8 Craziest ‘Mrs. Davis’ Moments, From Buffalo Wild Wings to Exploding Heads
This post contains spoilers for the entire season of Peacock’s Mrs. Davis.
There may be more thematically rich, artistically audacious TV shows on this spring. There has not, however, been anything that comes close in strangeness, shock value, or delightfully stupid humor than Peacock’s Mrs. Davis, which this week dropped its eighth and final episode.
We already told you how wonderfully weird Mrs. Davis (created by Tara Hernandez and Damon Lindelof) was. Now that the entire season is out there, it’s time to highlight some of the best, most ridiculous examples of the incredible cartoon logic under which it operated.
Mrs. Davis was designed as a Buffalo Wild Wings app?!?!
The series saved its funniest, most absurd surprise for last. The finale opens with an idealistic coder named Joy (played by Ashley Romans) pitching what we understand will be the Mrs. Davis algorithm, to a group of unseen potential investors. Her speech is full of high-minded ideals about social justice and equitable care, but later we get the incredible punchline that Joy was pitching to Buffalo Wild Wings — and that Simone’s Grail quest only happened because Joy had included the BWW employee handbook — which includes the phrase “customer satisfaction is the Holy Grail” — into the code before releasing Mrs. Davis out into the world. In a show that took itself seriously, this would feel like a cheap joke, or an unearned twist. Here, it feels like a natural progression of everything else.
(Worth noting: the season concludes with Mrs. Davis voluntarily turning itself off in response to Simone finding and destroying the Grail, and all the various interpersonal conflicts resolved. It certainly feels like there is no more story to tell — Peacock is even submitting the show to the Emmys in the limited series categories — but odder things have happened, renewal-wise.)
The battle of the Knights Templar was a sneaker commercial?!?!?
The first episode opens with a sequence that would be incredibly over the top even if we never got additional context for it: a group of nuns in 14th century Paris are revealed to be the Knights Templar, protectors of the Holy Grail, and they have an insanely violent swordfight with a platoon of French soldiers, before the last surviving nun runs off with the Grail. The fourth episode, though, ends with Simone and Wiley somehow watching the exact same sequence on a videotape, only this time with a bit of footage omitted from the premiere: it is a lavishly-produced commercial for the British Knights Miracle sneaker! Even better, the next episode shows that the modern-day Knights Templar — a group of women in pantsuits, with Katja Herbers’ Mathilde as the most prominent member — filmed the ad as a way to help preserve the Grail by letting millions of people see it at once, during the Super Bowl. Only Mathilde never thought to check with the sneaker company, shooting the entire thing on spec, winding up with an obscenely expensive glorified student film that no one would ever see.
Jay is Jesus Christ, the Grail is made from his skull, and his “boss” is the Virgin Mary?!?!
That Simone is a literal Bride of Christ, spiritually married to Jesus (played by Andy McQueen) is in many ways much wilder than either of the first two. But where the corporate involvement is played for laughs in both those cases, Mrs. Davis finds a way to take this idea completely seriously, including the idea that Simone drinking from the Grail will allow Mary (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo) to finally send her son on to his eternal reward. All the material between Gilpin, McQueen, and Aghdashloo in the concluding episodes is genuinely touching, even amidst the rest of the show operating by cartoon logic.
The Pope has a doppelgänger.
This one is easy to forget, because the business with the sneaker commercial comes soon after. But let’s try to remember that Wiley spends an episode in a medieval jail underneath the Vatican where Father Ziegler (Tom Wlaschiha) has also imprisoned Pope Leo (Roberto Mateos) while having a stand-in run the Catholic Church for a while. And then the real Pope shows up and everyone instantly understands what has happened and welcomes him back? This is a thing that just happens, with minimal comment. Because that is how Mrs. Davis rolls.
The Holy Grail makes your head explode.
There’s a famous moment at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the villainous Walter Donovan drinks from a fake Grail, and begins aging rapidly, rather than gaining the immortality promised by the real thing. (“He chose… poorly,” the Grail Knight tells Indy after Donovan crumbles into dust.) What Mrs. Davis presupposes is that drinking from the genuine Grail can be just as dangerous, as we see Mathilde’s daughter Clara (Mathilde Ollivier) — who has been trying to destroy the thing with the help of her father, scientist Arthur Schroedinger (Ben Chaplin) — literally lose her head when she tries. It’s a horrifically funny sight gag, and there’s a fair amount of technobabble involved in explaining why Simone and Wiley are immune to this effect because they each received part of Clara’s liver. But between the opening sword fight and her disgusting death, Clara has a memorably bloody stint on the show.
The Holy Grail is hidden inside a rabid whale.
Say that rhyme five times fast, will you? Within its first few episodes, Mrs. Davis starts to lose interest in the sci-fi aspects of its premise, focusing more on Grail lore and various religious conspiracies. So of course at some point it has to go fully Biblical and have Simone make like Jonah, going inside of a sperm whale that Schroedinger fed the Grail to years before. Is it any wonder that when Simone explains this to her mother, security specialist Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel), her mom thinks it sounds moronic and/or made up?
(The show also finds a clever way to work around the expense of making it look like Betty Gilpin is actually inside a whale, by having Simone take another mind trip to Jay’s diner while she’s trapped inside the beast.)
Simone’s father died in a piano?!?!
When the series begins, Simone hates Mrs. Davis because she blames the algorithm for the death of her magician father Monty (David Arquette), while Celeste hates Simone because she believes her daughter helped Monty fake his own death. The truth turns out to be more complicated, and sadder: Monty did try to fake his death, and planned to reveal the truth at his funeral, bursting out of an onstage piano. But when Celeste could literally smell him in the vicinity, he chose to stay hidden, then died (presumably of a heart attack) before he could get out. And it was Mrs. Davis, not Simone, who was helping Monty with the trick.
JQ and Wiley stripped down to get to the truth?!?!
For our last item, I could honestly list just about anything that anti-Mrs. Davis rebellion leader JQ (Chris Diamantopoulos) does over the course of these eight episodes, and it would be nearly as silly as the scene in the penultimate episode where JQ and Wiley unironically quote Fight Club at each other and strip down to their bulging underpants to confirm that neither is wearing a wire on behalf of the algorithm. Though after The Leftovers and Watchmen, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see a Damon Lindelof show feature a memorable dick joke.
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