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Silent Runner

Devs - Alex Garland sci-fi TV show

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56 minutes ago, Monkeyboy said:

I don't even remember any swearing! There can't have been that much of it.

Spoiler

Her putting fuck you in her window was one of the plot points

 

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Oh I agree, it didn't stand out more than other US mini-series 

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23 hours ago, Stanley said:

Spoilers for the big reveal, I think episode 2 so definitely don’t read unless you’ve watched at least that far. 
 

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When we are first shown what Devs is, and the lead up to it. I just found that footage of Christ spellbinding, like I was totally there in the moment and bought it completely. Really superbly executed and I think one of the most amazing on screen reveals ever despite it not requiring anything technically never before seen, perhaps because of that, but it was just like - fucking hell. To be able to put the viewer in the right frame of mind to pull that off is quite an exceptional skill. Up until then the show hadn’t really shown it’s hand and it was more a murder mystery computer espionage spy thriller type thing. But from that point it was like, boom, the stakes are raised. 

 

Spoiler

Similarly and I think part of the same scene, I found the Joan of Arc burning at the stake very chilling, if that's not too much of a very inapropriate  way to describe a burning. It was horrible.

 

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This was great. Just finished it, I am going to have to ponder it further

 

If you liked this you may enjoy series 3 and 4 of Mr. Robot (the best TV show of recent years imo). 

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I'm on Ep 4. Intriguing story but the acting is off the wall terrible for the actress playing  Lily Chan. Dragging it down considerably for me. Nick Offerman and Alison Pill are the only ones doing a decent job. Maybe the Amaya head of security also, but the casting is a huge weak point.

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The wife and I binged it all today, both loved it.

 

Regarding the ending though,

Spoiler

It's not them in the system in the end, just like when somebody transports in Star Trek.... they are killed when they disintegrate and it's a perfect copy that thinks they are the original. So basically they are really dead but a system aware copy of them that are living out the 'good' ending.

 

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I binged this hard and finished it last night, but the ending left me unsatisfied

Spoiler

 

I love stories about determinism, closed time loops etc, and have seen a bunch where characters are unable to break free, usually because the act of witnessing an event in their future ends up causing that event to happen - 12 Monkeys, Lost, Timecrimes etc. I thought this might take it a bit further.

 

Sure, I understand the concept that everything in the universe is an effect preceded by a cause right back to the big bang, even decisions made by complex conscious organisms, but if your past self has seen your future, that knowledge will of course influence those events. Usually this is experienced by characters who don't grasp what's happening but in this, they have an all-powerful machine which could very safely be used to test the concept. Katie even mentions this ("what if we see ourselves fold our arms in 10 minutes time, but then we wait here and refuse to do it?") yet at no point does anyone actually try that out. Then, later on, a bunch of Devs programmers watch themselves 1 second in the future, and instead of trying to contradict the prediction, which is the first thing anyone would think to do, they all freak out as if all their intelligence has suddenly gone missing.

 

Then, it turns out you can confound the prediction, except Lily was the first person to try it because she's such a wild card. Oh. So there was no clever twist. I kind of get why Forrest didn't want to try, as the single immutable reality he believes in is all tied up with his grief and guilt, but Katie? Everyone else? Nah.

 

 

Apart from that really important point, I thought it was mostly excellent, especially the haunting audiovisuals. The lead actor let it down a bit but everyone else was decent. I don't think Garland is really an actor's director and his best work (Ex Machina) is elevated by some great performers.

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@PugI agree in the Devs example, but

 

In Star Trek they're absolutely not killed and copied when they use the transporter. I mean, that's probably what would happen if the technology was real, but as far as Star Trek is concerned their consciousness is transported along with the rest of them. 

 

@Pob 

Spoiler

During the one second in the future bit, they were reacting to what they were seeing, and in some cases it was the reactions to the predictions which caused them to carry out the actions they reacted with. Err, if that makes sense. :unsure: It also wasn't very long, so I thought it was believable that they wouldn't immediately think to try and subvert it.

 

I also don't think it was as simple as Lily just choosing to break the prediction. As Forest said, it's not like he ever felt like he was copying what he'd seen, he was just doing and saying the things he naturally wanted to say and do, albeit obviously influenced by what he'd seen of his future. Forest was also a zealous believer in his single deterministic universe, and Katie was basically his apostle.

