't stand to listen to it any more. It's a revered piece, but it definitely is more relevant as a cultural and historical artifact than something one would actually want to listen to. I'm not clear on the meaning behind its inclusion in this show, but it's a bold choice for a TV soundtrack.
posted by subocoyne at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2020


I definitely had the homeless guy pegged as a spy, but I was thinking CIA/FBI counterintelligence rather than backup Russian bodyguard. He is singularly ineffective at protecting Sergei, and then apparently decides to just stick around for the next few months enjoying the Western freedoms of life as a homeless person.
posted by whir at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2020


To give credit to the only person to place a marker here in advance on the homeless guy taking Kenton out:

I'm waiting for Lily's homeless friend to give Kenton the beatdown he deserves.

posted by OHenryPacey at 5:07 PM on April 3

Unless, of course, OHenryPacey just used the Devs machine to figure it out :/
posted by mabelstreet at 12:15 AM on April 25, 2020 [3 favorites]


When they filmed this, I highly doubt they even suspected that We Will Save the World by Staying In and Doing Nothing would be such a relatable plan.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:28 AM on June 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Also, her performance - I can't tell if she's nailing it, because that's how the character is, or if it's just flat.

I think Garland directs actors to that style. Annihilation is the same way, like, identical delivery.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:34 AM on October 12, 2020


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