Alex Garland has quite the career. From novelist, to screenwriter, to game writer, to director - he has firmly established himself as one of the foremost figures of science-fiction this generation. Garland's TV debut was much anticipated, and Devs... delivers.
Devs is a rather odd title for a series. It conjures up images of self-obsessed nerds coding away at their terminals, but are also constantly delaying their projects. Maybe that's just PTSD from following Steemit Inc, but anyhoo... Devs does feature developers, and there definitely is social commentary about the ills of silicon valley and related zeitgeist-y issues, but these aspects are decidedly in the background. Devs is an ambitious and grand speculative science fiction.
I've seen far too many science fiction films where there's pretense of reality, but it's clear there's very little science and too much fiction. Devs straddles the line almost perfectly, extrapolating farther than most of his previous works. It's clear that Garland understands the scientific principles he quotes very well - something that can't be said of much of his peers. There are a whole range of scientific hypotheses examined here - it's a dream for science nerds. Quantum mechanics and Everett's many worlds interpretation plays a big part, and this is the best depiction I've seen since BioShock Infinite. Exposition is kept to a minimum, and when the characters do drop buzzwords and jargon, it always feels like they know what they are talking about, rather than just making up words to bamboozle the audience. Of course, dealing with such grand ideas leads to as much philosophy and science, but Devs deals with it well and never feels heavy-handed.
With a greater runtime offered by a miniseries, Garland and team use the time well. The pacing is deliberate, definitely a slow boil. The plotting and characters sometimes veers too much into typical thriller fare - I'd say some of the middle episodes could have done with some editing. Still, by the end of it, the grand themes of Devs takes precedence. Which also kind of makes some of the middle episodes feel a bit redundant.
Devs is littered with excellent performances throughout, with Sonoya Mizuno and Nick Offerman delivering knockout performances. It's about time Mizuno headlined a major Hollywood production! The show is a visual treat throughout, with the titular Devs area being quite a striking design. It's a bit too flashy for a Faraday cage, but hey - this is speculative science fiction, not hard science fiction. However, much of the eerie atmosphere of Devs is a result of the incredible score that perfectly blends in with sound design.
Devs is a one of the best science-fiction TV series in years. Some of the non-science-fiction and more techno-thriller elements of Devs never work quite as well as the science-fiction stuff, but by the end, the show regains its identity as top notch speculative science fiction. Must watch for all sci-fi fans and science in general.