By David Oliver
The action picked up this week on “Masters of Sex” with an episode of revelations, new beginnings and a whole lot of tension. And not just the physical kind.
Bill and Virginia didn’t spend as much time together aside from walking into the hotel together at the end of the episode, but I didn’t really miss all those relationship-what-are-we-doing discussions from last week. This show works best when other characters enter the fold to complicate that central relationship. The episode starts off with a random family having dinner when the teenage daughter suddenly starts having what looks like a miscarriage, but it’s later revealed it’s complications from a botched abortion – this girl (Rose)’s second. When Bill refuses to perform a hysterectomy on Rose as requested by Rose, her mother and Dr. Greathouse, Greathouse is forced by the board to keep a closer eye on Masters. Bill defends his decision, saying Rose’s promiscuity is just part of an array of sexual dysfunctions in the world, including that of Scully’s homosexuality. Greathouse is still most intrigued by Bill’s study, curious about, ahem, “point of entry” studies. Rose is ashamed of her sexual desires, saying it makes her feel ashamed – almost a direct comparison to how Bill and Virginia feel about their relationship. Bill later gives Rose an IUD and offers her some words of wisdom, which directly applies to…
We got to see a whole other side of Betty this episode and understand more about where she came from. Annaleigh Ashford is a revelation in this role. Betty is putting on a facade for Gene as if she is getting fertility treatment only to be just spending a few hours in Bill’s office every day, much to the confusion of Bill’s new secretary Barb (played by the always dim-wittedly charming Betsy Brandt). Poor Barb just wants a friend, but Virginia refuses to help her after deciding Lillian needs her help more than Bill does. Betty takes an interest in Rose after becoming aware of the situation and decides to look through her file, later paying her a visit. Betty and Rose have a heart-to-heart about mothers. Betty’s mother had a poor opinion of her growing up and Betty retaliated by stabbing her in the eye (?!) and becoming a prostitute. Basically, Betty doesn’t want Rose to make the same mistakes she made and to stand up for herself. Bill got through to Rose, though, reminding her “you’re not your worst part,” a fitting phrase for everyone in this world, really. Well done, writers.
Hello, diversity (finally). Keke Palmer is playing Coral, the Masters’ new nanny. Bill at first doesn’t understand why they’ve hired someone so young, but when she can calm the baby down better than Libby can, he’s not complaining. Libby, however, grows jealous, and has a bit of a racist discussion with Coral when she pronounces “ask” colloquially. Libby snaps at her: “I’m always grateful when someone points out something I could do better,” obviously jealous of how well she can handle John. Passive aggressive much, Libs? She also tells Coral she wants to be on the same page as her, considering they’re the “two” raising him. Sounds about right, considering Bill’s intense lack of intimacy with his family.
Poor Lillian. Virginia insists instead of pamphlets that Lillian create a video about pap smears, only to start talking nonsense when trying to read the script. Her illness is progressing, and it’s heartbreaking. Virginia makes Lillian a doctor’s appointment and insists she knows what to research now to carry on her work. They have a sweet exchange: “You are a fighter Lillian, and so am I.” “Every good fight begins with pizza,” Lillian says. Cute.
Virginia is being pursued by Dr. Ditmer from DePaul for a new sex study, and gets a little too intrigued when wanting to know about Ulysses’s functions, especially considering he’s focused on the gastroenterological aspects. He questions the size of the fallice and what the women react like when it’s inserted. As he and Virginia discuss it, it appears he is aroused and that he achieves, erm, release, though this remains in question.
Vivian runs into Virginia this episode, and the two have it out about Ethan. “Why did you sleep with Ethan,” she questions. “You’ll do anything to get what you want.” Can’t really blame her for feeling that way, huh Ginny? Later Vivian runs into Bill and clues him in on her father’s attempted suicide and how her parents have left town to try and recover. Bill takes deep breaths near his car, comprehending what’s happened, in a very intimate character moment.
Langham briefly tries to hit on Vivian, but she has no interest (thank goodness). He later throws a party in the office and dances with Virginia, referring to them as “lone wolves.”
– I’m a huge fan of the opening credits, though apparently not everyone is. I think they’re just campy enough to poke fun at the show.
– Bill re: Coral once the baby stops crying: “Long may she reign.”
– Betty to Bill: “You have no idea how much people are suffering.” What a packed line, reminding the audience of how deep these characters’ problems lie.
– Langham re: sister-in-law: “She’s a spider. I got trapped in her web.” What a metaphor.
– The secretaries on this show are awful. They wouldn’t even hold the elevator for Virginia. She’s better than all of you, so go away.