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.
Of course, there was a whole lot going on with Virginia before going into that disastrous session. Earlier in the episode, Dan showed up at Gini’s house and found Tessa and Matt in flagrante delicto. This is what I love about Dan Logan: he could have easily been like “I was never here” when he found them, but instead he sat them down, smoldered at them, and made them wait until Virginia got home so she could confront them. He proved he was not a man to be trifled with when he confronted Matt saying “You want to be a real man? This is where it starts.” Over their trip to Vegas, Gini commented that Dan would have been a good father, and he continues to prove her right. But what is also great about how Dan handled this uncomfortable situation is that he didn’t try to interfere once Virginia got home. He didn’t judge her parenting, not did he freak out and leave as soon as she got home. Instead, he sat there silently supporting her and it was everything. Gini understandably freaked out over this situation and of COURSE Tessa made everything about how Gini is an absentee mother. ONE DAY, Tessa…ONE DAY I hope you understand how your mother was a trailblazer and the reason that YOU are able to pursue a career is because of women like her. Geez.
Look, the sex talk is never a comfortable thing, but Gini handled the situation with grace and realism. She didn’t FORBID them from having sex, instead she taught them about being safe. Her conversation with Tessa later that night was not a situation where she was trying to scare her daughter away from it, she just wanted her to take it seriously. Because really…nothing we’ve seen in Tessa’s relationship with Matt has felt like she loves him. It has ALWAYS felt like she is doing it to stick it to her mother…and Gini sees that. “Make sure you feel the same way,” she urges. “Make sure he DESERVES you.” (Did anyone else feel like Gini was telling herself that as much as she was telling Tessa?) Of course, Tessa doesn’t take her mother’s words to heart and later has sex with Matt ON GINI’S BED because she’s the world’s worst daughter.
Later, Dan clues Virginia in to part of the reason WHY Tessa hates her so much: she knows that Dan isn’t the only man in her life and she knows about Bill. (I expressed this earlier in the season, but I am so shocked that this is brand new information because I thought it was obvious everyone knew about Bill and Virginia.) Gini tries to deny her relationship but Dan (GOD LOVE HIM) just tells her to stop. I love Dan for not pitching a hissy fit about Bill and I love Dan for not being threatened by him. I KNOW we’re supposed to hate him for coming in between Bill and Virginia but I can’t hate him because he gives Virginia what she needs. After Gini’s meltdown in the session, she and Dan retreat to his hotel room. She starts to explain herself (“It’s not like I decided that my life would be like this”) but Dan stops her, saying she doesn’t need to explain anything to him. “People are complicated,” he says, simply. AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH THOUGH? He’s so gentle and good as Gini laments about how her daughter must see her and he doesn’t question her when she says she can’t go home and face Tessa yet. I think Gini is at her most honest with Dan because she knows that he doesn’t WANT anything from her (other than her company). I love how Dan is a man of action whereas Bill basically wants Virginia to interpret all his subtext as he is unable to voice what he wants. I get that Dan and Virginia’s relationship has a rapidly approaching expiration date but I can’t help but think that she’s a better person having been with him.
Speaking of Bill, his solution after Virginia storms out of the session is to make dinner reservations. Of course, he fails to actually check in with Virginia to see if she’s free for the evening. When he sees her getting ready to leave, he gets up to ask her out, but he’s waylaid by Nora, who feels the need to reenact her session with Bill by demonstrating her moves on Bill’s fingers. “Should I have squeezed harder?” she asks. Bill gulps. I crawl into my couch cushions from all my secondhand embarrassment.
Thanks to Nora and her literal handjob, Bill JUST misses Virginia and he sees her driving away with Dan. This pushes him to the brink and he makes the VERY wise decision of getting drunk in his office. Because she NEVER leaves the office, Nora is still there, and she parades past him, tossing him a coquettish look. Girlfriend knows EXACTLY what she’s doing, despite the wide-eyed act. Bill follows her into the office. He lingers at the door, letting his intent HANG in the room. Technically, Nora is the one who starts kissing him…but like I said, Bill’s intent was clear from the moment he leaned on the door frame. It looks like some angry (on Bill’s part) sex is about to happen when Nora asks Bill to say that he loves her…which breaks him out of his drunken stupor. Michael Sheen is SO MAGNIFICENT in this scene as he took my from loathing Bill with every fiber of my being to just feeling DEEPLY sorry for him.
And what of Nora? After a VERY awkward “I didn’t know you were so devoted to your wife” (welp), Nora has a good old-fashioned and much deserved cry in her car. Nora’s cry is interrupted by the Bible Beater joining her. Turns out Nora is in cahoots with him (Sage: I KNEW SHE WAS SHADY, I KNEW IT) and they are out to get Masters and Johnson.
