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    • DEVS premiered on FX on Hulu on March 5, 2020, and was released in weekly installments until its finale in mid-April. You can view the whole series now on Hulu and it's worth a watch. The series was created, written, and directed by Alex Garland, whose work you may be familiar with from EX MACHINA or ANNIHILATION, both critically acclaimed science fiction films.

      The 8 episode limited series tells the story of Lily Chan, an employee at a tech company called Amaya run by a brilliantly cast Nick Offerman as its eccentric CEO, Forest.

      When Lilly's boyfriend disappears under mysterious circumstances after being accepted to Forest's secretive quantum computing project within Amaya known as "Devs," Lily gets pulled into a deeper and deeper web of sinister intrigue trying to figure out what's real, what's imagined, and how Devs is involved.

      I found this series fascinating: the performances from the cast are incredible, the soundtrack (a combination of saxaphones, Gregorian chanting, and 70s rock) is haunting, the ideas explored are thought-provoking, and the visuals are truly unique.

      Have you seen DEVS? What do you think?

    • I have a backlog of series to watch, including Girl/Haji (h/t @wgoodey) and Future Man (h/t @Eddieb). So my general approach is to preview the first ten to fifteen minutes of a new series to determine whether it warrants addition to the queue.

      It’s amazing how effective that preview is in sampling the overall quality of writing, acting and overall plot of a series.

      My sample of Devs was encouraging. Nick Offerman is an actor I connect with oddball comedies, so it was refreshingly surprising to see him effect an understated performance as the CEO of a high tech corporation. The visuals were amazing, although I’m always concerned that such details are a bait and switch for lackluster plots: after two or three episodes of a sci-fi series the visuals become immaterial like wallpaper.

      The tech worker couple were interesting and I liked how they brought up a very real world challenge: how do you manage a marriage when one spouse has a job that does secret black box projects and “How was your day?” can be a challenge in not breaking an NDA.

      I know that @Eddieb and @CygnusX1 were interested in discussing this series, so perhaps this conversation can serve as a home for further discussions.

    • I watched the first episode and was a bit ho-hum about the first half of it as it is very quiet , but yesterday binge watched episodes 2 through to the end in one go.

      As Victoria says, the music is great, and at face value you wouldn't think the music styles chosen would fit would fit, but they do so well. The cast also portray their roles brilliantly, possibly the best acted TV I've seen in a while, although I felt the head of security borrowed a lot from Mike Ehrmantraut of Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul.

      I have a couple of thoughts about some characters actions leading up to the ending but suspect discussion at this stage would give some critical concepts away for those who intend to watch it.

    • Watched it, and although I had hard time accepting the premise behind their 'quantum computer', overall it was interesting. Great acting, interesting characters, nice cinematography.

    • With Westworld s3 done, DEVS was next on my schedule.

      I watched the first two episodes back to back, since first instalments can often be very slowly paced.

      It is a lot lower key than Westworld, much quieter. The interesting points are not delivered, as such, they are more alluded to. For some that would make for a boring experience, but I rather like the process of looking for small clues to the bigger overall.

      In episode 1 the following dialogue got me properly thinking:

      Sergei: "If this is real, this changes everything".

      Katie: "No, if this is real it changes nothing"

      The question of determinism is of great interest to me, and if this is a consistent theme for DEVS I am sure I will like it.

    • The question of determinism is of great interest to me, and if this is a consistent theme for DEVS I am sure I will like it.

      I finished watching the first episode last night and had one of those “Is there enough here for a series or is it just a movie that takes too long?” reflections. The “trailer” at the end of the first episode, of things to come, seemed almost formulaic.

      But I stress “almost.” The acting is off the charts for a science fiction series. And the writing creates a very believable world. The “anything is justified to achieve the mission” mentality of Offerman’s character is certainly a resemblance of Tesla’s CEO.

      I do hope the intelligence of the writing implies that the question of determinism is explored in greater depth throughout the series.


    • Yep. I finished the series last night. Very glad I watched it, but would at the same time acknowledge that there were maybe too many "2001" moments, with incoherent images and pseudo-wailing sounds. Every time I saw that giant statue of the CEO's daughter was a distinctly creepy vibe, though!

