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.