A first look at Alex Garland's new limited series Devs has finally been revealed. Garland appeared at New York Comic Con on Saturday alongside executive producer Allon Reich and stars Sonoya Mizuno, Jin Ha, Cailee Spaeny, Karl Glusman, and Alison Pill to introduce his new thriller series and shared some key preview footage of what's ahead in Devs.
The first clip featured Glusman's character, Sergei, being onboarded by Nick Offerman at the mysterious DEVS program within his quantum computer development company. The purpose of this secretive unit is unknown (possibly even unto the company itself), but the project boasts an HQ that is somehow self-levitating with electromagnetic fields inside of a shiny gold box. Inside, there's a wiry quantum computer running in the middle of the room, along with some casual computers set up, and Sergei's job here will be to sit a station and code and code until he figures out what's happening. If ever.
"My job is in the artificial intelligence," Glusman later explained during the panel. "[I'll be] working on a program to predict the movement of a simple organism. That piques my boss's interest because it directly applies to what they're working on." Indeed, the second clip of Devs shows Sergei being offered some new work after showing a single-cell organism's movements. The new job will clearly cause some friction between himself and Mizuno's character — at first, that's because it'll create a schism of secrets between them, but then, his death (by burning, it appears?) will ignite her dangerous new mission for answers.
A third clip shown at the event gave a taste of the perilous circumstances Lily will find herself once she starts to uncover the truth of her employer. While riding in the car with her boss, he informs her that because she's showing signs of paranoia and psychosis, she will need to be committed. Once he begins driving in a different direction than her apartment, she has to cause a high-speed accident in the middle of a freeway to get away.
Garland explained that the genesis of the series stemmed from his love of science and a theory that by coupling the philosophy of determinism with the big tech power of now, one could predict the behavior of all lifeforms.
"I read more about science than anything else, and it started with two things. One was getting my head around this principle of determinism, which basically says that everything that happens in the world is based on cause and effect. ... That has all sorts of implications for us. One is that it takes away free will, but the other is that if you are at a computer powerful enough, you could use determinism to predict the future and understand the past," said Garland. "If you unravel everything about you, about the specifics of you why you prefer a cup of coffee to tea ... then five seconds before you said you'd like to have a cup of coffee one would be able to predict you'd ask for it."
Devs marks Garland's first foray into the television scene after stunning film critics with his original sci-fi films Ex Machina and Annihilation. Beyond the new plot mechanics in Devs, the clips prove that Garland's stunning visual tricks will carry through to this new small-screen adventure. Here again, he presents a world of technology so striking and original that it's almost comforting — especially when we see these metallic and concrete structures planted in the middle of a nature scene — until we realize the dangers contained in all of these unmanaged technological advances.
Garland also revealed that Devs will be a self-contained eight-episode miniseries."Devs is a one-off ... The story is done," Garland insisted. However, he said his time on the TV scene might not be over so quickly. "What I want to do is with this exact cast do a separate story."
Devs will premiere on FX in 2020.