Reunited, And It Feels No Good
While Bill and Virginia resume their professional relationship somewhere other than a hotel room, Betty gets a visit from an old friend! Those are always fun.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Libby Masters And The Travelling Pity Party
There was once a time, and it wasn't terribly long ago, when Virginia and Libby had a pleasant and cordial relationship and were actual legit friends. Then some things happened to ruin that, like Virginia secretly fucking Libby's husband, and also Libby's motherhood and general dissatisfaction with life -- a lot of which is her own fault (motherhood) -- and now when Libby just "happens" to find herself in Virginia's neighbourhood because she was out driving Johnny around to calm him down and then noticed where she was, what might have been a perfectly nice few cups of coffee is suuuuuuupes uncomfortable to watch. Libby is straining with every tendon to show off how happy and relaxed she is as a mother, and how it doesn't bother her that Bill won't brag on his kid and that she had to stick a photo of Johnny in Bill's wallet just in case he ever wants to show it to anyone, or that the study is back on; meanwhile, Virginia lies her face off about how little she's seen Bill lately. Anyway, it doesn't take long before Libby starts in with the real airing of grievances, specifically about Bill making himself increasingly unemployable by ending up in jobs with less and less prestige, finally ending up in a black hospital, not that Libby's prejudiced, she had Johnny there, but...you know. "He is not just rolling downhill, Ginny, he is picking up speed!" And where's he going to end up if he quits or gets fired from Buell Green: "The resident doctor at the state penitentiary?" As Libby's fake friend, Virginia fakes commiseration without really committing to any particular position with regard to Bill's professional standing and dreams of the floor swallowing her up and ending her torment. Cute baby, though!
You Know, I Hate To Raise A Crass Financial Concern, But...
Situation: Bill's latest new job brings with it an offer for Virginia to come work for him again.
What Makes It Awkward? He thinks she's going to drop her panties right there in the hotel lobby bar out of gratitude, but instead she presses him for details. What will her title be? Responsibilities? Salary? Can he offer her any kind of guarantee that if he throws another hissy and ends up losing this job, too, will she still be able to stay on and work there if she wants to? Every time Virginia reminds Bill that, as much as she loves science, she does have two kids and thus can't be as reckless as he can, it makes him REALLY uncomfortable, and this is no exception. But then she makes things worse by sniffing that he shouldn't have assumed that just because he called she'd come running, since she does have other options. He says something snarky about her other "opportunities," and when she haughtily reminds him about her job with Lillian, he's like, not so fast, but she knows we're fucking. So now they're both on their heels.
How is order restored? It isn't, yet. In fact, we don't even see if they have sex on this particular night (though...let's be real, right? Probably).
Whatever You're Doing, He's Deeply Disappointed In You
Name: Dr. Charles Hendricks. Age: Early 50s. Occupation: Hospital Chief Of Staff (I think? Whatever the HBIC is called). Goal: To keep Bill Masters, his new big-name hire, happy. Sample Dialogue: "I ruffled a few feathers around here to get that one done [arranging a dedicated sex-study exam room next to Bill's office suite]; space is at a premium around here."
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Virginia vs. Lillian
Knowing that Lillian knows, Virginia stomps into work FURIOUS and confronts Lillian, demanding to know what difference it makes to Lillian what her employee might do outside the hospital as long as she's good at her job. Lillian smoothly replies that she thinks it would make a pretty big difference to Libby. Virginia hotly replies that she and Bill aren't having an affair; they're participating in his study. Lillian is incredulous that this is how Bill is "pitching it" to Virginia, adding, "So let me understand: it's okay because you're taking notes?" OOOOOOH, SICK BURN FROM A SICK LADY. Virginia accuses Lillian of spiking her own pap smear program out of spite at Virginia, and as they raise their voices loud enough for all the secretaries outside the office to hear, Lillian shoots back that Virginia was smart enough to have made herself important to Bill's study "another way" than by sleeping with him, and that she is "capable enough to have waited for a job that she earned." Virginia snaps that she didn't have familial support or money to give her a hand up, and though this all boils down to Lillian thinking Virginia is proving every stereotype about "feminine wiles" in the workplace and Virginia thinking Lillian never respected her as a fellow scientist, it just keeps getting louder, with Lillian snitting that she should have known Virginia would just follow Bill wherever anyway, and as Virginia gathers up some reports to deliver to some other doctor, Lillian screams after her, "Try not to perpetuate the sick belief that women need to open their legs to get a leg up!" It's no "Try not to suck any dick on the way through the parking lot," but it's pretty good.
Winner: Lillian; anyone who cedes the field loses automatically, if you ask me.
