Masters of Sex recap: High Anxiety
Everyone was freaking out in this week’s episode of Masters of Sex. Virginia was petrified, though she couldn’t admit it that Dan Logan was going to leave and go back to New York. Bill was resorting to spying on Virginia for fear that he was losing his lover. Libby was pulling away from Paul because she didn’t believe she was capable of handling yet another extra-marital relationship. And poor Austin Langham lost custody of his kids and hit rock bottom, squatting in a pink bathrobe in Helen and Betty’s apartment. No, all was not well among the St. Louis residents featured here this week but each one ended up better off at the end of the episode then they began. Let’s break it down.
Ahh, Virginia, if only the woman could come out and say what she wants. She’s clearly in love with Logan but is unable to emote. Was it all those years hiding her relationship with Bill that makes her wary to fall for yet another unhappily married man? Perhaps so. As such, Virginia would rather conjure up yet another experiment once she learns that Mr. Logan will be departing for New York if work no longer keeps him in River City. Yet something has changed with Virginia, in terms of how she feels about Bill. She’s not willing to bow down to him professionally and she reminds him tersely that she didn’t want Logan funding their operation but Hugh Hefner, a suggestion Bill ignored, yet again.
Bill sits forlorn in Virginia’s living room, waiting for her to return from her bathtub visit with Dan. She’s still angry that he set up the surrogacy program behind her back. He apologizes for it, though he has no intention of shutting it down. Rather, he asks her to keep an open mind as he tries to treat “the suffering male,” an idea Virginia clearly has contempt for. But Bill is visibly losing it. He can’t think straight when they are estranged, after all. Virginia placates him. She’s not ready to return their relationship to its professional origins. Yet, she’s so not into it. The two have sex, but she’s faking it and he’s not so clueless that he doesn’t realize it — which makes him even more nutso. He practically knocks out a bible beater for again bringing his message of fear and hate into the office, yelling, “I have been sent by God as a warning,” and then he asks Betty to spy on Virginia and find out the truth about what’s really going on between her and Dan. The surrogacy is not without its flaws and Virginia lets Bill know she’s not going to be involved with this research at all, but pursue her own experiments — the smell test kind — instead.
With Virginia all but abandoning Bill on the surrogacy project, he turns his full attention to young Nora, who seems to be excellent at her job. Yet, when she goes too far with a new client—an older man who is begging her to pay attention to what he believes may be “the only erection he will ever get” — Bill yells at her and is about to fire her from the project. The project he isn’t paying her to be a part of. It’s only later, over Chinese food, that Nora reveals that her own father hit her and left her and her mother and she’s spent a lifetime finding boyfriends with the same qualities as her dad. When she tells Bill that his yelling reminded her of her father, he should have probably been a bit more repulsed since he also had an abusive dad. Rather, he tries to be a father figure, which doesn’t really seem to play too well.
I should interject here that Bill’s attention to Dennis, at the expense of his son, is really so misguided. Really Bill, you have to be the one to explain to Dennis the inner-workings of his body while poor Johnny is huddling angrily in his bedroom. I love that this kid has no problem taking out his anger on his father but I do feel badly that Dennis is his target. First he kicks him out of his house, than he embarrasses him at school in front of a couple of girls. I get it. The bully is getting bullied, but it would be nice if Bill could have some awakening here that doesn’t involve Virginia. His son is certainly looking for some love.
NEXT: Now onto Libby’s love life
And Libby… Joy has finally died and Paul is putting flowers on her grave. Conveniently, Robert’s tombstone is not too far away — and the two meet. Paul wants her back, but Libby “has had a lot of practice taking care of herself,” and isn’t willing to return to him. She even goes so far at the end-of-season football party at her house to introduce Paul to a new divorcee, hoping that if she finds “smart and nice” Paul a new woman, she won’t be the one he wants. But Libby isn’t very good at this game and as soon as she sees Paul laughing with another woman, she’s back in the fold, asking to be his. This relationship isn’t doing much for me. I like the idea of an independent Libby and sure Paul seems like the guy for her. But is he really giving her anything new? With Robert, there was some passion, but I don’t get that same vibe from this coupling.
What I was looking for was a possible rekindle between Libby and Bill. Their sham of a marriage has been going on for so long; it was nice that Bill, only because he was drunk, could actually have a moment with his wife. It was too truncated of a moment, yet it was honest, especially when Bill admitted that the two “Tried their best” at their marriage. But did they really? It’s a wonder the two can still live in their house with all the betrayals that have been brushed under their rugs.
Ahh, Austin. You’re such a mess. But we appreciate the fact that you still have terrific abs, despite being such a mess. Oh, and that you are willing to share your abs with your fans as you strip down to nothing when you walk into Betty and Helen’s apartment, drunk and depressed, that is before you passed out cold on her floor. Then of course he wakes up, tries to cuddle with Betty, begging her for some kindness as he assesses what a “f— up” he’s become. And things get really bad when Helen thinks she’s found his suicide note, when really, the perfectly intact Austin has just been “doodling like a depressed person” — extra sad that he’s nobody’s son, husband of rather. And yet, that’s the exact moment when Helen reveals that she is pregnant and both Betty and their surrogate Austin are going to be parents.
But really, the best moment of the episode was the last one. Despite Virginia’s reluctance to open up, Dan has got her number and he knows that all the work she’s been doing has been in an effort to keep him in town. When he says he’s finally leaving, yet still planning on returning without any work for them to do together, she’s confused. This is a woman, after all, whose only sexual relationships have been tied to her professional life and she can’t fathom a man who just wants her for her. But he breaks it down. He says he and his wife have an understanding—which come on, is there one healthy marriage in this damn show. But then he says he’s not ready to leave her. “What if I keep coming here, because we love each other?”
And we go to black. This may be the moment where Virginia can actually separate her professional life from her personal one. It would be a welcome change and so refreshing. But what happens next? Bill won’t go down without a fight and Virginia probably believes that could ruin everything. Until next week…
This Showtime drama tells the steamy story of real-life sex researchers in the 1950s.