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Alex Garland breaks down his allegory for tech companies and wayward science in FX's Devs
Devs, the sci-fi miniseries from creator Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), has arrived, and with it a thrilling sci-fi conspiracy fronted by Nick Offerman's shaggy beard. The show, which centers on Amaya — a California-based tech company willing to kill for a mysterious discovery that literally reframes how we think about reality — is certainly mind-bending, but also a cautionary tale about massive corporations that offer life-changing products.
"That's partly what the show is about, is a suspicion not exactly of the company, not of the science behind the company even, but to do with the way these things can drift into getting a bit messianic," Garland (who also serves as writer, director, and executive producer) recently told SYFY WIRE during a one-on-one interview. "That the bosses of the companies feel like they've got something of the quality of a genius about them — a sort of Mozart, or an Einstein, or a Shakespeare ... I often feel like we're confusing geniuses with very successful entrepreneurs, and that's the kind of stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable, I guess."
In a way, Devs (at least to Garland) is an expression of how we have allowed monarchy-like institutions to crop up in the United States. As you may recall from social studies, America was founded on a single principle: We wanted to be free from the despotic rule of kings and queens. And in Devs, Amaya CEO Forest (played by Offerman) basically occupies that role: a man with a god-like complex who won't let anyone or anything stand in the way of progress.
"They've got so much money, and they've got so much power, that they start to have more in common with nation-states than they do with corporations, that they are just so huge," Garland explained. "I feel like monarchies have kind of crept back into the world a bit via these corporations ... I feel like we're getting back to the stage, or maybe we are at the stage, where the monarchies start needing to be constrained."
Fitting into a similar mold as Ex Machina, the show is also meant as a warning against Promethean-esque science that doesn't conform to moral conventions or even the word "enough!"
"I just think that we're not very good at stopping things from happening," Garland explains. "So if something can happen, most of the time that means it will happen. I mean, you could take a technology like cloning, which would have huge moral and ethical problems attached to it and [other] things that would really need to be discussed and thought through before it was sensible to start carrying it out. But I bet you anything, it starts getting carried out long before those arguments have been completed."
As Jurassic Park's Ian Malcolm once said, we get so caught up in whether we could, that we never stop to think about whether we should.
"We do this sh**, and then later, we think, 'Hang on, maybe we shouldn't have. Let's go back and try and figure it out,'" he continues. "And I feel that about the size of these companies that have become like nation-states, that nothing could stop them getting that big, but now they have [gotten that] big, [and] we need to look at it."
The first two episodes of Devs are now streaming exclusively on Hulu. Further installments (there are eight in total) will hit the subscription streaming service every Thursday.
Sonoya Mizuno, Jin Ha, Zach Grenier, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Karl Glusman, and Alison Pill make up the rest of the principal cast.
See what critics have been saying about the miniseries right here.
Reporting by Jordan Zakarin.