Masters Of Sex Cordially Invites You To Dine On Five Courses Of AWKWARD
Since he and Virginia are in New York to pitch their publishers their next book, Bill thought he'd invite Dan and his wife to have dinner with them! Won't that be fun?!
That Quote"However you want me to be, I'll be."- Paul "Deadley Man Walking" Edley -
Another Bullshit Night In Bill Sucks City
Situation: Bill and Virginia are in New York -- having just pitched their publisher, Little, Brown, their idea for a follow-up to Human Sexual Response -- so Bill has insisted upon taking Virginia out for a five-course dinner at one of the city's fanciest restaurants.
What makes it awkward? This is basically 150% awkward right from the jump. As they arrive, Virginia is bitching at Bill for having told their cabbie they're tourists and that he should take whichever route he wanted, resulting in their getting a scenic tour of Brooklyn. We then learn that Virginia is in no mood for an elaborate dinner and would have actually preferred a room service sandwich; she's so disinclined to enjoy the evening, in fact, that she refuses to check her coat. Then, Bill gets to the host stand and blatantly lies about having a reservation...and when Virginia hears him say it's for four, she learns that they're going to be joined this evening by Dan Logan and his wife, Alice. Bill then throws kerosene on the awkward fire by acting like he and Virginia totally discussed this arrangement before "remembering," oh right, he actually talked about it with Betty, whoopsie! (Sidebar: the big hole in this part of the story is that the reservation isn't on the books. I would like to credit Betty for having listened to Bill's request that she set up the dinner and then totally not done it because she knew it was a bad idea, except that the Logans show up, which means Betty called Dan's office to make the invitation. I guess someone needs to have flaked on the reservation in order for Dan to be able to smooth everything over with his connections later, but did it have to be Betty, the most efficient professional on this show? #IStandWithBetty.)
How is order restored? Bill tells Virginia he arranged the dinner because he knows he was dismissive of Dan's research and insufficiently grateful for his financial investment, and he wanted to thank him, adding, "It's not awkward for you that I invited his wife along, is it?" Virginia can't say that it is without admitting why, so she's forced to lie that it's totally fine. She still keeps her coat, though, and who wouldn't.
Ladies' Room Confidential
Name: Daphne. Age: Mid 20s. Occupation: Ladies' room attendant. Goal: Her goal is to give such great service to the restaurant patronesses who cross her path that they tip her well. Her purpose, in the episode, is to get a little too aggressive with one of her colognes -- on-the-nosely called Ambush -- and spray Virginia with it. This sets up Virginia to explain why the spritz is a problem, other than the obvious -- "The gentleman that I'm seeing, he-- He has an aversion to me wearing fragrances of any kind....He has a very sensitive nose; occupational hazard" -- so that another lady can overhear everything and emerge from the stall looking stricken.
Gee, you think that's Mrs. Dan???
Sample Dialogue: "We have some lovely new scents, as well as the classics. Channel!" (Virginia: "I think that's...Chanel.")
On The Menu
What's On The Menu At Le Ciel?
While Virginia is in the bathroom wiping perfume off her neck, Dan arrives and takes charge of the reservation, charitably pretending it was a mix-up and being rich and powerful enough to force the maître d' to go along with that version of events too. What's going to be served tonight?
LadySlip: While Bill's checking Dan's coat, Virginia quietly apologizes to Dan for...all of this, and asks why he brought Alice. Apparently, Dan's secretary called Alice to confirm the time without checking with Dan first, so I'm going to go ahead and guess that secretary's not going to be working for Dan much longer.
Steak Tartare: Dan delights me by mentioning that he has pull with the chef here: steak tartare isn't on the menu but the chef always makes it for Dan. CHOKE ON THAT, BILL, YOU NO RESERVATION-HAVING HOBO.
Bubbly: When the foursome is finally seated at the table -- for two, next to the kitchen, but hastily arranged for four in deference to Dan's status -- the waiter takes drink orders. Dan tries to order tonic water for Alice, but she announces that she'd like a glass of white wine. Dan mutters that she should consider making it a spritzer, but then Bill overrules them both, ordering a bottle of the restaurant's finest champagne to celebrate the great book meeting he and Virginia just had! This is obviously just the latest of the many great ideas Bill's had to ensure that this evening is a great success for everyone!!!
You're Just Too Good To Be True
Oh, PAUL. Knowing how things are about to go for you, this is rough.
