Masters of Sex Season 3 Episode 3 recap
How to watch this episode:
Roll your eyes at the ‘baby interruptus’, and wonder if you’re watching Up All Night.
Recognize the woman Libby’s talking to in the kitchen. Rewind three times until you confirm that yes, in fact, that is Susan May Pratt, otherwise known as Maureen from Center Stage, otherwise known as “I’m the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you?”
Listen to Libby lose her mind about how Maureen from Center Stage, who has a very strange makeup stripe on her forehead, might leave her husband, because of course if it was Libby who was entertaining those thoughts (she is), Bill would neither notice nor care. Which is tragic all the time but especially now because her hair is spectacular.
Reflect that Bill is neither shaking nor sweating, despite Betty accusing him of same. Remember when Betty had actual lines, that weren’t just exposition? “You know that we pay for everything…so you need a dedicated source of funding.”
Cringe at the fact that the baby is called Lisa. Of course it is. This is terrible, but Tessa is the worst, so Lisa will automatically be the good one.
Immediately realize that if you feel that way, you must be a terrible person, because Tessa immediately gets to say something revolutionary, like ‘all girls really like sex’, and I feel bad for misjudging her.
Become exhausted with point form, and move back to proper paragraphs:
This show gives and takes away and gives back again. I really enjoyed this episode, even though Paul and Maureen from Center Stage are new and incidental people to talk to and sort of seem like they couldn’t be less about the point.
Even Josh Charles and his smirky, condescending, sexy-ugly propositions are not the point – though he is compelling to look at. The point, which is brought to us by Tessa and Barton Scully in equal measure, is that Masters and Johnson are flawed and terrible, and really, really consistently selfish. But what they’re not is judgmental. This is actually something I appreciated because it’s not just true this episode, it always has been. They really, truly don’t care. They’re interested in the sexual quirks of Barton Scully or Lester, and they’re interested in ‘fixing’ them inasmuch as they don’t want people to be miserable – but they are utterly free of mores, at least where adults are concerned. Betty is proof of this, since I did a double take last night when she made a snarky remark about sex workers. How quickly we forget.
This is what the show is about, really – the idea that human sexual response is fascinating, not shameful, but also just the tip of the iceberg. The emotional connections are much more difficult and complex.
This is why Tessa is such a conundrum for me. She’s so completely insufferable, but she went through that horrible experience that, on one level, is exactly what she thought would happen when people heard her mother was the ‘sex book’ person. I really appreciated that her version of what’s going on at school before wasn’t precisely true, but could have been. I can see the pain in the idea that no matter how much her mother understands about sex, and indeed would understand and hurt for the situation her daughter was in, she still can’t actually understand Tessa. She can’t get into her mind. The show is giving enough attention to this concept that it seems this is not just regular teenaged angst, but an actual rift being built.
I don’t know. I liked this episode a lot better, even though Hugh Hefner seemed like he was being played by a human puppet, but there are elements that still don’t add up. So Bill can’t connect with anyone except Virginia, and -- and?! – her baby, but what change has that actually wrought in him? 12 years in, is he any different? I was touched, I’ll admit, that he was outraged and hurt on Scully’s behalf, but how does it actually penetrate the robotron that is Dr. Masters? Virginia is supposed to be emotionally intelligent, so how is it she can’t really connect with anyone? I like that these are the questions facing our characters, but I’d love to see them acknowledge that occasionally, they’re frustrated by running in place and never quite gaining on those demons.
Attached - Lizzy Caplan leaving Chateau Marmont with James Marsden on Saturday night.