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Silent Runner

Devs - Alex Garland sci-fi TV show

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Could someone mildly spoil this for me please? I'm on episode three and am hooked by the "What have they built?" element, but I find the actress playing Lily excruciatingly irritating and I almost want to fast forward her scenes just to get her to spit out whatever she's taking half an hour to say. How long do they drag out the question of what's actually going on? If I'm going to get to episode 8 and have it still be an unopened mystery box then i think I'm going to just give up.

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Spoiler

I'm pretty sure it's revealed in the first episode? When Forest confronts Sergei he basically explains it to him - and then says he's willing to forgive him precisely because of what the machine's existence says about the nature of the universe, and therefore Sergei's culpability for his decisions. Along with them watching a fuzzy version of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, and the roundworm simulation that foreshadows the whole thing, nothing is being "dragged out" surely? I guess the capabilities of what they've built become more explicit as the series goes on, but it's not really in the mystery genre.

 

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22 hours ago, Pug said:

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

 

Regarding the ending though,

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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.

 

 

I read that as:

Spoiler

Garland not giving any specific answers - but surely the MASSIVE implication of the whole series is that we are in a simulation already - so they are both just copies of that.

 

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33 minutes ago, Liamness said:
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I'm pretty sure it's revealed in the first episode? When Forest confronts Sergei he basically explains it to him - and then says he's willing to forgive him precisely because of what the machine's existence says about the nature of the universe, and therefore Sergei's culpability for his decisions. Along with them watching a fuzzy version of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, and the roundworm simulation that foreshadows the whole thing, nothing is being "dragged out" surely? I guess the capabilities of what they've built become more explicit as the series goes on, but it's not really in the mystery genre.

 

 

Yes, I mean "What are they going to do with it" rather than "What have they built", I suppose.

 

I'll stick with it for now but Lily's acting is gradually eroding my interest unfortunately

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11 hours ago, Death's Head said:

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

 

  Reveal hidden contents

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

 

 

My wife somehow noticed that when we watched the episode, and I had to immediately go back to watch the scene again. :D

 

But yes, it certainly looks like that's what happens.

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I don't often say that actors are awful - most of the time, a poor performance is down to miscasting or poor direction - but the one playing Lily is genuinely awful. Like, almost show-breakingly awful. 

 

I think Garland's stuck her in a few things because she has androgynous, model-like looks and can cry on demand, but it was a terrible error here. I loved the show in spite of her, and mainly as Offerman and Pill are totally fantastic in every scene.

 

Some other things I liked that I don't think many have mentioned:

That Lyndon is (I think?) trans. Pretty sure someone refers to them as 'he' (possibly Stewart) at one point?

That Katie is non-Neurotypical

That Forest is the privileged white man to a T and gets to

Spoiler

absolve himself of responsibility for multiple murders via obfuscation, hang-wringing and dissemination of facts

That Jamie is the romantic lead, despite not being a white dude - these are all important snippets of inclusiveness.

 

I thought the ending was great, but not amazing. @Pob nails it.

 

That said, the only question I wanted answers for, that I didn't get, was:

Spoiler

Why did Lily dump Jamie in the first place? I know Garland didn't think it was important to answer (i.e. Lily is unpredictable) but it was important to me. Another reason I couldn't be arsed with her character. I'm glad sim-Lily made the right choice in the end, scant consolation that it is :)

 

Overall, I think good old Ian M made a better fist of some of the aspects of this in Surface Detail, but the music, atmos and deeply poignant moments concerning Amaya made it a treat - the best TV sci-fi since Westworld season one, for me.

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Perhaps I was just so mesmerised by everything else that I didn’t notice, but Lily’s performance didn’t bother me at all, you’re not the first to mention it though so it’s obviously problematic for some. 

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Yeah, I'm not sure what others are seeing in the performance but I thought it was absolutely fine. She's a pretty awkward, insular character. Seems to keep people at a wary distance and chooses her words carefully. To me it's clearly all a choice rather than a lack of skill, because the character is radically different to those Mizuno played in Maniac, or even the smallish part in Crazy Rich Asians.

 

Actually, one of my favourite parts of the show is where she 

 

Spoiler

Pretends to be unstable, because in the scene it's a bad performance - but a bad performance put on by a character who isn't an actor. While watching it I knew she was putting it on because it was so arch.

 

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Yeah, I think Lily is fine in this. She is clearly introverted and awkward so I haven't noticed anything amiss. I have other issues with the series so far but going to wait until I finish the whole thing.

