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.
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.
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.
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.
For all his bravado about working things out with Libby, Libby is still in the “Imma slam the door in your face” phase and I love it. She finally lets Bill in the house, where he hilariously tells her about going to AA whilst pouring himself a glass of whiskey. Bill tells her about taking inventory and says that there’s no one he’s hurt more than her. Libby takes a sip of her own whiskey and makes a choice. “Let’s call it even,” she says and she proceeds to tell Bill about Robert and Paul in graphic detail. I think she does this for several reasons. One, she still wants to hurt Bill as much as possible. That much is obvious, given the sheer relish with which Caitlin Fitzgerald delivers the lines. I think she’s offended that Bill thinks so little of her that she would just sit around and knit while she knows her husband is screwing around. I think she’s hurt that Bill doesn’t view her as a sexual creature with needs. But at the same time I feel like she needs Bill to know that he’s not the only one who did the damage her. As hurtful as it is, she’s setting him free at the same time. “So if you want to feel sorry for someone, I would suggest feeling sorry for yourself.” God, that’s so freaking satisfying.
Meanwhile Gini is dutifully avoiding going home and facing her daughter by going out for cocktails. She encounters her former psuedo-shrink, Dr. Madden. (Remember how she went to him faking symptoms so she could help some of HER patients? Good times.) Madden pretends not to know her at first, because he has ethics and fraternizing with a former patient falls outside of those. Gini’s never been one for professional boundaries though, so she makes herself comfy and proceeds to mock Madden both for waiting for a blind date and for the fact that said date is late. She has the nerve to tell him that as a therapist, he should know better than to put his faith in a blind date. “Does your husband know he’s married to a woman who doesn’t believe in love?” Madden asks, unknowingly shooting right to the heart of the matter. “Turns out he’s not much of a romantic either,” Gini fires back. WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS SOMEONE TELL ME.
For some reason, Gini offers Madden the partnership at the clinic. Because working with a former patient is TOTALLY something that should happen. Gini appeals to his ego. “Everything you told me as a patient was spot-on. I was full of excuses, like you said. Living in denial of the consequences of my own behavior. You told me what I needed to hear.” Madden quips that CLEARLY her life is all sorted out because of it. HA. I really don’t know where Gini was going with this whole thing because I highly doubt Madden had crossed her mind until the moment she saw him in the bar. She offers Madden a card and asks him to call her if he changes his mind. Madden promptly crumples up the card as soon as Gini leaves. I would have too, honestly.
The next morning, Bill tells Louise all about his conversation with Libby. I was fully prepared to yell at him for having the nerve to be hurt by Libby’s confession, but for ONCE Bill came through for me. ” Imagine finding out the only person you’ve trusted, the one person whose loyalty you never even thought to question, has been lying to you for years. And the worst thing is, you– you can’t even be angry with her. Because for every time she’s lied to you, you know you’ve lied to her, uh, a hundred times. A thousand times.” Character growth! I’m like a proud mama. Whether he knows it or not, this program is WORKING for Bill because he proceeds to admit to Louise all the things he can’t change. He can’t change what he did to Libby. He can’t change the fact that his kids hate him. All he can do is accept it and try to change things going forward. Louise shares her story with him and gently tells him that all the people in those meetings are in the same place. Everyone has torment and lists of people they’ve wronged and people who have wronged them. What matters is what you choose to do with it. That’s the program. There may just be hope for Bill after all…it seems like he’s finally ready to face things.
At the clinic, Gini meets with Art Dreesen, a “family friend” of Nancy’s that was suggested for the position of Gini’s partner. There’s something OFF about him, no? He’s a Masters & Johnson fanboy, having attended one of their symposiums in the past. He quotes Gini to Gini, trying to butter her up. He’s fully qualified for the position, having worked at the Kinsey Institute, studying marriage and sex. He has an MD in Psychiatry. But Gini gets all up on her high horse again, saying she’s only considering PHDs. WHERE IS YOUR PHD, VIRGINIA? Art takes her dismissal well, saying he’s just honored to be considered. Yeah, sure.
