blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Devs (2020) s01e02

The start of the episode introduces some more of the Devs at work—there’s also a concerning assault in a garage—before getting to Nick Offerman’s Stallman-bearded tech giant telling lead Sonoya Mizuno she’ll have a job and secure income forever. Her boyfriend lighting himself on fire in front of the giant statue of a little girl (who turns out to be Offerman’s dead daughter) apparently is a Dead Man on Campus-type thing.

Though security chief Zach Grenier’s pretty worried Mizuno’s going to start digging too deep. One of the more interesting narrative developments this episode is Grenier’s genuine concern for Offerman and Offerman’s indifference to it.

Big developments for Mizuno this episode include not just discovering her boyfriend was an industrial spy, but also meeting his handler, Brian d'Arcy James, who tries to recruit her to pick up the torch. Because it’s not about Russian patriotism, it’s about Offerman’s company having too much power. James is fine but the dialogue’s so cutting and fun in its real talk about the United States, it would’ve been nice for a showier performance. Even the show’s “showiest” performances, Grenier and Offerman, are severely muted. It’s part of Garland’s thing. But still. James is a little too subdued.

Now, what complicates the thing with James is the viewer knowing more about the company, including… drum roll please… the MacGuffin. What they’re making in Devs. Is it what “Devs” is going to be about? I don’t know.

But the last time they adapted Michael Crichton’s Timeline, it didn’t turn out well. Oh, wait, Garland doesn’t acknowledge he’s literally doing the setup to Timeline: The Novel, so maybe it’ll turn out better. Billy Connelly would’ve be fun in James part though.

Anyway. The big reveal is not androids, which is great. The actual MacGuffin… eh. We’ll see. The people on the Devs team working on it—old Black guy Stephen McKinley Henderson, young possibly queer person Cailee Spaeny—are fun together. Alison Pill has to translate Offerman to them. It’s fun. “Devs” doesn’t have much fun.

Particularly not at the end of the episode, when we get that afore-teased garage fight and it turns out to be Garland trying to Kubrick-ize a realistic fight scene.

As before, some really great lighting from Rob Hardy.

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