By David Oliver
Well, well, well, we have a lot of ground to cover this go-round.
“We don’t kiss,” Virginia says to Bill as the two are having sex again at the start of this steamy episode. Cut to Lillian getting a scan, with her doctor barely paying attention. “Your lack of interest is rather liberating actually.” Lillian is deteriorating – the doctor informs her she is going to suffer a slow, painful death and won’t even know what’s happening by the end. She tells Virginia she’s done with treatment. “We are not days away from curing metastatic cancer.” Virginia counters, “I don’t know how to not fight.” Virginia later opens up to Bill about her friendship with Lillian. “I didn’t see it coming. Her coming. I’m always so careful with people. I keep that wall up…She’s alone. And she’s my friend. And I don’t have a lot of those. And somehow Lillian snuck around the wall. She knows me.” Bill says, “I know you,” and the two kiss, bringing them apparently closer than ever…or so we think. Lillian instructs Virginia on some loose ends she needs taken care of and to tell her family she wants her body donated to science. Lillian opens up to her, “No one’s ever been in love with me though.” Virginia tucks her into bed and says, “I see the constellations in these freckles,” and kisses her. A sign of affection for her friend – something on a show about sex that is remarkably intriguing and meaningful. Unfortunately, off screen – and entirely not unpredictable – Lillian takes some sleeping pills with wine and kills herself. Virginia later finds her, calls 911 but hangs up, sits and begins processing what has happened.
Dr. Hendricks has forbid the hospital staff from participating in the study, fearing it would make the study look like a primitive look at the “differences” between blacks and whites and adding to the stereotypes of blacks as animalistic during sex. “You have stepped into something you do not understand,” he says. Meanwhile, a journalist named Morgan Hogue – “Jim Crow would certainly feel at home in your waiting room” – decides to write about Bill and the study, but Bill isn’t happy when the story becomes more about his more recent firings and scandals and not the study itself. It’s when she brings up his abusive father that sets Bill off. “We also agreed the facts would speak for themselves,” she says. “You don’t get to say what’s in the piece.” “it’s my study,” Bill says. “Well it’s my story.” #journalism. Bill tries to get her editor to cancel the story, threatening to say that the study is proving the negative stereotypes about blacks. The editor does not respond well and refuses to be bullied. Bill stares at a picture when he leaves the office that says “I am a man.” Subtle, but telling. Bill gets himself fired again and goes to tell Virginia, only to find another man at her house babysitting her kids, claiming to be her beau of a few months! A collective, WHAT?!
This feels like a separate show entirely, but it’s just as exciting. Gene tells Betty “you’re enough” at the start of the episode, saying they don’t need children to be happy. Later, we see Betty and Helen having sex. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” Helen coos. Betty wants to stay married to Gene but basically keep Helen as a mistress. “Men have mistresses. This is a new start for us.” But Helen doesn’t buy that and decides to Elope with Al. Betty snaps when the two start kissing in front of her, and Gene thinks it’s because she wants Al, who was the talk of all the girls growing up unlike Gene. Betty says he sickens her and doesn’t want to see him or Helen ever again. Al helps Gene put together that Betty is actually wants Helen. Gene confronts her. “For once tell me who you are really.” She is honest. “I’m just a woman who yes, loved Helen.” Gene is unhappy. “This f*cking avalanche that is our marriage…I cannot sell myself this cheap.” WOAH. This plot sped up very quickly, as did everyone’s this episode, really, a pleasant surprise.
Oy vey. Libby watches Coral and Robert like a peeping Tom – what Hendricks fears Bill could be doing with the study. “I don’t feel safe,” she says. Bill tells her, “This needs to stop.” But she doesn’t. She tells Coral she is “uncomfortable” with Robert’s criminal record and asks that he doesn’t come to pick her up anymore. Libby follows Coral out after she finishes and learns she disobeyed. She goes to their apartment and starts looking at mailboxes when she learns that Robert is her brother. Did Coral lie just to get to Libby? Also, Libby and Robert have some awkward sexual tension before she gives him Coral’s severance, firing her. The episode ends with Bill and Libby sitting on the bed looking at their baby – perhaps grateful that at the end of the day, there’s something stable in their lives? Or what they’re settling for? All I know is, I’m hooked and can’t wait to see what’s coming next.