Questions and revelations
Masters Of Sex Season 3 Episode 12 recap
Thanks for bearing with me after last week, where the Emmys kind of stood in the way of Masters and Johnson’s psychological warfare. I think there are people who really liked last week’s episode, but I wasn’t one of them. The show is a little too fond of these weird, premise-y, bottle-y episodes – and I am usually a big fan of them too.
But the show made all kinds of not-really-in-character things happen just for the sake of it, just so there could be that four-handed cat and mouse game as Judy Greer (hi, Judy Greer!) got drunker and more one-act stage play, and so Virginia could get bitchy with the washroom attendant about how to say ‘Chanel’. Did these people feel like mature academics and professionals? Or more like they were roleplaying Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass, each trying to be more dastardly than the last?
It just didn’t feel real, while the Libby plot did feel real, but out of a totally different show. Could you die to see Libby Masters on Once And Again?
This week, though, the allegations that Bill might have interfered inappropriately with Dennis are still bobbing above the surface, and for a show that often drops plotlines like hotcakes (looking at you, Paul), I buy that the slow and plodding events of the season have added up to where we are now. Libby uses the word ‘reckless’ and that is a reasonable sort of structure for all of Bill Masters’ ego and shortcomings to ultimately land himself, and Virginia, in jail. It’s not like he’s running arbitrarily from hospital to hospital like in past seasons, and not fueled purely by wanting to stick it to the bigger, more alpha males who tweak him so badly.
I thought the evangelical Christian story was pretty silly, and the conversion or return or whatever of Nora way, way too convenient. You also have to factor in my pretty decent opinion that Nora can’t really act. But what it actually does is get us to the place where Bill and Libby have their first conversation in years.
The way that he realizes, in the moment, that she’s known about him and Virginia for years is also the way that he realizes how much respect he now has for her, because she’s not remotely as stupid as he assumed she was. Oh, the irony – because that intelligence is what gives him the impetus to tell her that he thinks he should set her free. And it’s in that moment, that moment when everything is falling down around her, that Libby finds the backbone to say that Bill can’t come home. When everything is as bad as it’s ever been, when Paul is gone – that’s when she can stand up for herself. This show has done a lot of really bad and weird things, but I have never once hated Libby Masters and I think it would have been easy to; her gut instincts make her so likeable that her social-propriety faux-pas are easy to overlook.
As for Virginia – I deeply appreciate her taking a swing at Nora with that box.
But that’s about all. I don’t get any real sense of warmth or love coming from her, not for Dan, not for anyone. What I do think she feels is grateful relief that he treats her like an intelligent being, but is that the same as love? Not for her, or she wouldn’t be turning around to look for Bill all the time, after having spent the season tantrumming at him. What does she want? She doesn’t know, only that she has to keep running toward something. But why? But what? When’s the last time we’ve seen her being actually satisfied and happy? What dragon is she chasing?
Oh, and why in the hell did her father have to give his blessing, especially in person? Flimsy excuse for him to be there, and a flimsier scene (and woe the blocking!). The show flirts with and backs away from parental support and endorsement as a powerful motivator, something that chases both Bill and Virginia well into their adulthood and colours their relationships with their children – but not in a way that feels continuous or built upon or even conscious. What are we supposed to surmise from ‘her father made a snap judgment in 5 minutes about Dan’?
Finally, because I’ll never stop asking questions about this show…how many times does Betty have to say “I’ll just look for the doc…”? Hell, at least Barton had a good day. He’s basically on another show, but he seems to have had a good day.
That’s the season finale, kids. That’s what it all adds up to. That’s the ‘threat’ of the evangelical in the lobby. That’s where Bill and Virginia’s work stands. This season involved a human in a gorilla suit, ‘Tessie’, and Betty is still letting people into rooms. See you next year…?