Screen: Showtime

Masters Of Sex Tests Virginia's Professionalism By Making Her Work With A Couple Of Apes

And then she goes to the zoo.

  • Snapshot
    Screens: Showtime

    Screens: Showtime

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  • Alert!
    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    One Helen And Zero Betties Agree

    Alert Type: Baby Fever Alert.

    Issue: Helen -- who, after a quick mention a couple of episodes ago, is now confirmed to be cohabitating with Betty -- has been having recurring dreams in which she keeps ending up with a baby. She really wants one!

    Complicating Factors: She's in a relationship with a lady, who lacks some of the raw ingredients for baby manufacturing. (Also, Betty doesn't seem super-into the idea of becoming a parent, but it's possible I'm just projecting.)

    Resolution: Betty having already determined that an adoption agency won't consider placing children in any household with a "single" woman, she checks in with Bill to see if he'd ever consider using donor sperm from the bank to inseminate a single woman. You will not be shocked to learn that he is opposed to this idea for typically Mastersian concern-trolling reasons: it's not that he's fundamentally conservative and thinks all children should be raised in two-parent households as deliriously happy as the one his own children are currently being raised in, oh my, no! "It's an incredibly difficult path undertaken all alone." Cool blanket judgment! What if, Betty suggests, she were to raise it with a friend? "You can't expect a friend to make an eighteen-year commitment to a child that's not even their own." Betty thinks some friends might. Bill: "A healthy single woman does not need me to inseminate her. A couple of gin and tonics and the guy one bar stool over would be just as effective."

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    So Betty's like, cool, and then waits until the middle of the night to sneak Helen into the office, intending to pick out a sample and inseminate Helen herself. But they get hung up on the question of whose sperm to use. Helen's concerned that Betty chose someone who has good character, which Betty thinks is ridiculous: "Helen, it's sperm. We add the character." But this leads into a discussion about how different child-bearing will be for them than it is for straight couples: "Regular people just get what they get -- they don't get all this added responsibility of choosing," Betty complains. "It should be a big responsibility," says Helen softly. "We're making a baby." Both complain that the files don't even have photos of the anonymous sperm donors, "I mean, not that looks are everything," Betty adds, somewhat perfunctorily. "Well, they're not nothing, either," Helen replies. They agree that they'll love whatever baby they get; Betty adds that straight couples may just say that because they're stuck with whatever they get because they don't have a choice. "Well, what choice do we have?" asks Helen. "It's either this or nothing, right?" Hey, that gives Betty an idea!

    Spoiler: Hmmm, has Betty ever crossed paths with any free-spirited, good-looking male sluts?

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    Screens: Showtime

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  • Character Study
    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Soft Power

    Name: Keith Coleman. (Fun fact: Joe Tapper, who plays Keith, is married to Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Betty!)
    Age: Early 30s.
    Occupation: Amateur actor.
    Goal: To convince Bill and Virginia to help cure his impotence.
    Sample Dialogue: "It's going on two years now, and because Jane is an old friend, she said she would use her influence to get me in here, which would be great, 'cause I want to hire you. Fix me....I can't step into a batter's box with no bat."
  • Meta Moment
    Screens: Showtime

    Screens: Showtime

    What Are Cars A Symbolic Extension Of, Again?

    Bill's just finished embarrassing Jane by telling her and Keith, the community theatre friend she's brought in, that they only treat couples, when he goes to the parking lot to find Keith struggling to start his car. "I have jumper cables," says Bill, leaning into Keith's window. "Hard to miss the metaphor, isn't it?" says Keith, as they set up to jump-start Keith's car/penis substitute. "My car battery's dead; my battery's dead." YES, IT WOULD BE HARD TO MISS THE METAPHOR, WHICH IS WHY NO ONE WATCHING DID, but way to call it out just in case, I guess?

    ANYWAY, Bill says he understands Keith's frustration. Keith doesn't think he does, moping that this is all just science to Bill. Naturally, Bill does not volunteer that he has also historically struggled with impotence, vaguely saying that being a doctor doesn't mitigate his ability to understand Keith's "suffering," but like, no singles, loser. (I'm paraphrasing.) Keith lays out the Catch-22 for the people who I guess just woke up from a coma and missed the first half of this very heavy-handed scene: "I can't get a girl because I can't perform, and you can't help me perform because I don't have a girl. And you know what's even worse? I'm fucking terrified -- terrified I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life." And then Bill takes his half of the jumper cables and connects them to his own car. DO YOU GET IT YET.

