By David Oliver
Ahh, yes. “Masters of Sex” is back.
I know what you’re thinking, but this show isn’t for perverts. I mean, perverts could watch it, but it’s actually a very intimate drama (think “Mad Men”) surrounding the intricacies and personal ramifications of a sex study (think…well, you know). It’s the quiet, character-driven moments that really make this show the next, great cable drama. Its alarming Emmy snub is nothing short of a catastrophe.
I realize that’s dramatic, but, well, this is a drama, so we’re just going to keep going.
We left off last season with Bill at Virginia’s doorstep admitting that he can’t live without her – clear skies ahead now, right? Wrong. It’s literally pouring rain outside, so if you want to think about pathetic fallacy at all, there you have it.
Well, the two consummated this new “relationship,” if that’s what you call it. But we’re not finished with that scene yet.
Virginia talks with Langham about how she keeps getting approached in the bathroom for sex and how some of the secretaries are treating her poorly, incluidng leaving a dildo in her desk – remember, she’s still working with Lillian doing pap smears.
Langham notes his wife deserves a medal for staying wtih him – this is gonna come back to haunt you, bud.
Poor Barton Scully. He starts electroshock therapy to help him turn straight in the second-most uncomfortable scene of the premiere. Think American Horror Story-level freakiness.
Bill visits Scully, only to have him puke on him and start crying. It’s heartbreaking, and Bill wants him to stop the treatment – but he can’t.
Bill then goes to check into a hotel and shower, only to flashback to him and Virginia’s first romp as more than just part of the study. He holds her hand after – but he’s just checking her pulse! Why this show is excellent: little moments speak so much more about what the characters are thinking.
Ethan calls Virginia and she breaks up with him over the phone – ouch, buddy. But we all saw this coming. Also, did you know that Ethan is Hunter, Jan’s assistant from The Office?!
Next, in the present we catch up with Libby going to a doctor’s appointment with her three-week-old, Johnny. The doctor mocks Bill’s study – new pediatrician time. If only Libby knew what was actually going on behind closed doors, literally.
To make some more money, Viriginia starts pushing diet pills at work to women, only to have an awkward encounter with a heavy woman while trying to stick to a script.
We later enter a charity dinner raising money to cure Rubella (German Measles). Bill and Libby run into Betty and her husband Gene, who plan on making a donation to Memorial Hospital – run by Dr. Greathouse, yes that is his name – if Bill gets to have a job there (nice callback to Betty being involved in the study – this tidbit won’t go away anytime soon, methinks).
Cut to Barton looking at gay porn in the bathroom then propositioning Margaret for sex. Warning: this is STILL not the most uncomfortable scene of the premiere. They start the canoodling only for Barton to want to go from behind, prompting Margaret to not want Barton to think of her as a man. He yells at her in a deeply sad moment.
Virginia catches up with Jane, who’s moving to California and wants Virginia to come along with her children. Virginia declines, though she probably shouldn’t. Or should. So many ethical dilemmas, here.
We get Virginia checking into the hotel as Mrs. Holden (Bill had earlier called himself Dr. Holden) and has a flashback of her own. We get to see it all from her perspective, including getting to hear Ethan on the phone, desperate.
In a following scene, Bill is alone in the house with his son, and when he starts crying, he turns on the music loudly. Good idea to stop the noise, but not exactly father of the year.
Back at the hospital, Lillian awkwardly has a black eye (it’s never made clear exactly how this happened) and Langham’s wife uses the hospital loudspeaker to let everyone know he’s been “fornicating with his sister-in-law.” Playing a little close to the vest, huh dude? I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
Cut to Bill’s mother visiting him with the baby – she knows what’s going on with Virginia. In a gut-punch line: “I am my father,” and later, “I have also turned into you.” Double whammy of mommy and daddy issues that aren’t going away anytime soon. Will this prompt her to let Libby in on her husband’s shenanigans?
Meanwhile, Margaret and Vivian come home to find Barton attempting to hang himself. THIS is the most uncomfortable scene in the premiere – he’s choking and they cut him down, falling down on the floor together, hugging and crying as a family, both literally and figuratively falling apart. When Bill checks on him later, Margaret does not let him in – it’s not ultimately clear what’s transpired.
Bill gets the job at Memorial Hospital, and Virginia warns Lillian against men. “It’s not such a bad thing to be careful,” she said – a total transformation from last season’s treatment of sex and love as two separate entities. Can they really be?
In another look at Bill and Virginia in their hotel room, he says he doesn’t want to lead her on and looks at his wedding ring. This relationship is just as complicated – if not more so – than last season. But that makes it that much more intriguing to watch.
Check back next week for the next review, and feel free to look around our website for other TV recaps and content.