I have this fantasy of -- and now, don't laugh at me -- but I have this fantasy that, you know, the kids will start calling me Paul. Not right away, just eventually. You know how Howie has that thing with "L"s?
I secretly hope he never loses it.
Well, if you drop the "L" off of "Paul," it becomes "Pa," right? And then maybe the other kids start calling me "Pa," and then pretty soon that's what I am to them. You know? Their pa.
To Human Sexual Inadequacy!
Do we really want to toast that?
Amuse-Bouche For The Amuse-Douche?
What's the occasion? There are just so many things Bill has to celebrate tonight! There's the book pitch that went over great even though he could tell he was losing his and Virginia's editor so he busted out the very preliminary findings from the surrogacy program, which Virginia is openly furious about, even though the Logans are right there. There's the fact that the big advance Bill just secured from the publisher means he can pay back Dan's investment -- including a "significant return" on same -- and release Dan from his work with Bill and Virginia but let's be real mostly Virginia. There's the fact that Bill's putting Dan and Virginia on blast in a very passive-aggressive way, shaming Virginia in front of Alice.
What are the refreshments? So very much champagne. Even as Dan openly advises Alice to slow down -- to which she responds by telling him to quit squeezing her leg under the table -- Bill keeps refilling her glass, loosening her tongue enough that she blabs about Dan not taking her on his business trips, and about his various other lady "business associates" in various international cities, and that the choice Alice herself made in life got her a three-bedroom apartment overlooking the Museum Of Natural History, and that she just loves Virginia's sense of humour! "It's very New York. Are you Jewish?"
Whose big public scene will everyone be talking about tomorrow? Virginia's. As Dan tries to tune out Alice's boozy indiscretion, Bill proposes a toast to Dan, which is actually, given the book advance, a toast to "to the end of our journey." "Hear hear!" drawls Alice. Dan and Virginia, however, don't clink; Dan glares at the table, while Virgina turns to Bill and snaps, "This is yet another thing you've just decided, Bill -- that our work with Dan is over." "Isn't it?" asks Bill disingenuously. He decides to involve Dan by asking whether he doesn't agree that they can part ways now. "I engaged your services and we entered into a partnership," says Dan. Bill fakes astonishment that Dan saw their arrangement that way: "A partnership like Virginia's and mine?" "No," says Dan, "actually, because I don't make decisions unilaterally, without her participation." "What is the argument for perpetuating this arrangement?" Bill asks quizzically, waving his finger between Virginia and Dan. "Your venture into...lubricants?" "Lotions," Dan corrects. After a brief interjection from Alice about another of Dan's past business conquests -- this one a cute Japanese chemist -- Virginia takes over from Dan in the work of laying into Bill, furiously saying she's "sorry" he doesn't consider her and Dan's research worthwhile, adding, "I have certainly granted you latitude to pursue the things you find interesting." After another interjection from Alice in which she proves she's not so drunk that she forgot the phrasing Virginia used to describe Dan's objection to fragrance -- "what's the word? an aversion?" -- Dan observes that Bill planned this dinner before he knew how the meeting at Little, Brown was going to go: "It means you must have come prepared to offer up the surrogacy work over Virginia's objections -- anything to get your publisher on board so there would be cause for celebration tonight. And a reason to say to me, 'Thank you. Here's your hat. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.'" As he speaks, Virginia realizes he's right.
And that's when Virginia apologizes to Dan and Alice for cutting their dinner short, but she's got to GTFO. (I'm paraphrasing.) "You're sick?" asks Alice. "Yes," says Virginia, motioning at Bill: "Of him. If you'll excuse me." "Virginia," sighs Bill wearily, getting up. "Go to hell," she calls back over her shoulder. Oh, what a feeling! If only I believed it could last. But I don't.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Virginia vs. Bill, Round 1
After stomping out on dinner, Virginia -- who must have had some kind of premonition about keeping that coat -- then has to try to escape Bill after he tries to make her let him share a cab back to the hotel and holds her purse hostage while he goes into the unattended coat room to retrieve his. Naturally, having immediately gleaned that Dan's assessment of the situation was dead-on, she's horrified that Bill set her up like this. But Bill, though flustered, is unrepentant: "I needed you to see for yourself." Virginia, no longer bothering to pretend her relationship with Dan has been strictly professional this whole time, spits that she knew he was married, but that's not what Bill means: "You're not his first affair, Virginia. You're just his most recent!" Virginia tells him that's her problem, and when he's shocked that Dan's history with women doesn't bother her, she tells him that what she does and whom she does it with, outside the office, is her business. "You make it my business when you concoct some ludicrous research program to keep that man around our office!" Bill whines. Virginia, her eyes bugging out, shoots back that Bill pretty much painted her into a corner with his pettiness and jealousy: "What choice did I have?! The last time I was honest with you about having a lover, you cut me out of the work for a whole year. So either way -- whether I tell you or not -- I end up in the exact same place: on the outside!" Bill doesn't have to come up with an answer to that because some broad shows up looking for her sable. Lucky Bill.
