“Someone always ends up crying.” – Masters of Sex Recap – Family Only

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 6
“Family Only”
Posted by Kim


In the moments after the final credits rolled on “Family Only,” my initial thought was the good old chestnut, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” But you know what? Fuck that. I AM mad and I AM disappointed. Because Betty and Helen deserved more than this. And I expected more of Masters of Sex than cheap ass storytelling.

Why was it cheap storytelling? Because it was telegraphed, down to the fucking episode title. As soon as Barton and Bill assured Betty that she shouldn’t worry that Helen’s water breaking was extra bloody and that c-sections are so routine that you could do two before lunch, you KNEW that Helen was doomed. If your audience knows how this story is going to end 21 minutes into the episode, it’s cheap and lazy storytelling.

I get that Masters of Sex is a period piece and that this is exactly how Betty’s story would have unfolded in real life. Same-sex partners had no rights in the eyes of the law in the 70s and the baby WOULD have gone to the grandparents and not Helen’s partner, who was going to raise the baby as her own flesh and blood. I get that. What I don’t get is how the creative team of Masters of Sex decided that this was the most interesting story to tell. It’s not. You know what would have been interesting? Seeing Betty and Helen trying to navigate raising a family together in the face of overwhelming bigotry. What would have been interesting is seeing them struggle but stand firm in their love for each other and for the baby they wanted to raise together. What would have been interesting is seeing the people who believed in them, like Bill and Virginia and Barton, surround them with love and understanding. Seeing Betty lose not only her partner but the child she so desperately longed for in one fell swoop? THAT’S NOT INTERESTING. And the fact that it was all crammed into the last five minutes of what was otherwise a cracking good episode of television? That, my friends, is what we call a sucker punch. And what are sucker punches? CHEAP SHOTS.

What pisses me off the most about this whole debacle is that it makes it harder for me to appreciate how GOOD the actors were in it. Annaleigh Ashford has long been the MVP of Masters of Sex and she DELIVERED in this episode. She expressed Betty’s joy and fear and grief so perfectly and she did it all with her face wiped clean of Betty’s usual mod make-up. She was a pillar of support as Helen dealt with the pain of her parents’ disownment. She was a fierce Mama Bear as she fought for Helen’s medical treatment and expressed her fears about her condition. She was incredibly selfless in calling Helen’s parents at great personal risk to herself because she knew that was what her partner wanted. She was incredibly gentle as it became clear that Helen was circling the drain and she didn’t want her to panic or be afraid. And she was beautifully numb when Helen’s parents shut her out of the nursery declaring it was for family only. (God, at LEAST have the nerve to say it to her face.) Ashford was EVERYTHING in this episode. She deserves a meaty storyline because she is capable of delivering but again I go back to “WHY THIS STORY?”. It all around sucks and I’m angry and disappointed. We all deserve better than this.



I guess other things happened in this episode too. Like I said, I’m having a hard time caring, but I’ll try.

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“Uncharted waters” – Masters of Sex Recap – Outliers

Source: invisibleicewands

Source: invisibleicewands

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 5

Posted by Sage

It’s a brave new world since the last coat was left on the pile at Art and Nancy’s swingers party. The brief new normal includes Bill and Libby vacationing in a healthier relationship than they shared during their courtship or marriage and Virginia finally being honest with herself about what it is that she wants. The truth-bug hasn’t bitten Art yet. Despite reaching new levels of clarity about his own marriage in an all-night hot-goss-athon with Virginia, he hasn’t come clean to his wife that the benefits of their swinging are all one-sided. Virginia, straight outta fucks to give, confronts Art about this, even though she got her information from surveilling her own employees. Art assesses that Gini doesn’t care so much about his marriage; she’s concerned that Art’s posturing over his faux night of passion with Virginia will reach Bill’s ears. Of course Art is right – hence Gini’s fifth blackmail scheme in as many weeks – but he’s not right about what she fears. Since a domestic, sex-rumpled Bill opened his ex-wife’s door and politely blew her off, what scares the daylights out of Virginia is that Bill will hear from someone that Virginia had crazy swinger sex with Art and that he won’t care at all.

And really, all appearances indicate that Virginia’s spell on Bill has been broken. Kim wrote gorgeously last week about the Libby and Bill’s come-to-Jesus sleepover. And I’m with her in that I’m thrown by this generous, vulnerable Bill Masters. He and his ex-wife (well, if proceedings DO start up again after the trial) are free from the years and years of lies that mucked up the works of their connection. With all that gone, there’s still SOMETHING there. But I’d argue that it can only exist in the here and now, in this clarity, after their attempt at a perfect life blew up in both of their faces. It’s a moment in time and one that’s going a long way towards healing their rift and making them able to stay friends and raise their children together. But this isn’t a second chance at love. Libby has no illusions about that; but desperate, romantic Bill thinks he might have found his lifeline.

Which is one of the reasons that Bill is happy to get his 90th AA attendance certificate signed and walk out of that church basement, never to return. Louise obliges, with “you’ll be back” written all over her face. (Da da da DA da…) Besides, what will listening to dozens of drunks’ sob stories do to help him and Virginia beat this sexual deviancy rap. Bill has better things to do with his time, including triple-checking the work of his own lawyer. (Bill WOULD be the kind of defendant to weaken his own case by failing at not looking superior to his legal team.) Again, Masters and Johnson are at odds in how to proceed. Virginia wants to settle and spare everyone the ordeal of a court case. Bram Keller has a very clear vision of his future self arguing in front of the Supreme Court. If they win, they win. If they lose, they’ll exhaust the appeals process. He’ll be a legend and Masters and Johnson will be the scientific pioneers who defended their research process to the highest court in the land. Virginia is overruled, and to make matters worse, Keller drops it in her lap that Bill and Libby are considering reconciling. If looks could kill, no one but Virginia would be walking out of that courthouse alive.

In every setback, crafty-ass Virginia sees an opportunity. Betty hands Gini a package. Little Brown has passed on publishing the next Masters and Johnson tome, partially because they stood them up for that very important press conference last season. The prostitution scandal is also a factor. “THE WORK IS IN TROUBLE” flashes on a neon sign in Virginia’s brain and she quickly concocts an excuse to whisk Bill away from his formerly square, pot-smoking, feminist wife. She tells Betty to book two plane tickets to New York right away and then informs Bill of their plans. Guys…he barely looks up when she comes into the room. The more frantic Virginia gets, the more transparent her plans. Little Brown isn’t the only publisher in the world. They can worry about the book when the trial is over. Bill reminds Virginia that his reputation is on the line, and he has no intention of leaving Bram Keller to his own devices. Gini doesn’t like this reality where Bill won’t jump at the chance to be alone with her, even though she had a hand in shaping it. Hurt, she lashes out about what she deems to be the real obstacle keeping Bill from her: Libby, who’s looking very serene in the framed black-and-white portrait on Bill’s desk. Bill muses that a win in this case would be a “fresh start,” and Gini JUST stops sort of scoffing. “Seems to me that you’ve been backsliding, more than anything,” she says, and refers to the morning she dropped off Libby’s cape. BACKSLIDING. Bill doesn’t even satisfy Virginia by taking the bait. He impassively tells her that he and his ex are looking at all the options. He just says it, conversationally – it’s not a confession and it’s not a ploy to see how Virginia will react to hearing it. “You want a fresh start? Then come to New York,” she purrs. “We can both reinvest in what has always given us the most satisfaction…the work.” He remains unmoved. Gini thought she had Bill in her pocket for so long and now he’s barely affected by her.  And a rejected Virginia is a dangerous Virginia. Old patterns, you know.

