[Ed. note: This post spoils the ending of Mrs. Davis season 1.]
Mrs. Davis is a lot of things, but one can hardly call it predictable. Perhaps nothing bears that out than the finale, where we finally learn the origins of the titular AI, Simone’s and Wiley’s epic sagas come to an end, and it all wraps up in… a happy ending?
This is maybe not the outcome people were expecting when it came to the tale of a nun waging a war against an AI and getting drawn into a web of magic, religious conspiracies, and secret societies. But it was important to co-creators Tara Hernandez and Damon Lindelof that this story landed at a point that felt like it could be a final note for the series.
“Look, we live in a day and age where for a show to get made is a miracle; for it to get a second season is a miracle on top of a miracle with a cherry and whipped cream,” Lindelof says. “And so it would be irresponsible for us to have ended the season with a cliffhanger. So we wanted there to be a beginning, middle, and end.”
Still, it’s hard to believe Simone’s quest ends on such an upbeat note. Not only does she find the Holy Grail, and drink from it, and not explode, and make up with her mother, and get Mrs. Davis to shut herself off — she also gets to ride off into the sunset, presumably happy and in love with a not-dead Wiley.
So what is Mrs. Davis?
But so much about Mrs. Davis was about finding a purpose, and how important that ends up feeling in people’s lives, both for their own journey and for others. Simone was able to see Mrs. Davis for what she was, versus what everyone else wanted her to be: “You weren’t made to care,” she tells Mrs. Davis (via her mother). “You were made to satisfy.”
Which, as we learn in the finale, is true. The origin of Mrs. Davis is an AI for a Buffalo Wild Wings app. But the idea that Mrs. Davis as we know it was based on the altruistic intentions of the actual coder (and one whose pitch Buffalo Wild Wings just totally rejects) came from finale co-writer Nadra Widatalla — something Lindelof says the writer’s room loved, even if they didn’t always know they were going to answer that question for the audience.
“Whether or not the show answers the question, we would be irresponsible if we didn’t know the answer,” Lindelof laughs. “And so we did become sort of enraptured by the idea that this all-powerful algorithm that was being given some sort of level of cultural omnipotence by its users was actually just built to sell chicken wings in its earliest incarnation. [And that] really delighted us, and was baked into the premise.”
By acknowledging that her core purpose is satisfying customers, Mrs. Davis admits defeat, telling Simone the program clearly “fell short” and deserved to be turned off. While Mrs. Davis’ journey is obviously more algorithmic than Simone’s or Wiley’s, it mirrors their arcs and the themes repeated throughout. Like Mrs. Davis, Wiley accepts his mortality, and in the finale turns himself in to expire.
“It’s the first time that he’s actually having to follow through on a decision he’s made and not take the coward’s way out,” Jake McDorman, who plays Wiley, says. “And really feel the impact of that decision and get dramatic about it — [all while] sitting in a roller coaster.”
Simone, meanwhile, makes her peace with what it means to love and lose — whether that’s her father, or Jay, or her mother, or even Wiley.
“I think if you asked her in the pilot, she’d be like, Oh, I’m at the end of my arc, I found the love of my life, I’m going to be in the convent forever, I’m fully evolved. […] Nothing to see here!” Simone’s actor, Betty Gilpin, says. “And I think her having to go back out in the world, and interact with this AI, and Wiley, and her mother — she realizes, Oh, I still have so much work to do.” Through that journey, Simone learned where her faith actually needed to lie: In the people around her.
“I think she learns that being alive and loving someone — you have to take in the possibility that they aren’t always going to be there, or that it’s not only comfort and only safety,” Gilpin says. “And I think that’s being a nun, and that’s being a person. And I think she learns that lesson the hard way.”
Will there be a Mrs. Davis season 2?
Possibly. If Emmy nomination categories are to be believed, then Mrs. Davis isn’t coming back, at least in the way we know it. In a last-minute switch-up, the show was entered into the limited/anthology series categories, seemingly indicating that if Mrs. Davis gets a second season, it won’t be with the same stories we’ve been following here.
But that certainly doesn’t rule out a new season — for all his thoughts about how rare a season 2 renewal is in the current TV landscape, Lindelof tells Polygon that he and Hernandez have more ideas for the show.
“Our hope is that the audience feels like there’s more story to be told there,” Lindelof says. “And if they liked the show, and our end of the show, and feel like there should be more, we would certainly love to get the gang together again — and already have some vague ideas as to what could happen, without undoing what’s already happened.”
Will that involve Simone? Unclear. But for her part, at least, Betty Gilpin hopes it does. “We [went] to the most insane places,” Gilpin laughs. “Ten seasons might kill me, but I’m hoping to do… four.”