Winner: Virginia. Fuck off, Bill.
Who's causing a family crisis? Bill, with a major "assist" from Johnny.
How? Remember a couple of weeks ago when Bill helped explain to Dennis that his wang wasn't broken just because he was having wet dreams, and Johnny got jealous and furious and then went and embarrassed Dennis at school by telling a couple of girls all about it? Well, just as Libby and Paul were role-playing how she's going to tell Bill she's leaving him and what kind of timeline makes sense for her to make her actual exit from the household, a Detective David Asher has shown up to the house to ask about it. He originally asks for Bill, but when Libby says he's out of town, Det. Asher -- very gently and respectfully -- questions Johnny about how, exactly, Bill showed Dennis how to fix his penis.
Who's an unlikely ally? Given that Libby's got a foot and a half out the door, she doesn't give Asher's accusation a scintilla of credence. However, she also doesn't ask Johnny afterward exactly what he saw Bill do, focusing instead of Johnny's insistence -- both to Asher and to her -- that Bill doesn't like him. She tries to sell Johnny on the idea that Bill keeps Johnny at arm's length because he loves Johnny SO much that he's scared of hurting him, but no one believes that. (She also tells him an age-appropriate version of what Bill went through with his own even more terrible father, to try to get Johnny to cut Bill some slack.)
Who has a problem with it? Paul -- not quite in the family yet but right on the verge -- who thinks Libby needs to take the kids and move out before Bill gets home from New York.
Spoiler: A childless person should never try to tell a parent how to handle her kids unless he's prepared for it to blow up in his face in a big way.
Ain't Love Grand?
With Virginia and Bill off fighting in the coat room, Alice and Dan get a chance to go over some business in private -- starting with the exposition that Alice is an alcoholic whom Bill's just helped bring to a close her most recent three-month stay on the wagon. But then we learn more about how this marital arrangement, which apparently was Alice's idea in the first place, has worked (or, rather, "worked") lo these many years.
You do not want to go down this road, trust me.
Oh? Why not?
Because you don't think your behaviour leaves me without a choice? Every time you disappear down that bottle, I have to come find you, or you threaten to hurt yourself.
It brings you back. Admit it, you like fixing me.
I used to. Can't say I've done such a good job of it lately, have I.
You always like the ones that need fixing. Tell me, how is this one broken.
She's not. ["Uh...." - ta]
Come on. What is it? Financial problems? Childhood abuse? An ex-husband who's stalking her?
They're all different, until they're all the same.
I'm in love with her, Alice. You've never heard me say that before.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Virginia vs. Bill, Rounds 2 & 3
Several scenes later, Virginia is still laying into Bill, telling him they can't have a partnership of equals as long as he can pull rank with her whenever she makes a decision in her personal life that upsets him. As usual, Bill's not trying to hear that, mansplaining that eventually she'll see Bill was right and that he's "saving [her] from that man!" Virginia tells him "that man" is someone she could be happy with. "I really don't think so, Virginia!" Bill dares to reply. Virginia:
Rather than kick Bill in the balls as I or any of you would have done, Virginia asks whether he's saying that because of whatever impression he's formed of Dan, or because she's "not entitled to a life outside of work. "You're entitled to one, you just don't want one!" Bill informs her. Virginia immediately remembers the moment when she was labouring with Lisa -- when he told her that her "ambivalence was the problem" -- and that, at the time, Bill painted this rosy picture of how great it would be if she were to "embrace the part of [her] that cares about work above all else": "I thought you meant that! But I see now the person that argument really serves is you. You were just looking out for yourself. You're always just looking out for yourself." SHOTS FIRED!