Source: invisibleicewands

Source: invisibleicewands

Gini decides to go to New York on her own. If she can’t tempt Bill with a night in a Manhattan hotel room, she can bring him back a publishing deal as an offering. I love when Virginia refuses to hear accusations that she’s inconveniencing people. She barges into Bob Drag’s tiny office, chirping about how wonderful it is to see him and pretending as if she hasn’t just been dropped like a hot potato. But sad sack Bob has no use for Virginia except the one. He realizes it’ll be a better look to show up to that evening’s fancy book launch with an attractive, accomplished date, and Virginia doesn’t mind being used so long as it’s mutual. They roll into the cocktail party where some guy is talking up some satirical novel called Slaughter-house Five. Bob drains a few glasses of wine before he finds the courage to wrap an arm around Virginia’s waist. He’s posturing for his boss, a virile-looking guy (sort of J. Peterman-esque) who looks down at Bob literally and figuratively. Tired of being pawed, Virginia yanks Bob into a corner and sets him straight: she will by no means sleep with him in exchange for a book deal. Bob is like, listen, you disgust me and I find you tremendously unlikable, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. His problem is that Virile Boss is the kind of guy who thinks a man’s sexual prowess has an effect on his ability to do his job. Drag was demoted after his fiance left him and hasn’t been able to present a macho enough front to get back into Little Brown’s inner circle. Virginia has a plan that will change Virile Boss’s mind about Drag AND keep her person un-molested. The pro quo of course, is Drag going to bat for the book. Satisfied with their terms, Virginia approaches Virile Boss and tells him that Drag killed the book in retaliation for his own participation in the study being cut from the text. “His sexual stamina is off the charts. Refractory period non-existent. Including him would’ve completely skewed our data,” Gini recounts, doing her best Elle Woods. “No wonder his fiance left him. Poor girl couldn’t keep up.” And maybe she takes the sales pitch a step too far for believability, but it’s worth it for this line: “Bob Drag is one long and large erection.” WHY DOES THIS MATTER, HE PUBLISHES BOOKS. Men are ridiculous.

Bill Masters is kind of ridiculously smitten with his ex wife. He’s back at the house and not even PLAYING good dad, just being one. He tucks the kids, leaving Libby to rolls her joint in peace. Bill looks around the house for chores to do, and there’s not a hint of guilt anywhere. He’s suddenly realized that being responsible in some way for the happiness and quality of life of his family isn’t the prison he always thought it was. Libby’s become quite handy herself though (“I’m not helpless.”), so the next task can take place in their old bedroom. Libby’s got a list and she’s down to check another box. “What we did the other night. I gather that there’s a way that we can do it to each other at the same time,” she explains. “I believe there’s even a number for it.” Time to chart some waters.

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“We’ve kissed each other’s bruises.” – Masters of Sex Recap – Coats or Keys

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 4
“Coats or Keys”
Posted by Kim

With Masters of Sex moving into the late 60s/early 70s, we all knew this one was coming. The Swingers Party. One only need to look at the contents of the fan fiction on my iPad (threesomes in the first 20 pages, y’all. That’s some good shit.) to know that I’m not prudish but I have to say that the concept of a party where everyone goes to switch up their sexual partners REALLY pushes the boundaries of my squeamishness. Maybe it’s because, like our buddy Art, I am a romantic and believe in monogamy. Maybe it’s because I have a terrible ex-boyfriend who had multiple girlfriends in addition to me, making me an unwitting and unwilling participant in a polyamorous relationship. Maybe it’s just because I’m a jealous person who doesn’t like to share. (KIMMIE DOESN’T SHARE SEX PARTNERS.) Whatever it is, I know that I wouldn’t be caught dead at a swingers party because the very concept goes against everything in my nature. I’m not making a judgement at people who participate in polyamory, if it works for them. Everyone has their own sexual boundaries and should be free to explore them, as long as you are open with your partner. To borrow a lesson from my life coach Amy Poehler: great for you, not for me.

All of that said, “Coats or Keys” was the most purely enjoyable episode of Masters of Sex in a long time. In our live tweet of the episode, Sage compared it to the fantastic Dawson’s Creek episode “Sex, She Wrote,” in which the gang has to deduce just who had sex the previous night based on a mysterious letter. “Coats or Keys” opens in a similar manner, showing us the aftermath of the party, leaving us in the dark as to how all of our characters got there. We see Lester passed out in his car, with the windows fogged up and a phone number scrawled in the condensation. We see Virginia calling for a cab and a mysterious hand sporting a wedding band dangling her keys. She later wanders through the wrecked living room and picks up an abandoned black and white coat. We see Bill in his boxers with his shirt half unbuttoned issuing an ultimatum to an unseen person. WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?

Flashback to 24 hours before where we see Art and Nancy making final preparations for the party that night. Nancy is making a final number count and stressing about whether or not Bill is coming that night (he’s not) and whether or not Virginia knows she’s supposed to bring a date (she does). WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION: why the hell did they invite Virginia, THEIR BOSS, to a swingers party? And why the paranoia about Bill being there? That’s some shady shit, my friends. I don’t trust these two at all, even if the episode really endeared me to Art by the end.

At the office, we see HOW everyone ends up at the party. Bill has the kids that night. Gini and Libby have a movie date, only planning on making a drive-by appearance at the party. Gini invites Lester, who in turn (I assume) invites Betty. They all think it’s just going to be a normal party (because why wouldn’t you?) and it’s adorable. Libby storms into the office (wearing a familiar black and white plaid coat) to yell at Bill about the divorce guilt-gift dog that he got the kids that SHE now has to take care of. Just a typical day at the Masters and Johnson clinic, really.

At the party, no one seems to take notice of Nancy’s sudden panic that Gini’s plus one is Libby, therefore throwing off her precise numbers (nor do they notice her relief when she learns that one man came alone because he and his wife broke up). Libby goes on the prowl for single guys, chatting up said divorced guy and indulging in many cocktails and some casual pot. She’s then cockblocked by Graham, who I once had such high hopes for, but is proving to just be a sleazy douchebag. He’s incredibly smug when he realized that Libby has no idea what kind of party she’s attending and makes lewd comments about his own date’s Beaver (coat). GROSS. Lester bemoans the fact that Jane is cheating on him to every single woman he comes in contact with. And Gini’s carefully constructed lie about her marriage to Dan comes perilously close to collapsing when she encounters a couple that KNOWS him and is supposed to be having drinks with him and his wife the next week. WHOOPS. I love that, unlike in episode 2, when Betty confronts Gini about this, she doesn’t show any rage or judgement. She’s simply like “Gurl, you can’t keep this up, you have to tell people.” She warns Gini (who went straight for the whiskey after telling Betty the full truth) that it will be better that Bill finds out about it directly from her as opposed to hearing it through the grapevine. (Of course, she has no idea that Bill actually KNOWS.) Gini tells her that she’s working up to it and Betty replies that there is no time like the present, as Bill has just arrived at the party.

