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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Lily Chan takes center stage in iDevs /iexciting third episode
Photo: Raymond Liu (FX)
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In this third episode of Devs, the focus of the show shifts from the plot to character: specifically that of Lily Chan. But first, let’s talk about the Devs department. Now that we have know what the technology does—backward projection through time—the implications are starting to become more clear. What possibilities does this tech offer?

We see one possible application—a cringeworthy one—right off the bat. Stewart and Lyndon are watching a backward projection of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller mid-coitus, and when Katie walks in on them, she’s not pleased. The implications of this tech are incredible, and somewhat frightening. Privacy violation is a huge deal, and it’s nice to know that someone is making sure (at least as well as they can) that people, whether dead or alive, are being respected. The issue here is what happens if (when) this tech is outside of Forest and Katie’s control?

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Also, what about that first rule Katie mentioned—they only look back, not forward? The implication here is that the technology can peer into the future: It’s only Forest holding Devs back. What happens if Stewart breaks that rule as well?

Forest’s meeting with Senator Laine (played by the stunning Janet Mock) reinforces this new revelation. The government is understandably interested in what Amaya is doing, especially in its super-secret division. Forest hedges a bit, unwilling to reveal the full extent of what his company is up to, and in the end discloses that the work at Devs surrounds a “prediction algorithm.”

Laine is understandably intrigued—after all, there are many applications to an algorithm that can correctly predict a sequence of events. It also confirms that predicting the future is the end goal. What will happen when Forest has to testify in front of Congress about this technology? And if the government gets wind of what they’re really doing, and how far Amaya is down this road, what will they do with it?

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Illustration for article titled Lily Chan takes center stage in iDevs /iexciting third episode
Photo: Raymond Liu / FX (FX)

The other major storyline of the episode involved Lily coming back to work for the first time since Sergei’s suicide. It’s clear her team is surprised to see her. Her behavior is erratic, to say the least, and her manager is very concerned about Lily’s conspiracy-theory-esque statements. Jen’s reveal that Lily was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been hospitalized previously doesn’t help matters at all.

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Lily had been a bit of a blank for the season so far, but I felt like she really came into her own in this third episode. For the first half or so, I was concerned — she was being so passive, so reactionary, and so utterly non-credible that I wasn’t sure how exactly she was supposed to carry an entire series. “Maybe this is a bait and switch,” I thought to myself as I started reflecting on the other characters in Devs, wondering if they would be the ones to propel the narrative forward.

There is nothing wrong with a character having a mental illness—we need more of that on television, depicted in a positive light. But the fact that Lily was coming across as completely unbelievable, to the point where I knew she was telling the truth and still didn’t think she seemed reliable, meant that her character would suffer as a result. How was she supposed to investigate what was really going on if Lily couldn’t even convince her closest friend, Jen, that she was onto something?

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Illustration for article titled Lily Chan takes center stage in iDevs /iexciting third episode
Photo: Raymond Liu / FX (FX)

Well, as you know if you’ve seen the episode (which, why are you reading this if you haven’t?) it turns out that I, along with Kenton, played right into Lily’s hands. I thought exactly what she wanted me to think. This was some incredible acting from Sonoya Mizuno because it took layers to achieve this performance, and it was utterly convincing. I’m really excited to see what Lily does going forward, having seen this, as I’ve finally fully bought into the character and am emotionally involved with where she’s going.

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Lily must have spoken to her friend Jen (Linnea Berthelsen) sometime earlier and set up the course of the entire day, ending with the two of them in Kenton’s office. After Lily went outside and climbed on the ledge outside his window, she knew Kenton would follow, which gave Jen time to steal the footage of Sergei supposedly committing suicide.

Once she has it in hand, Lily heads to Jamie’s, who once again is more than willing to help. Showing it to him turned out to be a good call: Jamie slowed down the footage and determined that the fire was visual effects. Now, Lily knows that while Sergei might be dead, it was the people at Amaya that killed him. That’s confirmed by the final shots of the episode, when we see a flashback to five people (including Kenton and Forest) arranging the body and setting it on fire.

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The question is what Lily is going to do with this information. Kenton doesn’t suspect her, which means she can return to work to do more investigating. And now, she has both Jen and Jamie on her side. I can’t wait to see where Garland takes us next.


Stray observations

  • I was thinking “Okay, we get it, you can look into the past, move along” during that entire opening scene. I realize this is art but it was too long.
  • Stewart’s casual disregard of the privacy of historical people is very disturbing and a great showcase of how damaging this tech can be.
  • What rules has Katie broken? Stewart’s line, implying that it was rich that she of all people would admonish him about rule-breaking, means there’s a lot more to Katie’s story than we know.
  • Telling Kenton that she thinks Sergei was killed by his Russian handler was an especially nice touch on Lily’s part.
  • Forest’s statement that nothing was going to happen to Lily was very much an order—but will Kenton follow it?
  • The firelight on the giant Amaya statue’s face at the end of the episode was visually stunning and also horribly creepy (THAT STATUE IS CREEPY Y’ALL).
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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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