After another pause to revisit the Logans -- at the end of which Dan's off-the-menu steak tartare emerges from the kitchen and instantly turns Alice's stomach badly enough that she has to flee the table -- Bill claims he said what he did at the hospital "because [she] needed permission to stop hating [her]self." "I don't hate myself!" Virginia replies, aghast. ("I hate you," she does not add, alas.) "You want to want a man, Virginia," sighs Bill, "because, as unconventional as you consider yourself, you're still your mother's daughter, and she told you you need one to be happy." I mean, that's true? But Dan actually does make Virginia happy, and Bill has no way of knowing that because his shitty attitude (and, er, also Dan's marriage) has made Dan and Virginia have to conduct their relationship in secret. Maybe quit projecting your own indifference to your spouse onto Virginia, BILL. He goes on to say that no relationship will satisfy Virginia the way her work does -- it lights her up, gives her a purpose, affords her a life bigger than "waiting for a man to come home" (why would she be, she also works, the nanny would be there) and check his collar for lipstick (why assume Virginia would expect or require him to be monogamous?). Bill just doesn't want Virginia to "waste what [she has] to offer the world!" Oh, so it's NOT that he's mad she's boning a dude who isn't him? HOW VERY ALTRUISTIC OF HIM!!!
And then it's VIRGINIA's turn to be saved from answering -- in this case, a couple of rubes who recognize Bill and Virginia and want their autographs -- and since this is the pre-TMZ era, Virginia has no qualms about shoving past them and away from Bill...right into Alice, running past to go barf in the bathroom. I haven't seen this much Frenchy farce since my last Frasier rerun!
Winner: Draw. But I'm pretty sure it's not going to matter in the long term, because Bill is the fucking worst and Virginia lets him be.
That Quote"Don't insult me by acting surprised. Danny told me....He always tells me. We've been through this before. Did you think you were different? They all do. Enjoy it, Virginia. He's a lovely man. A true gentleman. He'll always open the door for you, never forget your birthday. Whisk you away on business trips. And take you in his arms and dance with you even if there's no music playing. And when he shows up at your doorstep, and tells you that he wants you to spend the rest of your life with him? In that moment, he will think he means it."- Alice Logan -
Libby Chooses Wrong
So as I mentioned above, when the detective leaves and Paul comes back over to the Masters house, Libby recaps the situation, dismissing it by saying that Bill's work in the field of S-E-X makes him "vulnerable to accusations like this." "His work and his lack of judgment," mutters Paul. Libby is very certain that Bill didn't do anything wrong, and when Paul counters that he's the kind of person who'd have a mistress for over a decade, Libby counters that Bill did that to her, but that he'd never hurt a child. Paul reminds her that he woke up every day for ten years thinking he was happily married: "You think you know someone and you don't." Paul thinks Libby needs to get out of the house before Bill returns; he'll help her rent a house across town that she can live in with the kids. Libby, simply: "I can't do that, Paul." "You can't take steps to protect your children?" Paul asks. "I am protecting them," she says, "from the false impression that their father is a monster." She explains that if she leaves Bill now, she'll be signaling the world -- and the kids -- that she believes the accusation, and that's something she'd never be able to take back, even if charges are dropped. Paul asks whether leaving Bill, as she's been in the process of planning in order to marry Paul, also make the kids think she's better off without him, but Libby says that's just about what's better for herself. She fully grants that Bill's a bad husband -- which, thank god, it means she's been PAYING ATTENTION -- but that she doesn't have a good reason to cut him off from his children in such a permanent way.
And...here's where things take a turn for the worst. "'Cause he's been such a great father?" asks Paul. "I'd be a better one, Libby. You know that." Libby nods, very slowly and very sadly, and replies, "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. He is the father that they have. He is the father that Johnny needs to know loves him, because without that, it just-- It just plays out in exactly the same way. Another son without a father becomes a father who doesn't know how to love his son. And if-- If I stay, they have a chance to fix what is broken." "Libby, are you, um-- Are you saying this is what you need to do now? For the time being?" asks Paul. "Or what you need to do forever?" asks Paul. Libby:
We don't actually see her answer, but that face is kind of it? God, poor Paul -- and poor Libby, for ending up in this situation where she has to give up on her own chance at happiness for the sake of her garbage husband's relationship with their children? HOW MANY LIVES IS BILL MASTERS GOING TO RUIN???
