‘Masters of Sex’ Recap: Not Floating, But Falling

Masters of SexPatrick Wymore/Showtime

I said it last week, and I’ll say it again this week: this show sure is hitting its stride. A lot happened in this whopper of an episode, all set against the fatalistic (though slightly forced) background of a simulated air raid. Where to start?

Well, Ethan seems like a logical choice; he seems happily domestic with Virginia (you almost forget that he punched her). But all’s not well – he learns he is effectively fired from the hospital. A quick confrontation with Scully reveals that it was Masters’ poor performance review that barred Ethan from being hired. Thinking jealousy over Virginia is the root of it, he gets into it with Bill, only to find that it was instead Libby’s near-immaculate conception that got him the bad rap. He puts Masters in his place, telling him scathingly, “I’d do it again.” *Mic drop*

And speaking of the Scullys, Margaret Scully is back! After she’s forced to realize that divorce is not really an option for a middle-aged woman (mid-century, remember?), she promptly decides to fix her marriage. Bless her soul, she heads back to the bar and strikes up a conversation with a prostitute, in the hopes of picking up “some of the tricks of the trade.” Yep, and if looks could kill … but after a few words, the prostitute’s won over, and agrees to help. After Margaret outlines her husband’s likes and dislikes (LIKES: Opera, Agatha Christie. DISLIKES: Looking at her during sex, topless Tahitian women), the prostitute gets right to the skinny: “He’s queer!” Margaret’s response? “It’s very queer, yes.” After some tough talk and a couple of giggles, she heads home. The subsequent scene is pure heartbreak – she grabs one of Barton’s ties and curls up into the fetal position.

The next time we see her, she’s going for a cathartic swim. Who else should she run into but Dashing Dr. Langham? He’s also had some pretty world-bending news: he’s just found out that one of his partners in The Study (it earns capitalization, right?) is pregnant. Player-douche that he is, he’s done absolutely nothing about it, but even so, he claims he’s had a worse day than Margaret. (Sorry buddy, think Margaret takes this one.) Despite their messy break-up, they’re able to find comfort with each other as they float and contemplate falling.

Virginia, on the other hand, is a woman of action. She tracks that poor pregnant woman down, and hands her a fat envelope of cash. She also has a chance meeting with Dr. DePaul, and she’s finally able to charm her: next time we see DePaul, she’s dolled up with her hair down from her severe bun. Poor thing does her best “Virginia” in hopes of receiving more funding from the chancellor, but doesn’t quite get it right (“What a delightful necktie – what would you call that color?”/”Red” *crickets*). And in addition to befriending DePaul, the ever-astute Virginia has managed to put together the pieces: Masters’ demeaning attempt to pay her for “conducting research” with him + new knowledge of Libby’s pregnancy = something fishy. She confronts Masters, and accuses him of carrying on a not only physical, but emotional affair with her; an affair he guiltily (and cruelly) wrote off by paying her for it. She’s hit the nail on the head, of course, and she tops it all by admitting that she paid the pregnant woman out of their research funds, promptly quits her job, storms out on him…

…and walks right into Dr. DePaul’s office and hires herself. After hearing of DePaul’s failed attempt at catching a fly with honey (as opposed to her usual vinegar), she informs her of their next strategy. It’s moments like these (excellent) ones between Virginia and DePaul that remind us that Masters of Sex is one of the few shows on air with a female executive producer (go Michelle Ashford!). As the show reaches its climax (I didn’t even mean that sexually, I swear), we’re all on tenterhooks to see where the final two episodes will take us.

Stray Observations

* Jane and Lester (yay?) I’ll ship anything.

* (Regarding golf): “What’s your wife’s handicap?”/”Stella had polio as a girl…” may have been one of the best pieces of dialogue ever.