Masters Of Sex Turns Its Central Partnership Into A Fourgy (Not Literally) (Yet...?)
As Virginia and Bill try to continue having inextricably linked careers, everyone around them has to suffer. Let's rank the characters according to who had the most fun, most sexy week!
It's the first week of Bill and Virginia's Playboy-mandated professional relationship, and everyone at the clinic is on edge, though at least Bill is able, subconsciously, to turn his anxiety into a sex dream.
In his waking hours, though, Bill is mostly still pathetic (yay!); Virginia is still sneaky; and their new associates seem very capable of manipulating their weak-minded new bosses. And if they run out of strategies, they can always pick Betty's nimble brain.
Let's rank the characters from who had the best week to who had the worst!
Nancy & Art
Nancy gets off to a slightly awkward start when Betty sends Virginia in to talk to her and Virginia assumes she's a patient. Nope! She's a doctor; formerly, she was Barton's intern, but she just finished her degree, and now she's a candidate to be Bill's new partner. Since this means she's potentially Bill's new Virginia, Bill's old Virginia gets all testy and territorial, micromanaging and undermining her during a mock intake interview. However, Nancy gets her revenge when Virginia is forced, in the absence of other prospects, to hire Art, the doctor Nancy recommended, to be her new partner.
AND GUESS WHAT ELSE THEY'RE SECRETLY MARRIED WHAAAAAAAAAT! We can make a reasonable guess as to why they wouldn't disclose their relationship to Virginia and Bill, but if they have their own plans to fuck up the clinic from the inside, forcing out Virginia and Bill and taking it over themselves...I mean, at this point, they might as well, for the sake of everyone there, including current and future patients who might be better served by doctors who don't have a million problems of their own that they're not working on AT ALL?
Lester's still a sadsack in general, but Virginia gets him to wire up the intake room with a hidden voice-activated tape recorder...
...so he gets the thrill both of being useful and of being in on a scandalous secret.
Bill's given Dale permission to pursue his foot fetish, so he's happy. But he's jizzed all over a pair of his wife Darleen's shoes, so she's less happy? Bill and Nancy assign them the exercise of touching each other anywhere except the genitals and breasts; Bill suggests that Darleen remove her slippers, which she reluctantly does. But as Dale honestly and sincerely tells her why he's so attracted not just to her feet, but also her knees and legs, Darleen starts getting into it, and Dale gets WAY into it. Coitus ensues almost immediately, which seems like a win -- Nancy, for one, can't resist reaching out to celebrate their success with a squeeze of Bill's arm.
We'll get back to that. On the actual bed, Dale is living his best life.
But Darleen murmurs at him, "Don't, it's too weird!" Toe-sucking might seem vanilla in the grand scheme of things, but if you, like Darleen, were scarred by the memory of one of her sister's exes, who could only express his devotion to her by shitting in the trunk of her car, you might have reservations about less-common modes of sexual expression too. But! They are actually having sex, so that's progress.
For the record, I'm offended on behalf of the actually pregnant Annaleigh Ashford that they're explaining the change in her appearance by Daphne Mooning her: creating a storyline in which she's overeating and gaining weight. Might it be hard to write in the real-life pregnancy of a lesbian in a committed relationship, particularly when achieving her partner's current pregnancy was such a challenge? Yes. So just stick Betty behind a desk -- that's where she is most of the time anyway! Whatever: the official story is that Helen is eating for two and Betty's been keeping up. But it's probably also that Betty's stress-eating after her ordeal of running the clinic alone after Bill and Virginia both fucked off for weeks. She got her moment with Bill last week, tough loving him into resuming his professional responsibilities. This week, she corners Virginia with flowers Betty knows Virginia sent to herself, with a card fraudulently attributed to Dan. Betty doesn't know why Virginia's going through this charade (we'll get to that too); what she does know is that she deserves a raise, and keeping Virginia's secret is a good way to get one. Betty may be gentler with Bill because she feels she still owes him for taking a chance on her and letting her quit her job at the brothel; or she may be tougher on Virginia because she's also a working woman and the sole support of her household, who never shirked her duties on the job. Whatever the reason, Betty proves she's the alpha female at the clinic.
It's a delight to see.
