A slight episode tees up the finale of limited series Mrs. Davis as the show sends Simone (Betty Gilpin) into the belly of the beast.
We probably should have expected to meet Mary at some point on Mrs. Davis, and yet when Shohreh Aghdashloo shows up in “Great Gatsby: 2001: A Space Odyssey”s last minutes, both she and the character are a genuine delight.
The esteemed actress lends her usual gravitas in what amounts to an exposition-filled cameo, but the small part doesn’t change the fact that it’s great casting. Clad in a habit and cradling a swaddled babe, Mary’s role is instrumental in helping Simone understand the ramifications of her quest.
By this point Simone has gone against the wishes of husband Jay (Andy McQueen) by continuing her quest to recover the Grail from the whale’s stomach. Jay’s about turn earlier in the episode falls somewhere between manufactured conflict and the series’ ongoing dialogue about the relationship between devotion and faith. It is only when Mary appears, that Jay’s outburst has less to do with Simone and more to do with his own demise if she achieves her goal.
Mary also ties into the B-plot about motherhood and regret.* Mary explains to Simone that she made a mistake giving Jesus up to the Romans after staying with him in the tomb for three days and that while she loves his desire to serve/feed his parishioners in the diner, the reality is that “he’s in pain.” Should Simone manage to destroy the Grail (aka the last remaining piece of Jesus), Jay will be freed, but without his tether to the world, Simone will never see her husband again.
*See also: Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel) not-so-subtly begging her daughter not to pursue the quest because she can’t lose her.
All in all, this is big stakes…but Mrs. Davis has to rush past them. At this point in the limited series, there’s very little breathing room, so despite its nearly one hour run time, Jason Ning & Jonny Sun still have to hustle the teleplay along.
The result is that the show can’t linger on the weight of Simone’s decision because we’re on a time crunch: between the whale, the Invincibility Shroud, the depleting oxygen levels, and the length of the umbilical cord (another mother connection!) there’s simply too much going on.
There’s also Wiley (Jake McDorman)’s storyline to contend with. With the finale looming, Wiley’s death date is rapidly approaching (we’re told he has 48 hours to turn himself in). After Simone handcuffs him to a bench in España, he proxies with Mama/Mrs. Davis, who confides that she likes the idea of rebellion because she’s accrued power from corrupting his servers.
This lines up with what we know of Mrs. Davis’ expansive sphere of influence. Ditto for Wiley’s willingness to lie to his band of merry men and blow up their headquarters in the Hippo-Pot of Meat, thereby removing them from the board (Mrs. Davis is definitely too formidable for this cell of morons to conquer).
If anything, the only surprise from this storyline is that JQ (Chris Diamantopoulos) would fall for Wiley’s lie that they could destroy Mrs. Davis this way (ie: that she was *only* hosted on their servers). JQ is definitely foolish, but he’s not an imbecile.
Guess that’s a testament to the power of his crush/belief in Wiley!
- When Simone explains the plan to retrieve the Grail from PC220’s stomach aloud, it truly does sound deranged. Love having Celeste aboard the ship to confirm how utterly bananas the whole thing is.
- Did they do something to Schrodinger (Ben Chaplin)’s hair? He looked completely different from the island. I barely recognized him!
- RIP Father Hans (Tom Wlaschiha): he never rose above supporting tertiary character, but he deserved a better death than being unceremoniously crushed by a giant whale
- While I complained that there’s not enough time to sit with some of the big ideas in the episode, Mrs. Davis deserves praise for pausing to highlight Matilde (Katja Herbers) grieving the death of her daughter (seen in 1.05 “A Great Place to Drink to Gain Control of Your Drink”)
- One has to think that love is going to conquer the day, no? Mary tells Simone that her hatred of the algorithm will destroy her, whereas love will set her free. That’s not even subtext anymore; that’s just text.
- The question is whether Wiley will martyr himself in the triangle to save Simone. He’s always had a death wish and his determination to prove to Mrs. Davis that he’s not a coward seems pretty darn fatalistic
- JQ’s frequent dismissal of the smart car-driving triangle employee as “Nerd!” is amusing
- So is the brief confirmation that JQ listens to self-affirming tapes in the car. “You’re a big, strong boy” indeed
- Look, I’m not saying that I sexually objectified JQ when he stripped down to a butt bearing black thong to prove to Wiley that he wasn’t wearing a wire. I’m just saying that he gave future generations of closeted queer kids a really important image (to masturbate to)
Mrs. Davis airs Thursdays on Peacock