The last episode of Devs is upon us, and this series has been an excellent wild ride. It’s remarkable how well the show has been able to balance truly excellent, thoughtful storytelling with dramatic and suspenseful twists and turns. It makes you think hard about subjects such as determinism, free will, and the power tech companies hold while ensuring you’re also having a great time. That’s very hard to do, and Alex Garland has accomplished it well in each and every episode.
There’s certainly a lot of lingering shots and artistic vision in this final installment, but it still leaves plenty of time to wrap up all the loose threads of the series. The episode opens where the last one ended, with Lily entering Devs with Stewart watching. Once she gets into the building, she encounters Forest, who was waiting for her, and he fills in any holes that Katie left in explaining what Devs is.
Here, Forest displays the same hubris and refusal to take responsibility that he has over the course of the series—he claims that by exposing the deterministic nature of the universe to Lily, he has taken nothing from her. He couldn’t take away her free will because, in his worldview, she never had it in the first place. But that’s a naive and simplistic argument—he has taken something away from Lily, even if it’s just her ignorance. Knowledge isn’t always a gift, and Forest’s use of determinism to avoid taking any sort of responsibility for his own actions is as gross as ever.
Forest then shows Lily what’s going to happen next in Devs: In a few minutes, she will take the gun she brought with her and shoot Forest in the head. Then the elevator (for lack of a better word) that she’s in will fall and shatter, and Lily will crawl across the floor and die, while Katie watches. Then the Devs system dissolves into ambiguity, as it can show no events any further into the future. Forest apologizes to Lily for their shared dismal fate, as he recognizes that just as much as he has no control over his own actions, she doesn’t either. She kills him for Jamie, but that was always going to happen. Lily has no choice, in his view.
Before they enter the final moments of the endgame, Forest shares an incredibly pretentious and on-brand secret with Lily: The name of the system isn’t actually Devs. The “V,” presumably as seen on the show’s title screen, is Roman and therefore is actually a “U,” so the system’s name is “Deus,” or God. Forest really does have a messiah complex, and nowhere is it more evident than in this episode, when he believes he’s heading to his crucifixion, sacrificing himself in the name of the god he believes in, determinism.
Except that he doesn’t. Lily breaks every rule in Forest and Katie’s playbook—she makes a decision using the free will she has always had. She throws the gun outside as the elevator doors close, choosing not to shoot Forest. Many worlds implies that Lily just created an alternate universe with that choice, one that exists outside the Devs system. They’re on a new branch now, but it doesn’t end any differently than the previous one—both Forest and Lily die in the elevator collapse, triggered by Stewart, who realizes that Devs is too powerful to remain in Forest’s hands.
And that should be that—but it’s not. We’ve still got just under half the episode left, and the endgame has played out. Katie brings Forest back in the Devs system to tell his virtual self what’s happened, and we finally see what Forest’s intention with Devs was. It was never to bring his daughter back to life. Instead, it was to enter Devs, sacrificing himself, and being resurrected to live a life in which his daughter never died. It wouldn’t be real in that it would be within the system, but because Devs can predict future events with certainty, it would be the life he was meant to live out if the accident had never occurred.
The real surprise comes when Lily wakes up inside Devs as well, beside Sergei, the morning before he is to present his experiment to Forest and Katie at Amaya (it feels like years ago, doesn’t it?). She arrives at Amaya and confronts Forest, who’s playing with his wife and daughter. He tells her that they both are now living in the Devs system and they can make new choices and build new futures for themselves, but with all the knowledge they gained before they died. Once again, Forest sees knowledge as a gift, but in this case he might be right.
While she isn’t sure what that really means for herself, or whether knowing that this is a sort of afterlife will affect her, Lily makes a decision about her future: She goes to find Jamie. In the end, she saw the sacrifices he was willing to make for her and made (in my opinion) the correct choice.
The show closes with a chilling scene: Senator Laine and Katie sitting in front of Devs, while Katie explains what happened to Forest and that life inside the simulation would be indistinguishable from reality. And Katie confirms that no one outside Devs knows about it. In exchange for keeping the system switched on and the simulation running, it appears that Katie will hand the keys for Devs over to the government.
- Did anyone else cheer when Lily gave Forest a hearty “F### you!”?
- Presumably, Stewart saw Lyndon’s death in Devs, which led him to the decision he made during this episode. His statement of “Don’t blame me, Katie—it was predetermined,” was excellent, given all the responsibility both Katie and Forest have tried to absolve themselves of because of their faith in a deterministic universe.
- I was heartbroken for Lily when she tried to get Sergei to give her his phone to confirm the Russian-agent Sudoku app was on there. Even in this “perfect” version of reality, he still betrays her.
- Forest doesn’t deserve a happy ending and I’m mad that he got one. But this show was incredibly good.