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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Jamie makes a fateful decision in this week’s iDevs/i
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This latest episode of Devs was a bit on the slower side, but before we get to the larger plot, there’s something very important we need to discuss: JAMIE, MY FAVORITE SOFT BOY. Jamie is alive!!!

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You may recall that last week, I basically wrote Jamie off. I assumed that given the ominous way Kenton was walking around his apartment, Jamie was a goner. Never have I been more delighted to be wrong, as Jamie has quickly become my favorite character on this show. Jamie is alive, albeit quite beat up by Kenton’s persuasive methods to keep him quiet.

I was surprised that Kenton left Jamie alive, but it made sense after I stepped back and actually thought about it. First, while Amaya clearly has a relationship with the authorities, as evidenced by Kenton showing up with them to commit Lily, I don’t know that they’d be able to cover up a murder. If Jamie ends up dead after all this, that might look very bad for Kenton.

Kenton’s frank discussion with Forest and Katie back at Amaya headquarters also sheds light on this: He doesn’t actually want to be murdering people to protect the company, despite his heart-pounding speech to Jamie at the beginning of the episode. Kenton is concerned by how far he’s gone, with murdering Sergei, having Lily committed, and torturing Jamie, and wants to make sure that if this all comes out, he’s protected. Forest can’t just tell the authorities that Kenton went rogue, which is clearly what Kenton is afraid might happen. If Kenton goes down, he’ll take Amaya with him.

Otherwise, “Episode 5” is a bit of a letdown after the fast pace of the first half of the season. That’s not to say it’s bad by any stretch—in a show that’s balanced expertly between plot and character, this is definitely a character-heavy episode. It also focuses quite a bit on the theatrics of the Devs division. There is a lot of flash but it doesn’t really move the plot forward much, except that Jamie makes a decision about his involvement: He’s all in, and ends up breaking Lily out of the institution she’s locked in. We’ll have to wait for next week to see the ramifications of this decision, and what the two of them will decide to do next.

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The rest of this episode focused on filling in some backstory: the brutal way that Forest’s wife and daughter, Amaya, were killed; Forest’s relationship to Katie, Lily’s relationship with Sergei; and Lily’s relationship to her father.

Illustration for article titled Jamie makes a fateful decision in this week’s iDevs/i
Photo: Raymond Liu/FX (FX)
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One of the most interesting revelations in this montage of flashbacks is the way Forest and Katie met—in one of her college classes tackling the subject of quantum theory. After seeing her spar with her professor and walk out of the class in anger, Forest stops Katie and offers to pay for her education in return for working with him. The really interesting bit here, though, is the banter between Katie and her professor. Katie gets upset that her professor isn’t discussing the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. I have some limited familiarity with quantum theory and the bottom line is that the approach Katie is supporting in this scene is, in fact, the many worlds theory I discussed last week—the same theory that got Lyndon fired when he added it to his algorithm.

When Forest approaches Katie he asks her whether there’s “a world in which it could work,” which seems to imply that at some point he also subscribed to the many-worlds interpretation. What changed his mind, and why? We also get to see Devs’ first successful extrapolation, with Katie, Lyndon, and Stewart at the helm. This also underlines how fundamental a shift Lyndon’s firing was—he was with the division from the beginning and was a huge part of its first success.

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And in sadder flashbacks (should we call them that if they’re actually structured as Katie’s glimpses into the past through the Devs system?), we bear witness to what happened to Forest’s wife and daughter—they were struck by an oncoming vehicle when Forest was on the phone with them. And it’s clear he feels responsible because his wife was trying to get off the phone when the accident happened.

Illustration for article titled Jamie makes a fateful decision in this week’s iDevs/i
Photo: Raymond Liu/FX (FX)
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While seeing all these flashbacks, we see alternative outcomes for what happened—Forest getting Amaya out of the backseat after the car comes safely to a stop, Katie leaving and never meeting with Forest outside her college classroom. This makes me wonder if what’s happening here is that Katie’s applying Lyndon’s many-worlds algorithm across the entire Devs system.

Katie also points out to Forest that he is invested in proving a deterministic universe, that things had to unfold the way that they did, and there was no way to change them, because otherwise he is responsible for his wife and child’s death. This is his way of absolving himself, which is interesting in its own right. Forest is clearly very wealthy and has so many resources at his disposal—to fight hunger, to help sick children, to lift people out of poverty—and instead he focuses inward, on his own grief. That’s not to say he isn’t doing these other things, we don’t know enough to make a judgment here, but it’s certainly interesting where his focus is.

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Stray observations

  • The experiment was cool to watch, but it took a very long time for that scene to play out.
  • Jamie telling his parents to clear out of town for their own protection was very sweet.
  • We’ve seen grainy images of Lily’s death, but now we get the confirmation: Lily is going to die at Devs.
  • No creepy Amaya statue this episode! Amaya, I did not miss you.
  • This show loves to put its female characters in baggy cropped ankle pants, and while I would look like an awkward ten-year-old wearing that, I kind of love it and am here for it.
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Swapna Krishna is a space, tech, and pop culture writer. Her work has been published at Engadget, Gizmodo, The Verge, Polygon, and more.

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