If you've been tracking anything about this show at all (or if you just read the paragraph above), you probably already know that the whole thing is directed by Alex Garland, the director of his breakout feature film Ex Machina, about a reverse-engineered Turing test performed on a beautiful artificially intelligent robot, and Annihilation, a loose adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's exceedingly frightening science fiction novel about a group of scientists who venture into a jungle that's been biologically polluted by a mysterious catastrophic event. Devs marks his first foray into directing television, but taken all together, it feels like simply one long, expanded Alex Garland movie, with new episodes coming out every Thursday on Hulu. It even looks, unmistakably, like an Alex Garland movie, which is thanks to his cinematographer Rob Hardy, whom he worked with on both Ex Machina and Annihilation. Hardy shot every scene with the same misty, filmy look, giving every light source a soft, slightly blurred edge and focusing intently on the greens and yellow-greens in any aspect of verdant, organic nature.
The show is set almost entirely inside a utopian Silicon Valley wet dream of a tech company called Amaya, housed in part inside a modern glass-paneled office building whose windows reflect the vast expanse of forest around it, a 21st century Hanging Gardens of Babylon -- though, like the Hanging Gardens, it's better suited to myth than reality. Employees are bussed in and out from their homes in San Francisco, their offices have high, airy ceilings, and their desks face outward through huge floor-to-ceiling windows, looking upon the grassy lawns and sunny outside dining areas dotted around the company's campus. Devs, Amaya's mysterious "development branch," is a brisk stroll away on a wooden walkway that winds through the kind of old-growth forest you'd expect to see on any brochure of the Pacific coast.
What Devs is, no one but the Devs employees know -- and even they, as you soon come to find out, don't quite understand what it is they're doing. In the premiere episode, Lily Chan's (Sonoya Mizuno, another frequent Garland collaborator) boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman) gets a coveted position inside Devs by demonstrating a quantum predictive program that he's invented, foretelling the random movements of a worm. Forest (Nick Offerman), the enigmatic, shaggy-haired owner of Amaya, shows Sergei around the building that houses Devs, protected by a vacuum moat and an electromagnetic field, but won't tell him anything about what he's supposed to be doing there. By the end of the episode, Sergei has disappeared without a trace, prompting Lily (also an employee of Amaya) to infiltrate the company to try to figure out what happened to him, and what it has to do with what's going on inside Devs.