Monday, October 05, 2020

Devils (Pilot)

We have a way of “loving to hate” villainous captains of finance like Gordon Gekko and Billions’ Bobby Axelrod so much, we actually start to dig them for real. That could be the case for Dominic Morgan. He talks a good game and he is a master manipulator. Massimo Ruggero should know. The head of the NYL investment house has a talent for “motivating” his protégé, but it still isn’t exactly a trusting relationship. Ruggero will have to look out for himself if he wants to get ahead, but safety really isn’t a concern for double-dealing schemers in the pilot episode of Devils, which premieres this Wednesday on the CW.

Ruggero was the only trader in London’s financial district smart enough to “short” Greece. He made NYL pots of money and should earn himself a plum promotion. Unfortunately, it is not entirely his mentor Morgan’s decision to make. As a striving immigrant from a hardscrabble Italian fishing village, Ruggero has the wrong background as far as the upper-crust directors are concerned. However, the blue-blooded faction is up to their necks in a deal with a considerable downside. It would definitely help Ruggero’s prospects if the deal went south, so maybe he will just help it along.

Presumably, the body we see plunging to its death in the flashforward prologue is somehow related to all this skullduggery. Naturally, there is a fair amount of expository business in the pilot, but intrigue holds plenty of promise. Plus, the clear implication that a Wikileaks-style group is just as morally compromised as the investment bankers opens up some very interesting dramatic avenues to explore. However, the emerging subplot involving Ruggero’s wayward ex-wife feels unrealistically contrived.

Ruggero’s informal kitchen cabinet includes two promising supporting characters, Wade, a professor at the London School of Economics, and Oliver Harris, his brilliant but financially-challenged student, who will be doing most of Ruggero’s off-the-books research and legwork.

Rather surprisingly, Patrick Dempsey has the right stuff to preen and preach the Gospel of Greed, Gekko-style, as Morgan. He could very well turn out to be the reason to watch
Devils. The jury is still out on Alessandro Borghi, but he looks relatively credible as the poor fisherman-turned Master of the Universe. Ken Stott (a.k.a. Rebus) adds plenty of cranky seasoning as Wade (although he only appears in three episodes, according to IMDB), while Malachi Kirby provides some smart, grounded comic relief as Harris.

Despite its October premiere,
Devils really isn’t horror, unless you are a Henry Georgian Luddite determined to abolish the financial system and return society to the Dark Ages. It could very well provide the sort shenanigans that make us root for the more colorful “bad guys.” Based on its strong start, Devils is provisionally recommended when the pilot airs this Wednesday (10/7), on CW.