Peacock series Mrs. Davis couldn’t have timed its launch any better. Arriving just as the tech conversation is being dominated by chatbots, the sci-fi drama is about a world where an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm called Mrs. Davis has taken over.
Everyone follows, listens to, and lives by Mrs. Davis — and does what she instructs them to do. They believe they are living with free will because when they make Mrs. Davis happy, she suggests they are one step closer to becoming elite humans with “wings.” Some people even go so far as to be tagged with an expiration date in exchange for instant wings, trading their lives for a sense of honor and pride.
At the heart of the story is a nun named Simone (Betty Gilpin), who refuses to bow to Mrs. Davis’ control. When Mrs. Davis disrupts Simone’s life in every possible way, giving her no choice but to listen, the two strike a deal. Mrs. Davis, for an unknown reason, wants Simone to hunt down and bring her the Holy Grail. When and if she finds it, Mrs. Davis promises to end herself (rather, itself) for good.
Note: This article contains major spoilers for season 1 of Mrs. Davis.
The journey begins
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As Simone begins her journey, she comes across her ex-boyfriend, Wiley (Jake McDorman), whom she dated before deciding to join the convent. He’s part of a resistance group trying to take down Mrs. Davis. With a common goal in mind, they reluctantly join forces.
The two follow clues Simone discovers through various means, including ones from her husband, Jay (Andy McQueen). It’s later revealed (and easily guessed) that he is a manifestation of Jesus that she virtually visits in a restaurant whenever she needs guidance. This leads them on the hunt for a woman named Clara (Mathilde Ollivier), the last known person to possess the Grail.
Every time Simone believes she is getting closer, however, another wrench is thrown into the mix. From Wiley being kidnapped by a strange priest named Father Ziegler (Tom Wlaschiha) to Simone being sent on a quest to bring a special cake to the pope, there always seems to be an obstruction blocking Simone’s quest.
The Holy Grail’s backstory
Before getting into the Holy Grail’s backstory, it’s important to learn about Simone’s. It’s first revealed that her parents were magicians. Her mother, Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel), was the practical, logical brains behind the operation and her father, Monty (David Arquette), was an eccentric, free-spirited man who loved being in the spotlight. When a childhood accident leaves Simone in the hospital in need of a liver transplant, she meets a young Wiley, who is in a similar predicament in the bed next to her.
This becomes a crucial piece of information when Simone and Wiley finally learn the history of the Holy Grail. The seemingly indestructible bowl has been guarded by a group of women known as the Sisters of the Coin for centuries. They developed strict rules around its care to prevent bad things from happening to it, the most important of which is “though shall not sip from it.”
Clara’s mother, Mathilde (Katja Herbers), a key figure within the Sisters, years earlier proposed a ridiculous idea to help recruit more women to the cause: run a Super Bowl commercial for sneakers featuring the Grail. Clara stars in it, but runs off with the Grail with the intention of destroying it, angered that the bowl consumed her neglectful mother’s life.
Clara tracks down her biological father, a scientist named Arthur (Ben Chaplin), and together, they try every possible way to destroy the Grail, to no avail. In a final attempt, Clara sips from it, and within seconds, her head explodes. Years later, Arthur has become so obsessed with destroying the relic that he feeds it to a sperm whale and ends up shipwrecked on an island for years.
It is there that Simone and Wiley happen upon him and he tells them this story, realizing that they were brought to him for a reason. In one of his many tests after Clara’s death, Arthur discovered that when his cat ate a mouse that died from sipping from the Grail, the cat was fine. He deduces that putting Clara’s liver into someone else might result in them developing immunity and the ability to destroy it. Those two people who received her liver all those years ago were Simone and Wiley as children.
Now, not only is Simone about to literally enter the belly of the beast to retrieve the Grail, Arthur expects her to try and drink from it to see if there’s something to his hypothesis.
Why Mrs. Davis was really created
How does it all end? In explosive and fitting fashion with the perfect mix of the drama and laughter that Mrs. Davis delivers throughout. Simone puts on an elaborate suit (one of her mother’s many inventions) that can withstand the acid in a whale’s stomach and enters the whale’s stomach to retrieve the Grail. She succeeds, but first meets Mother Mary in her prayers, who explains that the Grail was made from parts of her son’s skull. The only way to destroy it is for the intent to be completely selfless. The reason has to be to help Jay out of the purgatory-like state he’s in, which means Simone will never see him again.
When Simone washes ashore, a group of singing beachgoers leads her to Electric Avenue, where she finally comes face-to-face with the coder who created the algorithm that eventually became Mrs. Davis. The truth ends up being more bizarre, and frustrating, than viewers could have envisioned.
The algorithm was created as a pitch to Buffalo Wild Wings that was far too ambitious for their marketing plans. So, the creator, Joy (Ashley Romans), uploaded the code as open source, removing any mention of that restaurant chain. Mrs. Davis was the result, but it was still built around the initial specs, retaining some of the elements she intended for the restaurant.
The wings people tried so hard to achieve? These were intended to reference actual chicken wings. The expiration date? Coupons. The Holy Grail was the most puzzling aspect to figure out until Joy clues in: the initial copy for the company read “100% customer satisfaction is our Holy Grail.” Society, it seems, has been driven by meaningless code that was designed to hawk pub food.
How does Mrs. Davis season 1 end?
Simone succeeds in her attempt to destroy the Grail and proceeds with her request for Mrs. Davis to fulfill its end of the bargain and destroy itself. Before doing so, Mrs. Davis reminds that it has made people feel better, giving them a sense of worth and purpose. Simone understands. “You weren’t made to care,” she says, “you were made to satisfy.” In one last-ditch effort of hilarity, Mrs. Davis asks Simone to rate the customer experience on a scale of 1 to 5 before shutting down.
As Mrs. Davis ends its existence, the scene cuts to people all over the world staring at their blank phones. Mrs. Davis is shutting down. They are lost, depressed, and afraid. But Simone is confident people will eventually learn to find their way again without her, er, it.
Simone retreats with Wiley (who earlier learned those expiration dates never actually lead to death, but rather a personal awakening) as her mother, Celeste, looks on. In the background, a windmill that Mrs. Davis had people tending to every hour moves ever so slightly. Is Mrs. Davis really gone or just waiting and watching in the background to resurface? If there’s a season 2, the algorithm may simply be in reboot mode, ready to return and enact control all over again.
Stream season one of Mrs. Davis on Peacock.