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Dan vs. Bill
While Virginia's in the bathroom helping Alice recover from her drunk barf and listening to Alice's lies about Dan, Bill and Dan are back at the table, dealing with the cheque and being openly hostile with each other. Dan wonders if this evening played out the way Bill expected it to, and Bill puts on his smuggest tone to sniff that he expected her to storm out closer to dessert, but basically, yes. Dan comments that alienating Virginia is not a great way to win her back, adding, "That is your endgame, isn't it? Or are you afraid admitting that will give you an edge?" "She's finished with you," Bill declares. It won't happen right away, he adds, but it's inevitable: "That's what Virginia does. She never mentioned the name Ethan Haas to you?" Bill then recounts the sad tale of his last significant rival -- how he would have done anything for Virginia, including leaving another woman for her, but that on the eve of her planned departure to join Ethan in Los Angeles, Virginia changed her mind: "Broke his heart, poor fellow. I'm sure yours is more resilient." "You're saying she changed her mind, completely on her own, with no interference from you," murmurs Dan. "Oh no -- I asked her to marry me!" chirps Bill. Not the regular kind, Bill specifies, but "a marriage of the mind, a true intellectual partnership": "And I did it without uttering a word. All I did was put her name next to mine on that first paper we presented at Wash U. It was my vow to her, that that was who we would become. Masters and Johnson. It's who we are. It's how people think of us. It's how we think of ourselves. Virginia too." Dan notes that the scene Bill's describing was ten years ago, and that since then "the bloom is off the rose." "Perhaps," Bill allows, "which is why I've decided to give her my name -- just my name, no 'M.D.' after it, and put it together with hers on the next book. Kind of a renewal of our vows." Oh god, this is his big fucking move?! And this is what he thinks is going to erase this shitshow of an evening? Get a grip, Bill. Dan says basically that: "It's a little too late, you've pushed her too far, no?" "Well, in my experience," says Bill, "when the train is pulling out of the station, and you're not on it, you run twice as fast and twice as hard to make sure it doesn't leave without you." So, in other words, Bill heard 0% of what Virginia was trying to tell him about the lack of equity in their supposed partnership, and is still planning ways to threaten to cast her out of it. COOL.
Dan smiles ruefully and comments, "I bet you're damn good at chess, Bill." If they played, Dan guesses, Bill would have the whole game figured out before Dan's opening gambit. Bill preens at this flattering description of himself, but that's not quite how Dan means it, adding that all the strategizing Bill does is probably exhausting: "You must be really tired -- plotting every move, anticipating every counter-move, so far into the future that you completely lose sight of the fact that there's a far easier way to get what you want." "Which is what," says Bill, barely audibly since he quite clearly does not want to take any of Dan's advice. "Tell her how you feel about her," says Dan. He supposes that never occurred to Bill: "Well, guess what? It occurred to me. So I guess that's...checkmate?" AHHHHHHHHH DAN! DAN! DAN!
Bill is ONCE AGAIN saved from having to come up with a rejoinder by an interruption -- this time, from a waiter telling him he has an urgent phone call from St. Louis he needs to take. Knowing Bill still has no idea the kind of disgrace he's about to face is almost a joy. And yet....
Winner: Dan -- but, again, Bill's almost certainly going to end up the victor in the end, because he is literally Satan.
Wrap It Up
The ladies emerge from the bathroom to see Bill on the phone, dealing with the emergency he's just been called about! Virginia helps Dan dispose of Alice, and when he very gravely tells her, "Goodnight, Virginia," she can't hide her dismay at his tone.
And then Bill hangs up and comes to tell Virginia he doesn't know what's happening back in St. Louis, but that Libby had Betty track him down and book him on a flight that's leaving in an hour and a half. He tells her she should stay in New York and leave as planned, and then starts to say, "Virginia, I-- I want you to know that, uh--" "This is not the time, Bill," she interrupts wearily, and then a restaurant flunky is telling Bill his cab is waiting! Bill tells Virginia to go enjoy the meal, which, didn't Bill and Dan pay the cheque already?
Whatever: Virginia lets the maître d' take her coat, FINALLY, and demurely allows herself to be led back to the table and served with style -- presumably not the barf-inducing steak tartare!
Later, Virginia's trudging around her hotel room looking distinctly unglamorous when there's a knock at her door! It's Dan, with a suitcase! He announces that he's left Alice -- and that's not all!
OH SHIT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT ALICE SAID HE WAS GOING TO SAY except Alice made it seem like it's just Dan's standard move!
WHICH IS WHY VIRGINIA LOOKS LIKE THIS INSTEAD OF OVERJOYED THAT A PATH AWAY FROM BILL HAS OPENED FOR REAL! FUCK YOU ALICE AND BILL BUT ESPECIALLY BILL!!!!!