BWW Recaps: MASTERS OF SEX Learns A Lot; Annaleigh Ashford Sings!
Hello, "Masters of Sex" fans! Let's get to recapping the fifth episode of this fantastic season. This episode packed in a few (what I like to call) "Oh, snap" moments. The title of the episode is called "Giants" and I'd say that it's aptly titled. It's almost one full hour clocking in at 55 minutes so let's try to hit every minute.
The show opens with a visit from Libby to Virginia and she brings along the baby. Libby assumes that Bill's taking Virginia to the new hospital but Virginia seems surprised. It's clear she and Bill haven't discussed her new position at Buell Green... okay, it's clear they haven't talked about Buell Green at all. Libby only sees him going down in position having worked at a prestigious hospital and downgrading to the negro hospital.
Bill drops the bomb on Virginia by handing her a key to the new office. He just assumes she'll quit right away, stop selling the diet pills, and follow him wherever he goes since that was the problem at the last hospital. She insists she needs stability and she needs it in writing in an employee contract. It's insulting to her that he calls and she should come running. He didn't even ask! Oh, Bill. Such a misstep with someone as sharp as Virginia. And then the bomb drops, "She knows about us, about the work we're doing...upstairs." The look on Virginia's face? Oh, snap.
Gene insists on sleeping on the couch, clearly still upset about Betty not telling him the truth about not being able to have children. But she placates him by singing him Cole Porter's "You're the Top" and I only mention it because we have Annaleigh Ashford singing! Okay, time to hand her the role of Reno now. Let's go. All right, let's get back on track. Betty seems desperate; a Betty we haven't really seen before. She mentions she's open to adoption as long as they'll be happy together. He agrees.
In Bill's new office, we're introduced to the talented Courtney B. Vance's character, Charles Hendricks. He's made a previous appearance at the boardroom table but he's front and center here, the man responsible for accepting Dr. Masters at the hospital. He's equip Bill with everything he may need and the exchange is that Bill brings his patients to the hospital. A similar deal had been made with Dr. Greathouse so let's hope this doesn't end the same way. Though Charles says they don't offer contracts to anyone in the support staff, Virginia will be the exception. Bill makes sure of it this time. He will have her involved in this project and he's able to get it done at this hospital. While in the office, we're introduced to Dr. Cyril Franklin who works in the same department as Bill, and Bill manages to insult his new office space. Good job, Bill. Don't keep that up. You were just kicked out of the last place, remember?
One scene where the title of the episode seems fitting is the following scene between Virginia and Lillian. They're two strong women with strong personalities and strong convictions. Lillian has always been forthcoming in what she believes in and she makes that very clear to Virginia when she reveals she knows about Virginia's participation in the study. Virginia defends their out of office activities by talking about the study and Lillian replies, "So let me understand. It's okay because you're taking notes?" Sarcasm's a great look on her. She believes Virginia slept her way into Bill's study as she's always seemed to suspect but had no evidence until Austin opened his mouth in last week's episode. Lillian has gotten where she has through her own merit and I think she's always found that kinship with Virginia but it seems to be deteriorating in front of her eyes. Everyone in the office can hear them shouting and Virginia storms out.
We meet special guest star Sarah Silverman looking like she belongs in Life magazine circa 1959. She's beautiful and she's a psychic, apparently. Gene's completely buying into it and it's pretty adorable how childlike and innocent he seems sometimes. Betty's not as receptive to receiving her friend and I'm unsure why that is until Helen says, "Oh, no. I was recently jilted." She sent a very poignant look at Betty and BOOM. Oh, SNAP. They were lovers! Okay, so she's upset Betty married Gene and wants to see her life. Gene tries to set her up with his friend Al and they plan to go on a double date. Betty does not look pleased.
Virginia is clearly still thinking about the conversation in Lillian's office and says she wants to put a stop to their participation in the study. She asks him flat out if her participation a condition of her employment with Bill. At first, he says "no." She seems to accept that response but he quickly changes it to "what I meant was yes." I didn't take this as a misogynistic response or even a threatening response. They both want to continue their non-affair-affair and they need the mask of the study to have a reason to continue.
At first, Virginia still seems upset in the following scene. Bill begins to take off his clothes. Virginia doesn't take off hers. She sits in the chair and tells him to strip, clipboard in hand, a stopwatch in hand. She's all business and he's clearly not. At first, he thinks that she's joking but he goes along with it anyway. What starts off as a serious part of the study takes a turn as she directs him, gives him orders and he complies with every one of them. She tells him to stop and that's when she stands and takes control. She knows she has attained a certain amount of power in her position and her power extends sexually as he's on his knees in front of her. She pushes on his shoulders, directing him to do what she wants. We see him pleasuring her. Bill's not the only one with power. She towers over him, a giant, challenging him, and he follows her.