B-Stories and Other Observations
- In the Libby Masters show within a show, it’s the eve of her 40th Birthday. Things seem to be going strong with Paul…until he begs off a day in bed with her to go to work. As he gets ready to go, he asks Libby to run errands for him, down to picking up his dry cleaning, and you SEE Libby collapse into herself. It was horrible seeing Libby agree to running his errands and my heart broke as it appeared that Paul had begun to take her for granted in the same way that Bill did. She wants (and deserves) so much more but she is resigned that this is her lot in life: to always be the one who loves more. Naturally, I burst into tears when it was revealed that the errands were all a ploy to get Libby out of the house so Paul and the kids (do they like their new dad? They sure seem to) could spend the day practicing a birthday play for her. (To quote Sage…come up with a better charade next time, Paul. Cause this scared the shit out of her.) What killed me in this scene was not only how they made the play about PRINCESS LIBBY in the tower but how Paul oh-so-casually took her hand as they watched it. It was so beautiful and the whole thing was everything Libby has EVER wanted. It’s SUCH a stark contrast to what Bill gives her for her birthday. Paul offered up the family of her dreams whilst Bill gave her a solo trip to Chicago. I don’t think there was anything malicious in Bill’s gift, it just proves how out of touch he is with his wife. “I don’t understand how you could think that I would want to do these things alone,” Libby says plainly and it’s like she’s seeing Bill for the first time. There’s no malice in her response either (these two are really the MOST polite to each other now), just sadness. Now that she’s gotten a glimpse of the life she’s always wanted, there’s really no going back for her.
- Later that night, Libby is back at Paul’s where he presents her with his birthday gift, which is clearly some jewelry. Before she even opens the gift, she rambles about turning 40 (Paul: “I’m okay with an older woman.”) and her disappointment with how her life has turned out. “There just has to be something better,” she says, breaking my heart because she has FINALLY realized how much she has settled in her life. “You can HAVE something better with me” is Paul’s simple response. He loves her. He wants to marry her and treasure her and make her happy and it’s all too much. He knows that things will be complicated but he’s willing to wait because Libby is worth it. (This is the story of how my heart exploded.) Libby tearfully accepts his proposal as Paul ties the ribbon from his present around her finger. I really really really hope Masters flips the script and have Libby choose to leave Bill. She’s earned it.
- Meanwhile, Barton goes on an opera date with his ultrasound technician Jonathan (who I FINALLY placed as Richard from Felicity). It’s a huge step for him to even accept that offer, so naturally Barton takes giant leaps backwards when Jonathan’s “flamboyant” friends join them for drinks afterwards and they are mocked by other bar patrons. I had hoped that some of Barton’s self loathing would ease once he admitted to his family he was gay, but no such luck. He is still DEEPLY uncomfortable with who he is and he finds the confidence of Jonathan’s friends embarrassing. The next morning, when Jonathan arrives having clearly been beaten up the night before, Barton bemoans the situation saying they had been FINE before his “fancy friends” showed up. He calls out their effeminate behavior and wonders why they “can’t present themselves to the world as men”. Jonathan’s reaction shows the generational gap between them. It’s not clear how long he’s been out but what is clear is that Jonathan has never been afraid of hiding who he is and he finds Barton’s cowardice offensive. “It’s men like YOU…you’re the weak ones,” he sneers as he resigns his position.
- Can we start the campaign for Annaleigh Ashford Supporting Actress Emmy?
- What I loved SO MUCH about that Betty/Barton scene is that Betty WAS Barton, once upon a time. She wrestled with her sexuality, she hated herself, but then she made peace with it. The minute she let go of her fears and let herself love Helen changed her forever. I hope she can be a support system for Barton as he grapples with the same thing. She already got through to him on some level, as the scene ended with Barton calling Jonathan to ask him back. We’ll see if he accepts. Part of me thinks he won’t and part of me WISHES he won’t. I want this to serve as a wake-up call for Barton so that maybe the next time he meets someone he connects with, he won’t let his fear get in the way.
- I also loved how Betty trusted Barton enough to confess her fears about being shut out of the delivery room when Helen gives birth. And I loved how Barton, who hates himself SO MUCH, assured Betty that he wouldn’t allow that to happen. Turn some of that compassion on yourself, sir.
- “God knows what that man has done to you.” = the one rational thing the Bible Beater has said.
- I loved how Gini immediately pushed back at Lester when he said that women were hardwired to want providers. Even in the midst of turmoil, Virginia Johnson will always be an advocate for a woman’s right to wanting a good orgasm.
- “You’re going to feel my hand on your pubis.” OH YES TALK DIRTY TO ME BILL.
- During her live tweet, Sage tweeted asking why people hate Dan so much and one of the replies we got was “Because he’s cheating on his wife!” Erm…so is Bill? (Sage’s exact reply, btw.) I get that we’re supposed to long for Bill and Virginia to be together, but let us not forget that Bill has been having a decade long affair, people.
- Gini turning over the Bible in the hotel room was a TOUCH too heavy-handed for me.
- Bill calling Virginia all night is a thing that ACTUALLY happened in real life.
- Fashion Envy Moments: Gini’s nautical ensemble. Betty’s red minidress with the sheer panel. (I need to get into Betty’s closet, stat.) Libby’s birthday floral nightgown and dressing gown.
Tonight, we FINALLY meet Judy Greer as Dan Logan’s wife. From the promo, it looks like we’re going to have the most awkward dinner EVER. Till then, leave your thoughts in the comments.