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Yeah I had no problem with her at all, and I am an actor! I'm fairly forgiving though. I believed her throughout and that's the main thing (it's the most excruciating note to get as an actor - "I didnt believe you" - ouch).

 

I do agree, Jamie was a great character, I was really rooting for him!

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Re: Star Trek transporters, spoilered for off-topicness:

 

I had always believed, like most people, that the transporters worked by making a full scan of someone at the atomic level, holding that scan in a digital memory buffer, "destroying" the person on the transporter pad, then constructing a new version of that person from the atomically-perfect scan - presumably constructing them from ambient atoms in the area.


But then I read the explanation in the Star Trek TNG Technical Manual, and they don't describe it that way at all. Apparently a full quantum-level scan of someone would be too large to hold digitally, even in memory banks of the future. So the scan is actually a kind of "analogue" scan. A person is deconstructed, their atoms are sucked into a buffer, then those atoms are literally BEAMED to the destination using beam emitters, and then the atoms are reassembled at the destination. That's why transporters need line-of-sight, and why you can't be beamed through shields or while travelling at warp, and also of course why it's called "beaming".

Replicators work a bit differently. Most non-living materials don't need to be scanned or reconstructed at the quantum level; merely at the molecular level, which means the scans have a data size convenient enough to store digitally. So when you ask for a "Tea, Earl Grey, hot", the replicator creates it from a data file that's accurate at the molecular level. That's good enough for things that aren't alive.

 

 

 

 

Anyway, Devs:

 

I really liked it, but I thought it was going to be more sci-fi and trippy. At the end of episode 1 (my copy at least) there was a trailer for the rest of the season, and it used clips to suggest that

 

The fabric of reality was going to break down and things were going to get really trippy. But then when those clips appeared throughout the season there was always a more mundane or artistic reason for them.

I think the series worked quite well as a thriller anyway.

 

This wasn't the first time I've seen a story about a computer than can do what Devs does, so the concepts didn't seem completely new or mindblowing to me. I'm sure it's been done a few times in fiction -- the one I happen to know is Koji Suzuki's "Loop", the third book in the Ring series. It's been a long time since I read it... refreshing my mind with a synopsis just now makes me think it was really hokey and crap. Probably not as clever as Alex Garland's ideas. Let me give a half-remembered synopsis with full spoilers:

 

 

There's a viral cancer that is devastating the population, and a young medical student goes on an investigation to find out how his father was involved in it. His investigation takes him to Nevada USA, where a secret underground complex (think Black Mesa) was working on a computer simulation of all life on Earth. It was an atomically-perfect simulation of the Earth, where all human history is 100% accurate. The scientists could go in with VR headsets and watch scenes from history.


Then they looked to the future, but the simulation always failed with a glitch after a few years: the human population drops sharply like a plague hit it. So they went in with the VR goggles to see what kills the population... and it's Sadako. They watch how it happened... so they basically watch the events of Ring and Spiral. I might not be explaining or remembering this very well.

 

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Never paid too much attention to Alex Garland despite mostly really enjoying his work, anyway Devs has really struck a chord with me and after watching this interview he seems like a top bloke. 
 

https://youtu.be/gU-mkuMU428

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11 hours ago, Stanley said:

Perhaps I was just so mesmerised by everything else that I didn’t notice, but Lily’s performance didn’t bother me at all, you’re not the first to mention it though so it’s obviously problematic for some. 

 

Lily's performance is fine. She is meant to be reserved and a bit of a passenger in the story

 

Spoiler

hence the pay off later on when she changes things and breaks the system

 

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22 hours ago, Stanley said:

Perhaps I was just so mesmerised by everything else that I didn’t notice, but Lily’s performance didn’t bother me at all, you’re not the first to mention it though so it’s obviously problematic for some. 

 

Yeah, it's just not a typical "protagonist" performance at all, not warm and inviting. I guess it rang true to me because I've met a lot of people working at tech companies who, because they can be intellectually competitive environments, they become quite reserved and deliberate in their words and actions, presumably for fear of losing respect or credibility. A lot of the time we are watching her either at work or with work colleagues, just in abnormal situations, and often when she has less information / knowledge than others - and it would make sense that her defence mechanisms were heightened because of that. I think if she was confident and outgoing throughout the series, that would actually have made her less relatable / believable.