  • Mutual of PTV's Animal Kingdom
    Screens: Showtime

    Screens: Showtime

    A Grilling About A Gorilla

    In their capacity as the world's foremost/only sex researchers, Bill and Virginia are at the zoo, interviewing Steve, Gil the Gorilla's keeper. (The scene tries for funny by making it seem like Steve is referring to himself when he answers a question about "first sexual experience" by saying it was at age eight, but it's not funny, so I'm not going to mention it. AW, DAMMIT.) Time was, as an animal raised in captivity, Gil knew he had nothing to fear and no need to worry about food, says Steve, so he had nothing to do but pursue the third of his interests: fuckin'. But now there's a new female at the zoo, and Gil DGAF. Asked when Gil last successfully boned, Steve says it was before his time: Gil used to have a keeper named Loretta, who left "under a cloud." HMMMMM.

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    Bill and Virginia figure they should talk to her, and as they turn to go, Gil lets out a very insistent growl. On their way out, Bill comments to Virginia that Gil wasn't "aggressive" like that when Bill came to see him alone, and Virginia, who knows how male horniness sounds, is like, uh, that's not aggression. Bill dismisses the idea of treating a lower primate for impotence when they've turned away Keith -- a human person -- but Virginia points out how much DNA humans and apes have in common, and talks up what a coup it would be if they could actually pull it off. She goes on: "I understand men. I understand how they think -- how they tick, essentially -- and there was something in the way that Gil was speaking to me--" Bill gives her a withering look, so she corrects herself: "Fine. Apes don't speak. But don't I help sexually dysfunctional and oftentimes inarticulate men in our offices every single day? Wasn't I able to help you, when you were similarly suffering?...If we can return him to a healthy and satisfying sex life, why wouldn't we?" Bill doesn't really have a leg (heh) to stand on after she's brought up his own issues, so he just stalks out of the conversation, but it seems like Virginia is winning this battle.

  • Family Matters
    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Everyone's A Wiener!

    Who's causing a family crisis? Jane.

    How? Overhearing Virginia and Bill continuing to debate whether they're going to treat Keith -- including mentions of how they had put Lester and Barb together, years ago, to try to work on both their sexual dysfunctions (which: awkward for Jane, Lester's wife) and whether they should try treating single women, too -- and volunteers herself as Keith's sexual surrogate.

    Which relatives have a problem with it? Lester, who doesn't like Jane making her case by reminding him of his own past sexual problems -- oh, and he's not crazy about the idea of his wife having sex with someone else, either.

    Who's an unlikely ally? Lester! Jane wins him over by reminding him about what renegades they both were in the earliest days of the study, and how much they liked knowing they were helping people and also pushing societal boundaries. It doesn't hurt that an old film of Jane getting herself off is playing while she makes her appeal...

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    ...or that a reminder of their younger, sexier days leads her to crawl into his lap.

    Spoiler: Has anyone told Keith his problem isn't going to get solved overnight?

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    Screens: Showtime

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  • Character Study
    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    It Was Beauty Aroused The Beast

    Name: Loretta.
    Age: Late 40s.
    Occupation: Former gorilla handler keeper.
    Goal: To help solve Gil's impotence problem without feeding any of the scurrilous rumours that apparently swirled around her and Gil before she left (or was fired from) the zoo.
    Sample Dialogue: "After he and a female would get acquainted, I'd sit with Gil, and let him know how big and strong he was, what a catch he was -- you know, just cheer him on "
  • J. Walter Weather­man Lesson

    Sick Burn

    Johnny waits for Libby to pop next door to check on the Edleys and then, as soon as he's left alone, takes Bill's precious Ernie Nevers football card...

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    ...and sets it alight on the stove burner.

    Photo: Fox

    Photo: Fox

  • Love, Hate & Everything In Between
    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    The Rent Is Too Damn...Sigh

    Turns out what Libby actually went to the Edleys' to do was give Paul a cheque for the rent on Joy's apartment, which she's been using as her vacation home. After the way Libby told him off about Joy in the last episode, Paul can barely look at her, but he'd still like to know what Joy's plan was: was she going to tell him anything before she left? Libby, remorseful, says she doesn't know. Paul says Joy had him completely fooled: having no idea of her intentions, taking care of her after her aneurysm seemed noble. Libby starts to say "You're left with pain and confusion--" but Paul's not in the mood, snapping at her not to tell him how he feels. Libby pushes through, saying she knows how important it is to have illusions, since now she has none about her own life: "Sometimes, I sit in that apartment and-- and I pretend that my husband is going to walk through the door -- not as he is now, but from another, earlier time. And I sit there thinking, god, if I could just keep this dream alive, just for a little while, just, like, a little bit, each day, then-- then maybe it will allow me to go home, to the real Bill!" Paul's not really interested in hearing this, desperately asking, "What do you want from me? Huh? These past few months, all I have wanted to see come through that door is you." Libby:

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    "That's the only thing I had to look forward to. That was it. And you took it, along with my illusions about my wife. Keep the apartment. It's yours." Hey, free apartment! ...Was that not the point of the scene?

