In "Episode 6" of FX on Hulu's Devs, creator Alex Garland's narrative races toward its climax: Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) has finally had enough and travels with Jamie (Jin Ha) to Forest's (Nick Offerman) modest home to confront him about what he's really doing inside the Amaya Devs cube.
Previous episodes revealed the tragedy that put Forest on his current path, setting all the context for not only the creepy, omniscient child statue that oversees the entire Amaya campus, but also the sadness that envelops the man obsessed with his secret Devs project.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers below for "Episode 6" of Devs!**
SYFY WIRE continues with our exclusive, select post-episode conversations, this time focusing on the cast with Offerman, Mizuno, and Alison Pill (Katie) revealing how this pivotal meeting of the minds helps frame all of the characters in a new light.
On Forest steering the narrative, technologically and emotionally:
Nick Offerman (Forest): "By and large, the lion's share of the series is Forest driving the narrative towards this one — as far as he's concerned — fully deterministic outcome. And it’s one that he's been completely obsessed with since the tragedy befell him. That took a lot of the homework out of it for me [as an actor]. Like here's these scenes with Sonoya and with Zach [Grenier] and with Alison, so how can I convincingly portray a real human being riding this really insane sci-fi plotline?"
On Lily and Katie's powerful kitchen table confrontation:
Alison Pill (Katie): "That was the most thrilling time. Back when I was emailing Alex [questions], I'm reading that scene I was like, 'I will do anything, anything to get to have this scene.' This is an episode of television that is essentially two duets. And one of those duets is two incredibly intelligent women sitting across from each other discussing big ideas."
Sonoya Mizuno (Lily Chan): "The whole [shoot] was an incredible experience, but that week for me was one of the most satisfying work weeks I've ever experienced because it was literally the two of us sparring at a table. And it is the point in the story where there is a massive shift because you think something [specific] is happening. Lily thinks that this is what's going to happen: She's going to see Forest and he's going to explain something. But then she goes there and she finds out that actually it's much bigger than what she thought. It's all about her."
Pill: "We got to shoot it over two days. I mean those takes were probably... I don't even know how long they were because we just did it. I think [the scene] was probably close to half an hour. And there's not a moment of boredom because the concepts are so huge and the different ways to play the emotion involved.
"Katie is also very open about the fact that no matter what you think, even though it shouldn't, [Devs] still makes you feel. Because it is still humans who are operating the machine and driving the machine. The reasons behind the machine are all the most human you can imagine. And so it's all driven from this gut-wrenching place and the idea that 'Oh, this is in the seat of our being.' We're still very animal and no matter how logical a person is, pain still hurts."
Mizuno: "It was so wonderful working opposite Alison because she's such a brilliant actress. We were working with such beautiful language and it was so specific. And there were some times when we were filming and the cameras were like here [shows her hand right next to her face]. The kind of acting we had to do was so controlled that the only way it was possible to do it was just to be completely in it. I felt like I was Lily in those moments, asking those questions."
On the importance of Forest's heart-to-heart conversations with Jamie, and then Katie in the episode:
Offerman: "Well, I think an important point in the foundation of my answer has to be Forest's relationship with Katie. Probably, inadvertently, he created this company, this computing system, and this superstructure. And then, unwittingly I have to believe, he couldn't actually drive the boat. He couldn't be the executioner. He commissioned the gibbet to be built and gathered everybody in the town square. But then he stayed way back out of sight. And so he relies on Katie to be behind the machine manning the tiller of this vessel and be in charge of the butcher's bill and of the everyday maintenance. Meanwhile, he actually is left to sit out on the porch and examine these people, not only Jamie, but Lily.
"And so the scene outside with Jamie is just one of several moments where we see Forest’s humanity despite his overweening actions. And later, as he and Katie are going to sleep, he says, 'I really like Jamie' and they talk about his guts. But then also what an incredibly heroic personality Lily is and what a tough customer she is."
Pill: "She has always worked toward the same goal that Forest has. He presented that as his goal. And she said, 'I can do that.' I mean, I think in the back of her mind when she started, she's like, 'I only care about the science.' Much like Oppenheimer didn't care about what [the nuclear bomb] would be, but 'How can I make it?' I've just been reading this David Bohm biography. He was one of the [members of the] Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, and a lot of their stuff contributed to the Manhattan Project. With Oppenheimer, they knew he was working on something. But you just work on a problem. These scientific minds are just working on a problem to be solved.
"But [with Katie], I've never seen from a character a greater act of generosity [than hers toward Forest]. This is the most generous person in the entire world. And I love that about her because it's not an easy gift to be that generous."
Offerman: "Again and again, working on these eight episodes with my fellow actors, we kept saying this was clearly written by a very talented novelist. I mean, I've had the good fortune of working with a lot of great writers, but I've never worked on an eight-hour piece of writing, written completely by one person where all of these threads were so emotionally thought out and made sense. It's quite something."
Come back to SYFY WIRE for our dissection of the Devs finale on April 16. New episodes of Devs drop Thursdays on FX on Hulu.