 

But of course this was also a many-worlds multiverse, and every prediction and glimpse into the past would have only been one version of events. Normally the differences would have been minute, a "hair out of place" to paraphrase Forest, but I felt that what Lily did in this universe was so drastically different to the rest that Devs couldn't handle it. I figured that there were untold other universes in which Lily did exactly what Devs predicted, but after that point the divergent events would have been too different to handle.

 

Then there's the other thing, in that in creating Devs the team had basically created a whole new multiverse that mirrored "reality". :wacko:

 

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@Mogster I haven't read up on 'official' Trek info but I presumed that the copy includes the brains neural mapping meaning memories and the conscious get copied too.

Happy to accept that's not the case if so. :)

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1 hour ago, Mogster said:

@PugI agree in the Devs example, but

 

 

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In Star Trek they're absolutely not killed and copied when they use the transporter. I mean, that's probably what would happen if the technology was real, but as far as Star Trek is concerned their consciousness is transported along with the rest of them. 

 

I dunno, I think that's exactly how they work! Consciousness is only transferred because the transportee's brain is recreated perfectly. There's even that TNG episode where they recreate a dead Picard from the transporter's pattern buffer. Of course they don't use this device again because it undermines the drama that comes from mortality.

 

 

Quote

 

@Pob 

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During the one second in the future bit, they were reacting to what they were seeing, and in some cases it was the reactions to the predictions which caused them to carry out the actions they reacted with. Err, if that makes sense. :unsure: It also wasn't very long, so I thought it was believable that they wouldn't immediately think to try and subvert it.

 

I also don't think it was as simple as Lily just choosing to break the prediction. As Forest said, it's not like he ever felt like he was copying what he'd seen, he was just doing and saying the things he naturally wanted to say and do, albeit obviously influenced by what he'd seen of his future. Forest was also a zealous believer in his single deterministic universe, and Katie was basically his apostle.

 

But of course this was also a many-worlds multiverse, and every prediction and glimpse into the past would have only been one version of events. Normally the differences would have been minute, a "hair out of place" to paraphrase Forest, but I felt that what Lily did in this universe was so drastically different to the rest that Devs couldn't handle it. I figured that there were untold other universes in which Lily did exactly what Devs predicted, but after that point the divergent events would have been too different to handle.

 

Then there's the other thing, in that in creating Devs the team had basically created a whole new multiverse that mirrored "reality". :wacko:

 

Spoiler

It makes sense that as soon as someone uses their foreknowledge to break the prediction, the whole thing becomes fuzzy because the future is no longer predictable. I just don't buy that a bunch of top scientists and programmers wouldn't immediately test this, and that there needs to be some kind of powerful Chosen One with the willpower to break the system. Our choices in life are governed by our genes and past experiences - if our past experiences include attaining certain knowledge of our future, that will in turn affect our decisions. So it's a paradox that the show fails to address in favour of the character drama. It's just a shame it couldn't have done both.

 

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Spoiler

I felt it was a comment on religion as much as science, particularly the whole messiah and false prophet thing, with the devs team themselves being somewhat religious zealots. 

 

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Neal Stephenson's Anathem would be a good choice for anyone hungry for more polycosmic fiction.

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1 hour ago, Pug said:

@Mogster I haven't read up on 'official' Trek info but I presumed that the copy includes the brains neural mapping meaning memories and the conscious get copied too.

Happy to accept that's not the case if so. :)

 

That's correct, but I meant that as far as Star Trek's concerned it's not creating a perfect copy of that consciousness, it's just putting the original back together again. It's not a perfect clone of the original person thinking that they're still the original. Even in the episode Pob mentioned, Picard was reconstructed using his original energy signature along with a backup of his physical form from the pattern buffer. It puts his original soul, if you will, into a new physical body.

 

1 hour ago, Pob said:

 

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It makes sense that as soon as someone uses their foreknowledge to break the prediction, the whole thing becomes fuzzy because the future is no longer predictable. I just don't buy that a bunch of top scientists and programmers wouldn't immediately test this, and that there needs to be some kind of powerful Chosen One with the willpower to break the system. Our choices in life are governed by our genes and past experiences - if our past experiences include attaining certain knowledge of our future, that will in turn affect our decisions. So it's a paradox that the show fails to address in favour of the character drama. It's just a shame it couldn't have done both.

 

 

I'm not sure that's what happened though.