Helen Of Oy
Name: Helen. Age: Early 40s. Occupation: Fortune teller. Goal: Officially/as far as Gene is concerned: to rekindle her friendship with Betty; they haven't been close gal pals since Betty got married, you know how it is! Unofficially, she's still hurt that Betty dumped her for Gene -- they were longtime lesbian partners back when Betty was still working at the brothel -- and she's letting Betty know that she can't get rid of Helen that easily. Sample Dialogue: "It turns out she has a very long love line....See there? It means true love -- long love, meant to last the ages."
BUELL GREEN HOSPITAL
Dear Mrs. Johnson,
Please find attached a legally binding contract for your employment at Buell Green Hospital, in the position of Dr. William Masters's
concubine secretary assistant"Science Buddy." Though it is not our practice at Buell Green to offer our support staffers any kind of employment guarantee, Dr. Masters has given me to understand that you are not a mere support staffer and that if we do not accede to his wishes with regard to your demands, he will make us the third hospital he's fled in as many months, and since we can barely afford to pay his inflated salary as it is, I am eager to keep him happy as I assume you are too or else why would he make a federal case about this contract?
Anyway, welcome aboard. Please note that your contract does not explicitly require you to participate in the sex study with Dr. Masters, so if he tells it isn't and then immediately changes his mind and says it is, we recommend that you think of ways to make that experience more interesting to you and also to any future scholars who may refer to the study in their research, or perhaps "research."
Buell Green Hospital
Lice To Meet You
Who called the meeting? ...Okay, it's this dude Robert? Libby assumes that he's Coral's boyfriend, and Coral does not correct her (quite the contrary, in fact, as we will soon see), but the description of the episode on the Showtime site and on the digital guide says he's Coral's brother, so if that's a big reveal yet to come, way to go, Showtime blurbsters.
What's it about? Libby's forcible shampoo job on Coral.
How'd it go? In the moment, it goes well: Robert is calm, direct, and clear as he tells Libby that although Coral doesn't know he's there, he came on her behalf because he considers Libby's treatment of Coral to be inappropriate. He tells her he's going to keep asking Coral how her day was when she gets home, and he is certain that whatever the problem was with the shampoo, it won't happen again, and that they'll keep this visit between themselves. Libby is so shocked to be addressed in this way that she can't even choke out a response as he strolls away, bathed in the glow of righteousness. Robert, whoever you are, you are great.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Helen vs. Betty
Betty buttonholes Helen outside her fortune teller shop and demands to know why she showed up at the Moretti house: does she want money? Helen snidely says she thinks she remembers Betty throwing hundreds out the window of a fancy car when she took off with Gene. But no, she doesn't want Betty's money: she wants Betty to know that she broke Helen's heart. Betty protests that they agreed it was best if she married Gene -- "You agreed," Helen snaps -- and anyway, what kind of a future did they have together, living like spinster sisters or not getting served in a lesbian bar because they don't look butch enough: "We both like dresses, so we're just gonna have to buck up and-- and do the right thing." Yikes, and also sad. Everyone should get to wear dresses who wants to, even if we don't all look as hot in them as Eddie Izzard does. Betty reminds Helen that Betty fucked hundreds of men for money, and she's not apologizing for any of it because now she has gold faucets, lots of hats, and access to beef bourguignon, which I guess was hard to come by in the late '50s. "You've still got to sleep with him and not me," Helen says throatily. "Well, nothing comes free," Betty replies. And that's when Helen decides that maybe that Al guy that Gene mentioned wanting to set her up with when she popped by will be exactly what Helen needs to make her own life complete! Betty firmly says that Helen is not going on any double dates with anyone Gene knows, and she's not getting back into Betty's life "after the hell it took getting [her] out, but Helen is undeterred: "Fuck you, Betty. You got to grab the brass ring. Well, now it's my turn."
Winner: Helen, although...it kind of feels like everyone's losing out here. With the possible exception of Al.
Dr. Masters, I Forgot Something In My El Dorado, I'll Be Right Black-- BACK! ...I Won't Be Back.
Alert Type: Segregation Alert.
Issue: I don't know if you've heard, but Bill has a new job at a new hospital.
Complicating Factors: The (white) patients of Bill's OB/GYN practice are not super-crazy about coming to see him at his new office in the [whispering] Negro hospital! (Less-pressing issue: if trends continue, Bill and Virginia are going to get an influx of African-American subjects into what has to this point been an all-white study, so Virginia is thinking that maybe they will need to keep the results they discover separate in the eventual publication? Bill is against it, but it does come up.)
