Masters of Sex recap: Monkey Business
So men need love and encouragement to perform. Gorillas need the same kind of positive reinforcement. Therefore by the transitive property men are really no different than gorillas? Women have known this for years—now Bill Masters knows too. This episode of Masters of Sex, aptly titled “Monkey Business” features probably the weirdest scene between a human and a gorilla on cable television yet. But it wouldn’t be Masters of Sex if things didn’t get weird sometimes.
Dan Logan is still trying to figure Virginia out and she’s not making it any easier. She may be willing to compare having sex with him to seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, but everything else about her she plays really close to the vest. Still Dan is savvy enough to know that Bill is not good enough for Virginia, a fact that’s becoming more and more apparent to Virginia as time goes on. “I like Bill, I’m just not sure I like him for you,” he says. “Guys like Bill are a lot of work. Impressive but combustible as hell.”
Truer words have not been spoken and while Bill and Virginia still seem incredibly compatible professionally, personally things have definitely cooled off. Bill is also more than ready to send Mr. Logan back to New York, since their experiments to find a love potion seem to have failed. Mr. Logan doesn’t seem at all interested in returning. But Bill is distracted anyway. In the pages of Newsweek, movie star Isabella Ricci is crediting Bill and Virginia with saving her marriage, so natch, Newsweek wants to profile the sex duo.
Meanwhile, the writers are back to exploring other characters in the Masters of Sex universe, shedding some much-needed light on the complicated lives being led by scene-stealer Betty and good, loyal Lester. Sarah Silverman is back as Betty’s lover Helen, and Helen desperately wants a baby. Now it may be the early 1960s but that kind of fertilization isn’t okay yet. And Bill for one can’t understand it. “Why would a woman want to pursue single motherhood,” he asks. “Healthy single women don’t need me to inseminate them.”
The mere idea of helping a single woman out is completely foreign to Bill. Yet, this episode we get Bill helping a gorilla get his mojo back and a single man overcome his impotence. Not at all surprising, but even animals get preferential treatment above women.
Keith, the single man, is an old drama friend of Lester’s wife Jane and is desperate for some help. It’s an odd request for Bill and Virginia, since they most often treat couples, but Bill is willing to make an exception once he hears Keith’s emphatic appeal for why he remains single: “Can’t step into the batter’s box without a bat.” And once Jane has agreed to help Keith out, all seems to be okay.
Bill, however, is more resistant to treat Gil the Gorilla, an ape so virile that he sired 21 babies but now wants nothing to do with the other ape in his cage. Turns out his disinterest comes from the loss of his female zoo keeper, a part played with perfect weirdness this episode by none other than Family Guy’s Alex Borstein. On a visit to the woman’s home we learn that she and Gil were very attached, a relationship that lasted for years and seemed to be a lot more emotional then your typical zookeeper/animal relationship (as far as I know). She stroked his ego; she told him he was king. But she was so distraught after she was dismissed that the gorilla-loving woman has just started to get her life back.
NEXT: And then things get strange…
The story line only gets weirder when Virginia steps next to the cage with Bill to record Gil’s behavior. In a genius cutaway, the scenes toggle back and forth between Jane and Keith engaging in Bill and Virginia’s therapy and Virginia coaxing Gil with some words of encouragement. Things get really odd when Gil starts pointing through the cage at Virginia’s breasts, and Bill convinces her to give the animal what he wants, a good long look at her boobs. Turns out even gorillas like a good fantasy when engaging in sex and one look, we hope, was all it took for Gil to get back in the saddle. I wonder what would have happened if they showed him porn. The scientific ramifications of this could be huge Bill thinks, because performance, even in animals, is related to the psyche. Bill is less concerned with what he asked Virginia to do. She previously helped Bill get over his impotence—why would she be reluctant to help a gorilla with the same problem?
Meanwhile, Tessa is once again in sabotage mode, and Dan Logan is ready to take it all in. No, he doesn’t know Tessa is Virginia’s daughter, but he does know that the office girl has all the answers and he’ll take any clue he can get into Virginia’s inscrutable façade. Tessa is willing to deliver: She reveals to him that Virginia is sleeping with Bill—a fact Dan isn’t really surprised by and may be less willing to believe once he finally finds out that Tessa is her daughter.
Meanwhile Libby is feeling horribly guilty for spilling Joy’s secrets to Paul, which have left him a complete mess. Yet who should understand how he’s feeling more than Libby? Paul’s wife has been left in a vegetative state, while Libby’s relationship with Bill is pretty vegetative itself. These two are meant for each other, and it’s actually a surprise how long it’s taken for them to get together considering how fast things move in this show.
Betty then comes up with the hair-brained idea to inseminate Helen herself at the lab, an idea she soon aborts, instead turning to another man who acts more often like a gorilla than a human—the one and only Dr. Austin Langham. Seems like a reasonable solution since he will sleep with anything who walks and they need some sperm. We could hope that he will just donate the sperm, and Helen wouldn’t have to sleep with him. But this is 1963 after all and things just don’t happen that way.
The final scene of the episode is a great one. While Virginia was the one who pushed Bill initially into treating Gil the gorilla, she is clearly mortified that she had to expose herself to get there. She has begged Bill not to talk about it in their Newsweek article, and he does, though in a way that saves her any embarrassment. And then she goes back to the office. And there is Dan, waiting for her, in a gorilla suit. Here she has found herself the most evolved man yet, one who wants to take care of her. And he may wear that suit but on the inside he is a gentleman—probably the first one she’s come across in a long time.
This episode pushed the drama in a lot of satisfying ways. I’m interested in seeing what happens with Virginia and Dan next, not to mention Libby and Paul and Helen and Betty. The character that interests me the least right now is Bill. He may be very evolved when it comes to science, but his Neanderthal instincts leave me rather bored. I wonder how you all feel. Drop me a line, and I’ll be back to discuss more next week.
This Showtime drama tells the steamy story of real-life sex researchers in the 1950s.