Besides, Gini has already made up her mind who she wants…and who she wants is Madden. She tracks him down at the bar again, being all “I know I was supposed to wait for your call but I don’t care.” Gini’s not used to hearing “no” when she’s made up her mind that she wants something. Madden insists that he’s not going to change his mind, so Gini tries to do it for him. She goes route of flattery, telling him that he understands the work and that he has an excellent rapport with her. Why SHOULDN’T they work together? “I’m not comfortable working with a former patient. It’s a boundary I can’t cross.” “It’s only a boundary if you allow it to be one,” Ms. No Professional Boundaries practically purrs. Why is Virginia so determined to get him? I don’t get it at all. Neither does Madden. “If we’re being honest with each other, Virginia, you have a certain disregard for professional and personal boundaries, and this is not the first time that I have seen this from you.” It’s true. This has been a trait of Virginia’s from the moment she worked her way into Bill’s study to the way she impersonated a patient with Madden to how she’s behaving NOW with her fake marriage to Dan. There’s a fine line between being shrewd and being manipulative and Virginia has always danced on it.
Madden continues to analyze Virginia, not noticing how her demeanor changes. I wonder exactly WHEN Virginia’s motives changed and she decided to destroy him. Was it her end goal all along? Was it hearing the ugly truth about herself? Madden calls out Virginia’s pattern of rationalization. “Whatever the patient does, they find a way to rationalize it to convince themselves that they’re not to blame.” GOD. That is so her. It’s always Bill’s fault or her mother’s fault or Dan’s fault or anybody else’s fault but it’s NEVER hers. Virginia always finds a way to justify her actions and free herself from blame. She was trying to help a patient. She was having an affair with Bill in the name of science. Her mother forced her to do beauty pageants. Tessa is an ungrateful little bitch. In Virginia’s mind, nothing is her fault. Madden calls her out for having no remorse for anything and then admits he’s had a little too much to drink. With a single arch of her brow, Virginia moves in for the kill. She brushes his hand and tells him that’s exactly why he’s perfect for the job. “How about we find some place else to continue this conversation?” HOE DON’T DO IT.
Except she did.
Honestly, I don’t know what to say about it. Virginia fucked Madden to prove a point and I’m disgusted by it. She’s free to have sex with whoever she wants to, that’s not what disgusts me. What disgusts me is the REASON she did it. It was vindictive and cruel and it was cheap. “I won’t breathe a word of this to the American Psychiatric Association,” she says coldly as she re-applies her lipstick. Madden sits on the bed in his underwear, completely broken. He plays the whole thing off on drinking too much because he really just can’t admit that he had been played. “It is interesting though, how you immediately rationalize your decision,” Virginia says, turning his own words around on him. “I wonder if that’s a pattern for you. You’re very good at judging other people, Dr. Madden. Assigning labels, and arranging them in little boxes. But what do you really know about you, for example? Sitting there in your– in your boxer shorts. Maybe it’s not so easy to observe your own behavior, your own shortcomings. For that matter, what do you really know about me? What I’ve had to overcome in my life. The enormous sacrifices that I have had to make to get on all of those magazine covers. I am very good at my job because I don’t judge.” ICE COLD. Basically she fucked him to prove that he was no better than she was. Totally healthy. She then tells him it’s probably best that he not take the job at the clinic. I guess Art’s plain old MD will have to do. You’re hired!
Speaking of Art, he and Nancy pulled a fast one on Virginia and Bill. Yep. They are doing it, doing it, doing it in secret. So now we have two ex-lovers who still want each other working with two secret lovers in an office full of newly installed recording equipment. So happy together indeed.
- Bill’s Playboy dream served two purposes: to show that he still longs for Virginia and that Lizzy Caplan looks smoking hot in nothing but satin sheets. We knew both of those things already.
