In “Zwei Sie Piel mit Seitung Sie Wirtschaftung,” Episode 2 of Peacock's new original series Mrs. Davis, little Lizzie's complicated backstory as the daughter of a Reno magician (David Arquette) and a brilliant but emotionally withholding mother, Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel), helps fill in some of the blanks on current day Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin). There's also clarification on exactly who Jay (Andy McQueen), the falafel restauranteur, is to Simone, and why he's sending her out on assignments.
The episode is co-written by series co-creator Tara Hernandez and the narrative certainly throws out more questions than it answers. So, SYFY WIRE circled up Hernandez, co-creator Damon Lindelof, and actors Gilpin and McQueen to provide some insight on why Simone does what she does, and the unexpected romance at the heart of it all.
** SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for Mrs. Davis Episode 2 **
The Wizards Behind the Curtain
Photo: Christina Belle/Peacock
With a series this dense in mythology, how important was it for you as an actor to get the script for Episode 2, which lays out young Lizzie's childhood, so you could start snapping together the puzzle pieces of Simone?
Betty Gilpin (Simone / Lizzie): It's so, so valuable to have that kind of backstory. Working with writers like Damon and Tara and the entire writers' room, it's such a valuable and rare gift that someone is so invested in really creating — for lack of a better word — a Bible for every character. I am sort of used to playing either sarcastic, wry, eyebrow-arched, sardonic, arms-folded characters. Or, vulnerable, gullible, arms-open characters. Lizzie / Simone is really someone who started out as the former and her faith made her a little bit into the latter. I got to weave between those two things all the time. And I had never played anybody like that before. It's usually one or the other.
And having this backstory of magician parents ... I, Betty, have actor parents. So I really related a lot to growing up kind of knowing that there is no "wizard" in a way. Or, at least knowing the tricks and seeing the strings being pulled and being "in" on the illusion. But, my dad is also in real life, a priest. My dad had this connection to thinking maybe there is a wizard, and having faith and a sense of the intangible and the inexplicable. Whereas, theater is all about the explicable. [It's interesting] playing somebody like this character, who was raised to believe that there's a reason for every trick and you're pulling one over on the audience, but then her faith explodes her into this person of "not everything can be explained." It's against the fiber of her identity, so that was really fun to play. And it was all there on the page, so I didn't have to do much.
JC Is in the House
For Episode 1, we spoke about Simone not having any struggle with the mystery of her faith. In this episode, it's clear that she's besotted with her husband, Jesus, which is quite the twist.
Damon Lindelof, co-creator and writer: Yeah, Simone meets and falls in love with her lord and savior. She's not like, "Is this real? Am I going crazy?" It's just real and the show presents it as real. And therefore, this isn't going to be a show about a nun who's losing her faith, or even questioning her faith. Her journey is not, "I'm a believer, too. I'm taking off the habit and doing shots." She's going to be just as big of a believer as she is in Episode 8, and maybe even more so on certain uncertain levels. Once we were dialed in on that, and Tara never wavered, it was just really a matter of learning how to write Simone to Tara specifications. And I'm still working on it ... [Laughs.]
Andy, when were you told that your role was actually Jesus Christ?
Andy McQueen, Jay: I knew in the callback that Jay was, in fact, the Big JC. [Laughs.] Going from there was a great way to carve out what we were going to do, or what we're setting out to accomplish going forward in the series. I also had been given the last scene on my first day, so I had an idea of [his arc] from the beginning to the end. To me, that was very helpful because it could allow for me to approach this character, and this historical figure, with great thought and care. And to really think out how I wanted to approach this specific character in regards to his relationship with Simone and how that looks. I thought that that was really helpful, obviously, for the callback, and then going into the work to know what the end looked like.
Pianos and Falafel
Photo: Mrs. Davis | Official Trailer | Peacock Original/Peacock YouTube
As the co-writer of this episode, which covers a lot of mythology ground, were there any scenes that were integral for you to get across to the audience here?
Tara Hernandez, co-creator and showrunner: Yeah, we've teased Mrs. Davis in the pilot and sort of laid in through our proxies what she is and what her purpose is and what her intentions are for us and for Simone. At the end of Episode 1, Simone is given her marching orders and her quest to find the Holy Grail. Episode 2 is really a chance to demonstrate her power in the world. So, I think the piano desert scene, as we call it, says sometimes to find the right piano, you have to find all the pianos. You just see this beautiful vista that our director Owen Harris captured so beautifully. It's this breathtaking moment of, "Wow, this algorithm was able to cultivate and kind of give us a miracle." And for an episode that also was going to make the reveal that Jay is Jesus Christ, and we're going to see a demonstration of faith-based power and biblical power, to pair those two [scenes] in one episode, and to do so, so early in the season, it says, "This is what we're doing and it's going to be these two opposing sides of the coin." So, they are two of my favorite scenes in the series.
Check back for our exclusive SYFY WIRE episode post mortems for Mrs. Davis.