      Determinism is not explored in detail, as such, even though it is at the heart of everything.

      What DEVS did do was to prompt me to do some parallel reading on the comparisons between the Copenhagen and Many Worlds interpretations, and this is proving to be seriously interesting. In fairness, it is a good thing the series did not put us down the rabbit hole in this respect as it would have not have made pretty drama.

      It does just fit over 8 episodes; any more would have been indulgent.

      Stick with it. The ending actually takes you on an unexpectedly different track.

    • I just finished watching a deterministic movie that may be worth watching after finishing the Devs series—I loved the ending of Devs, btw, an extremely satisfying finale. The movie in question is called The Mandela Effect:

      “A man becomes obsessed with facts and events that have been collectively misremembered by thousands of people. Believing the phenomenon to be the symptom of something larger, his obsession leads him to question reality itself.”

      A lot of hard scientific discussions are in the movie, including clips of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk and other notables. Good storyline and we weren’t sure how the movie was going to end, which made it more enjoyable.

    • I guess this isn't old enough yet to start discussing things in a way that would reveal spoilers?

      I think sufficient time has passed for everyone interested to have finished watching Devs. I will add an additional post after this to warn anyone to click away if they want avoid any spoilers from our discussion. Curious to hear your reflection on what you thoughts are on certain spoilers.

    • I loved the ending of Devs, btw, an extremely satisfying finale

      Me too. Combined two of my favourite scientific conjectures in one neat package.

    • Sounds interesting - is it showing on one or other of the streaming platforms?

      According to Roku, its available for free on both Amazon Prime and Hulu. And for rent on Vudu. (Hopefully, they secured the world rights to show the film, and not just the US rights.)


      So in the final confrontation Forest and Katie believe so strongly in the future being pre-determined that they don't even try to change what happens, even though they know Forest is going to die and have plenty of opportunity to do so,
      I just can't grasp that, whether that's because I lack belief in any sort of greater power or philosophy I don't know.

      It also interests me that Lily does act in a different way to what was seen, which totally stuns Forest and Katie, but the universe still finds a way to achieve the same end result with Stewarts subsequent action.
      So, are our entire lives pre-determined, or just the end result pre-determined and whatever actions we take, and however many alternate timelines may be possible with every variation of decision and action, all timelines lead to the same end result.

      Discuss any or all the points above, and introduce your own....

    • If Space-Time exists as a quantity, then arguably the entire universe is pre-determined. However, as we are limited in our dimensional perception and can only perceive 3 spatial dimensions and time only in an instant-by-instant way, we feel that we have free will.

    • If Determinism is so precise and certain, why are the weather reports so less than stellar?

      I thought this argument was resolved 70-80 years ago by Shroedinger's cat.

      I know what Neal Peart would have said -

      I will choose a path that's clear

      I will choose free will

      Big data seems to be good at predicting events in non-atomic level events, but individual living creatures cannot, and I suggest will not, ever be fully captured and predicted, even with a quantum computer, or advanced MRI's.

      Why they ever built a large, complex computer system dependent on an access tube/chamber that could not tolerate a power outage in northern California seems like the writers lacked much imagination, just as did many of the characters. How is it that Stewart could sabotage the facility by the simple flick of a switch in an open hallway, really??

      False Messiahs, indeed!

      Great cast, fascinating sets, flat affects, and seriously eroded morals, yielding murder without consequences. Interesting show, but less than convincing, for me.

      Even Shakespearean, casting a female in a male's role

      I am not sure I understand why Lyndon toyed with and lost to gravity, though. A risky game played by way too many adolescents, perhaps, because they absorb the myth that they do not control their fate.

      I prefer to think that one needs to be a good helmsman, so that they can take advantage of the winds, and waves coming one's way in life.

    • I am not sure I understand why Lyndon toyed with and lost to gravity, though. A risky game played by way to many adolescents, perhaps because they absorb the myth that they do not control their fate.

      I viewed Lyndon’s decision as one of belief.

      Lyndon didn’t care about the $19 million payoff. He didn’t even care about risking his life when he visited Stewart in the RV with the intent of getting back into Devs—security could’ve been following him 24/7 and he would’ve been killed as soon as he went towards the RV.

