Does religion have answers to the ethical, social, and cultural problems that come with the rise of artificial intelligence?

It’s a question that “Mrs. Davis” (now streaming on Peacock) is poised to answer, but which the comedy-drama series falls short of delivering on. In that sense, it’s frustrating. 

“Mrs. Davis” is timely, overstuffed, clever, and moving. It’s a gonzo hero’s journey through an absurd, heightened landscape, but still recognizable as ours. 

The series centers on a nun, Sister Simone, whose character hasn’t quite left all her former, er, habits behind and whose relationship with Jesus is portrayed as a love story with “Jay,” who makes great falafel in a café Simone visits when she prays. 

On the other hand, “Mrs. Davis” offers a joyous, positive depiction of life in a religious community. While the show’s writers might not be familiar with mystical marriage in the Christian tradition, at least they’re trying to take the whole “bride of Christ” thing seriously.

The world of “Mrs. Davis” is much like our own, except that most of it is run by an algorithm called Mrs. Davis. Then again, it’s almost exactly like our present world. 

Mrs. Davis dominates life on earth. Users connect through an app and communicate with the algorithm through an earbud. Famine and war have supposedly been eliminated, and users find satisfaction and comfort thanks to the algorithm — which knows, of course, exactly what you think you want. They earn wings for completing quests and receive regular affirmation. 

A few resist, including Sister Simone, brilliantly played by Betty Gilpin. Simone lives a happy life with her fellow sisters in a rural convent, growing strawberries and making jam. Unlike the rest of the world, Simone refuses to call the algorithm “she,” firmly insisting on “it.” 

The contentment of convent life is shattered, along with the latest batch of jam, in what turns out to be a force move by Mrs. Davis to get Simone to talk to her. The reason? Mrs. Davis wants Simone to go on a quest for (wait for it) the Holy Grail — and destroy it. If she does, Mrs. Davis will do anything Simone wants. And what Simone wants, of course, is for Mrs. Davis to turn itself off.

Cue cowboy ex-boyfriend. Cue riotous, inept resistance fighters. Cue magician parents. Cue a secret sisterhood that protects the Holy Grail — which is not the Last Supper cup, by the way — from which you cannot drink or your head will explode. Cue a whale.

What’s Mrs. Davis’ source? It’s not revealed until the last episode. I won’t reveal it here, but will only say that the origins of the threatening, beneficent algorithm are so random but also somehow so ridiculously plausible that they shed a sharp light on our reality: As in: We’re putting our trust in this? We’re letting this shape our choices? And keeping with the themes of magic and free will — we’re allowing this to perform a force on us, 24/7?

“Mrs. Davis” offers useful, wise insights on the power, attraction, and cost of this digital world, presented in an entertaining package. But it’s a package that’s flawed. 

Which brings us to the Catholic stuff.

Some of it’s kind of close (Simone’s personal faith and religious life), some of it’s an interesting interpretation (Jesus’ café), some of it’s ridiculous (the Grail quest and “The Da Vinci Code”-ish Vatican adventures). And some of it is just way, way off.

What’s way, way off is crucial, though: Jesus and Mary’s characters and the roles they play in the “Mrs. Davis” universe. It’s not about offense (to me, at least) or being “incorrect” as much as it is about how a shallow understanding of faith and religious imagery impoverishes this particular story.

It’s hard to explain without going into detail, but essentially: In this world, Jesus is limited and Mary has weird motivations regarding the grail.

I suppose you could see it as just another “let’s play with tropes and symbols” aspect of the show, but that’s not enough, because “Mrs. Davis” is inviting us into a conversation about what this algorithmically driven life is doing to us and why we allow it.

It’s a conversation about meaning and purpose, about yearning and being fed. It’s a conversation about spiritual matters, and the material world side of the conversation, as bonkers as it is, is recognizable.

But in the end, the disconnect between the most overtly spiritual symbols and the content of the central conversation in “Mrs. Davis” leaves a frustratingly empty space.

It’s ably represented by Simone, but that’s as far as it goes. When it comes to Jesus and Mary or the metaphysical realm depicted in the show, we mostly get quirky tropes and mommy issues but not much about that central conversation.

There are hints of how that end of the conversation could develop: the frequent allusions to feeding and nourishment; the role of love and self-sacrifice; the need for a sense of self and purpose; an important dialogue about the persistence of suffering.

That’s a loss and especially annoying since one of the show’s creators, Damon Lindelhof, struck this balance in “Lost.” The use of spiritual imagery and themes is mostly incoherent and at times stupid, and not in a fun way.

Even the question of Jesus in the café is suggestive. He’s there, apparently cut off from the world and generally ignored. We might wonder why. We might wonder: What does Mrs. Davis offer that Jesus doesn’t?

Or, to put it another way, what does Jesus offer that Mrs. Davis is assuring us we don’t need?