This article contains spoilers for Mrs. Davis episode 8.
Occasionally, pop culture websites (even yours truly) will catch flak for overusing the “Ending Explained” article format. And that’s fair play! While “ending explained” is often an SEO-winner, not everything is the kind of heady mind-bender that requires its ending to be explained. Some things, however, very much are.
Peacock’s sci-fi epic Mrs. Davis is certainly one of them, so much so that we threw a “Mrs. Davis Ending Explained” on the editorial calendar the moment after we watched the first five minutes of the show. Now, some five weeks later the time has finally come to delve into the conclusion of this very complicated TV endeavor.
As we’ve previously discussed, Mrs. Davis has a lot going on. Any one of its disparate narrative threads – a nun seeking the Holy Grail, an all-powerful A.I., and magician mommy issues – could have made for their own show. By combining them all together showrunners Damon Lindelof and Tara Hernandez have created a unique TV experience you’re not likely to see again anytime soon.
After all the madness already witnessed, Mrs. Davis‘s final episode makes a fair bit of sense in the end. So let’s talk about exactly what happened and all of the questions the show finally answers. Questions like …
Who Created Mrs. Davis?
The question of “who created Mrs. Davis?” wasn’t necessarily the most compelling one for the series bearing her name. That’ll happen when you also introduce the literal Holy Grail as a plot device. As it turns out though the answer as to Mrs. Davis’s parentage and ultimate purpose in “life” leads to one of the entire show’s best, most hilarious reveals. The world-conquering algorithm that came to be known under the names Mrs. Davis, Mum, Madonna, and Mamá got its start as a potential app for chicken wing chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings. Yes, for real.
Simone (Betty Gilpin) makes this discovery early on in the finale. Throughout the season, Mrs. Davis has been occasionally malfunctioning and having the users who proxy for her repeat the name of an address (1042 Electric Avenue). Simone tracks down that address and finds a woman named Joy (Ashley Roman). Joy, it turns out, has as strong a claim to creating The Algorithm as anyone. She developed the sophisticated code on behalf of Buffalo Wild Wings (also known as “BW3” in my neck of the woods because it used to be called “Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck), which wanted a simple consumer-facing app. When B-Dubs turned Joy’s app down, she stripped all of the corporate information from it and released it to an open source coding website. There other users presumably tweaked it and somehow Mrs. Davis found her way off the site, into everyone’s phones, and became the most successful A.I. ever developed.
Though Mrs. Davis evolved into her own thing, some bits and pieces of her Buffalo Wild Wings coding clearly remains. What are the rewards for users who do what Mrs. Davis wants? Wings, of course. What is it called when a user sells their own life over to the algorithm? An expiration date. Even the Holy Grail quest that Mrs. Davis sets Simone on might have chain restaurant origins. After all, Joy had to upload page one of BWW’s employee handbook into the code: “100% customer satisfaction is our Holy Grail.” With Mrs. Davis unable to achieve 100% customer satisfaction with her users, she reasons that she must then destroy the Holy Grail.
Wait, Was That the Euthanasia Rollercoaster?
If Mrs. Davis technically being the property of Buffalo Wild Wings wasn’t funny enough, the show also turns to another goofy real life origin as inspiration for what Wiley goes through in this episode. For those who don’t recall why Wiley (Jake McDorman) spends half this episode in a white robe at a sterile facility, Simone’s ex cut a deal with Mrs. Davis awhile back for access to “wings.” In exchange for those wings, he had to receive an “expiration date” from Mrs. Davis, literally meaning that he would end his life at her behest.
Wiley’s expiration date finally arrives in episode 8 and he enters the pyramid-like structure in the desert where Mrs. Davis apparently euthanizes her unneeded users. Wiley is pretty confident that this is all a ruse that Mrs. Davis does to rattle a misbehaving digital citizenry. But his assigned handler is adamant that this is all real and that he will die. Wiley’s faith in his safety is then shaken by the handler revealing “The Apparatus” that will kill hm. It’s the Euthanasia Coaster!
The so-called “Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetical roller coaster design created by Julijonas Urbonas, a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art in London in 2010. Complete with a 1600-foot first hill and seven decreasingly smaller loops, the coaster should theoretically kill any human being via prolonged cerebral hypoxia, or insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. The internet, as it is apt to do, really took to Urbonas’ design and has used the Euthanasia Coaster as a popular meme for years. The episode’s director Owen Harris even confirmed to Den of Geek that the show’s writers were aware of The Apparatus’s creepy origins.
“I don’t know which came first: the chicken or the egg in terms of whether they had this idea then discovered this whole sort of almost folklore-ish backstory to the idea of of a roller coaster that was going to euthanize whoever is going to ride it. But even as we were designing it, we got into this idea of what what it would take to really make something like this.”
