Things Have Changed
Masters Of Sex Season 2 Episode 1 recap
Well, they didn’t change the intro. Every time you think “I wonder if I know of a crude euphemism for some act of sex” you can think of that intro, and know. But as the show gets even more interesting than last season, it’s almost on purpose. Pointing out the crudeness of the physical actions (and their parallels in nature) points out how not about sex sex can be.
But not for lack of trying. Everyone this episode thinks that the solution to all their sex-related problems is easily solved, often by sex. NO, I know – you’d think you’d get tired, but…somehow not. Mostly because the show takes annoying tropes – like Virginia dabbling in a pyramid scheme for extra money – and dispenses with them as fast as she realizes it’s beneath her. She doesn’t need to wind up with indigestion or in an awkward “oh I lied to someone” situation to realize she’s better than this.
It’s a realization that comes for almost every woman in the premiere. Margaret wastes no time in shutting Barton down when his advances quickly start to seem like they’re happening in a secret out-of-the-way alley, and she refuses to let up on his “trying”. No way she’s going to let herself feel less like a woman. However, with the situation that she and Vivian discover, I imagine she’ll be backpedaling for some time. I’m a words person and I always notice cinematography last but how great was that shot of the three of them tumbling to the floor – Barton using his wife and daughter for support? This family is so painful because they’re so earnest and love each other so much. They would be so happy if only they didn’t have problems.
That, I suppose, is the sentiment we’re meant to have about a number of the couples on the show. I didn’t totally get the Dr. Langham business, other than that the show clearly thinks he’s adorable and wants to use him more, but the introduction of his family felt a little bit all right already. Still, I suspect his characterization of the study as “The Mummy’s Tomb” will not be going anywhere anytime soon. It causes as many problems as it solves – more, if you acknowledge there’s money involved and The Pretzel King is going to want favours. Oh, and that Bill Masters is a bit of a monster.
You see, I realize sweet, utterly charming Libby is going to have to get a clue, too. Not just that her friend Virginia is not always operating with her best interests in mind – like, rarely ever – but that Bill Masters is disturbed in a way that is, you know, fundamentally terrible. I love that as long as his mother was around, Libby could pretend it wasn’t completely f*cked that Bill didn’t acknowledge his son or take any joy from him. She and his mother could trade comments about how hilarious it is that Bill is still “like that”, and that he was when he was a baby, and that maybe Johnny will be the same way. They can pretend he’s just having an extra-long grump.
But when he finally plays his cards – when he can no longer ignore that having his mother in his house makes him feel like a bad person – then nobody can ignore that there’s something very wrong with Bill, even if they won’t get much of a chance to discuss it, given that he boots his mother out of his sight and Libby’s arms unceremoniously.
Does he think Libby won’t clue in? She hasn’t so far. “You still surprise me” isn’t my idea of a romantic statement, at least in that context. But the evidence is getting closer and closer to the surface, as Bill makes less and less of an effort to hide his misanthropy; he’s convinced that getting his mother out of his house will make him feel less like a terrible person.
He could choose a less circuitous route by just asking Virginia to make him feel better in actual words, instead of in hints. These two and their professionalism, and their focus on “the work”, are so clumsy and awkward and naïve in their exploration of the idea that there might – might! – be an emotional component to sex, that you kind of want to pet their little childlike heads and tell them to take another look. You get the feeling that when they finally come around to the idea that they are inserting their emotions into their work, and that it might therefore be clouding their results as “subjects”, that they’ll be devastated; they’ve actually constructed a reality where they don’t have to acknowledge this truth. It’s almost hilarious. Almost.
But while Bill is up front about being emotionally idiotic (as well as unnecessarily cruel), Virginia is a bit more curious. I half-feel like they’re setting her back a bit, both with regard to Bill and to things like pyramid schemes, so that she doesn’t constantly seem to be head and shoulders above everyone else on the show as she sometimes did last year. But this is a woman with significant romantic relationships under her belt – and a woman who was going to marry Ethan (whose reasons for being dismissed in a PHONE CALL I hope are explored). If she jumps into relationships too headlong, I’d love to hear about it. There’s a whole season in which to explore the ways in which Virginia is not perfect, and I want to know about them sooner rather than later so that this exploration of Virginia and Bill as two lovable idiots seems a bit more evenly matched.
Also, if we can have more hilarious deadpan conversations with Dr. DePauw – ideally one every five minutes – I would appreciate it. Bonus points if they can somehow shock Allison Janney’s Margaret in the process.