 

Spoiler

The system only worked at all once it was programmed to account for a multiverse, only displaying vague, fuzzy images and distorted sound without this. It was by accounting for branching possibilities that it was able to provide accurate predictions in the first place.

 

Also, the prediction didn't fail at the point Lily "disobeyed", it continued to the point of her death in the predicted timeline and then dissolved into randomness. It allowed for a good few minutes of divergence before failing.

 

So, I don't think it was simply Lily disobeying the system that caused it to fail, it was that her foreknowledge allowed her to do something so significant that it created divergent universes so complex in their disparity that the system could no longer cope. This was in contrast to Lyndon's fall from the dam, where we were shown several variations of his fall but no version in which he survived.

 

Forest and Katy also act as a result of their foreknowledge to a lesser extent, as they both discuss future events, and allow them to play out dispassionately. The difference is that this is exactly what was predicted for them, which is a small paradox, but then that's always what would have been predicted so this is always the way they would act. Forest had complete belief that not only could he not change any of this, he wouldn't want to test to this for fear of finding himself partly responsible for his daughter's death. On top of this, he wanted his recreation of Amaya to be his one and only, not some variation. 

 

Katy seemed a little more open to the idea that change was possible, but for whatever the reason, maybe her love for Forest, had convinced her that it probably wasn't. It certainly wasn't her experience, and up until the end of the show she would have had no reason to change anything anyway.

 

The other programmers had only just been shown the reality of what they'd made, having previously only viewed the past. Maybe their reaction was over the top, but it was meant to hammer home just how significant it was that this was possible, and how accurate it seemed to be. Maybe some of them would try and change things in the future, given the chance, but they only had a second of foresight to play with here.

 

So I guess I'm saying that Lily was the only one with both the knowledge and the will to disobey in the whole of history to that point, and it's this that created divergent realities to complex for Devs to handle.

 

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Regarding the Star Trek chat, Thomas Riker might disagree with some of the above. And wasn't McCoy's discomfort with the transporter down to the idea of being copied them killed, effectively? And Reg Barclay.

 

Regarding the ending of Devs, the den of geek article does a pretty good summing up, with some comments from Garland. But don't forget the implications 

Spoiler

When they turn Devs on themselves and witness themselves in the room with a five second delay. It basically means that within Devs there's another Devs, and within that another, ad infinitum. The final implication being that they themselves are already in a simulation, which I think is what drove Stewart mad.

 

Don't get the complaints about the performances, I thought they were fine. The guy playing Stewart was the stand out though - the way he read the Larkin poem was glorious.

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2 hours ago, Stanley said:
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I felt it was a comment on religion as much as science, particularly the whole messiah and false prophet thing, with the devs team themselves being somewhat religious zealots. 

 

 Garland himself has confirmed that in interviews.

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19 minutes ago, Death's Head said:

Regarding the Star Trek chat, Thomas Riker might disagree with some of the above. And wasn't McCoy's discomfort with the transporter down to the idea of being copied them killed, effectively? And Reg Barclay.

 

Regarding the ending of Devs, the den of geek article does a pretty good summing up, with some comments from Garland. But don't forget the implications 

  Reveal hidden contents

When they turn Devs on themselves and witness themselves in the room with a five second delay. It basically means that within Devs there's another Devs, and within that another, ad infinitum. The final implication being that they themselves are already in a simulation, which I think is what drove Stewart mad.

 

Don't get the complaints about the performances, I thought they were fine. The guy playing Stewart was the stand out though - the way he read the Larkin poem was glorious.

Larkin, Coltrane, the guy has good taste. 

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Yeah, I read that Garland interview. I agree that the show is thematically strong but it presents itself in quite a science fiction-y way so I was hoping for a bit more rigour there.

Spoiler

 

The central argument is about whether the universe is deterministic (single universe) or probabilistic (multiple universes). The cleverest characters believe, without investigating, that it's deterministic, and that nothing can change the predictions of the future that their machine shows them. By the end, though, the message is that it's probabilistic - there are infinite possibilities, and we can choose a different future from the one we're shown.

 

However, if someone makes a decision based on a prediction of future events that they believe to be 100% concrete, that doesn't necessarily mean the universe isn't deterministic. They're simply using that information to make a decision in a standard effect-follows-cause way, just as they do thousands of times a day. Lily decides not to carry out the prediction because she doesn't want to, which is something any of the other characters could've done if they'd thought about it for more than a second. I don't find that a particularly insightful or mind-bending conclusion.