Do you guys think Libby intentionally shuffled the kids off on the night Bill was supposed to have them so Bill could get to the house and see the havoc the dog has wreaked? Because I sure as hell do and passive-aggressively WELL PLAYED, Libby. I live for this shit. “It must have slipped my mind, Bill,” she says, not so innocently. “I’m sorry, Bill. Did I selfishly inconvenience you? Did I thoughtlessly capitulate to the children without any concern for how it affected you?” Between Graham and Bill, Libby’s buzz is sufficiently killed, so she storms out of the party, leaving her coat behind (AHA!). Bill follows and they continue to argue as Libby drunkenly searches for her car. Bill insists that he drive her home while Libby argues that Bill doesn’t even have a license to do so. “I think the options are I risk going to jail or you risk ending up in a ditch.” “How long do you think they’d put you away for?” Me, I’m just like “GO HOME AND HAVE ANGRY AND HOT EX-SEX PLEASE.”

Back inside, the party is FINALLY getting started, as Nancy and Art bring out the pile of all the ladies’ coats for the men to choose from. Gini, Betty, and Lester’s reactions are PRICELESS. (“It’s a fucking key party with coats.” “Holy shit.” “What does that mean?” “It means, Lester, dear, your night is about to get much better.”) Art, being the host, opts to choose first. He pulls a white coat from the pile with a flourish…and it’s Virginia’s. Aw, shit. She tries to hang back, basically praying that someone else steps forward, but after a long moment comes forward and claims her coat, giving the eye roll of the century. “Enjoy him,” Nancy purrs. EW. Lester takes his turn but the woman whose coat he pulls begs off for a pass. POOR LESTER YOU GUYS. Meanwhile, Betty has somehow managed to get her coat out of the pile and she thrusts it into the hands of the obviously gay piano player. “I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but I’m not trying to get into your pants. Look, if it were up to me, I’d be out the door, but my ride has apparently up and disappeared right at the moment that everyone has lost their mind and decided to start playing sexual roulette.” Straight people, amirite?

source: beautyandthemess.tumblr.com

source: beautyandthemess.tumblr.com

Naturally, Virginia is furious and plans on leaving as soon as she finds her keys. (Would she have been had someone other than Art taken her coat? Discuss.) Art tries to throw the whole bar run-in in her face but she snaps that it is her PRIVATE life. She also brings up the fact that she is among co-workers, himself included, and it’s not appropriate. “You know, I think the damage is done whether we mess around or not. If you leave in two minutes or two hours, it’s not gonna change what people think.” And this, my friends, is why you never party with casual work acquaintances without doing though research first.

Gini’s ranting is interrupted by Nancy’s orgasmic moaning in the next room (seriously, she got there RIGHT AWAY with the sex moans, damn, slow your roll.) and Art flinches ever so slightly and something clicks in Virginia. She sees that Art is clearly trying to be okay with what’s going on in the next room, so she apologizes that he has to hear it. “That’s not my wife,” he says. “She’s someone else with him. She’s pretending.” Sounds like someone is trying to rationalize away the pain, yes? “It’s just gears and pistons. She doesn’t care about him. It’s a game.” OH, ART. It sounds like he’s given himself this kind of pep talk before and it’s heartbreaking. Gini gently asks if he pretends too and he replies that he’s pretending to enjoy it. UGH. “Is it impossible to believe that she’s into it and I’m not?” Gini wonders why he DOES it then and honestly, same. That’s why I can’t wrap my head around swinging. It’s one thing to explore kinks with your partner (and it should be done) but it’s an entirely different thing when the kinks involve other people because people and feelings can’t be boxed, no matter how much you tell yourself that it’s “just sex”.

Art tells Gini that he knew this about Nancy going in. He knew that she didn’t believe in monogamy and he knew that she wanted him to sleep with other women so she would feel less guilty about wanting other men. Sure, if he knew that from the start and thought he could handle it, that’s fine. But surely at some point he has the right to say that this isn’t working for him, right? Clearly the arrangement is hurting him and no matter how much he loves Nancy, he should take care of himself, even if that means ending the relationship. RIGHT? (I also have to take a moment to praise Jeremy Strong’s performance this entire episode. There is SO MUCH going on beneath the surface here and he expertly shows the cracks beneath Art’s confident facade. He’s so vulnerable with Gini, it physically pains me.)

Art ponders that perhaps separating sex and love is too modern of a concept, which causes Gini to scoff. That’s how Gini LIVES, after all, or at least it’s how she claims to live. (Personally, I think it’s all a defense mechanism and a way for her to feel like she’s in control of her life.) “I’m taking care of myself, partaking in pleasure when I choose to, without romantic encumbrances.” She claims that there are infinite ways to engage in sex without love and Art asks her to tell him and he’s being entirely serious. (THIS POOR GUY.) Gini’s answer is SO her too. It’s such an accurate picture of how she sees herself. “You want to test your wattage, see if you can turn a guy’s head enough so all other women recede into the background. And in bed, you want to be the best he’s ever had so no other woman can compare. Can you leave a mark that’s indelible? That’s the challenge. You dazzle them, and then you leave them ruined. Or you just want to get laid because it feels good or there’s nothing on TV.” Nancy continues to wail in the background and every moan is like a punch in Art’s gut and you see his resolve rapidly crumbling. “Just talk to me about…fuck…anything,” he begs Virginia. “Art, you’re a romantic,” she replies. “That’s…I’m so sorry.”

Meanwhile, Bill and Libby arrive home, where Bill left the mess that guilt-gift puppy Baxter made untouched. Naturally, this sets Libby off because she sees it as just another mess that Bill has left her to clean up. “You don’t get to blame me for everything. You know, not everything I do deserves to be seen as a slap in the face to you. I’m not making decisions to deliberately hurt you,” Bill fires back at her accusations. While Libby DOES have a point in regards to the dog, I love that Bill stands up for himself here. They are both doing their best here and they are getting nowhere by being angry at each other. Bill doesn’t want to live in this constant state of anger and despite her decapitation fantasies, I think Libby doesn’t want to keep this up either. So Bill offers her three wishes that he will abide by in order to make things better. The first two are easy. One, she doesn’t want to always be the bad guy with the kids AKA don’t give any more guilt gifts. Two, she doesn’t want to be treated like a piece of business. I think it’s so telling of Libby’s character that she’s perfectly willing to postpone the divorce to help Bill’s legal troubles. She just wants to be treated like a person and she wants Bill to come directly to her instead of speaking through Graham. And the third thing? “I want you to go down on me.” I LITERALLY SCREAMED. “I want to know what it feels like and I want you to do something for the sole purpose of giving me pleasure.” YAS GIRL OH MY GOD.

God Bless everything good in the world because Bill actually DOES it. And her response when he’s done? “Thanks.” I LIVE. She basically pat him on the head and told him he did a good job and then left him with blue balls. (“Is that uncomfortable?” “Just, you know, a tad.” “Good.” MY QUEEN.) Aside from the blue balls, Bill gets a little pissy at her reaction because he just gave her an orgasm and she’s still mad at him. Why? “Why? Because that was great. That was great, okay? We could’ve been doing that for the past 20 years, and we never did it once.” Bill babbles that it seemed like Libby never wanted to try things which is infuriating because it’s clear he never wanted to SHOW her things. She was a virgin when they got married, she didn’t KNOW any better. But the point is that he DID and he kept sex polite and sterile between them. (Madonna/Whore complex much?) She didn’t know what she was missing, so she didn’t know what she was missing out on until she found it with someone other than her husband. “I am actually a carnal woman, Bill. I want a man to tear my clothes off, and I want to have sex in the shower, and if I am gonna go to a five-hour charity dinner, at some point, I want to be felt up under the goddamn table.”  How endearing and infuriating was it when Bill replied that he WOULD have felt her up under the table? Bill and Libby are just a sad case of a woman not knowing she had the right to demand passion and a man too emotionally stunted to give it to her. They are both at fault for what went wrong with them and it’s so refreshing to see them realize that. “We did our best,” Bill says, kissing her hand. “We made three children. And I loved you, Libby. Maybe not in the right way, maybe not enough. But know that I loved you.” Then finally finally FINALLY these two have some hot and passionate sex. Better late than never?

