To say that Bill Masters has been on the ropes is the understatement of this season. All his angling, conniving, and misguided altruism has landed him in a boiling tub of hot water. And it’s fitting that voice inside his head — the one from both his father and now his son — is finally the voice that he listens to. Because he is beat — his actions have destroyed the clinic, his relationship with Virginia, and the remnants of his sham of a family life. It was a riveting season finale with our flawed protagonist succumbing to much more then a busted lip and a few broken ribs. Let’s break it down.
The third season of Masters of Sex opens with a dream sequence — a boxing match to be precise — where Bill is getting trounced by a more skilled opponent. On the sidelines sit his father and his son, both acknowledging that the man is beat and he’s a “damn fool” for thinking he can get back up. He wakes with a start in his bedroom, with Libby standing over him. Neighborhood bully Dennis and his family have filed a lawsuit that can go away should Bill be willing to settle with a fat check, but Bill still wants to fight it, unwilling to claim defeat in a situation where he knows he’s innocent.
Meanwhile Virginia is headed out of town. We don’t know where but she’s called her father in to babysit so she can get away to clear her head, what with Dan willing to leave his wife and Bill still lurking in the shadows. That is until Libby shows up at her doorstep to tell her about Bill’s mess. Virginia drops everything so she and Libby “can right the ship” together. It’s interesting that this man who believes he’s always in the right and can move in any reckless way he desires, is continuously propped up and saved by his lover and his wife, two women who consistently sacrifice their own happiness in order to save him.
This episode is clearly about allowing the truth to set you free. Barton Scully represents that as he inches his way out of the closet via his burgeoning relationship with the hot young med tech. Not only does he sleep with him but when he finds out it’s his birthday, he invites him over that night for a celebration. Sure it’s no night on the town, but it’s something — even if he tried sneaking out without waking his younger lover.
And then there is poor Libby, who didn’t even get a goodbye from Paul Edley, who got that For Lease sign up faster then Libby could open the shade in her living room. He didn’t even give her a chance to change her mind — and he didn’t even leave a forwarding address.
Meanwhile Bill returns to work after he and Virginia’s devastating trip to New York, when he sees his favorite surrogate Nora in the elevator, and is completely willing to accept that all is fine between the two after their awkward interlude. We should have all known that Nora, the completely evolved woman, is a totally fake—a Christian fundamentalist willing to sleep with different men in order to trap Bill in a prostitution ring scandal. I guess we should have seen it all coming when she cozied up to the Bible beater who continuously harangues Virginia and Bill in the lobby of their building. But I was as surprised as Bill was when she double-crossed him. Well played.
To me, Ronald Sturgis was more of an abstraction, the warning call Virginia and Bill hear inside their heads. But no, his call to Virginia, “This is your last chance. You should get out now. Save yourself. Do what you need to do” is no metaphor but a direct warning that he’s about to bring their whole operation to its knees. Fair to say the show has now deviated completely from any biography of the real Masters and Johnson.
Bill is still trying to make nice with Virginia. Despite her frostiness, he perseveres, offering to remove the MD from his name on their next book. And though these little gestures seem to appease her somewhat, his allure seems to have waned. Virginia returns to make things right with Bill’s Dennis issue for the sake of the clinic and their work together, but she’s fed up with his nonsense. Aligned with Libby as “the two people who can see past your bullheadedness,” she tells him to pay the boy’s family off, specifically from his personal funds, to ensure he doesn’t risk the reputation of the clinic any more then he already has. Oh, if she only knew what was coming next.
To make matters worse for them all, the little man from Little, Brown and Company shows up, to orchestrate a press conference announcing the duo’s new book. While he’s getting a tour of the office, Nora is blackmailing Bill, asking him for rent money, while the detective posing as a patient in the exam room hears Bill say, “I will give you another $200, but this has to be the last time.” If that’s not enough drama, Dan Logan shows up, looking for Virginia, who has “froze him out” for the last few days while she finally determines who she wants to love.
Dan has upped the stakes, escaping to Mexico to get a quicky divorce from his long-suffering wife. Makes sense but that means no more Judy Greer for us. Bummer. Now Virginia has a choice — Dan wants to marry her. He doesn’t expect her to give up her work, but he does expect her to give up Bill, a man he maintains can never make her happy. But just as she is about to choose Dan, who’s about to “take his broken heart and go home” she sees Bill with a plain-clothes police officer and things are about to get crazy.
NEXT: Nora’s secret is out