Deus ex machina – (A god from the machine)
*Written in 2020*
Nearly a year ago my friend and I were walking along observing the outside spectacle that San Diego Comic-Con had to offer. On one of the buildings we saw a massive advertisement for a new show on FX simply titled, DEVS, set to premier in 2020. On March 5th it was finally unveiled, showcasing an entire world of possibilities from technical prowess and progression to things and themes more sinister and detrimental to the world as we currently understand it. It is a limited series that questions the very makeup of our perceived reality often with a more pessimistic outlook of what the future and past could hold in store for those brazen enough to face the answers they never could have anticipated.
DEVS is a contemplation of humanity and its place in the world. More importantly it questions the world we inhabit and what exactly the parameters are, what natural law truly dictates and where this law can be bent or possibly even broken. It asks questions of its creators so profound and unthinkable that reality becomes something malleable, something to be viewed and brought into current reality, although known still impossible to change the outcome. Knowing what will occur and being unable to change the future result brings up questions of free will and predestination. Is there such a thing as free will? Can you make an ultimate choice unbridled by outside influence? Or is everything preordained? While creating so much information to take in, the very creation of the machine that is DEVS brings about so many questions, many of which were never fathomable without its making.
At the center of it all is Forest played stoically by Nick Offerman. It is through his personal tragedy that an idea was born that would become DEVS, a mysterious department of a massive tech company owned by Forest himself. In his demand for perfection comes a callous shell of his previous self willing to destroy anything even resembling an obstacle to his overall goal. This means any man, woman, or child coming between him and his yearning will likely meet an untimely end. This scenario becomes real when a young man by the name of Sergei attempts to expose the secrets of DEVS, underestimating Forest’s conviction to maintaining a shroud of secrecy around his beloved project. In her suffering of the loss of Sergei, whose death has been ruled a suicide, Lily Chan believes his death to be one of a more ominous nature. As she begins to ask the questions that certain individuals never wanted asked, much less answered, her life starts to spiral into a world of espionage, murder, and an ultimate finale unfathomable by all involved.
Written and Directed by Alex Garland, creator of the films Ex Machina and Annihilation, DEVS explores similar themes brought up primarily in Ex Machina. If you’re familiar with both projects (Ex Machina and DEVS) you’ll definitely pick up on the bridge they share. The level of intelligence and intricacy put into both make them feel like cousins very much inhabiting the same universe. A universe of megalomaniacs, replete with unlimited resources and zero oversight. This is of course a recipe for disaster for anyone unlucky enough to find themselves intertwined within a conceited man’s world.
As he has done with his films and continues to do with DEVS, Alex Garland displays his genius by creating fully realized stories of both immense intelligence and earth-shattering implications and theories. He makes the viewer question their very reality, the once thought concrete ideals now made potentially false. He contemplates along with us and never talks down to his audience understanding and hoping they are in fact thoughtful enough to follow along without a safety net. He creates scenarios that melt the mind, scenarios that ask us to consider what we’ve believed all our lives particularly on the subjects of reality and our perception of what is reality, to actually define it, in the world of DEVS is a massive undertaking.
DEVS is an intricate, fascinating sci-fi thriller that not only aims to entertain but to scrutinize the fabric of our society. It asks what happens when a man is allowed free reign with an unlimited reservoir of money and manpower and no one looking over his shoulder. As we learn more about the character of Forest we begin to see his goals might be of a wholesome origin, his practices and efforts are anything but. He is a hero of his own world and has become the villain of ours. He is a man who possesses an ability reserved for a god and yet in a single moment learns that maybe not everything is quantifiable.
DEVS is the thinking man’s sci-fi and if you allow it, in all its complexities, will take you on a journey of both physical and mental exploration. And as far fetched as it can be at times, it no less impacts the power of its questions toward our own understandings of life, death, time, forgiveness, revenge, and what might occur when our time here ends. I was transfixed with DEVS, perplexed by it, and completely satisfied from its unassuming beginning to its murky ending.
Rated TV-MA For: violence, sexual content, language throughout, and thematic elements 8 Episodes: Average length- 50 minutes Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery Starring: Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Offerman, Jin Ha, Alison Pill, Zach Grenier Written, Directed, Created by: Alex Garland
Out of 10 Story: 10/ Acting: 9.5/ Directing: 10/ Visuals: 10 OVERALL: 10/10
Now streaming on Fx on Hulu
Check out the trailer below: