Trailer for the miniseries Mrs. Davis (Peacock)
It's a pretty upsetting time to be human. There is no one connected in any way to the news who has not recently wondered what their future will look like in the world of artificial intelligence. The prophecies, naturally, are quite apocalyptic. Even the most optimistic among them do not deny that in a short time the difference between success and failure will be the ability to master the new tools. When "Mrs. Davis," Peacock's bizarre-sci-fi comedy-drama that recently premiered on Yes, concepts like Chat GPT or Midgerney hadn't yet entered our lives. Of course, quite a few cultural works predicted in one apocalyptic way or another the age of artificial intelligence years ago, but "Mrs. Davis" is the first to strike the iron at the moment of truth. It's no longer sci-fi or fantasy, ultra-smart robots are already a fact. And maybe that's why, it's a good thing that the first creation about AI in the world of AI is so stupid, delusional and doesn't take itself seriously.
Trying to describe "Mrs. Davis," created by Tara Hernandez ("The Big Bang Theory") and Damon Lindelof ("The Leftovers," "The Watchmen"), is almost as far-fetched as explaining how AI works, but let's try. It takes place in the same reality as ours, with one change: an artificial intelligence called "Mrs. Davis" has become the axis around which the world revolves. It is in everyone's ears (literally, it speaks to its users through their headphones), solves problems and conflicts, stimulates hunger and disease, motivates its supporters according to the good causes it promotes, and, as you might expect, all this is less utopian than it seems.
Simone (Betty Gilpin, "GLOW"), a nun with a complex life story, carries with her a trauma related to "Mrs. Davis" and agrees to embark on a quest for her to locate an ancient treasure called the Holy Grail, as a condition that in return she will extinguish herself forever. She does so accompanied by her ex, Willy (Jake McDormand, remembered as Jeff, Nadia's lover in What's Happening in the Shadows), who leads a delusional nerdy/macho underground, and while having a relationship with a restaurant manager named Jay, who is much more than it seems. And all this also has to do with religion and the Templars and for some reason the Nazis. I told you it would be a far-fetched attempt.
Holding all the mess on her shoulders. Betty Gilpin, "Mrs. Davis" (Photo: Peacock)
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It's pretty clear that "Mrs. Davis" was pre-created so as not to make sense in any way. Its inherent chaos is what should make you stop worrying about what will happen in the end and just enjoy the journey. And it's a piece of a journey. Suffice it to say that on the way to the goal, Willy and Simon go through a strange endurance competition related to King Arthur's legendary sword, try to save the Pope, plan a complex robbery, discover a mysterious truth from a man stranded on a deserted island, meet mythological figures from Christianity, get involved with a mysterious priest, eat an absurdly expensive cake, ride roller coasters, get involved with a murderous whale - and that's really in a nutshell.
In the end, amidst its countless sub-stories and side-stories and mere jokes, "Mrs. Davis" has the skeleton of a story, and if you really delve into it, you can find quite a few beautiful insights about blindly following God versus blindly following technology, about faith and freedom of choice, about good intentions and their tendency to lead to hell.
Without spoiling too much, "Mrs. Davis" is something of a test of faith. Each of its characters believes almost zealously in a cause, and will be willing to do much to achieve it. As it progresses, the conflicting goals clash with each other, but the characters' perception of their own belief also changes. This is especially true of Simone, whose faith was shaped by her complicated relationship with her parents, as well as her animosity towards artificial intelligence, to the point of not wanting to talk to her directly. As the season progresses, persuasion is replaced by question marks and self-search that produce quite a few beautiful moments.
But the essence of "Mrs. Davis" is not to delve into the details too much. It's much more comedy than drama, even though the length of the episodes (about an hour each) suggests otherwise. And she's very aware of how dumb some of the things she does are. At one point, one of the characters says that the Holy Grail is "the most corny MacGuffin out there is," and that's true. Another actually warns the other "not to take lightly how stupid everything that is happening here is." This approach allows her to deviate time after time from the main story, which is Simone's journey to completing her mission, while also changing its meaning because of the details learned in the side missions. It would be a great exaggeration to say that everything comes together eventually, in fact a lot doesn't really connect. Still, when it comes to Simone there's quite a bit of emotion in the way she finds herself on this journey, and that's probably the main strength of the miniseries.
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Striking for its awesomeness. Chris Diamantopoulos, "Mrs. Davis" (Photo: Peacock)
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Gilpin was good at "GLOW," but here she manages to be wonderful in the sense that in quite a few cases holds the "what on earth" around her. She displays very good comedic timing, along with dramatic abilities that manage to anchor at least some relationships. Standing out alongside her is the mighty Chris Diamantopoulos (best remembered as Ras Henman, the billionaire entrepreneur from "Silicon Valley") who plays the top bodybuilder in the underground against Mrs. Davis, a philosopher and assassin of one man.
On the other hand, it is very difficult to claim that "Mrs. Davis" is a baked and complete product. In many cases along the way, it looks a bit like a war between its extremes: Lindelof on the bizarre-dramatic side on one side and Randaz on the comic-network side on the other. She mixes so many characters and stories that in quite a few moments she loses herself, and not necessarily in a funny way. It's a kind of mindpack that requires a lot of patience and faith so you can survive it with some sense of connection to what's happening on screen.
It's hard to distill the feelings of watching "Mrs. Davis," because they're largely a reflection of its ingredients. It is at the same time funny and frustrating, it is both exciting and tiring, it hides underground commentary on technology and love, but it is also pretentious and effortful. And in the end, it's challenging to distill what one should expect from her, other than experiencing her convoluted stream of consciousness and hoping for the best.
After an episode or two, you may feel that this train stops at far too many stops for you, and you may find yourself continuing to travel just out of curiosity to find out what the last stop of it all will be. And maybe that was the intention in the first place. "Mrs. Davis" is a work about the struggle for order and control of an advanced technological system, she has no choice but to fight through chaos. Who knows? Maybe we'll have to do it soon, too.
- TV review
- TV review
- Betty Gilpin
- Damon Lindelof