source: invisibleicewands.tumblr.com
Later, Bill and Libby have some post-coital munchies (“I have never been hungrier in my entire life. Why is that?” “Well, you worked up an appetite.”) and the air between them is so much lighter and open that I barely recognize them. It’s amazing. Bill says he’s going to walk home so he can do some thinking about what happened between them. “Let’s not make too much of it,” Libby says, offering him a pickle. “Let’s not make too little,” Bill replies. Guys, I don’t know what do to with an emotionally open Bill Masters, it’s a brand new world. Bill and Libby are FLIRTING with each other, for the love of Christ. It’s so much. I know it’s not going to last, obviously, but I sure as hell am gonna revel in this world of what could have been between these two. Libby gets all in Bill’s face like she’s gonna go for round two but instead she tells Bill to take Baxter for a pee. Thus, we now know who Bill is issuing the ultimatum to in the opening of the episode: his guilt gift puppy, who really IS damn cute.

Back at the House of the Sexual Revolution, Nancy’s moans have stopped but Art and Gini continue to dissect their respective situations over whiskey. “Doesn’t a part of you think that if she truly loved you that you’d be enough for her?” It’s important to note that Gini’s question lacks any trace of malice. She just genuinely wants to know and all the barriers between them are down, so why not ask the important questions. Art tells her that he knows what he signed up for. Gini points out that deals can and should be renegotiated when they are not equally beneficial. “You tell me, Virginia, when is it ever absolutely equal between partners anyway? Huh? Where you both feel exactly the same thing for each other at the same time, in the same amount?” WELP. Gini confesses that she’s ALWAYS been the one who has been loved more and for the first time in her life I think she realizes how sad that is. In the name of dazzling all the men in her life, she’s kept them from seeing her flaws. She’s enjoyed being on the pedestal and is just now realizing what a lonely place that is. So Gini turns to Art and while she’s asking about Nancy, she’s also asking about herself. ” You think you know her, but you don’t. Not really. If you really did know her, her true self, then maybe she wouldn’t be so dazzling?”

source: invisibleicewands.tumblr.com
ART’S ANSWER THOUGH. Goddamn, this episode is poetry, I don’t care that I’m quoting it so much. “Your husband loves you, right? And what makes you worthy of his love? Is it because your respective infidelities cancel each other out? Maybe he knows who you really are not your body in bed or your mind at work, but the secret you, the person you don’t want anyone to see, much less acknowledge yourself. A woman who is fucked up, and he loves you anyway. Isn’t that true love? Someone who’ll kiss your bruises the same way he kisses your lips, who’s on your side, not when it’s easy, but when it’s damn near impossible, when you yourself don’t think you deserve it?” Holy shit if that’s not one of the best descriptions of love I’ve ever heard. Art’s words cut Virginia to her very soul and her face is like “What if I’ve been wrong this whole damn time?” Time for more whiskey.

Virginia and Art sprawl on the bed, over the covers, and Gini tries to joke that Art has gotten her into bed at last and this whole reluctant swinger thing is an act. Then Art drops the truth that we knew all along: he picked Virginia’s coat on purpose, knowing that there was no risk of them having sex. “You’re my boss, and bosses shouldn’t sleep with their employees. Not ever. Isn’t that right?” Okay that raises a SLIGHT red flag because it feels like he’s fishing for info? I want to believe that his motives are pure, after how they’ve laid their souls bare but I DON’T KNOW. Virginia clearly thinks it’s a safe space because she admits that it DOES happen. She doesn’t name names obviously, but who else would she be talking about if not Bill? Art asks her to indulge him a little roleplay so she can tell him how it happens. And that’s how we get an entire recap of Bill and Virginia’s relationship through HER eyes and it’s fucking beautiful.

source: michaelsheen.tumblr.com
What’s so beautiful about this entire scene is that it is like she putting words to her feelings for the very first time. It’s all the thoughts that have been in the back of her mind but she hasn’t allowed herself to voice. She’s WAY more self-aware than she allows herself to be and the whole time I just wished that she had the courage to share all of this with Bill AGES ago. At the same time, it’s like she’s actually realizing just how much Bill loved her. Sure, she heard him say it but she never really allowed herself to process his meaning. “You see past the person that I pretend to be, that I present to the world, confident, competent in all things, to the person I am. Afraid that I’m average. The ugly parts don’t scare you away.” Art questions if this theoretical person is a saint for dealing with all of this which spurs Virginia to another realization/crystalization of her thoughts. “No. You’re broken too. You’re afraid and insecure. But I know all the broken places. You’ve shown them to me.” “So we’ve kissed each other’s bruises,” Art says gently, harkening back to their earlier conversation about true love. “We have,” she replies softly. And then Art says the thing we all know to be true. The truth that Virginia has been running from for a decade. “Maybe he’s the guy for you, Virginia.” MY HEART.

source: michaelsheen.tumblr.com
In the harsh light of the next morning, Virginia surveys the damage of the previous night but I also like to think she has a new outlook on things. Perhaps she is ready to voice her feelings to the person who needs to hear them the most. She picks up Libby’s abandoned coat and takes it to her house to return it. Bill opens the door, in his boxers and with his sex hair, and it’s like a punch to the stomach. “Libby left her coat,” she babbles. Bill plays his cards so fucking close to the chest here because he keeps his expression completely and totally blank and pleasant. “I’ll see she gets it.” Gini starts to walk away but stops. “Dan and I aren’t married. We never got married.” Perhaps she’s bursting out with this at last because she fears that Bill isn’t waiting around for her? Perhaps the cold hard truth of him being at his ex-wife’s in his underwear makes her realize that even IF he’s the guy for her, he’s not going to know that unless she tells him. And Bill definitely doesn’t give her the reaction she was expecting. He doesn’t fall into her arms sobbing that they can finally be together. He simply tells her that he knows. That he’s known for a long time. HER FACE THOUGH. Lizzy Caplan is so subtle as just about every emotion possible flits over her face. “I’m really sorry,” she says…because what else is there to say in this moment? AND HERE’S WHERE IT HURTS. “What are you sorry for? I’ll see you at the office, Virginia.” And he shuts the door in her face as if she hasn’t (in her eyes) just dropped a bombshell. One is the loneliest number indeed.

