An unexpectedly moving finale brings the story full circle as Simone (Betty Gilpin)’s quest – and Mrs. Davis – comes to an end.
Leave it to show creators Tara Hernandez & Damon Lindelof to deliver the perfect send-off. “The Final Intercut: So I’m Your Horse” is in keeping with Mrs. Davis‘ unique combination of wit, wacky Looney Tunes comedy, and heartfelt consideration of what it means to be human.
Show of hands: who anticipated that the genesis of the world’s all-powerful AI would be an algorithm developed for a fast food franchise? Obviously Joy (Ashley Romans, Agent 355 on Y: The Last Man) never intended for Mrs. Davis to take over the world, but it is fascinating to learn that she built the app 1) for a job interview 2) for a low-stakes company and (most importantly) 3) that she envisioned it as a service that would benefit mankind.
The altruistic design of Mrs. Davis is one of the most intriguing ideas that percolates throughout the episode. There’s a suggestion – both in Joy’s intention, as well as Mother Superior (Margo Martindale)’s gentle push back to Simone near episode’s end – that Mrs. Davis isn’t actually evil. Certainly Simone believes otherwise, but that’s principally because she never truly recovered from the trauma of her father’s death (or the AI’s role in hiding it).
As we see in her 2013 pitch to a table of Buffalo Chicken Wing execs, though, Joy believed Mrs. Davis would change the world through service. Her analogy of Trojan Horsing a philanthropic component into a corporate app is amusing, but, even in the final scene it’s evident that the AI’s primary function – which demands users perform tasks to obtain wings – does have a beneficial/humanitarian element. Even if it just means encouraging people to manually power a windmill via peloton bike.
Of course, none of the moral or ethical debates about how Mrs. Davis operates reduces the absolutely killer punchline about some of the show’s biggest mysteries. How funny is the reveal that references to the Holy Grail, wings, and expiration dates have nothing to do with religion, but rather because Buffalo Chicken Wings’ mandated that the app reference 100% customer service, in addition to market its chicken, and plug coupons.
This revelation is perfectly in keeping with the series’ mode of outrageous storytelling, which embraces odd and kooky plot developments, often as a means of fodder over which Gilpin’s Simone erupts. Give me Simone’s “Are you fucking kidding me?” reaction on a loop forever, please and thank you.
Even if the reveal of Mrs. Davis’ origin story is patently silly, the emotions surrounding the end of Simone and Wiley (Jake McDorman)’s respective quests is anything but. Watching Simone say goodbye to Jay (Andy McQueen) by preparing him a meal; hearing Wiley casually mention his iconic cowboy boots “don’t fit anymore”; and hearing Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel) purposefully call Simone by her chosen name are all deeply satisfying moments.
So much of Mrs. Davis could have landed badly: it could have been too dumb, too outrageous, or too broad. And yet the creative team has nimbly managed to maintain a tone that is both silly and surprisingly deep. The finale delivers an end that is emotionally cathartic for its characters and the audience, without being pat or offering definitive closure. As evidenced by the final montage of “lost” users, it’s unclear if Simone made the right choice or if the world is truly a better place without Mrs. Davis.*
*It is, of course. It goes without saying that these users were addicts, but the series doesn’t feel the need to say it aloud.
Regardless of how the rest of the world handles the loss of Mrs. Davis, it was clearly the right decision for Simone and Wiley. Despite their emotional hurdles, stunted romantic interest, and general life crises, the childhood besties find their way back to each other so they can literally ride off into the sunset together.
Is it clichéd and sentimental? Absolutely…but that’s kinda the point, no?
- The entire finale circles back to the start of the series with numerous (emotional and character) callbacks. This includes the return of Mother Superior, Simone’s (apparently not exploded) horse, and an analysis of what it truly means to “Mother.” Obviously Mother Superior and Celeste represent two different iterations of the latter concept, but the show includes a callback to Mary from last episode, as well as Joy’s refusal to accept the label as the creator of Mrs. Davis (to whom she principally refers to as “the algorithm” or “it” except for one note-worthy slip-up when she uses the pronoun “she”).
- Perhaps it is due to the mythical nature of the character, or maybe just his inability to leave the diner, but McQueen never got to do as much as the other regulars. With that said, the look of fear and sadness on his face as Jay waits for his last meal is pitch perfect.
- Honey butter and bologna sandwiches sound disgusting, but everyone in the episode seems to enjoy it, so…maybe it’s a thing?
- Major props to Romans and Sherri Saum (as transition assistant Danni) for debuting in key roles in the last episode of the series and absolutely nailing it. Both women effortlessly fit into the world, despite being forced to deliver a bunch of exposition (Romans) or help wrap up the emotional journey of the show’s secondary lead (Saum). There’s some absolutely stellar work on display here.
- Credit Marvel, too, for nailing her proxy scene with Simone. The joke when she first uses her daughter’s preferred name (she’s actually speaking on behalf of Mrs. Davis) is a hoot, but Marvel really nails Celeste’s vulnerability when she realizes that she has wasted years of her daughter’s life on a misunderstanding. Good stuff.
- Line of the episode also goes to Marvel, who kills the deadpan delivery of “I’m Mother Inferior” when Celeste meets Mother Superior.
- The distorted audio accompanying the reveal of Monty (David Arquette)’s corpse is appropriately disturbing. It also transitions nicely into the reveal that Wiley has survived his ride on “the apparatus.”
- It seems especially apt that Mrs. Davis would use a terrifying rollercoaster to help users realize their lives are worth living. Also: “Don’t Fear The Reaper” sounds great on a harp.
- The moustache exchange at episode’s end is classic Wiley & Simone. These two actors, particularly their comedic timing, have played off each other so well the whole season.
Mrs. Davis has now wrapped all eight episodes. It is available in its entirety on Peacock (in the US) and Crave (in Canada)