Resolution: Does this count? After a fist fight breaks out in the waiting room when the white husband of one of Bill's white patients throws a punch at the black husband of a patient waiting to see Bill's new colleague, Dr. Franklin, someone decides that even though space limitations require Masters and Franklin patients to share the same waiting room, signs will direct them to opposite sides of the room, thus reducing the risk of any accidental eye contact. Of course, this will be less and less an issue as Bill's patients continue their exodus to other OB/GYNs in the greater St. Louis area who won't expect them to park their nice cars in neighbourhoods they assume are sketchy because [whispering] Negroes live there.
Spoiler: Bill and Dr. Hendricks differ greatly on the question of addressing patient attrition.
J. Walter Weatherman Lesson
Spanks But No Thanks
Though Robert had explicitly said that he thought Libby should keep his impromptu visit a secret, Libby wastes no time in running to Coral to lord it over her, starting with "Your young man paid me a visit." Coral shits a brick, of course, but Libby decides she's going to be fake-nice today, saying she knows that Coral doesn't have a mother to guide her, so Libby's going to step into that role and warn Coral that Robert -- who, she says, threatened her, though she's not going to tell Bill or the cops -- is "very angry" (read: "a black man in 1958 who spoke to a white lady in a way she didn't like") and that Coral should "ease him out gently" for the sake of her future. Coral carefully says, "We live together. And I should leave him, I certainly should," since she agrees with Libby that he does have "a temper." Turns out that's not the end of Coral's remarks on the subject, though: "But then, when it's late, and it's just the two of us alone in our bed, well, all the bad stuff just goes away. He's real soft with his hands and his lips. The way he touches me, his breath in my ear, oof. Well, I'm sure you can understand how hard that is to leave -- you being a woman of the world. But I will think about what you said. And once I'm finished making Dr. Masters's bed, should I make yours too?"
If Robert DOES turn out to be her brother and Coral is a virgin and this whole routine was Coral fucking with Libby because she knows which buttons to push, then Coral is the queen of this show forever.
Can't The Enemies Of Science Just Get Out Of The Way And Let People Bone?
Alert Type: Prude Alert.
Issue: Virginia's soliciting new study subjects by posting flyers on corkboards around Buell Green.
Complicating Factors: Someone keeps ripping them down and throwing them away.
Resolution: Virginia blames this delivery guy who gave her a weird look when she was putting one up outside Bill's office, but shrugs it off and makes more.
Spoiler: That delivery guy very well could have been a prude but he didn't do it.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Libby vs. Bill
Having gotten in the middle of the waiting room brawl, Bill -- as Libby cleans up his wound -- is marveling at how a man who could have been so gentle and solicitous the last time his wife gave birth could turn on a dime and call a stranger a VERY bad slur (hint: it starts with the letter "n"). Libby tightly says it must be "something in the air," and tells the worst version of Robert's visit -- or, as she puts it, the time "a large coloured man banged on the door" and threatened her. Given the way Libby describes it, Bill is alarmed by the mention of threats, which forces Libby to walk back on her story, particularly the incident that occasioned it, which obviously she never told Bill about because she knew it was shitty at the time and now it's even harder to defend. Bill is pretty horrified that Libby would degrade Coral that way and says so, causing Libby to yelp, "I'm standing up for you!" "I didn't do anything wrong!" he replies. (I mean...not that she knows of?) Bill firmly says that Libby has to apologize to Coral, and that Robert's reaction was pretty mild, considering that if anyone had done such a thing to Libby he would destroy them, basically, and Libby can't really say anything back because she knows that (a) he's right and (b) she's gross.
Where The Elite Meet To Perpetuate The Fiction That They're Straight
What's the occasion? Gene has arranged a blind date for Helen and his pepperoni-hawking friend (not a euphemism) Al, despite Betty's best efforts, which included telling Gene that he should call off the blind date with Al because Helen is both unhygienic and a degenerate gambler.
What are the refreshments? Lots of talk of pepperoni (from Al); lots of white wine (for Betty).
Whose embarrassing public scene will everyone be talking about tomorrow? When the subject of Helen's horse betting arises (Al is cool with it -- he even has a system he'd love to tell her about!), Helen tells a sweet story about a time when she heard that a horse called Beautiful Betty was running in the Kentucky Derby, so she took her last $2 to bet on her and gave Betty the ticket, so that whenever she was down, she could look at it and remember that someone was betting on her. Hey, did that horse win? No, it broke a leg and had to be put down. This makes Betty and Helen start laughing hysterically until Betty's laughter curdles into tears and she takes off to the bathroom to smoke and collect herself.
