'Devs' Episode 5 Review: Creator Alex Garland's aesthetics manage to override a dragged narrative
The episode dedicated to the backstories of the main characters might be too confusing and a slow burn, but it definitely nailed the art, aesthetics and visual narrative
The super twisted and conceptually heavy show is on its second half but definitely doesn’t feel that way. They had made it evident from the very opening episode that this would be a slow burn and we were prepared for it.
However, what we weren't ready for, is dedicating an entire episode to the history of the lead characters, which was easily presumable from whatever we have been seeing so far.
How difficult is it to imagine Forest losing his wife and child, or how Lily and Sergei would have met, how she left Jamie and so on and so forth. Then there is also Kenton's past, which he narrated while torturing Jamie. But this makes sense since that background gives us more reasons to understand where Kenton comes from.
Other than Kenton's story, most of the scenes and plot points felt like a waste of a precious hour. It could have been any time later or earlier in the series when we would not be desperately seeking answers to questions like – What is Lily’s ultimate agenda?
Or why is Kenton losing his cool with Forest? What is Katie hiding? And the list goes on. Nevertheless, with a creator like Alex Garland, you have to try to look past these flaws, because he makes you.
And Episode 5 was a classic example of the filmmaker’s unique storytelling style. Take the opening scenes for instance. Without a word or dialogue, how easily he narrated Lily’s thoughts, as she lay in her bed, heavily medicated and mentally exhausted.
The mise-en-scene with Lily, Sergei, and Jamie in different moments of their relationships, and in different moods, perfectly tells you the journey of Lily with Jamie and then with Sergei, and how those memories are now playing side by side in her mind as it drifts into her past.
Another moment of this episode which also hit the ball out of the park, was the long shot of the San Francisco valley before the story went back to the day when Forest's wife and daughter were killed in a car crash, right outside his home.
The animated-like effect of the cloud-veiled valley view with the dark filters just reinstated the graveness of the plot.
In simple words — Alex Garland is a genius, an impossibly creative one! And no matter how convoluted and confusing his stories and storytelling might be, you cannot deny the fact that his filmmaking aesthetics always takes your breath away!
The effects might not be all positive, but whoever said that art always needs to drive an uplifting feeling. Noir is equally impactful and yields long-lasting memories.
'Devs' is available on Hulu (FX on Hulu) every Thursday.