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Case Studies

  • We got a follow-up with last week’s Dom/Sub gone wrong couple. In individual sessions with Virginia and Bill, Franny and Gary delve into the reasons why things went down the way they did. It turns out Franny had a very domineering mother who emasculated her father on a regular basis. (There’s a whole conversation about people ordering for their partners in restaurants and it’s all gross. Honestly, who finds that appealing? I can order my own damn Lo Mein, thank you very much.) In her desperation to NOT be like her mother, she wanted Gary to “act like a real man” by just taking what he wanted from her so SHE could be the weak one. Conversely, Gary wants a respectful “Honey I’m home” kind of marriage where the husband always asks for sex first because his father was abusive and he doesn’t want to become that kind of man. Yeesh. “They couldn’t be more wrong for each other,” Bill ponders in a post-mortem with Virginia. “Each one wanting something the other is constitutionally incapable of giving them.”
  • ” Well, I’m not sure that a woman who’s truly demure would insist on being dominated.” Excuse you, Virginia.
  • Virginia blatantly seeking praise in her post-session discussion with Bill made me a little sad. Even in their strained relationship, she is still seeking affirmation from him.
  • I really hope we explore more of how Betty is dealing with Helen being closeted to her family.
  • I love that Betty and Lester are so work married they finish each other’s sob stories.
  • “You’d think prim and proper, wouldn’t you, Ike, just based on outward appearances? But I am telling you, this one, inside, is a roiling cauldron of rage.” I may hate Graham, but I love this.
  • Twins Kyle and Lyle WERE GROSS. (Also how did they factor into Nancy’s numbers, considering they are a twofer?)
  • “May I be frank, Bill? I fantasize about you getting decapitated.”
  • “But first, put the dog in the bathtub.”
  • Fashion moment of the episode: Libby’s floral bra and slip ensemble.
  • Lester ended up getting some after all and it’s glorious. He sits on the curb outside the party, dejected and smoking when he’s joined by the cocktail waitress from the party. He tries to play everything off as the appetizers not sitting well with him, but she knows better. “You need to stop wallowing in it and just go punch the guy. Be better than those people and their protest against boredom.” She can stay.
  • THIS LINE THOUGH. And look at Lester’s sweet face.

  • But seriously, I love how she basically tells Lester that this is middle-aged bored upper middle class white people nonsense and he should pay no mind to it. These people aren’t radicals. They aren’t doing anything important or standing up for what’s right. They are simply fucking each other’s partners because they’re bored with their lives and who wants a part of that? AND THEN THEY DO IT IN THE BACK OF HIS CAR and I guarantee it was hotter than any of those assholes at the party. My favorite thing was when she asked him to say something sexy and he said “Civil disobedience” and she came. BLESS.
  • I love how Betty spent the rest of the party singing with Guy the Pianist. More opportunities for Tony Winner Annaleigh Ashford to sing please.
  • We also learn that Betty sleeps at the office whenever Helen’s family is in town and that she bills those hours as overtime. Guy crashes at the clinic with her and then Betty observes him answering the phone in the morning. OH MY GOD CAN SHE HIRE HIM. That woman needs an assistant like she needs air.

What did YOU think of “Coats or Keys”? Let us know in the comments!

“People can’t live with a lie forever.” – Masters of Sex Recap – The Pleasure Protocol

Source: invisibleicewands

Source: invisibleicewands

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 3
“The Pleasure Protocol” 

Posted by Sage

A traveling businessman sits at a bar and tells a beautiful woman about the last girl to break his heart. He’s looking for some recognition, maybe a little sympathy, definitely to be asked to go home with her.

Virginia: Please allow me to apologize on behalf of all brunettes.
Lee: Yeah, well, she was one of those people who leaves a trail of wreckage in her wake and never looks back.

Virginia isn’t one of those people. She looks back. Maybe Evil Brunette #1 has the right idea, because this fixation on the past is rotting Virginia from the inside out. Until now, Bill has always seemed the lonelier of the pair, shutting people out as he does. But Gini has raced ahead of her partner in that department. She is well and truly alone at this moment, and, despite the dick moves she’s been making because of that, it’s actually quite sad. Virginia keeps adding bricks to this wall of lies she’s built to protect herself. And we’re rapidly approaching the moment when it’ll all come crumbling down. Will it crush her, or will she sidestep the destruction like she tends to do?

At last, “The Pleasure Protocol” answered the Dan question. As I thought, it was Gini who did the breaking of the heart. She confesses to another businessman – as unimportant as the rest – that she purposely sabotaged the relationship on the very day that she was meant to become Mrs. Logan. Virginia picked up a man at the tables, brought him up to the Vegas hotel room she shared with her fiance, and let him find them there. Why? “I realized if I didn’t do something drastic, then in four hours I would marry a man who didn’t know me,” she reasons. Seems to me that sitting him down and saying “I don’t want to get married yet, Dan,” would have served the same purpose without the side effect of sticking a knife right in the heart of a man who’s always been supportive and loving to her. BUT THAT’S JUST ME.

The irony of her distancing is that Virginia so wants to be known. Think back to that beautiful scene from season 2 where Gini leans on Bill and cries to him over the loss of Lillian.

Virginia: Sometimes I would look across our office and think, “Mm, my God. She is so ferocious.” But she’s alone. And she’s my friend. And I don’t have a lot of those. And somehow Lillian snuck around the wall. And now she won’t even listen to me. Lillian, who, she – she knows me.
Bill: I know you.

Until Lillian (and Bill, for that matter), I don’t think Virginia realized how thrilling and comforting it is to have someone in your life who really knows the ins and outs of you. She’s powered through her life and taken out barriers because – for as long as the audience has known her – she’s been stubborn and independent as hell. That strategy has served her professional needs better than it has the personal, which is why her relationship with Bill is so intense and consuming. She let herself be known, and it was addictive.

Virginia never let Dan in, and now she blames him for it. Somewhere underneath that rationalizing, she knows the disintegration of their relationship is ultimately her fault. It’s why she calls him in the middle of the night and the middle of a bottle of chardonnay. (“You’re probably wondering why not speak to a girlfriend or an analyst, instead of burdening your home phone answering machine,” she jokes. A. She doesn’t have any of the first thing, and B. She seduced and blackmailed the second one. 0 for 2.) Gini calls to ask for the absolution that she craves while trying to frame it as closure that will benefit Dan. She’s just trying to help! But Dan’s already decided what’ll be good for him, and that’s never speaking to Virginia again. She can’t accept the rejection that only answered her own. But Gini’s forced to face her own neurosis when Dan’s wife Alice shows up at the clinic. SHE’S been listening to the messages at least, because Alice and Dan reconciled.

Is she there to gloat? A little. But I also believe that Alice does feel sympathy for Virginia in spite of their competitive dynamic. (“If anyone knows the sound of a lonely woman, it’s me.”) Gini only wants sympathy from certain people, however, and it infuriates her to be getting it from a woman who she has always condescended to and pitied.


Source: michaelsheen

Source: michaelsheen

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“It’s only a boundary if you allow it to be one.” – Masters of Sex Recap – Inventory

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Source: invisibleicewands.tumblr.com

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 2
Posted by Kim

We’re two episodes into season four of Masters of Sex and we’re seeing a major paradigm shift in the characters of Bill and Virginia. Bill has always been the more emotionally constipated of the two, stuffing down his desires until he bursts (usually with devastating consequences). Virginia, while just as damaged as Bill, has at least always seemed to be in tune with her feelings and her actions. So far this season, we’re seeing the opposite. Be it through his reluctant participation in AA or simply the fact that he’s hot rock bottom, so far Bill has been more open to exploring his emotions and the havoc his past actions have wreaked. On the other end of the spectrum, Virginia seems to be spiraling and putting up her walls even higher as she lives in denial of JUST how much of a mess her life is. She’s ALWAYS been calculating in her actions but everything she’s done in this season so far has been cold, even cruel at times. I’ve always been on Virginia’s side but I found her actions in “Inventory” to be incredibly hard to swallow. This is NOT the Virginia Johnson I’ve come to know and love over the past three seasons. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There is one thing Bill and Virginia have in common right now: their children hate them. Johnny shows up at the clinic only to find that his father is living there, having grown tired of paying for a hotel. Johnny cuts right to the chase: he doesn’t want to see Bill and neither do his siblings, so he needs to stop pestering Libby about it. “Why do you want to see us anyway? You don’t like us.” Ouch. Bill insists that is not true but it’s merely a case of too little, too late. The damage is done. Johnny is right, after all. Bill has shown little to no interest in spending time with his children up until now. Now that he does, his children don’t want to see HIM. He promises Johnny that he’s in the process of finding an apartment but Johnny has no interest in Chinese dinners once a week with his Dad. (But Johnny, sesame chicken is DELICIOUS.) Bill offers to walk Johnny to school (since he can’t drive, as his son disdainfully points out) but Johnny declines him. “That would just be the walk of shame.” Did I say ouch already? OUCH.

