Can one scientific breakthrough eliminate heartache? Bill hopes so. Or if not, he’ll do what he always does when confronted by pain: ignore the problem and bury himself in his work.
But not everyone has that kind of coping mechanism. And so Barb, Lester, Libby, and Virginia are all left to find their own ways to deal with the anguish that Bill has unintentionally brought upon them.
Bill and Virginia are on their way to curing Bill’s impotence. After seven nights of nonsexual touching, seven nights of sexual touching, and seven nights of successful—and successive—coitus, they seem to be onto something. Bill is back to his old self again—and so is the show, including the kinds of provocative scenes of Bill and Virginia discovering each other’s bodies that haven’t been seen in a while.
This victory causes Bill to have a dream that he’s JFK—who in the real world is preparing for his presidential inauguration—while Virginia is his Jackie. A crowd outside his home throws him a ticker-tape parade, which is glorious until it’s derailed by a stern-looking Libby blocking the road. Bill wakes up in the bedroom, alone.
But Libby is preoccupied by her own daydreams. She reminisces about the hot sex she had with Robert on the kitchen floor, and somewhat scolds herself for this indiscretion by making a show of telling her two kids how much she loves them in front of Bill. Back in the CORE office, Robert plays it cool when he sees Libby. But that’s not enough for her to back down…
Meanwhile, Virginia has her own rude awakening. After a successful six-week trip in Europe with their kids, her ex George decides he wants more time with them. His new wife is a model mother figure, and let’s face it—the always-working Virginia is not (ouch). The conversation is enough to make Virginia reexamine their original custody agreement… which turns out to be void because George never signed it. Virginia seeks the advice of Herb once again, thinking she’ll be able to make this situation legal without too much trouble. But now George has lawyered up and is willing to take Virginia to court, where her name and her work will be smeared as “unfit” until he gets the custody agreement he wants. If only she didn’t have other equally pressing concerns.
Shep shows Bill, Virginia, and Lester a rough cut of their CBS documentary. It talks about ways to improve marital bliss rather than speaking frankly about sex, which riles up Bill and Lester. Virginia once again tries to look on the bright side when Bill gets into one of his fits about not being understood. They’re under serious time constraints now that their rival, Dr. Kaufman, will be releasing a book about his similar study in just two months. Virginia points out that this documentary, flawed as it may be, will help them capture an audience. And once they are ready to present their work on human sexuality and sexual dysfunction—or “physical dysfunction,” as CBS edited it—that audience will be willing and eager to read the full story. It’s better to present a sanitized version of their controversial work rather than be lost in history as a footnote in someone else’s book. That prompts Bill to make a mysterious phone call to get the dirt on Kaufman…
If only he paid as much attention to his wife as he does his rival. Libby shows up at Robert’s apartment at 2 a.m., desperate for his attention. (Coral, by the way, is away in Atlanta fighting for civil rights.) Robert apologizes for “that night” and Libby gets upset. Maybe he had sex with her for the danger of it, he says. But Libby wants to know: What if he did it because he wanted her? And then the clothes are off and they’re standing there, facing each other naked, then kissing…
Later, Libby has a difficult time keeping her composure when Virginia seeks her advice about her ensuing custody battle. Virginia’s afraid she may have to quit her job to be with the kids more, but Libby points out that a judge would see through that kind of move. She says she has a hard time imagining what she’s do if Bill tried to take her kids… as if she’s already had to imagine it. Libby’s internal struggle comes pouring out of her mouth: What if you just let go of everything you thought your life would be? What really matters when you think of your children, deep down?
Virginia responds: That they’re safe. That they’re happy and know they are loved. And maybe that’s the key, Libby says. Let go of the ideal. Live the life you have, not the life think you’d have. Just accept what is.
Both women are miserable.
NEXT: Bill’s plan to “save” the study has unexpected consequences