  • Hell No!
    Photo: Michael Desmond / Showtime

    Photo: Michael Desmond / Showtime

    Worst Partner Worsts Again

    Oh, god, so Bill and Virginia are talking about the Gil situation, some more, still. Bill is still very dubious that they're going to be able to help him at all, but says he'll give it one shot. Virginia corrects him, saying they'll try to cure him for as long as it takes: "Because if this were any other suffering male, you would be the first one to help." They'll give Steve the day off, and Virginia will save Gil just like she saved Bill. I mean, not exactly like she saved Bill...I hope?

    So then in comes Dan "Flavours & Fragrances" Logan, all full of a great idea he's been excited to lay on them ever since that mysterious office girl told him that Virginia and Bill are fuckin': his company's débuting a new buttered popcorn flavour, so what if he took everyone in the office to the premiere of The Ghost & Mr. Chicken that night, so he can...try to catch Virginia giving Bill a Handrew Jackson through a hole in his popcorn box, I guess? Virginia thinks it's a great idea, but since it came from F&F, Bill has to stake his claim on her, and announces that he and Virginia have to work that night. Virginia suggests that they could just start the next day, so Bill puts on his heartiest voice to guilt Virginia about abandoning a "suffering male" who needs her. Bill:

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    Screen: Showtime

    F&F:

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    F&F, keeping his eye on Bill, says he was just talking with Virginia about the importance of taking time away from work, HINT HINT, but now is not the time because since the start of this scene, Bill has gotten really excited about treating Gil! Virginia tries to steer Bill off the subject, but Bill is, as usual, a terrible partner generally and in this specific case trying to claim her as his territory, and when F&F finally asks Virginia directly, adult to adult, whether she really is too busy to go to a goddamn movie tonight (I'm paraphrasing), Bill puts on his smuggest face as he finally announces that their patient is a gorilla. Virginia:

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    BILL. VIRGINIA IS NOT A CUPCAKE YOUR BROTHER WANTS THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO SHARE. Stop acting like all you need to do to put him off is lick her so much he doesn't want her anymore. And definitely stop using your shared work to control her.

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  • It's A Date
    Screens: Showtime

    Screens: Showtime

    Oh, This Is What They Meant By "Monkey Business"!

    Do gorilla males respond to meaningless ego stroking the way human males do? Since Loretta declined to return to the zoo on the grounds that it would be too painful for both herself, and Gil, it has fallen to Virginia to find out!

    Who's on a date? Virginia and Gil and Gil's new female mate, though the last of these is not really involved much.

    Where has he taken her? Gil's drawn Virginia to his zoo enclosure with his seductive growling and snuffling, though she has to remain on the opposite side of the bars (...for now?).

    Are things headed in a horizontal direction? WELLLLLLL, maybe. Virginia starts with the sort of verbal exhortation Loretta told Virginia and Bill she used to do: "Go on, go to her!...You're the king, remember? Yes you are, you can-- You can do this!" But none of it has any result; Virginia complains that she's used every line on Gil that she ever did on any man she's known. Bill encourages her, saying that Gil is listening, but Virginia says it's not enough; she wants to call it a day, but Bill's not ready to let her give up yet, and urges her to move closer to the bars. Gil won't meet her eye as Virginia tries to make a connection, reminding him of how he vocalized to her the other day: "You liked me then, didn't you?" She says she can always tell when someone's interested in her, and when she specifically gives him permission to look at her, he finally does. And when he gets an eyeful of her in her seductive grey suit, he is finally moved to come toward her. Virginia's unprepared, and backs up, but Gil knows what he wants and points right at it.

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    "He wants your breast," Bill declares. He reminds Virginia that Loretta is "full-figured," though where he got from that fact to his conjecture that Gil wants to cop a feel of Virginia's boobie, I don't really know? "No one gives of themselves like you, Virginia," wheedles Bill. "You saved me; now it's Gil's turn to be saved." And then Virginia's like, well, if it's for boners...

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    ...and she removes her jacket AND BRA and lets Gil get all up on her. Hand-to-hoot contact is immediately effective: Gil lets go Virginia's knocker and shambles off to give his official mate some sloppy seconds. Zoology is filthy!!!

