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The Strange Real-Life Story Behind The Excalibattle In Mrs. Davis Episode 3

Contains spoilers for "Mrs. Davis" Episode 3

Three episodes into their Mrs. Davis-endorsed quest to find the Holy Grail and shut the all-encompassing artificial intelligence down for good, Simone (Betty Gilpin) and Wiley (Jake McDorman) find themselves in the United Kingdom, where Mrs. Davis is known as Mum and a new uncomfortable rendezvous with the past lurks behind every corner. 

"Mrs. Davis" Episode 3 turns out to be a pivotal one for Simone and Wiley. As the latter takes part in a Renaissance fair contest called the Excalibattle and tries to outlast other contestants in the surprisingly difficult art of keeping his hand on a massive sword, the pair has the opportunity to untangle their mutual past — and, in particular, the specific end point of their romantic relationship. As it turns out, Wiley was wrong in assuming that Simone thought his rodeo failure made him a coward. Instead, Simone was desperate to save his life and found Jay (Andy McQueen) and religion when she prayed for Wiley's miraculous rescue from his doomed bull-riding attempt. 

The Excalibattle makes for a fascinating framing device for the flashbacks and revelations of the episode, but weirdly enough for a show that's otherwise so eager to push the oddity envelope, the contest itself pales in comparison to many similar real-world endurance contests.

Real-life novelty endurance contests are far more inventive and dangerous than the Excalibattle

While visually impressive, the Excalibattle is a fairly tame version of some eccentric real-world endurance contests, which have included everything from keeping live ferrets in your pants (Record time 5 hours and 30 minutes, per Yorkshire Live) to sitting in a scalding sauna for prolonged periods (via The Guardian). Even supposedly simple "touch an object" competitions similar to the Excalibattle have been known to be quite lengthy. As Austin Chronicle notes, one particular contest that involved keeping your hands on a prize car has been known to run as long as 87 hours.

As you can expect, this sort of thing can take a toll on the contestants. In fact, both the aforementioned sauna contest and the car-touching one have contributed to a contestant's death. In 2007, a person also died during a "drink more water than other contestants to win a Playstation" endurance contest (via NBC). 

The Excalibattle in itself might feature a cool prop and a strange obstacle race to get there, but the contest in itself is a far cry from "ferrets in your pants" level oddity — though, in all fairness, it technically does end in a rather electric divine intervention when Wylie gets a bit too outspoken. Even so, when you consider these grueling and dangerous real-life contests, one can't help but feel that in this particular case, "Mrs. Davis" isn't quite as strange as life itself.