Masters Of Sex Season 2 Episode 5 recap

This show is so great that it almost seems criminal to point out any of its shortcomings, especially since they seem a little out-in-front when compared to the layered subtlety of the rest of the series. 

So it’s a bit churlish of me to point it out, but gosh, women struggle with power, don’t they? This seems as much like a Mad Men revelation as a Masters Of Sex one, but the shows are actually very reflective of one another – Masters is to women’s struggles as Mad Men is to men’s struggles to see themselves. Having said that, when they are seen, they don’t always like it.

I have to imagine that one of the notes for the show at the end of last season was “Let’s make Libby less likeable, it’s criminal that Bill is cheating on a woman this sweet and fun and perky”. And so what we have is a version of Libby who’s not unbelievable – she really is that insecure about Bill and their relationship – but not at all likeable, and not on the same trajectory as she was last season. Of course, having a baby changes things, as we’re told every six minutes.  

But this version of Libby needs desperately to have control over something and in this case “something” is Coral. Awful, of course, that she thinks of her merely as someone to reflect Libby’s own accomplishments – in something, anything – but more often she serves as a punching bag.

It doesn’t turn out the way Libby expects, though. Coral triumphs over Libby Masters. I kind of wish she didn’t have to stoop, because I love Coral (partly, but not only, because I am transferring onto her my love for Keke Palmer) but I love that she won.  

And ultimately she won not because she’s smart and quick and clever, but because Libby can’t be honest about anything. Not honest with Coral about her boss-ly decisions, not honest about orgasms with Bill, not honest with herself about how unhappy she is. Coral’s boyfriend pointing out that Libby was apologizing to the wrong person will go over and over and over Libby’s head forever. Bill’s shock at what Libby did? She’s not hearing it. Libby’s soon-to-be lack of a Coral in her life?  She won’t connect it. Just like she doesn’t connect that Virginia in her house is the largest degree of Fox in the Henhouse she doesn’t even know is happening.

It’s kind of what’s happening to Betty, against her will. I am quite slow to warm to this Betty story, and don’t love the idea that she and her husband are our substitute for Barton and Margaret. I understand that maybe we’ll explore a different side of sex – the deep closeting of lesbians in the 50s – but I don’t immediately love Betty enough to feel invested (even if I was singing along with the ketchup commercial version of “you’re the top”).   

But this is where we’re going to see the evolution of Sarah Silverman, dramatic actress. This is the big character that’s been waiting to arrive so we can see what things look like from a woman’s perspective. And I kind of wonder how different it’s going to be, given that a lot of the scenarios different from the Barton scenario seem like they might play out here. But I want to be compelled.

I never thought that I would be compelled by Virgiina and Dr. De Paul, but here we are. They have the kind of screaming match that, to quote Tyra, “When my mother yells at me like this it’s because she loves me!” Obviously these two cling together as the only two people who sort of understand each other, who know that having brains is as much of a detriment as their female physiques. Who understand that they are each other’s closest support systems, but that they’re taking very different paths.

Lillian, I think, feels misled more than anything. She thought Virginia was one of us.  Virginia, of course, thought Lillian was “one of us”, ready to fight for the medical advancements of things that would be beneficial for women. But each of them is tired of fighting. Tired of fighting against what seems to be the path of least resistance. Lillian is losing her physical fight, and Virginia has lost her mental one.

Do I have to sleep with you to work here?


“Oh, well if I HAVE to. If it’s a RULE or I’ll lose my job, because you know I need the money – well, I suppose that’s the way things are.”

So she humiliates him.

But it’s also kind of hot. 

It’s about 50/50. Dom/Sub. Do you love me or not, Goddammit, and why do I want to know the answer to that, and why can’t it just be the work? It’s awfully inconvenient to be Virginia these days, even if it does seem that Bill is a very attentive sexual partner. I like Virginia as a character and I always have, but she’s fast becoming the least self-aware person on the show, and smart-but-willfully ignorant of what you seem like to the outside world is an unfortunately very difficult glass house from which to throw stones. 

Hey guys, remember Dr. Langham? No, right? I do find the way people swing in and out of this show to be a little weird and disjointed, especially since we’re now swinging between three hospitals.