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Despite all our pleas that she go to boarding school, Tessa is still around to sulk and pass judgement. Gini tries to play off her escapades in Las Vegas as a simple vacation, plying Tessa with a new charm bracelet and talking about the gift she bought her father. Tessa is having none of it and she relays how HARD it was for them while she was away. “Do you know that Lisa cried six hours straight last week? I mean, her face was red, she was covered in drool. It got so bad that we had to call Libby.” That’s just salt in the wound, isn’t it? But Gini just brushes it all under the rug, as she is wont to do. Then Tessa twists the knife by saying that she’s spoken to Dan and we FINALLY get some answers about just what happened in Vegas. Gini and Dan didn’t get married. Gini’s been lying to everyone. WHAT HAPPENED? Who dumped who? (It was Dan, right? He KNEW that Gini was waiting for Bill to stop her.) These are things we need to know.

Tessa calls her mother out for lying and Gini stumbles about saying she was just waiting for the right time, which is a big load of bullshit. She also asks Tessa to keep up the charade because it protects her. That’s the second time Gini’s said that, by the way. The thing is…Gini was married to George and it didn’t “protect her” so what’s the difference to this fake marriage to Dan? Is it because Bill was threatened by him? Because Bill knew that Dan was clearly the better option? Is it because SHE would be faithful to Dan and not George? Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck her reasoning is and neither does Tessa. “What you need, mom, is a shrink.” DING DING DING.

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At the clinic, things aren’t any better for Virginia. Betty DiMello is still 500% done with all this shit but her reaction to Virginia is significantly cooler than that to her reaction to Bill last week. (When it comes down to it, Betty’s always going to be #TeamBill because if there is one thing Betty DiMello is, it’s loyal.) Annaleigh Ashford’s “Bitch Please” face is a thing of glory as Betty hands Virginia her stack of messages. “Some of them I told you were on sabbatical, some of them I told you were on safari.
You’ll have to sort them out yourself.” BLESS. Betty also smugly informs Virginia that Bill’s prospective new partner, Nancy LeVeaux (who apparently interned with Barton even though we’ve never seen her before) is here for her interview. Nancy is tall, blonde, and sports perfect cat-eye eyeliner. Virginia basically hates her on sight, so she puts her down immediately, calling her “Ms.” instead of “Dr.”. THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN.

What happens next is the Lady equivalent of a dick measuring contest. (Boob measuring contest? Ovary measuring? What’s the equivalent?) Gini has a reluctant Betty and Lester roleplay an intake interview for Nancy to audition with. (Lester, when told he had secondary impotence: “Again?!”) Gini assures Nancy that she is only there to observe but of course she butts in before Nancy has even managed to complete a sentence. Nancy takes it all in stride though and gamely takes all of Virginia’s criticisms. When Betty Mrs. McGillycuddy expresses her issues (“It doesn’t fit.” DYING.), Nancy says they will proceed with a physical exam. When Gini stops her to say that she should take a sexual history first, Nancy sweetly says that all of the “symptoms” point toward vaginismus, which is probably causing the impotence, as Gini herself pointed out in an interview last year. “Yes…that’s true,” Virginia stammers. POINT NANCY.

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In the observation room, Gini and Bill trade barbs about schedules and who’s to blame for their current predicament. (Answer: they both are.) They can’t even make eye contact and it’s PAINFUL. Gini disses Nancy’s qualifications, which is rich considering she has not degrees herself. She even goes as far as demanding that Lester install recording equipment everywhere because THAT will certainly help things. Betty interrupts them, clutching a massive bouquet of roses for Virginia. Virginia pointedly asks for Betty to read the card and if looks could kill, Gini would be dead and buried. The roses are supposedly from Dan, causing Bill to slump out of the room, mumbling about making Nancy a final offer. This is the last straw for Betty. “I’ve spent the past two months tap-dancing as fast as I can trying to keep this business together with spit and Scotch tape. And in all that time I didn’t hear so much as a peep from you,” she spits. (Me: YAS BETTY TELL HER.) Gini tries to placate her by fake apologizing but Betty isn’t letting her off the hook. It’s time for a (well deserved) raise and Gini is going to give it to her. Why? “See, I have been working here for ten years. And I know your handwriting from a mile away. Now, I don’t know why you’re sending yourself flowers from Dan, and I’m not asking. What I am asking for is a little bit of support.” Basically, Betty knows that Gini is Cher Horowitz-ing and she’s going to use it to her advantage. Have I mentioned that Betty is my hero lately? She’s my hero.

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source: invisibleicewands.tumblr.com

At AA, the step of the week is “taking inventory” aka taking responsibility for your actions by taking good hard look at yourself aka the title of the episode. Bill still thinks he’s above it all, rolling his eyes at Louise as other attendees rattle off their lists. Yes, the guy speaking that night was doing the list wrong, by listing all the people who wronged HIM rather than the other way around, but, as Louise points out to Bill, at least he’s trying. “Change is a process, not an event,” she reminds Bill. Bill thinks he’s FINE though. His business is back on track, he’s hired Nancy, and now he’s going to go hammer out a custody agreement with Libby. He’s a success story. “And where are you living these days, Bill? ‘Cause I’ve been picking you up and dropping you off at your office almost like you’re sleeping there, but that can’t be true. I mean, for a success story like you.” I AM HERE FOR NIECY NASH CALLING HIM ON HIS SHIT EVERY WEEK. Especially in all of those fabulous outfits.

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“I should have put you first.” – Masters of Sex Recap – Full Ten Count

Masters of Sex Season 3, Episode 10
“Full Ten Count” 

Posted by Kim

Season Three of Masters of Sex saw Bill Masters descend into what could only be called madness as he desperately tried to hold on to Virginia Johnson. Rather than just own up to his true feelings, Bill spent the season manipulating Virginia into staying with him, staying with the clinic, and staying with their work. The tighter he tried to hold on to her, the more he pushed her into the arms of Dan Logan, a man who’s everything Bill is not. (One would think that after working with Virginia for a decade that he would KNOW this approach was the exact OPPOSITE of what he should do to “keep” Virginia, but like I said, Bill went nuts.) The penultimate episode of Season Three, “Party of Four,” was quite perhaps one of the most devastating episodes of Masters of Sex as Gini FINALLY opened her eyes to Bill’s desperate machinations. He’s been on thin ice with her for a long time and the combination of steamrolling her with the surrogate program and the blatant relationship sabotage with Dan and his wife at that disastrous dinner BROKE something between them. I’m going to just quote my brilliant partner here cause she really said it better than I ever could: “All season, she’s humored Bill though she’s rapidly lost patience with him because she feared losing her place in the study. But she could care the fuck less now. His manipulations are done in the daylight now, and she finds that the life she’s too small for is the one where she’s the crutch of a broken and brilliant man. She’s reinvented herself before, and maybe it’s time for another go.” So “Full Ten Count” opens with Gini ready, ready, ready, ready to ruuuuuuuuuuuuun and Bill scrambling, once again, to keep his rapidly crumbling house of cards together.