- Fashion moment of the week: Gini’s brown on brown look with the big bow. There was an outfit JUST LIKE IT designed on this week’s Project Runway, proving that the look is timeless.
- GOD I AM LIVING FOR BETTY THIS SEASON. Well, I always live for Betty, but she is truly bringing it this season so far.
- Bill’s hair is so large because it holds all of his secrets.
- Protect Lester Linden at all costs.
- The patients of the week were once again foot fetishist Harry Crane (look, I’m only going to call him Harry Crane, deal with it) and his wife. Turns out that Harry’s fetish extends to jerking off in his wife shoes, which she is understandably pissed off about. (“I paid $10.95 for those pumps!”) Bill and Nancy get them into the sensate therapy room where Bill urges them to meet each other halfway. “You have a better chance if you can find your pleasure together.” Harry’s wife is understandably weirded out at first as he focuses on touching her feet and her ankles, but he talks her through it and she gets turned on by the sheer body worship. Soon enough, they are doing it. GOOD FOR THEM! I could lived the rest of my life without seeing Harry Crane sucking toes and thrusting though.
- THIS HURT. He still longs for her so much
- Nancy goes to Gini on her first day asking if she has any tips in regards to working with Bill. “My first tip would be to call him Dr. Masters.” THANKS FOR YOUR HELP, GIN.
- Nancy grabs Bill’s arm whilst they are observing Harry Crane and his wife doing it. This prompts Bill to set up some boundaries between them by having them both fill out the intake form. Didn’t he do that with Virginia back in the day? GOOD PLAN BILL.
- While they are trading sex stories, Nancy asks Bill if there is any truth to the rumors about him and Virginia. Bill denies them. What happened to “We are completely transparent, there are no secrets,” hmmmmmm?
- Poor Bill can’t catch a fashion break from the women in his life. For the record, I love the plaid jacket.
- That last scene with Bill and Libby was lovely, wasn’t it? I love that they are finally admitting how much harm they did towards each other and taking equal blame. Bill admits that Libby’s confession was painful (something that pre-AA Bill never would have done) but he’s glad that she found pleasure somewhere, even if it wasn’t with him. “We were married, Bill,” she says gently. “We should have found our pleasure together.” Hopefully this is a new beginning for them. As much as I love Vengeful Libby, that’s no way to live. I think she’s got the closure now where she can FINALLY move on and be free. “There’s so much I’ve missed out on,” she tells Bill. TIME TO GO FIND IT, GURL.
- THIS WAS GROSS.
- It may not be boarding school, but Tessa is off to live with dear old dad. Gini tries to stop her by saying that her shrink (EW!) told her that she’s doing the best she can and that should be good enough. Well, that’s not good enough for Tessa. Well played.
- Gini and Libby have an awkward turned sweet scene together over a cup of coffee in their office building. They make small talk and then Virginia does perhaps the only genuine thing she does in the entire episode: she apologizes for the affair. (Perhaps Madden’s words about her lack of remorse are ringing in the back of her mind.) What’s beautiful about this whole scene is that Libby has let go of her anger. She chuckles at how naive she and Gini were when they made their pact because they forgot about the very human element that is Bill. She then ponders if they had crossed paths in any other way if they would have become friends. “The only thing we ever had in common was Bill, and now, not even that,” Libby muses. “Oh, I’m not sure that matters,” Virginia replies. “So we are friends?” “Of course we are friends, Libby.” Listen, I know from actual real life experience that this kind of unlikely friendship is possible and it’s incredibly rewarding, so I HOPE these two ladies follow through on it. Both Libby and Gini are in desperate need of some female friendship in their lives.
- Libby waltzes into her frazzled Divorce Lawyer’s office and demands a job as his secretary. GET YOUR LIFE GIRL.
And that’s our episode! I’m dying to know what you guys thought of Virginia in this episode, so please share your thoughts in the comments.