Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of Peacock’s Mrs. Davis, has one of the most notorious legacies of anyone working in TV today. After making a career writing for shows like Lost, The Leftovers, and Watchmen, he’s made it abundantly clear his niche is stories with confounding mysteries at their heart, a sub-genre that Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams coined the “mystery box” show. What’s in the Hatch? What’s the Dharma Initiative? What’s going on with Doctor Manhattan? Viewers flocked to these shows and they’ve gone down in history for their strong writing.
But in 2023, Lindelof is doing something completely different. Together with Big Bang Theory alum Tara Hernandez, he crafted a story about a nun with a grudge against magicians and a world-conquering A.I. known as Mrs. Davis. But at the center of the story was a mystery that was finally revealed in the show’s finale: Just who is Mrs. Davis and why did she send Sister Simone on a quest for the Holy Grail? The answer is deliciously ridiculous — and proves exactly why Mrs. Davis is the perfect mystery box show.
Warning! Major spoilers for Mrs. Davis Episode 8 ahead!
Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Simone communicate with Mrs. Davis by “proxy,” by speaking to someone who speaks for Mrs. Davis via an earpiece. Each time Simone has mentioned her mother, Celeste, the proxy would glitch out. The first time this happened, the proxy even mentioned an address.
In Episode 8, after finding the Holy Grail, Simone tracks down this address. Instead of the insular tech-focused world she lives in, the home she finds is brimming with life. When Simone knocks at the door, she says she’s looking for Joy, and here she has found it, both literally and figuratively. Joy is the creator of Mrs. Davis, and in talking to Simone she reveals why it was created: as part of an app for Buffalo Wild Wings.
It’s the silliest reveal in a show full of very silly reveals: the “wings” everyone strives for are literal buffalo wings, and the reason why it sent Simone on a quest for the Holy Grail is because the Buffalo Wild Wings employee manual begins with “100% customer satisfaction is our Holy Grail.” “The code realized that 100% customer satisfaction isn't possible, so it's gaming for that by taking your holy bowl out of the equation,” Joy assumes.
“This is so dumb,” Simone replies.
“Oh, yeah. Algorithms are super dumb,” Joy agrees.
Believe it or not, that’s kind of the thesis statement of Mrs. Davis as a whole. The entire world is overrun by an AI, but that AI is simply code, and code is fallible.
In this moment, Lindelof upends every expectation of the mystery box show. The explanation is underwhelming, but an underwhelming explanation is the only thing that would make fans of Lost surprised — and deliver its message of why AI isn’t the looming threat people think it is.
If there was some massive conspiracy where Mrs. Davis was controlled by some overlord, then this would just be another sci-fi show. But the dumb explanation we got instead paradoxically elevates this to a story that is acutely aware of the environment it's released into — and the alarmist views many people have around AI.
At the end of the day, all big innovations, for better or for worse, tie back to corporations and capitalism. If a hilariously simple explanation — and a Buffalo Wild Wings namedrop — is the only way to get that across directly, then this may be one of the most genius TV writing choices of the year.
Mrs. Davis is now streaming on Peacock.
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