This Devs review contains spoilers.
Devs Episode 6
After a shitty couple of days of Russian handlers and doctored CCTV footage and brief psych ward stays, Lily finally confronts Forest to learn exactly what Devs is up to. While the clock keeps ticking down—21 hours left until the end of something, or everything—there’s enough time for this quasi-interlude before the miniseries builds to its conclusion. Garland subverts the quintessential “big explainer episode” formula by making it quieter, both in setting (suburban) and in the big showdown being two women simply sitting at a table rolling a pen between them.
In a further demonstration of the futility of getting away from Devs, after breaking Lily out of the hospital, Jamie drives them a couple hours north to a nondescript hotel in Napa. But instead of hopping on the wine train and drowning their worries in some California blends, she asks him to drive her back to San Francisco so that she can ring Forest’s doorbell in the middle of the night to demand answers.
No surprise, he’s been waiting for her. What is surprising is who’s with him: Katie. The revelation that she’s not just his second-in-command but his lover too is presented matter-of-factly despite the fact that there were no prior hints. Though the machine flashback of their first meeting and Forest’s rather paternal offer plays a bit differently now. Yet we know enough of Katie’s pragmatism that when she says, “He’s vulnerable. He needs someone. I like it being me,” I’m willing to believe that she pursued him.
Despite Lily demanding some manner of confession or acknowledgment from the man behind Devs, what she gets instead is a one-on-one lecture with the woman running the show. It’s heartening to see how Lily refuses to be swayed by Katie’s frustratingly serene omniscience, challenging her and Devs’ guiding principle: Nothing ever happens without a reason. Everything was determined by something prior.
So what is Katie’s reason for withholding the entire truth from Lily? In bringing Lily up to speed, she also fills in the remaining blanks for the viewers who already knew that she and Forest were looking ahead to some sort of potentially fatal vision of Lily at Devs. For as long as they have been able to run simulations through the machine, only “glimpsing” at the future (uh huh), they have only ever been able to see up to a certain point. After that, it’s a blizzard; and as they’ve gotten years and months and days closer, that fixed point in time has never moved.
It seems pretty clear that that final moment of the simulation is the vision that Katie and Forest watched: Lily dragging herself across the floor of Devs. Lily, in all likelihood, dying. Now, it makes loads of sense why Katie would not tell this skeptical woman sitting across from her that her death has something to do with the breakdown of the laws of the universe—and by that, she means the machine’s ability to further predict the future. But if Katie’s entire worldview hinges on the notion that all actions are predetermined and there is no escaping the fate they’ve seen, then why not tell Lily that she will probably die tomorrow night at 1 a.m.?
Perhaps Katie doesn’t trust in determinism as completely as she claims. Maybe she relishes knowing one more thing than everyone else. Perhaps she’s watched the simulation so many times that it has become boring, and she wants to see how Lily will end up at Devs.
Despite these little moments, the Lily/Katie conversation is less interesting than Forest and Jamie’s odd bonding session outside. Aside from that final piece (you know, the breakdown of determinism), it’s rehashing information viewers were already privy to. But placing these two men on Forest’s porch in some absurdist display of “let’s leave the women to their business” makes for some of the most forthright discussions in the miniseries.
While Amaya the company takes up most of Forest’s waking hours, we learn much more about him at his home turf, where he toes the odd line between attentive host and his detached tech entrepreneur persona. His initial question of if Jamie were one of his employees, and his inability to connect Jamie’s broken hand to Kenton’s violence, demonstrate how little he pays attention to anything not connected to his memory of Amaya; yet when called on it, he seems genuinely remorseful about the pain and destruction that has carved a path for his impossible mission. It’s not that he wants these things to happen… but he’s content to stand off to the side and let them happen.
So it’s cathartic for all of us to see Jamie rail at him for this. And of course the only answer poor Jamie gets is the usual aggravating Forest doublespeak: “It’s all gonna work out just fine. Everything. That’s the promise.” He can’t resist dangling that seeming reassurance that’s really just his own smug inside joke.
By the time Katie and Lily emerge outside, the two men have resorted to playing frisbee, which is… kinda delightful? It also finally clicked (thanks to this episode’s cold open) that the giant Amaya statue is frozen forever waiting to catch that frisbee. Wonderfully creepy.
Down the street, a car lurks—a chilling throwback to last week’s devastating Forest flashback.
Kenton’s fucking pissed, and honestly, who could blame him? All his adherence to tram lines without really understanding what’s on the metaphorical tram, the condescending dismissal from Katie when he tries to learn more, and now he discovers that all the brainy weirdos are having clandestine nighttime meetings without him.
Speaking of secretive meetups, Lyndon is waiting for Stewart in the RV trailer he calls home. (He even has his own version of Pete, who he gifts with a beer on his way in.) Despite Forest threatening in no uncertain terms that Lyndon would receive a similar fate to Sergei if he got anywhere within Devs again, the kid is 19 and heartbroken at losing his chance at his life’s work. A breakthrough, let’s recall, Katie applied to the Devs simulation. If she’s such a determinism fangirl and clearly has sway over Forest, why not advocate to bring Lyndon back?
Instead, the old man and the young man return to arguing, except this time it’s not about intergenerational lapses in communication, but about their boss. Surprisingly, take-no-bullshit Stewart is the one to call Forest a tech genius, pointing out that if Forest doesn’t like a law of the universe, he has the means to get around it. Then Lyndon comes through with the real talk:
“He’s not a fucking genius, Stewart, he’s an entrepreneur, and he’s crazy. He’s obsessive. He kills people. And he’s trying to resurrect his daughter. So fuckin’ ask yourself, do you really want something as powerful as Devs in the hands of someone crazy?”
It’s easy to look at tech disruptors and mentally conflate the breadth of their intellect with the depth of their pockets. But when Lily came knocking for answers, Forest stepped aside and let Katie handle things. Katie is the one standing over the dead mouse and a piece of bread, staring at a simulation of a living mouse gobbling up that same bread. Forest is the emotional foundation of Devs (for better and for oh-so-worse), to be sure, but he is not the one spinning all the wheels.
Lily seems convinced that she simply won’t show up to Devs tomorrow, and it will be fascinating to see what universal, maybe random, reason compels her to do so. For the meantime, she has one night to sleep on it, and she wants to spend it with Jamie: “Stay in my bed,” she says, and it sounds much more like a command than a plea. When he rescued her from the hospital he played his hand; she’s the girl for him, and he would do anything for her.
It’s unclear if Lily entirely feels the same. She’s clearly upset at the confirmation that Sergei was indeed a Russian spy trying to steal Devs’ source code. “I didn’t know him,” is her only explanation to Jamie. “I know you.”
Which raises the question of which, if either of them, has a better handle on the situation following their weird little double date with Forest and Katie. Lily got Determinism 101, but Jamie’s guard was brought down enough to agree to the frisbee game. You can see on his face, when Lily calls them insane, that he might have a little more sympathy for Forest, expending his resources and sacrificing others in the name of love.
Yet we already know that these two don’t have all the information. That even though Katie explained what the machine allows them to see, she withheld the vision of Lily bleeding out on the floor of Devs. The only people who could claim to truly know all of what’s going on are the two who have apparently spent years waiting for this moment. But even with their glances into the future, neither Katie nor Forest counted on actually liking Lily and Jamie, on actually getting to know them enough to feel some measure of regret for how things are going to turn out.
But not enough to actually change things.