It's back to business the morning after. Though they're discussing their patients, the conversation is awkward and stilted. But they're still comfortable enough to share the same space together. I love this build-up of tension between them.
Now the subject of race really begins to build up in the show. Patients of Dr. Masters are going to the hospital and saying they don't feel safe in the neighborhood, they wonder if this is a permanent position or merely temporarily. They're uncomfortable. They're being shoved out of their comfort zone to get care from Dr. Masters. Virginia even believes one of the janitors took down the flyer advertising the study. The tension culminates in a fight between a patient of Dr. Masters and an ordinary visitor of the hospital. A punch is thrown and Bill gets it right in the eye.
While we're discussing race and the challenges we're beginning to face, let's talk about Coral and Libby. A man named Robert goes to the Masters' house, telling Libby he knows about the shampoo incident. Libby speaks to Coral about it. Coral's game is so on point in this Libby scene. "I know a thing or two about the world," Libby says in this condescending tone. Coral starts to talk about Robert's temper and how that changes when they're alone in bed together at night, how he makes her feel. The conversation turns intimate and it's clear Libby does not have the same relationship with Bill. Coral says Libby understands, "you being a woman of the world. ... And once I'm finished making Dr. Masters' bed, should I make yours too?" OH, SNAP. Yes, Coral! Yes. I've wanted her to get her word in since the extremely uncomfortable shampoo scene and she's done it.
Tending to Bill's eye, Bill mentions the fight in the hospital to Libby. He says the man who threw the punch was a sensitive man and then when placed into a situation that makes him uncomfortable, he turns into a caveman. Being in that environment draws out the Neanderthal side of him. It's troubling to think about how other patients may act when uncomfortable at the hospital. Libby tells Bill about that shampoo scene. At first, Bill's completely on Libby's side about the threat she receives from Robert. Then, he hears about the shampoo and insists she apologize. Libby tries to go to Robert to apologize but of course the apology is not really an apology. She doesn't apologize to Coral. She's apologizing to the wrong person. "Coral is a different matter. Coral deliberately disobeyed me." Libby is still standing her ground, thinking she's right, and thinking she only needs to apologize to Robert because he has threatened her. Robert doesn't accept and says it's, "White people's inability to take responsibility for their actions." Well, yes and well, Libby's inability. She doesn't realize things are changing and she very much represents this hesitant change happening around her. But I have faith in Libby. Hopefully, she'll get there.
Helen has a double date with Al, Gene, and Betty. It goes really, really well. It's very clear Betty doesn't want the date to happen but not out of spite, out of jealousy! Their tryst goes deeper than once-lovers. They had been in a relationship, Betty broke Helen's heart when she married Gene and their connection becomes obvious at this dinner. She and Helen share a long inside joke that ends with Betty making a run to hide in the bathroom. She's in tears. Helen sits beside her and they share a sweet kiss. Something tell me that this isn't going to be over, not like this, and not for a while. With an innocent Gene, they could keep this going for a while.
Despite their fight, Virginia shows Lillian she won't let her down. She takes her to her next appointment and sits with her while they wait. Virginia is Lillian's first call when she collapses on the floor, claiming she can never return to Memorial because of the incident. After Lillian's admission, Virginia takes her hand in support, and they're friends once again. Though both women with strong personalities, it doesn't mean that they cannot ask for help. Even the strongest people need help, support, and most of all, a friendship one can trust and depend on.
The solution to keeping patients from fighting in the waiting area is to separate the sides. One side is Dr. Masters' patients and the other side belongs to everyone else. Sigh. There's already segregation that exists outside of the hospital walls and now there's segregation inside the hospital itself? Talk about unfair. Bill has a conversation in his office with Virginia and Charles Hendricks. Bill's already giving up, saying it's inevitable that patients get lost in the transition, but Charles refuses to give in that easily. He leaves them with an inspirational speech about moving forward in history, insisting Bill insists his patients come to that hospital for his care. Bill tells him wooing patients isn't his gift but Virginia's. Charles says she has her work cut out for her.
As Virginia receives affirmation from Bill that he believes in her ability, we see Charles walking down the hallway, stopping in front of a flyer of the study... and he rips it down! Wait. What?! What's happening?! Why is it happening? Why did he do that? What about that speech!
Masters of Sex, they always leave us wanting more. That show be the show's tagline. What are your thoughts? How does the show tackle the subject of racism? Is it balanced? Did we all know Betty was a lesbian? Will Coral ever get her apology from Libby? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @amelourdes!