 

From a purely sci-fi perspective, it might've been interesting to see how Forrest and co try use the machine to see and exploit the future predictions without that very same insight changing things.

 

Dr Manhattan lives in this strange Zen-like state where he understands totally that the universe is deterministic, and has full awareness of all of his future actions. The choices he makes are determined by that knowledge. It's impossible to understand what that feels like, and I think it's impossible for that state of mind to really exist. It's a more interesting philosophical conundrum, I think.

 

EDIT: I also thought that Arrival was a much more affecting and thought-provoking take in a similar subject.

 

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17 hours ago, pledge said:
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Her putting fuck you in her window was one of the plot points

 

 

17 hours ago, Monkeyboy said:

Oh yeah. Not something to clutch my pearls over though.

 

Shows how desensitised to swearing you may have become! Especially I think the priest (from "Lady Bird") gives it a few motherfucking A's, as well as the other programmer person, and the woman in the lecture, which is way OTT.

 

It just feels weird, and unless the near future workplace has us fucking well fucking putting fuckings in as mid-sentance fucking enhancers, then I stand fucking corrected.Fuck

 

I think the weakest link in the series is the main character actor, she is probably not suited well to long takes/shots where she has to pause for effect etc. It comes across as a bit laboured. But she would have only been done as she was told I would imagine, so you could also put that on the director too.

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People swear all the time in most places behind closed doors/that aren't directly customer facing, I really don't get the issue at all. It's the 21st Century, most people don't give a fudge, you crazy melonfarmer.

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5 hours ago, Pob said:

 

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It makes sense that as soon as someone uses their foreknowledge to break the prediction, the whole thing becomes fuzzy because the future is no longer predictable. I just don't buy that a bunch of top scientists and programmers wouldn't immediately test this, and that there needs to be some kind of powerful Chosen One with the willpower to break the system. Our choices in life are governed by our genes and past experiences - if our past experiences include attaining certain knowledge of our future, that will in turn affect our decisions. So it's a paradox that the show fails to address in favour of the character drama. It's just a shame it couldn't have done both.

 

 

Spoiler

I think the idea was that Forest and Katie were so wedded to the idea of determinism that they tried not to poke holes in it. It was like a blind spot for them. The rest of them had to abide by the rules, right? Stewart said they "try not to" look into the future, and even when he does this, it's with a short delay for "safety". So they were worried about the consequences at least. It's a big leap into the unknown, trying something like that.

 

I got the impression that it did take some degree of willpower to "break" from what you were already going to do, I could believe that Lily might be the first, given so few people had been put in that position? At any rate, I'm prepared to accept the fuzzy science. It was there to service the story, not the other way around.

 

Anyway I thought this was great. Maybe it worked better as a thriller than as a philosophical puzzler, but that's probably only because it was so brilliant as the former? I doubt any show could've kept up that level of intensity though, shouting at the telly moments, etc. It was consistently gorgeous to look at and the soundtrack was brilliant - mixing the original music with existing songs very well (just like Annihilation), and the vocal work was great.

 

Spoiler

I thought episode 5 was brilliant. It was like watching the final episodes of Evangelion, in terms of structure and the number of questions it raised.

 

Probably my favourite moment was Jamie putting the frisbee down though.

 

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And the opening to episode 7, particularly the sound. God knows what was happening there, it was extraordinary.

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Oh, I'd almost completely forgotten about that. Yes the way each episode (maybe not every single one, but most I think) opened with a little vignette was great. They were like little short films into themselves.

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I think we're all missing the biggest scientific innaccuracy: where do the poops go when you flush the toilet in a vacuum-isolated levitating cube?

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2 hours ago, Death's Head said:

And the opening to episode 7, particularly the sound. God knows what was happening there, it was extraordinary.

Was that the bit with “Come Out” by Steve Reich? 

 

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5 minutes ago, Stanley said:

Was that the bit with “Come Out” by Steve Reich? 

 

 Yep. Blew me away when it mixed with the (I think?) Tibetan throat singers. Masterful.

 

I just saw this on TV tropes and I haven't been back to check but huge if true (ep 8 spoilers)

 

Spoiler

1214251029_Screenshot_20200420-1957032.thumb.png.35b019882b37e6ded4cb1029bd7f869f.png

 

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Yeah superb use of the Reich track, to be honest the show had me in episode 1 with Low’s ‘Congregation’ - the whole soundtrack is just exceptional. 

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