It’s so fitting that “Full Ten Count” opens with Bill having a nightmare where he is in the boxing ring getting the shit beat out of him whilst his father and Johnny observe with disdain. Boxing has been a running theme in the series, from the MAGNIFICENT Bill and Gini bottle episode “Fight” in Season Two to Bill and his brother beating the shit out of each other in “Below the Belt”. One can easily blame this on Bill’s Daddy issues, considering boxing was one of his dad’s great loves, but it also serves as a perfect metaphor for Bill Masters just not being able to accept when he’s been beaten. Bill’s dogged determination and fierce obsession with control is what makes him so frustrating (and amazing) as a character. “You’re a bum, Masters!” Dream dad declares. “You’re beat. A man has got to know when he’s beat!” Season Three was one long exercise in CRINGING at Bill’s refusal to admit that he’s down for the count. He is the ESSENCE of the “This pigeon isn’t giving up” meme and it’s painful because you just scream from the comfort of your couch: “LET IT GO, DUDE. YOU’RE BEATEN.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of Bill’s betrayal and Dan’s confession of love in New York, Gini is ready to get the heck out of dodge and leave them both behind. “Usually when things get tough, you dig in all the more,” her father gently observes. I think that’s hilarious because in everything other than her work, I think the exact opposite is true. ESPECIALLY when it comes to her love life. Gini, bless her light, tends to think avoidance is the best policy, so she’d rather run away that actually confront her feelings for the two married men in her life. “I keep waiting for everything to click into place,” she tells her Dad. “So I can say, finally, my life is exactly as it should be.” The thing with Virginia is that she KNOWS something is missing in her life and she’s not sure what it is. And so she’s going to run until she finds it. She would have been gone too, had it not been for Libby showing up on her doorstep with the news of the accusations against Bill. “It always comes down to the two of us, doesn’t it Gin? The two who can right the ship.” Does Bill actually KNOW how lost he would be without these two women who are always willing to clean up his messes? DOES HE? I mean clearly he knows he would be lost without Virginia, hence his desperate manipulation, but Libby? LIBBY IS THE ROCK AND THE GLUE AND EVERYTHING THAT HOLDS THIS MESS TOGETHER.

At the clinic, we get an awkward as hell elevator ride with Nora and Bill as they encounter each other for the first time since their grope session. Nora tries to give the “We were both consenting adults” speech but it rings false. Something evil is a-foot. Meanwhile, Nora’s Bible Beating Boyfriend corners Gini and tells her to get out while she still can. There’s SUCH an impending sense of doom, it’s like the whole thing is one Jenga piece away from crumbling. Betty is running around like the little Dutch girl trying to keep her fingers in the damn as the press conference presenting the new book stands as an immutable deadline. Gini confronts Bill about the allegations and insists that Bill just pay off Dennis’ family so they can make the whole thing go away. Bill stubbornly refuses to do so because he’s innocent and SURELY he can talk his way out of this, right? “Libby and I are aligned on this,” Virginia grits out, with ice in her veins. “Just write the check so we can get back to work.” Of course, the subtext of the whole scene is a giant “Fuck you” for putting EVERYTHING they’ve worked for at risk. Bill is all “You’re still upset about New York” and Gini’s like “I don’t want to talk about it” but she REALLY means “Fuck yes, I’m still upset.” Bill keeps trying to push, saying they’ve come through much worse and hey guess what as a GESTURE of their equality, he’s planning on dropping the MD from his name for the next book. Gini is basically like “How magnanimous of you. Sign the check.” She’s 100% done.

Later Nora corners Bill in the Surrogacy room and gives him the whole song and dance (with bonus Disney Eyes) about how her devotion to the program has led to her being behind on her rent. Bill stammers about saying that he’ll speak to her landlord but Nora is insistent. She needs money. She hasn’t been able to get a job because she’s working at the clinic six days a week. She doesn’t have anyone else to turn to. “I know things are slightly strained with us because of our recent…intimacies. Surely you want to make things right with me.” Bill forks over $200, all the while not knowing that Nora has had the microphone button pressed, allowing her “surrogate” to hear the whole conversation. Beth Greene, why do you hurt me so?

Fresh off a quick trip to Mexico, Dan arrives at the clinic, tired of Virginia dodging his calls. Gini flounders, saying she needs time, that everything that happened in New York was a lot to take in. “I wanted you to know that I meant what I said,” Dan says. “So I am now officially divorced.” Oh. THAT was unexpected. And wonderful. Dan Logan is a man of ACTION. He’s a man that follows through and he’s a man willing to open himself up and lay himself bare to Virginia, knowing that she could still reject him. Poor bastard. Gini plays the “It’s not us, it’s everything around us” in regards to her reluctance. And this is where Dan is so amazing: he tells Virginia that he understands the hold Bill has on her. He understands how much of her life Virginia has devoted to the clinic and her work and he would never ask her to leave it. In fact, he insists that she stay. “I don’t see how you and the work go together,” Virginia confesses. “I don’t see him ever accepting us.” THEN Dan drops the ultimate truth bomb. “It’s not up to him. Bill can never make you happy, not as a man to love. You know this. I know this. Virginia, I’m here because I love you and I want you to be my wife. But I can’t run after you, trying to make you see things you already know. That, I can’t do.”

Therein is the essence of the whole thing, isn’t it? This whole time Virginia has been so concerned about how actions affect BILL that she stopped putting her own happiness first. Dan isn’t demanding that she be with him or that she leave Bill and her work. He’s simply standing in front of her offering a chance at happiness if she’s willing to take it. It’s funny because in some respect, Dan is giving her an ultimatum. He’s telling her he’s not going to keep chasing her. She needs to decide what she wants. He hopes she’ll choose him but he’s not going to manipulate her into doing so. That’s the difference between the two men in Virginia’s life and that difference is everything. He just wants Virginia to make a definitive choice. He SEES the constant state of inertia she’s in and he just wants to shake her out of it, even if it means she doesn’t pick him. “I was stuck in my marriage a long time, years longer than I ever should have been. And it was because of you, because of my love for you, that I finally got the courage to leave. Now I just want to do the same for you. Give you the strength to go. But only if you want me on the other end of it cause if not, then well. Then I will take my broken heart and go.” POOR BASTARD.

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“When the train is pulling out of the station…” – Masters Of Sex Recap

coat coat 2
Masters of Sex Season 3, Episode 11
“Party Of Four” 

Posted by Sage

Plotting every move, anticipating every counter move…there’s a far easier way to get what you want.

Dan Logan has always had Bill Masters’ number. Virginia thinks she know Bill better than anyone, but she fails to realize that – excepting Johnny perhaps – she is the person who Bill most fears seeing his true self. Every machination – every move in the chess game – is designed to prevent her from knowing the weakness that he finds so disgusting. He masks his real weakness (his love for her, and his helplessness in the face of it) with a false one, to tug at her sympathies. Bill exerts so much energy to keep Virginia in the dark that he has none left to hold the curtain closed to everyone else. Dan gets Bill – REALLY gets him – simply because Bill isn’t trying to sleep with him.

