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Mrs. Davis Director on How Bourne Movies, Fight Club Inspired Episode 6 Heist

It's time to talk about that love triangle!

By Tara Bennett
Jake McDorman as Wiley in Mrs. Davis Episode 106

It's all about the Abbott family hijinks in Episode 6 of Mrs. Davis, “Alison Treasures: A Southern California Story.” Picking up from the last episode, Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin) devises a plan with Wylie (Jake Dorman) to acquire a bespoke piece from her deceased magician father's collection.

The Lazarus Shroud is a protective suit that should help them get the Grail out of a sperm whale, and its still exists in the protected vault of her mother, Celeste (Elizabeth Marvel). Still bitter about her ex, Monty (David Arquette), Celeste is also adamant that he's still alive and that Simone knows exactly where he is. Their impasse means a heist must happen to get that shroud!

RELATED: Recap: Mrs. Davis Episode 6 Is a Swinging Heist

In our exclusive SYFY WIRE Mrs. Davis post-mortem for Episode 6, we welcome director Alethea Jones and actors Betty Gilpin and Andy McQueen to share their stories about the wild new episode.

** SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for Mrs. Davis Episode 6 **


A still image from Mrs. Davis Season 1

Alethea, you've got a resume full of eclectic series that you've directed for prior to this series, from Dollface to Lodge 49. But was it your work on the Lost satire comedy, Wrecked, what got Damon Lindelof's attention?

Alethea Jones, Executive Producer / Director: I don't think he's seen Wrecked! But Made for Love and Lodge 49, all of those showrunners actually worked together on The Leftovers so I think that's how Damon had known about me. I did ask Damon, "How did I get this job? Like, did my agents harass you?" And he was like, "No, I've been watching your stuff for awhile." It was very flattering.

What was your approach to directing Mrs. Davis episodes, which are a step beyond in terms of the unexpected and sometimes bizarre?

AJ: Working with Damon and Tara (Hernandez), they are a joy to read. Really all you have to do is faithfully shoot the script and have an intense tone meeting with [them] where you're asking a lot of questions. 

This episode runs the gamut of disparate scenes, but was there any specific sequences you leaned into for any reason?

AJ: I guess that one of the biggest set pieces in the show was the heist. So, I went back and I watched The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. I also watched Fight Club, which is a touchstone in this show as well. I was really looking at organic camera moves in technical sequences, so a lot of handheld push-ins, but making something that felt technical and muscular. 

It was also very comedic with the action figure planning by JQ (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the Resistance.

AJ: Yeah, thank you for even thinking about that. I shot that sequence and it was my first day of shooting. I had two days to shoot it, so I just had to go for it. I also remember realizing when I had the cast's trust, asking them, "What if you all just leaned to the right to try and look around her shoulder?" You can tell when the cast trusts you and when they don't trust you because you feel it. Either they're looking sideways at each other or they're giggling and getting excited. So their reaction was a cue for me to be like, "I've got them! Good!" I think they love it when a director gets in there and plays, like with "The Constipator," I asked what if JPV, who is the guy with the glasses, what if he keeps freaking out every time that "The Constipator" opens? He was like, "Yes, please!" [Laughs.]


Elizabeth Marvel as Celeste in Mrs. Davis Episode 106

Let's talk about Simone and Celeste in this episode. Mom is not happy but we come to understand why which leaves us with a little bit of sympathy for this very difficult character. Talk about dialing that in this episode.

AJ: With this particular character, and at this stage in the season, options were going to be really important. I worked with Elizabeth and we'd always started in an angry place. The script even had exclamations and what she's saying is mean. But Tara said, "Please, also make sure that you get me options that are more vulnerable." A word that I like to use is "understanding." We don't have to like a character but when we understand the character it goes a long way. So take the word "insane" when she's throwing all of the photographs at Simone of her dad at the ATM. I just worked with Elizabeth to try and take where when she said the word insane, it's said like a word that she has't spoken out loud so emotion comes with it because she's held it back. I said, "What if you didn't yell on that? What if you have trouble saying the word? When we give voice Is to an emotion that we don't want voiced, what happens there?" And we used that take.


A still image from Mrs. Davis Season 1

There's a full on love triangle going on my this episode with Simone, Wylie and Jay. How do you keep the tension in their scenes even so the audience is torn too?

AJ: It was all about balance. There were different tricks that I needed to do with different scenes, like what's happening in the scenes with Jesus, for example. In Episode 4, Jay is saying some questionable stuff, so Andy and I were both working very hard to to make it feel reasonable and loving. I'm all for balance. I'm all for, 'Who is she going to pick and who is the most appealing?" I worked really hard with Jay to keep him up because Wiley gets a lot of screen time. He gets a lot of heroic stuff. He gets to be super funny and sweet. And Jay just gets stuck in the falafel restaurant. [Laughs.] And it's especially [important] that we respect Simone's choice. It's not about protecting the character but about making sure that we still respect her choices. I don't ever want Simone to lose the audience with the choices she's making, so I worked really hard with that.

What scene was a favorite for you?

Andy McQueen, Jay: The mopping scene. I think that's a scene where we get to see so many private moments between so many different characters. I think it's the first time we see Jay have a truly private moment. And I think it's also the first time we really linked the three of them together with Wiley, Simone and Jay. IIt's very telling with regards to where [Jay] is and where she is. We get to see her see him without him knowing. And I think it's such a beautiful moment because sometimes less is more. In that specific instance, there's so much love and I feel like it's so indicative of where all three of them are actually at, in terms of this Holy Trinity. 

AJ: The dancing with Jay was the most fun and that was very lovely shoot. I asked him if he could dance and he was like, "No. Why?!" But he supplied some songs that he felt comfortable dancing to and I got him to wear an earwig. We gave the music to the playback people. And then I brought a song that makes me very sad. I asked Andy if I could swap the music out for a take, but I didn't tell him what it would be and his whole physicality changed. And that's where the circular dance came from. 

A lot of people are going to watch this show with the lens of "shipping" either Simone and Wiley or Simone and Jay. Where do you stand in regards to that?

AM: Yeah! My wife and I, we also oscillate between Team Wiley and Team Jay. And it's okay to do that. I think this is the first time ever where there are two great men in her life that want nothing but the best for her, so I think it's hard to ship either one. I hope that we all feel the love at the end of it with Jay and with Simone, as we do with Wiley and Simone. Because of that, it's truly of its own making, in terms of as an audience member, you can't quite put your finger on it, but you love both characters. Whether or not you come away with a favorite or not, I think it's just beautiful to see a woman at the helm of it. To see, Simone be the person that is being pursued and being the person that has a shoulder to cry on. And being the person that is strong, I think it's something that people will not have seen until they see this.

Episodes 1-6 of Mrs. Davis are available now on Peacock.