Masters of Sex Review: "One for the Money, Two for the Show"

(Episode 2.11)

TV Reviews Masters Of Sex
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<i>Masters of Sex</i> Review: "One for the Money, Two for the Show"

It might be a little strange this soon after a time-jump to be hoping for another one, but now that Libby is no longer content to suffer silently in a dying marriage, it seems like that’s the next logical step for Masters of Sex. History tells us Bill Masters didn’t divorce his first wife to marry Virginia Johnson until 1971, which means we’ve got a long road ahead of us if we’re still talking about the Nixon/Kennedy presidential debate.

With just one episode left this season, it’s fair to speculate where next year will take us, and this week’s “One for the Money, Two for the Show” made it pretty clear that the suffering we’ve watched for two seasons now can’t sustain itself much longer. Bill’s still impotent (it turns out last week’s tryst with Virginia was just a fluke), Virginia’s still struggling to balance her work and her home life, and the study’s still not being accepted by mainstream America—despite the efforts of a PR consultant and a CBS news crew—the way Bill would like it to be. The only fundamental change is in Libby.

She’s called to the office to bring Bill a regular tie (his bow-tie, worn so as not to get in the way during patient examinations, is not TV-friendly) and answer a few questions on-camera to assure viewers that Bill’s a respectable, married man and not some pervert. But after watching Bill (who initially struggles during the interview) and Virginia finish each other’s sentences, she decides she doesn’t want to be “the woman behind the woman behind the man” and heads downstairs to her office, where Robert is awaiting any potential news from Atlanta about the arrest of Martin Luther King. He gives her a ride home, and after they’re confronted by a suspicious police officer outside her home, Libby invites Robert inside to prove a point (to the cop, but also to herself). After a well-acted speech about how she’s always been a “little grown-up” and how Robert’s initial contempt for her was a relief because “at least someone is seeing you and you are not invisible,” she kisses him, and they finally sleep together.

It seems like this will usher us into the final chapter of Bill and Libby’s failed marriage. His infidelity and neglect have been two constants in their life together, but Libby’s no longer willing to sit idly by and be ignored. This seems like the tipping point, and it doesn’t feel like their inevitable divorce can be dragged out beyond next season.

Likewise, there’s only so much mopey, impotent Bill that viewers can take, and this week he didn’t appear to make any strides towards rectifying his mood or his erectile dysfunction. After bombing on camera, he looks to Virginia for reassurance that he’s attractive and laments the fact that he doesn’t have the same twinkle in his eye as JFK. “I’m the guy who doesn’t smile,” he cries. “I can’t twinkle. I can’t fuck.” It’s a sad sight, particularly when it’s capped off with Virginia cradling Bill like a baby (just moments after pointing out that she’s here with him instead of tucking her children into bed). It’s supposed to be an intimate moment between the two, perhaps, but instead it just comes off as pathetic. I for one am ready for Bill to overcome his impotence so these two can get back to their normal routine of sleeping together and slowly but surely moving their relationship forward. Right now it seems like we’re stalled, and jumping ahead to a time when Bill and Virginia are successful—with the study or with their own relationship—might be the solution.

Stray Observations
— “When has self-awareness ever changed a person’s behavior?”
—Virginia’s kids leaving to go to Europe with their father for six weeks certainly makes sense for the story, but could it also be a way of coping with the fact that the child actors who play them have not aged at all after the first time-jump on the show?
—The Flo/Langham plot continues to be pointless and grating. It seems like every interaction they have is reduced to “Haha, can you believe a man who looks like Langham is with a woman who looks like Flo??” and that rubs me the wrong way.
— “Censorship perpetuates shame.”