 

22 hours ago, Sabreman said:

 

Actually, one of my favourite parts of the show is where she 

 

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Pretends to be unstable, because in the scene it's a bad performance - but a bad performance put on by a character who isn't an actor. While watching it I knew she was putting it on because it was so arch.

 

 

Spoiler

Yeah, pretty much from the get go that episode, I was thinking it was either bad writing (changing a character to fit what the narrative needs them to be) or there was going to be a satisfying explanation. Very glad it was the latter!

 

I also thought that episode was an interesting exploration of the difference between "friends" who are simply people you spend a lot of time around (e.g. most people's colleagues), and "ride or die" friends. You're encouraged to think that Lily basically has no support network - sitting alone at home, telling her mum she's with friends just to stop her worrying (probably because she read an article online about copycat suicides, typical boomer). Then we are shown her going to friends at work for support, and shown how clearly uncomfortable they are with this. Of course we eventually learn that she does have at least one actual friend there willing to stick their neck out - but I felt there was a cautionary tale in there too. If you're working at a massive company and spend all your time at their "campus", and even date within the company, your social life and support network could crumble away should your circumstances change.

 

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As others have said, the lead actress was so bad she practically killed the show for me. A shame as I like the whole holographic Universe concept (that the smallest part contains all the information for the whole shebang) mixed with simulation theory, although it was a bit muddled with its execution.

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I loved this to bits. Totally onboard for anything Alex Garland does now. I’ve pretty much loved everything he’s done so far.

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Random physics thoughts

Spoiler

 

The central premise of this is as old as physics, in pre computer times they imagined a demon could know the position and velocities of every particle at one moment in time and thus extrapolate all the past and future. Therefore, the universe is deterministic. 

 

Of course, the uncertainty principle (another thing not mentioned) makes this fundamentally impossible, so don't worry folks.

 

Personally though I don't believe in free will and consciousness is an illusion overlayed on to our animal impulses. 

 

 

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On 17/04/2020 at 10:26, Stanley said:

Pretty sure it’s 

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Bop

;)

 

I'm pretty sure it's Bach. I didn't get it from the subtitles, it's just what I heard at the time.

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The acting, specifically the younger members of the cast, is so stoic and quiet that I keep finding myself looking at my phone and not watching the TV. I've seen four episodes of this so far and have no idea really what's going on and I don't think I've ever seen a TV show that allows me to be distracted and sidetracked by the smallest thing that happens in my house at any time whilst watching this programme.

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I was the opposite. Couldn’t take my eyes off it unless I missed the next beautifully composed and well lit shot.

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6 hours ago, Purin said:

 

I'm pretty sure it's Bach. I didn't get it from the subtitles, it's just what I heard at the time.

Yeah it probably is, I just went with the hard bop/Coltrane association. 

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On 20/04/2020 at 17:42, Death's Head said:

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

That was a cracking use of Steve Reich. 

 

Wiki has quite a good bit of information about it

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Out_(Reich)

 

Absolutely loved the whole series, probably one of the best I've seen in years.

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Garland was getting in his teenage Manchester techno sampling roots with that track. 

 

Come out to show them! 

 

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Finished this today. Stunning show. Mesmerising from start to finish.

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On 24/04/2020 at 00:25, Monkeyboy said:

I was the opposite. Couldn’t take my eyes off it unless I missed the next beautifully composed and well lit shot.

 

That's the thing! It's beautifully shot, you know there's a great TV show in there, but the acting is just so....  quiet.  Flat, like in the acting roles, no-one's making any effort. Everyone else is doing a great job. 

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On 20/04/2020 at 20:37, Stanley said:

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. 

 

Congregation played over the montage at the start of episode 2. I’d not heard the track before, but it’s beautiful.

 

in terms of the montage

Spoiler

It possibly gives some clues to what is to come. We see Forest banging his hands on his desk in what appears to be frustration or remorse for the death of Sergei, or maybe even that someone has attempted to steal the work, but might actually be because, after giving Sergei a choice in the woods, it confirms the theory that actions are fixed and are unchangeable.

 

The montage also includes a clip of the car-park fight between Kenton and Anton, which hasn’t taken place in the series at that point. I’m not sure what that means, but I have to assume it’s not a continuity gaffe.

 

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We started watching this (first three eps) and it’s great...not sure why people can’t stand the actress playing Lily though? She seems to be pitching it just the same as everyone else...slow, with a strong whiff of cheese.

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I thought Lily was absolutely fine. I’m not an acting coach or anything, but at no point did I find anything in her performance distracted from the story.

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