I just finished watching Devs. I had heard it mentioned a couple of times, such as on last week’s Click, so yesterday afternoon I thought I would binge-watch it. Having now watched all eight episodes, I find myself rather torn over what I just watched: I can’t decide whether it was the most deeply philosophical program I’ve seen in years, or the biggest load of pretentious bollocks. I’m afraid to say that the last episode probably tips it towards the latter.
When I first started watching it yesterday afternoon, it felt like something I should be able to get a nice lengthy review out of. However, having reached the denouement, I don’t know where to begin: what began by presenting some fairly interesting scientific and philosophical ideas, by the end had collapsed into gibberish. The idea of a computer so powerful that it could see the past and predict the future required some suspension of disbelief, especially for anyone even remotely familiar with Heisenburg, but I was willing to go with it. After all, my favourite science fiction show involves Warp drives and Transporter Beams, so who am I to complain?
The problem was, as the series went on, it became clearer and clearer that whoever wrote it was about as scientifically literate as a potato; or rather, they were trying to map poorly understood scientific concepts onto overtly religious ones. I began to get a sense that something was amiss when the first thing our protagonists apparently ‘saw’ when they look back in time was Christ on the cross. By the finale, however, the religiosity was overt: the super-computer turned out to be a stand-in for god, and the guy who created it wanted to somehow resurrect his dead daughter. What annoys me was the pretence that this was supposedly underpinned by actual science. In the fourth or fifth episode, there’s a nice little cameo from Liz Carr as a university lecturer giving an interesting summary of the Double Slit Experiment; yet this was used to try to underpin the idea that there are many parallel worlds which the super-computer could apparently discern. Thus real scientific ideas and debates were hijacked and dressed up to reinforce religious dogma, so what begins as a fairly interesting science fiction series with a promising hint of espionage finishes up as theological mumbo-jumbo with a large helping of gratuitous violence.