Helen follows, sits next to Betty, and plants a romantic yet tongue-free kiss on her. "You can't do that," Betty says. "I just did," Helen replies. And then some broad comes out and if she saw the two of them sharing a kiss that's juuuuuuuuust on the line of "friendly," then the Pretzel King's queer wife will be the talk of St. Louis soon, if her noisy guffawing in the middle of some fancy-pants restaurant isn't already.
Wrap It Up
Virginia gets a call to go pick up a sulky Lillian at Maternity. Some kid found Lillian passed out in the bathroom, and Lillian couldn't think of anyone else to call to get her. When Virginia drives her home and parks, Lillian announces that she won't be going back to Maternity: "As a patient, maybe, but never again as a doctor." She thinks it would be irresponsible of her to stay on knowing how quickly she's deteriorating, and she doesn't want to wait to be asked to leave when someone notices that she's losing words on top of everything else. Virginia wryly says that Lillian is still quite eloquent when she's expressing disappointment. "Did I apologize?" Lillian asks. Virginia shakes her head. Lillian: "Good." Hee. Lillian admits that she's afraid of what's ahead, and she knows she can't afford to stay mad at Virginia, and Virginia takes her hand and smiles bravely and thank god the show let them be friends again, even if it's...probably not going to last very long.
Robert pulls up outside the Masters house to pick up Coral from work, and Libby very stiffly comes out to talk to him. In her most strained white-lady voice, she tells him that she understands that he came to see her out of concern for Coral, and not to threaten her, and that after thinking about it, she thinks she may have overreacted when she washed Coral's hair, but she blames new motherhood for her having blown things out of proportion. ("Bitch, keep me out of this." - Johnny.) Robert endears himself to me even more -- which I didn't think was even possible -- by not saying anything, which flips Libby back into C mode as she impugns his lack of common courtesy for not accepting her apology. Robert replies that she should be apologizing to Coral, but Libby -- because, I think, she feels like his silence, followed by his EXTREMELY CORRECT observation that she is still handling this ALL WRONG -- says she's not going to apologize to Coral, who disobeyed her. This is when Coral comes out of the house, and Robert loudly tells her, "Pay attention, now, Coral, 'cause this here's a good lesson for white people's inability to take responsibility for their actions." I mean, he has a point. Libby is aghast to be lumped in with all the other terrible "white people," and as Robert pulls away, she shrieks after them, "YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT MY HUSBAND WORKS IN THE NEGRO HOSPITAL!!!" So it's cool when you need to pretend you're not a bigot? Nice.
Bill and Virginia have a kind of awkward meeting with Dr. Hendricks in which Bill apologizes for not having foreseen that his patients and their husbands would be total bigots who wouldn't act right at Buell Green. Bill supposes that losing some patients is "inevitable," but that when they try out other doctors, they'll realize how much better Bill is and come back. Hendricks is pretty incredulous that Bill's attitude toward losing business is basically "¯\_(ツ)_/¯" and spins an analogy about how you can get into a cold lake either in painful, tentative inches or by jumping right in, and that Bill was his jump in a lake: he doesn't have time to change people's minds about segregation with careful half-measures, and he was counting on Bill and his white patients to integrate Buell Green. Therefore, Bill can't just sit on his hands and wait for his patients to come back: he needs to be aggressive in calling them up and selling himself to them, for the hospital's sake. Bill and his white privilege are verrrrrrrrrry uncomfortable with all this frank talk about racial stuff. It's almost as gauche as talking about money!!! Hendricks talks about Martin Luther King having called St. Louis a city that's embracing its future, and he wants to take up that challenge and integrate Buell Green: "Are you willing to help me do that?" Bill demurs that changing the course of history is not within his purview, but Hendricks counters that if he really thought not, he wouldn't bother with the sex study. Bill, through clenched teeth, says that wooing patients is not really his jam, but that it sounds like a great job for Virginia. Hendricks doesn't say in so many words that Virginia better start earning that employment contract he got her, but that's obviously what he means.
When Hendricks leaves, Virginia asks if Bill just said that about her to appease Hendricks, but Bill replies that he said it because it's true; there are things she's better at than he is. Virginia, joking, asks if that means she's going to see Bill in the front row at "Dr. King's next rally," but Bill dismissively snaps, "Be serious, Virginia. That's not my fight." That's what he thought about gay people, too, and look how far he came on that one!
And then, as Hendricks leaves the hospital, he passes a notice board with Virginia's flyer on it and totally rips it off! HE DOESN'T SUPPORT THE STUDY AT ALL! Better start delivering some white-ass babies, Bill!