      Why? Because as he tells Stewart, the machine is his life’s work. Forget that he’s nineteen—for Lyndon, he needs to be part of it again. It’s like seeing the creator and then being cast down to earth for eternity.

      So when Katie gives Lyndon the “firewalk of faith” challenge with the promise to rejoin his life’s work if he survives, Lyndon chooses to risk his life.

      Because in a many worlds multi-verse, a version of Lyndon will survive and rejoin Devs: Lyndon’s not gambling whether he’ll survive, but rather he’s gambling that he exists in the world where a version of him does survive.

      Katie’s a complete shit for doing this to Lyndon, assuming her life is not deterministic. My two cents, FWIW.

    • Katie believes she’s knows Lyndon will fail, so she offers him a wager she is certain she can’t lose. Too bad Lyndon wasn’t a high wire walker.

      Talk about house odds, one reason I’m not a recreational gambler.

      I am continuing to “listen”

    • In a many worlds multi-verse, there are multiple versions of you. They are not other people and “you.” They are all you.

      Forget about Katie: she’s irrelevant to your original statement on why did Lyndon play chicken on the ledge. Whether Katie knows or thinks she knows the outcome in this world, in a many worlds multi-verse Lyndon will go back to Devs.

      Arthur C. Clarke, before he died, did a documentary on firewalking. The science behind firewalking is something called the Leidenfrost effect. Heat up a pan to low and add a drop of water. Very quickly, the droplet will evaporate. Now heat the same pan to high and add a drop of water. The droplet will actually shimmer and move on the surface of the pan for some time without evaporating.

      Arthur C. Clarke believed that every awarded Phd in Physics should have to do a firewalk as a show of faith in science.

      Lyndon was doing a firewalk of faith.

      Further reading

    • I fully understand the Leidenfrost effect - I think its why you lick your finger before testing the side of your iron

      I have been thinking about Lyndon and Katie on the dam. One might suggest that Katie had a moral obligation to not let Lyndon expose himself to mortal risk - indeed I think one has a legal obligation to not allow another person to needlessly expose themsleves to mortal risks in some venues.

      Which brings up an experience I, and a friend had, while photographing at Alstrom Point on Lake Powell about a decade ago.

      Alstrom Point is an exposed cliff on Lake Powell, about 800+ feet above a solid rock base, with no rails or warning signs, and exposed to fairly significant wind gusts at times.

      My friend and I stopped by Alstrom Point in mid afternoon, carefully placed our tripods about a foot back from the sharp drop off of the cliff edge, and were photographing the water of Lake Powell and the clouds over lying it. Images can be seen here

      A German tourist parked his auto about 200 yards from the edge of the cliff, left his wife and todler in the car. I heard him speaking to them in German - but my high school German proficiency is limited to ja, nein, and Frohliche Weinachten.

      He then promptly proceeded to the cliff's very edge, stood on one leg, and extended his other leg forward into open space about 2 feet beyond the cliff edge, and maintained that position for about 20 or 30 seconds - It seemed like forever. He then stood back a moment, and repeated this process, standing on the other leg on the very edge of the cliff with his toes beyond the edge and the other foot in the open air in front of him. Again, he held this postion for 20 or 30 seconds.

      I was astounded, terrified, and not exactly certain what my obligations were. I told my friend quietly that I hoped this would work out well, or we were going to be involved with a great deal of paper work and questions about why we didn't stop this.

      The tourist made a third pass at the cliffs edge, again balancing on one foot with the other extended beyond the edge of the cliff, for 15-30 seconds - it seemed like forever. Stepped back from the cliff's edge, walked back to his car, with his spouse and child, and drove off never to be seen again by me. I wonder to this day what ever possessed him to behave so recklessly. Maybe he had greater faith than I in the multi-verse. He never spoke a word to me or my friend the whole time.

    • If Space-Time exists as a quantity, then arguably the entire universe is pre-determined.

      On a much shorter time scale a person is born and at some point they will die so our lives are all pre-determined in that sense, but it's the bit in between those events that in theory we can impact by our actions that I'm particularly interested in.