Masters of Sex recap: Through a Glass, Darkly
Libby receives a hell of a birthday gift, and Bill has a bit of a breakdown.
Throughout the show, Libby’s been in a constant state of getting left behind. Sure, sometimes she and Bill will have sweet moments — like that brief, drunken one in last week’s episode — but for the most part, the two seem like college roommates who are just trying to stick it out for the rest of the school year. Now, though, Libby seems to be finally getting a shot at a relatively normal relationship with Paul Edley. And after losing Robert, it’s about time.
This isn’t to say Libby can’t be happy alone. She totally could, and part of me wishes the show would give her a chance to be fully single. But that doesn’t seem to be the direction it’s heading in, so for now, I’m satisfied just seeing Libby feel appreciated — and be appreciated — by someone.
The two run into a bit of a roadblock, though, in the beginning of this week’s episode when Libby tries to seduce Paul and he cuts it short by suggesting she run errands for him while he’s at a meeting. Libby agrees to, but she doesn’t look happy about it. Affairs are supposed to be carefree and light and without any of the mundane tasks required in a marriage (or at least that’s what TV teaches us). So asking Libby to pick up groceries and dry-cleaning and get his watch fixed is… not ideal.
She tries to express this when he arrives home later, but gets interrupted by her kids. Turns out Paul sent her to run all those errands just so he and her kids would have some time to plan a birthday surprise for her. And once again, Paul’s back in favor.
They sit on the couch together and watch the kids put on a play they wrote for their mom, and they couldn’t seem more, well, normal. Paul’s even wearing a cardigan over his button-down shirt like Mr. Rogers or something, and both are smiling big. Libby’s happy. Paul’s happy. Can this last?
But Paul’s not the only one trying to impress Libby. Bill wakes up the next morning and presents her with an itinerary for a trip to Chicago, somewhere she’s always wanted to go. “I’ve been thinking about everything you do,” Bill says. “For the children, for me. And I wanted to get you something special, something to really mark the occasion.” Bill is expressing himself! Hooray for Bill!
Everything’s going well until Libby checks out the itinerary and makes a comment about how they haven’t jetted off together in such a long time. It’s going to continue to be a long time because Bill planned this trip for her and only her. He says he did this so he wouldn’t ruin her vacation and so she could fully get away, but Libby’s confused and hurt that he would think sending her off completely alone was a fun idea. Bill genuinely seems to think it was the right thing to do, probably because Bill is generally clueless about anything related to feelings.
Bill also has a lot on his mind — namely, getting Virginia “back.” Things haven’t been the same between them since he started the surrogacy program without her approval, and since he started to suspect she’s seeing Dan. After star student Nora flubbed during last week’s episode, Bill’s having his doubts about the study himself, so he enlists Virginia to help. This is really just a way to get Virginia back in bed with him, and it works: The two eventually end up in the test room together.
NEXT: Tessa knows.
Later on, Dan reveals to Virginia that he knows she’s having sex with Bill, and he knows because Tessa told him. This causes Virginia to spiral a bit, because now she realizes Tessa has known the truth all along. She knows her mom has been shacking up with Bill when she really says she’s just at the office late. I can understand why Virginia is upset: She just found out the illusion she’s been presenting to her daughter hasn’t been an illusion at all — and she found this out right after she discovered Tessa has been dating someone for five months without mentioning it to her once. But at the same time, how can she be that surprised Tessa knows? Her affair with Bill has been going on forever, and they’re not exactly coy about it.
Either way, Dan is extremely understanding and just says, “people are complicated.” (Let’s remember he’s still married, so it’s probably in his best interest for multiple reasons not to punish her for this.) People are complicated, indeed: Back at the office, Bill sees Virginia drive off with Dan, and subsequently has a mini-breakdown. He drinks, then he starts to have sex with Nora before she ruins the mood by wailing, “Tell me you love me!”
At that moment, he realizes he’s made a mistake and pulls away. “The only thing I’ve done right is loving someone so completely with as much of my broken soul as I can muster,” he tells her. “And I can’t give up on that or I’ll have nothing.” Then the kicker comes: “I didn’t know you were so devoted to your wife,” Nora responds. Ha, ha, ha. Bill devoted to his wife. Hilarious.
Nora ends up crying alone in her car until the Bible beater from the lobby sits down in the passenger seat. It appears these two have been seeing each other, and he asks if she’s ready to return to “the path.” Maybe Nora’s devotion to this study has all just been an act of rebellion. Maybe she’s just like him.
The most gasp-worthy moment of the episode happens around this time when Libby heads over to Paul’s — and ends up getting engaged (sort of?). He gets down on one knee and asks her to be his wife, which she responds to by crying and smiling and looking all-around delighted. They acknowledge there’s a lot to figure out before that can happen, but he makes it clear that he’s more than willing to be patient. That’s good news, because if the rest of Bill and Libby’s marriage is any indication, it’s going to take quite a bit of time to actually cut the cord.
It’s good news for the show, too: Something besides Dan’s presence needed to come through and shake up Bill and Virginia’s relationship a bit. If Libby does decide to break it off with Bill — or at the very least, just tell him about her relationship with Paul — that’ll give him further incentive to try harder with Virginia. And, no offense to Dan (although he is getting kind of boring), but more Virginia and Bill is something the show could use right now.