Louise hooks Bill up with a sublet so that he can quit sleeping at the clinic and offer a respectable and appropriate place for his children to come see him, should they ever want to, which at the moment they do not. She also tries again to get Bill to understand that he may actually learn useful coping skills at his AA meetings if he makes an effort to participate instead of rudely rolling his eyes through other attendees' shares.
And she looks impeccable doing it. Louise is perfect.
No one would blame Libby Masters for having a nervous breakdown right about now. Her husband couldn't even remain within the very liberal boundaries she'd covertly established for their marriage, and has publicly humiliated her over and over again. Her divorce lawyer is falling behind with her case because his secretary quit and he hasn't replaced her. Reasonably enough, her children have declared their refusal to spend any time with their worthless, trifling father -- a man who, by the way, will invite himself back over to the house Libby's already kicked him out of, pour himself a generous tumbler of her vodka, and brag:
When Bill condescendingly uses the little he's picked up in AA to half-assedly apologize to Libby for his sexual indiscretions, however, Libby decides the time is right to tell him they can call it even, and tell him -- in a fair amount of detail -- all about Robert and Paul; how much and passionately she fucked them both; and how much more they meant to her than Bill.
Once Libby's given Bill all THAT to suck on, she proceeds to make sure Virginia still considers her a friend, which she does...
...and then informs Herb that he's got a new secretary: Libby Masters!
She's St. Louis's answer to Mary Richards! (It's too bad about all those stupid kids, but what can you do.)
Tessa has figured out that her mother is bullshit -- a call from Dan saying goodbye, since he's not going to be in her life anymore, helped confirm the impression she already had -- but at least she has somewhere else to go, and declares her intention to go live with George. Who knew when the series started that he would ever be the responsible one?
The Trials Of Bill Masters continue this week, as he must confront the contempt of both his children and his soon-to-be ex-wife while remaining stolidly convinced that he has nothing to learn from AA due to the fact that he's not an alcoholic. He's also hired a new associate who's pushing all his most Billish buttons: first with that arm squeeze, which gives Bill cause to give her a stern talking-to about not letting sexual impulses intrude on their work; then, when he requires that she tell him her sexual history, which includes a doomed affair with an older authority figure, something we already know is Bill's whole thing. I think Nancy is going to send him, one way or another, to hit a whole new bottom even Louise couldn't foresee. But he actually does help patients this week, which means he comes out ahead of some people.
"By chance," Virginia runs into her old shrink Dr. Madden, at a bar waiting for a blind date. Virginia takes advantage of his date's lateness to start chatting him up to see if he'll come work with her at the clinic. He pretends to think about it but, as soon as she leaves, crumples up her card. But THEN she HAPPENS to run into him AGAIN, and gets him drunk enough both to admit what he really thinks of her -- she doesn't respect boundaries; she can rationalize all her bad decisions -- and to let her seduce him. Afterward, as Dr. Madden sighs his regrets about drinking too much, Virginia coolly touches up her lipstick before turning his assessment of her back on him: "It's interesting, though, how you immediately rationalize your decision. I wonder if that's a pattern for you. You're very good at judging other people, Dr. Madden. Assigning labels, 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 behaviour, 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 those magazine covers? I am very good at my job because I don't judge. But given your limitations? I think it's probably best that we take your name out of consideration for the position at the clinic, don't you agree?"
Virginia joked (?) that she wouldn't tell the American Psychiatric Association about Dr. Madden's breach of ethics, but he's got to be wondering by the end of that monologue how spiteful she's actually going to turn out to be. Also OMG DO YOU THINK VIRGINIA WAS THE NO-SHOW BLIND DATE ALL ALONG????!???!?!?!?
One of the issues that Dr. Madden tried to get Virginia to work on all those months ago during their sessions was what a huge liar she was, but as we all know, that's not an area she's managed to work on. After Dan blows up her spot to Tessa, she has to admit that they never got married and have since broken up; however, it's expedient for her to pretend, at work, that she and Dan are married: "It protects me, okay? If Bill thinks that I'm married, then it takes any complications off the table." She tells Tessa that she expects her to lie about the marriage too. Tessa sadly tells Virginia that she needs "a shrink," which as we all know is true. And if Virginia already wasn't in the bottom 10 of all parents on earth for trying to implicate her daughter in a rather large lie, when she staggers home after destroying Dr. Madden, she defends the lateness of her return by saying that she did what Tessa suggested: she DID see a psychiatrist! Tessa sees through her and sticks to her plan to move out; who will see through Virginia next?