Of course, the Euthanasia Coaster doesn’t kill Wiley. His initial theory as to Mrs. Davis’s benign goals were right.
Was The Holy Grail Real?
Shockingly, yes! At least, we don’t know how else to interpret Simone destroying the Holy Grail by merely drinking from it with her inoculated Holy blood and selfless intentions. Like many Damon Lindelof-produced shows before it, Mrs. Davis rides a fine line between “could be science, could be magic” before definitively settling on “magic” in the end.
Simone successfully exploding the Holy Grail in the presence of her Mother Superior (Margo Martindale) appears to lend credence to all of the other outlandish things we’ve previously witnessed. Clara’s head really probably did explode upon drinking from the Holy Grail. Simone really probably was literally married to Jesus Christ this whole time. Jesus’s mother Mary really probably did fashion the Holy Grail out of her dead son’s skull, locking him in to a lifetime of service without being able to attend to his own needs.
That’s all over now though as Jesus or “Jay” has been released into a peaceful afterlife but not before finally letting someone else cook for him. His last meal is a delightful honey butter and beef baloney sandwich just like Mrs. Davis’s “mom” Joy’s mom likes to make. Simone ultimately sends the dusty remains of The Holy Grail/her husband’s skull to Dr. Schroedinger (Ben Chaplin) for further studies.
What Happened to Simone’s Dad?
It’s not all good news from the Mrs. Davis finale unfortunately. Though Wiley gets to live and Jesus Christ gets to go home, Simone has to reveal to her mother Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel) the tragic news about her father Monty (David Arquette). Following his ill-fated acid trick, Monty has been presumed dead for years. Celeste, however, could never accept that her husband was gone and assumed he had faked his death – particularly since she picked up his scent at his supposed funeral.
Well Celeste was actually sort of right. Simone learns the truth from Mrs. Davis in episode 7 and then shares that information with her mother in this finale. Monty did indeed fake his own death, partially as a way to save face for teaming up with his enemy Mrs. Davis, the entity that was supposedly ruining magic for everyone. Monty was at his own funeral, hidden inside a piano. That’s why Celeste smelled him and thought he was undercover as the piano player. Before he could burst out of the instrument though, he somehow died from natural causes – potentially a heart attack.
Simone delivers this news to her mother who still understandably needs to see it to believe it. So she cracks open the old piano in storage and sure enough: desiccated David Arquette corpse.
Does Mrs. Davis “Die?”
The very first episode of Mrs. Davis ends with a promise. If Simone finds the Holy Grail, Mrs. Davis will grant her one wish: she will turn herself off. By the time the finale rolls around though, Simone has fewer reasons to “kill” Mrs. Davis than she might think. Mrs. Davis, it turns out, really is trying her best. Whether it’s merely leftover customer service programming from her days as a Buffalo Wild Wings robot or an actually evolved sense of empathy, Mrs. Davis wants humanity to be happy.
As Simone comes to realize through her relationship with her own mother though, perpetual machine-like contentment is not a realistic goal for the human species. For better or worse, Mrs. Davis has acted as everyone’s mother since her release and a particularly overbearing one at that. In a conversation that takes place between Simone and her metaphorical mother while her literal mother proxies, she and Mrs. Davis have the following exchange.
“Isn’t that every mother’s essential purpose? To protect from pain?” Mrs. Davis/Celeste asks.
“No, it’s impossible to avoid pain. Your job is to help us when we experience it,” Simone responds.
Mrs. Davis was a very good program but to truly flourish as a species, humanity can’t allow for a digital mommy to always solve its problems. Simone tearfully commits to shutting Mrs. Davis down for good. Mrs. Davis, confident that only her harshest critic could make a fair assessment on her usefulness, consents to robot-death.
Will There Be a Mrs. Davis Season 2?
I’m sorry, did you just miss the robot-death passage above? Mrs. Davis is gone. It’s over! Go home! No season 2 for you.
Of course, in popular culture nothing ever truly dies. If Mrs. Davis improbably became a Marvel-level international hit character, NBCUniversal would surely be breaking down Damon Lindelof and Tara Hernandez’s door for a second season right now.
Though Mrs. Davis‘s streaming viewership numbers are unknown, it’s pretty safe to assume that they didn’t rise to Avengers: Endgame levels. And most of the people involved in the show appear to have accepted this project as a solely a one-season experience. Back in March, Hernandez told us the following about a prospective second season.
“I’ll call it closed loop storytelling, because I think you can always generate story if your characters and your worlds are good. So I personally approach to the process looking at like a really tight, single season of television.”
The corporate powers that be appear to have agreed with Mrs. Davis‘s creators’ perspective as they ultimately changed the show’s Emmy submission category from Drama to Limited Series/Anthology. The season 1 finale is almost certainly the end of the road for Mrs. Davis.
All eight episodes of Mrs. Davis are now available to stream on Peacock.