Bankers are literally the devil in The CW’s new series Devils which premiered Oct. 7. The show has been described as a thriller and murder mystery in which traders discover a worldwide financial conspiracy.
Devils is set amid the world of high finance circa 2011, at fictional London investment bank NYL — helmed by American CEO Dominic Morgan (Patrick Dempsey). McDreamy no more, it’s clear Dominic is a bad dude. A devil in a power suit.
In the opening minutes, Dominic praises his protegee and head of trading, Massimo Ruggero (Alessandro Borghi), for shorting Greece and making the bank $250 million.
Using a voiceover from Massimo, the creators set the scene.
Massimo stares at Dominic and thinks, “They say the devil's greatest trick is making us think he doesn't exist. But he's real. As real as the water that fish swim in. As real as the finance flowing through this bank. I've drunk his wine, laughed at his jokes. I have looked into his eyes and seen the terrifying blackness of my own soul reflected in his.”
In October 2019, Dempsey told Variety the show is meant to “move people and get them to think” about the power of finance, but not to be “too preachy.” But depicting and calling bankers “devils” sure feels like a left-wing sermon. And with shows like Billions and bad banker movies going back decades, it’s not even a new one.
As for the Devils’ plot, the first episode set up a rivalry between Italian Massimo and pedigreed, English banker Edward Stuart who were both gunning for the Vice CEO position.
Alone in an elevator together, the animosity between them is obvious. Stuart insults his rival saying, “This isn't Italy, Mr. Ruggero, and banking isn't organized crime. At least it didn't use to be until people like you showed up.” He adds that banking used to be about “safeguarding people’s savings” rather than gambling with it.
Massimo believes Stuart is trying to sabotage his chances by trying to create a scandal involving his wife Carrie. He’s convinced someone brought Carrie back to London, since she had left him and gone to America, but is now back, doing drugs and working as a hooker.
So Massimo decides to fight dirty to try to get the promotion. He and his employees spy on and ultimately sabotage a $50 million deal Stuart is working on.
But Dominic refuses to give Massimo the promotion, claiming it’s because he wasn’t honest about his “bipolar, drug addict” wife. Massimo storms out of their shouting match looking for Stuart. A few moments later Stuart’s body is hurtling toward the pavement.
Without knowing the show is a thriller/mystery, I would have presumed Stuart committed suicide. But everything I’ve read about the show indicates it was murder and Massimo will become the number one suspect.
The episode closes with another voiceover from Massimo: “I hear the devil speaking to me. Whispering in my ear. He strokes my ego. The devil’s greatest trick isn’t making us think he doesn’t exist. It’s flattering us so we don’t see the devil is in us.”
Based on a bestselling novel by Italian trader Guido Maria Brera, CW acquired the scripted Sky Italia series to flesh out its fall lineup. The show was so successful there it has been renewed for a second season.