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'Masters of Sex' recap: 'The Excitement of Release'

Libby finally questions her marriage while Tessa has an identity crisis of her own.

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Warren Feldman/SHOWTIME

Masters of Sex

TV Show
Current Status:
On Hiatus
run date:
Lizzy Caplan, Michael Sheen
Showtime Networks Inc.

This episode is all about the characters trying to find their place. All four (Virginia, Bill, Libby, and Tessa) are operating in unchartered territory. Out of the lab and into the limelight, Bill and Virginia are both dealing with the repercussions of the book’s publication while Virginia’s daughter, Tessa, is also coming to terms with her mother’s newfound fame. Libby herself seems on the brink of transformation. She’s still trying to hold onto her belief in marriage, but she is no longer willing to kowtow to a man who has essentially shut her out of every aspect of his life. And slowly the idea of a different kind of life is creeping into her psyche with the help of a more radical next-door neighbor. It was an interesting episode, one where once again they pack in so much in such little time. Though this time around, I appreciated that they let things marinate a bit longer then they did in episode number 2. Let’s recap this episode character by character.

Bill “I hope I’ve aroused more than just your curiosity” Masters is having a crisis: “Imagine going where you aren’t wanted,” he says to Virginia at the end of the episode, referring to his old mentor Barton Scully, who¹s grappling with a reduced role at his university. But really, he seems to be talking about himself. He’s not particularly wanted at his home as Libby cautiously entertains the idea of a divorce. His book is arousing success with critics, but it’s still not welcome reading material at Washington University in St. Louis, the institution that fired him after he worked there for 15 years. Yet what he may be most concerned is whether he’s still welcome in Virginia’s bed, especially since the baby keeps interrupting them, not that Virginia seems all that eager to sleep with him after having a baby. Add in the awkward scene where Bill watches football with his next-door neighbor, the old football quarterback, and starts geeking out over his trading cards from back in the day. The two practically revert back to their college roles: the jock vs. the scientist and we witness the distance growing between them, once again showing that there are few places where Bill is comfortable.

But Bill does thrive in conflict, especially in situations where he feels an injustice has taken place. Washington University’s Chancellor Fitzhugh is Bill’s perfect target for outrage. First he insults Barton and then reinforces just how unwelcome Bill and his sex book are at the school. But when Bill makes a scene and throws his drink, it’s the bookish fertility doctor who once again seems the most out of place. And when he begs Barton to come work for him, promising he will give him the respect he deserves, somehow it’s Bill who comes off looking the most desperate. Yes, Barton is still living a closeted life; yes he’s even found a new woman to take care of him, but the man seems far more at peace with his life than Bill does. In that final scene when he¹s laying in bed with Virginia and he reaches out to put his hand on the baby, you get an inkling of hope that maybe he’s going to try to reach out beyond his little narcissistic existence.

NEXT: Libby is finally ready to use the “D” word