This was a devastating episode of Masters for every single character (besides Tessa, who’s having great fun at boarding school thanks to#SendTessaToBoardingSchool2K15), and that just feels right for the eve of a dramatic finale. We catch up with Bill and Virginia after their pitch meeting with their publisher for their second book. (“To Human Sexual Inadequacy!”) And though we didn’t see Bill “hijack” the meeting like Virginia says he did, we know how this refrain goes. The last episode went black on the most desperate version of Bill that we’ve seen. He’s truly lost it now; and anyone who’s spent three seasons with Bill Masters had to know that those unanswered phone calls to Gini’s home would lead to the kind of Hail Mary play that he thinks are an even swap for years of honesty and human decency. His master plan this time is to confront Virginia with Dan’s wife at an 8-course “celebratory” dinner in New York. Lord knows what exactly Bill thought this would accomplish. Did he think she’d come running into his arms at the sight of her? Virginia knows very well that Dan has a wife, as she tells her partner after they both stop pretending that her and Dan’s affair is anything but an open secret. If any moral oppositions she had to sleeping with married men outweighed desire and connection, then she wouldn’t have been with Bill for nigh ten years. Strategy and cluelessness meet in that man; and his attempts to play dumb for all but that 2-minute stand-off with Dan at the end of the episode made me want to punch him in his smug little face. (ILU Michael Sheen!)

judy greer

Judy Greer made her Masters debut this week as Alice Logan, and sister-girl is a broken spirit. Dan told Virginia earlier this season that he and his wife have “an understanding.” That’s an overstatement; he has affairs and does not deny them. Alice has no choice but to accept having a husband that cheats on her; she drinks, a lot, and if a strong, perceptive woman like Libby Masters has trouble walking away from her distracted and philandering husband, then poor drunk Alice doesn’t have a prayer. She’s become a bit of a monster in the process of watching her husband fall out of love with her. ( “You always like the ones that need fixing. Tell me, how is this one broken?”) But it offended me that Bill tries to align himself with her at the dinner table, as if he has the same right to indignation and bad behavior as the wronged woman. (“I’d like a glass of white wine, Dan. Do you have an objection to that?”) GINI IS NOT YOUR WIFE, BILL. She doesn’t owe him anything, but the whole dinner feels like he’s come to collect.

who you know 2 who you know
Back in St. Louis, Paul and Libby are trying to dial down the shine of their honeymoon phase, at least in front of the kids. The purpose of the “Johnny hates his dad” storyline – you know, the one that we write off in a bullet point at the end of every recap – finally made itself known this week. A detective shows up the Masters home while Bill is away and Paul is fixing the pipes (ALL the pipes. Heyooooo.) and he’s not there to discuss Bill’s slip with the double agent Bible thumping surrogate. (That’s going to come down hard on him in the finale, isn’t it?) Instead, the detective wants to talk with Johnny and he forces Libby to pull her child out of bed. Turns out that one of the girls who was at the lunch table when Johnny embarrassed Dennis with lies about his “broken penis” told her parents about the outburst, and now the entire school district wants to know what Bill is telling their children about their private parts and why. The interview scene was beautifully written; the bit where Johnny mirrored his mother’s words and speech pattern after the detective warned her to keep quiet spoke to how alien and uncomfortable conversations like this are for kids, how they intuitively seek direction from adults on how to behave, and how easily a poorly chosen word or an awkward speech pattern can be interpreted as something much larger and more devious. (Also, I die at the proud look Libby bestows on her son when he gives the cop the kid-friendly answer to the “what does your father do?” question, something that was obviously discussed and practiced.)

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“People are complicated.” – Masters of Sex Recap

Masters of Sex Season 3, Episode 10
“Through a Glass Darkly” 

Posted by Kim

In case you haven’t noticed (and I don’t know how this is possible, considering we’re being beaten over the head with it), Bill Masters has completely unraveled without the complete presence of Virginia Johnson.

This week’s episode literally opened with Bill hallucinating, as he saw Virginia in the parking garage.  She was wearing the red dress from the episode where he gave her the fur coat…perhaps the last time he felt she was truly his?  “If you can’t control yourself, how are you going to get control of HER?” his hallucination asks him, which is incredibly disturbing, to be honest.  Bill has always been a man who likes to be in control of everything around him and the fact that Gini falls into that category shows the extent of how truly fucked up this entire situation is.  The more Bill tries to control her, the more Virginia struggles to get away.  As Sage said last week, Bill may as well be drawing those bubble baths for Gini and Dan thanks to his pissing around her trying to mark his territory.  The only reason Gini hasn’t outright told Bill to fuck off is the fact that she’s terrified that Bill is going to shut her out of the work, which is the thing she holds dearest. She’s sneaking around with Dan, making up fake experiments just so she can explain away his presence, all because she’s afraid Bill’s going to take MORE from her and she doesn’t want to upset the delicate balance.  Tell me again why you guys think this is a healthy relationship?  Also Gini’s “He needs me, he depends on me” mentality reeks of Stockholm Syndrome, sorry not sorry.  (Dan: “He’s a child, you realize that?” Add “very observant and accurate” to the list of pros in the Dan Logan list.)

Bill’s hallucination also tells him “You set the trap, she’ll walk right into it. She always does.”  Just so we’re clear, let me reiterate that EVERYTHING Bill does in this episode is to ensnare Virginia into being with him.  Nothing about it is genuine, it’s all about “trapping” her.  (Just TALK to her, you emotionally stunted idiot.  JFC.) Thus, Bill changes his tactics this week, as he appeals to Virginia via the work.  Suddenly the surrogacy program, the very program that Bill has charged on with full steam ahead, Gini’s opinion be dammed, JUST CAN’T FUNCTION without Gini’s imput.  It’s pathetic really.  He’s not asking for her opinions because he values them.  He’s asking for them because he KNOWS that Gini will never be able to resist the work.  After observing a disastrous surrogate session with Lester, Bill gets Gini in the lab to design a solution for getting the female patients to focus on themselves rather than the person in front of them.  “I need your perspective, you can only offer that if you participate,” Bill says and I swear to GOD I can smell the desperation wafting from my television screen.  It’s all so awkward and I think it’s incredibly telling when Gini comes up with solution where the woman leans against her partner so she doesn’t have to see him.  She KNOWS what Bill’s motivations are and she can barely stand to look at him (“You think eye contact is a problem?”).  Sure, she gets off this time (unlike last week’s faked orgasm), but there is still an air of her doing this to placate him and her heart’s not in it at all.  They are doing this for science. HA.  Keep telling yourselves that, kids.

The inherent flaw in the surrogate program is the fact that no matter how much “protocol” you give, those messy little things called emotions will ALWAYS get in the way.  Gini and Bill’s solution for Lester’s sessions IS a good one but what they don’t count on is Lester balking and finally admitting he only joined to piss off Jane.  This admission is all Gini needs to rip Bill a new one regarding the program.  “You’re attempting to conduct an experiment with an infinite amount of variables and without any control. It’s chaos, Bill.” When she explodes about Bill trying to control chaos, she may as well be saying that she knows Bill is trying to control her and he needs to STOP.  And then when Bill (uncharacteristically) backs down immediately, she KNOWS he’s placating her and calls him on it.  It’s only then that Bill gets remotely close to being honest with her.  “You mean more to me than any research program, Virginia,” he says, willing her to understand his true meaning.  Sure, Virginia replies “That’s what I want too” when Bill pleads that he just wants it to be them again…but does she truly mean that?  I genuinely don’t know.

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