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  • Wrap It Up
    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    As Virginia and Bill distractedly observe a couple having sex -- Wednesdays, amirite? -- Bill smugly reflects on breakthrough with Gil: "There's something for Newsweek to chew on!" Virginia is very alarmed by this overconfident position, cautioning Bill by saying they can't "cure" anything, and they certainly can't tell a reporter from a national magazine that they can! I'm sure Bill will absolutely respect her wishes on this one!

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Betty and Helen roll into a strip club where Betty's told Helen they're going to meet an orthopedist she knows! Helen is, reasonably, dubious about any medical professional who'd be known to frequent a peeler bar, but Betty knows what she's doing: "These women don't need an orthopedist? On their feet all day, twisting themselves into knots? Can you imagine the wear and tear?" Helen's not so sure she likes the idea of jacking sperm from a strip club habitué, but Betty is: "Honey, he's a doctor. With a face like a movie star and a body that looks like it should be throwing thunderbolts from a cloud. If you want our baby to have the best head start, this is how we do it."

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Of course, it's good old Austin, for the first time in Season 3! I didn't realize how much I missed that gorgeous face until it was in front of me again! He's happy to see Betty again; when she introduces Helen as her girlfriend, he just goes ahead and asks what kind of "girlfriend" Betty means, and Betty's like, "WE'RE LOVERS, Austin," to which Austin's like, cool. Betty tells Austin they want to ask him a favour, and we cut to stage and watch from a distance...

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    Screen: Showtime

    ...as Austin's face goes from serious concentration...

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    Screen: Showtime

    ...to two seconds' reflection...

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    Screen: Showtime

    ...to game! AUSTIN!!! You beautiful tramp.

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Photo: Warren Feldman / Showtime

    Virginia and Bill have dinner with the Newsweek reporter -- who, since he's jumping off from a story Isabella and Al had to "leak" about the "great" "success" they had being treated by Masters & Johnson after a pap caught them leaving the office, wants to know about any other stars they've worked with. Virginia is reserved, telling the reporter that no one case is more important than any others, so the frustrated reporter turns to Bill for something juicier. And because Bill all of a sudden loves talking to the press and is easy and voluble at it, he's expansive and pompous as he agrees with Virginia on the whole: "But, if I were to choose the one case that stood out as particularly meaningful, it would have to be the one involving an ape...Al 'The Ape' Neely! And his wife, Isabella Ricci." Virginia's face melts from tension into relief as Bill smirks to himself about having faked her out...and then he goes ahead and starts talking about an ape taken out of his natural habitat as a metaphor for the Neely/Ricci marriage. Virginia:

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Bill totally ignores the simmering horror and betrayal all over her face as he yammers on: "If you take that ape and damage it, in ways that only humans can inflict damage, watch it turn itself into something it's not, then our job is to take those shattered parts and, uh, bring them together, and allow, through a successful coupling, those wounds to finally heal."

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    Screen: Showtime

    And it's at this point that he realizes he done goofed. (This is as good a place as any to say that for as much shit as I give Bill as a character, this show wouldn't work at all if Michael Sheen were not willing to commit to his most odious moments, and that if you, like me, enjoy him, you need to listen to this episode of the Doug Loves Movies podcast, on which Sheen is totally hilarious and delightful.)

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    And then Virginia drags her weary bones back to her office, where she finds F&F sitting at her desk, in a gorilla suit. She's startled, of course, and notes that he's drenched in sweat, since he's been sitting there for hours waiting for her; he adds that he jammed the zipper on the suit, so he might just have to live in it now. Since he can see her face and has the capacity to read its expression, UNLIKE BILL, he comments that he's starting to think this was a bad idea. Virginia says she knows he was trying to be sweet. He asks how things went with Gil, and she says well -- he and his mate did...you know, mate -- but that Gil needed encouragement from her, and Virginia worries that she took things too far. "What's too far?" asks F&F. Virginia shakes her head, but then she tells him -- or rather, she stammers, "I showed," and sort of mimes what she actually did. "Hm," says F&F.

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    Virginia is amused, and says she didn't. F&F, petting her hair, says he's glad.

    Screen: Showtime

    Screen: Showtime

    And then Virginia smiles for real? Like she actually likes this guy who really likes her too? I mean, yes, he's been cheating on his spouse for his entire marriage, from the sound of things, but then again, so is the other guy she's fucking, and technically so is she. F&F likes her despite her less defensible attributes and choices -- which are myriad -- and without bringing her all kinds of boring daddy issues and decades-old resentments. HOW NOVEL! Virginia, forget your mom; this is the one you need to get to leave his wife!!!

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