Devs season 1, episode 3 recap – transcendently weird

March 13, 2020
Cole Sansom 0
TV, TV Recaps


In its third episode, Devs slows down and takes some time to turn a cliched trope on its head

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In its third episode, Devs slows down and takes some time to turn a cliched trope on its head

This recap of Devs Season 1, Episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

“Nothing is stranger than reality,” Kenton says, as Lily, standing on a fourth-floor balcony, attempts to cope with the events of the past days. The problem is, when crazy things happen to you, it’s hard to talk about it without seeming crazy yourself.

The episode begins with Lily crying in her home. Garland’s camera uses fixed shots to make the space seem cold and empty.

She turns up to work, to everyone’s surprise. With her fists clenched tight, she is visibly distressed, almost cartoonishly so. It seems a far cry from the delicate performance of the first two episodes. One-on-one with Anya, a coworker, Lily begins to divulge the events of the last episode. When another co-worker, Jen, arrives, she convinces Anya that Lily has had repeated schizophrenic episodes, and they need to turn her in.

At Kenton’s office, Lily recaps the past few days. She says it all reminds her of “Brooklyn” where she began noticing patterns, numbers (a boy with a dragon tattoo?). a familiar trope; the character finds out something a shadowy corporation or government is doing, and the people in charge make her seem crazy. When Jen details Lily’s past schizophrenic episodes, Lily becomes hysterical, in sharp contrast to the subtly with which Mizuno normally plays her. 

When Jen lays on the schizophrenia, doubting Lily’s experience, Lily has a panic attack, and ends up on the aforementioned balcony…

…where she is spotted by Forest, who has spent the episode talking to Senator Laine (Janet Mock). Laine runs the Senate Subcommittee on Tech Oversight and has some questions for Forest. Particularly, she wants to know what Devs is.

Forest is evasive and claims that Laine only wants to know so that the government can use his technology. It’s unclear who is in the right; Laine’s intentions are opaque (does she want regulation or to increase the security state) and we are left without believing either party is right.

Forest tells Laine that his goal is to “develop a predictive algorithm,” but leaves her guessing as to what it predicts. Laine claims that her job is “to stop the Luddites from smashing the looms,” referring to new technology. The season seems to be posing the question, “should we be smashing the looms?” Then they see Lily.

Kenton tries to console Lily, saying that he believes her, stopping short of letting her know that he also knows about the Russians. And this is where the episode takes a turn for the better.

While Lily was on the balcony, Jen was extracting something from Kenton’s computer. It turns out that Jen and Lily have been working together. Lily’s actions were a performance (and Mizuno is still a fantastic actor). Now they have the security footage of the night Sergei died.

At Jamie’s apartment (a dark, curtained room in contrast to the endless window of Amaya) they play the footage.

“You want me to watch the man you left me for, burn himself to death, together. That’s transcendently weird,” says Jamie. “I know” Lily responds.

They rewatch the scene, and Jamie knows something interesting. The fire has been lazily animated (it’s odd that the company would go to the length of making such dramatic video in cut corners, but I guess they only had a few hours).

The video is fake. But that does not mean that Sergei did not die.

The episode ends with the real depiction of what happened. The giant doll looks demonic, with flames reflected into its eyes. We watch in reverse as Sergei’s body is dragged from a stretcher and lit on fire.

Stray Observations

  • The episode begins with more of the crackling screen, showing images of hands, then Jesus, soldiers, Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc. Allison Pill’s Katie walks in on our beta testers watching Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe having sex. She’s disgusted and reminds them of the two rules: “One. We don’t look forwards, we only look back. Two, we don’t invade privacy.” It’s a fun scene, that plays into Silicon Valley stereotypes while suggesting that Devs is creating some sort of time-traveling looking-glass.
  • There’s a cute scene where Senator Laine’s security guard tells Kenton how bored he is with his job. He misses the adrenaline, unlike Kenton. Kenton does not feel the same, likely because Kenton’s job is more exciting than it appears. This is a great example of how having the length of the tv show gives room for side tangents that don’t add a lot but fill in the world of the show.
  • Garland (as usual) filled the episode with wide-angle lenses and lengthy shots, which re particularly noticeable during the balcony scene, where we can see Lily in the foreground and the outline of Forest in the back.
  • So is the giant child is meant to be Forest’s daughter? More than a little weird, but hey! Whatever helps you cope!
  • Fun musical cue: The Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension, a song that harkens a new age.
  • Kenton believes that Lily’s schizophrenia is his “ace card” they can use against her. But Forest remains adamant that no harm will come to her. It seems like some conflict is brewing between those two.

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