Peacock’s new series “Mrs. Davis” opens with a dramatic sequence of events, to say the least. As a group of knights called the Knights Templar are executed, a young girl steals away with an object that viewers soon discover is the Holy Grail. It’s a series of events that may not appear connected to a show about a nun (Betty Gilpin) trying to defeat an all-powerful artificial intelligence, which is the essence of the plot of the sci-fi show, but it does all eventually tie together in mind-blowing ways.
The real-life Knights Templar were a Christian military order that were founded around 1119, per World History. Their original headquarters was set on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and they existed for around two centuries. During that time, they fought formidably in the Crusades. Their order grew weaker as the Crusades came to a close, though, but everything ended with King Philip IV of France. In debt to the order, the king fueled existing rumors about the Knights’s secretive initiation ceremony to sow distrust, and eventually pressured Pope Clement into torturing many of the Knights, leading them to give false confessions. Intriguingly, the first arrests of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307, per GQ, which is perhaps one of the reasons many people associate Friday the 13th with bad luck. The order was disbanded once and for all by Pope Clement V in 1312.
Over the years, the Knights became the subject of many theories and legends. One such legend — or truth; no one will ever truly know for sure — was that the Knights Templar were the keepers of the Holy Grail. It all began between 1200 and 1210 when the German writer Wolfram von Eschenbach drew on existing lore and King Arthur stories and penned a poem called “Parzival,” per History. Among the most famous stories that arose from that poem was the search for the Grail, which was portrayed as a life-giving stone and also a key to God and enlightenment. In his poem, von Eschenbach described an order called the Templeise, who were in charge of protecting the Holy Grail. The similarities between the Templeise and the Knights Templar led many to suspect the Knights were in charge of the Grail.
Over the years, the Knights Templar and Grail stories have changed. While most agree that the Grail was actually a metaphor for the quest for enlightenment, others staunchly believe it was, and is, real. Among the many conspiracies about the Grail is the theory that the Holy Grail is a code name for a secret line of descendants of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ — which is (spoiler alert) a major plot point in “The Da Vinci Code.” The legacy of the Knights Templar also lives on, and has inspired everything from the Night’s Watch in “Game of Thrones” to the Jedi Knights of Star Wars.
“Mrs. Davis,” though, presents an alternative tale: perhaps the Knights Templar weren’t the keepers of the Grail, but rather, a secretive order of women was hiding the Grail in plain sight the whole time. To figure out what’s next for the Grail and the illustrious cast of “Mrs. Davis” — which includes Jake McDorman, David Arquette, and many more stars — viewers will just have to watch the show.
The first four episodes of “Mrs. Davis” premiered on Peacock on April 20.