Here are a few of the top moments from a slow, but pivotal episode of Masters of Sex:
Christian Borle as Frank Mason
Tony winning Christian Borle, best known for his role on “Smash,” joins the cast of “Masters of Sex” as Frank Mason, a former medical school peer who has come from Kansas City with his wife to help get pregnant. The vibe between the two men is awkward from the start, with mentions of writing each other letters and an unspoken rift. Bill has never been the type of person to have friends, so the man’s presence is ominous throughout the episode, as Virginia and Betty try to guess his role in Bill’s life. Virginia even points out that the nom de plume Bill uses at the hotel is Frank Holden from Kansas City.
The end revelation that Frank is Bill’s brother is hardly surprising. They even share the same genetic fertility issues. However, it does add a certain mystery to a character who can often verge on boring. Did Bill always know he had a brother? Did his issues with his father contribute to his issues with his brother? What caused him to stop writing to Frank? Hopefully this revelation with lead to understanding what makes Bill so awful.
Sexual Dysfunctions Are Added to the Roster
For years, Bill and Virginia have been turning away potential study participants for being non-viable. People with sexual dysfunctions weren’t seen as useful to the study, despite all they could possibly learn from it. However, after Barbara’s breakdown in the last episode, Virginia is committed to adding these patients to the study to help understand how psychology impacts sex.
This development leads to one of the most subtly funny scenes in the series. Bill, Virginia, and Betty discuss the prospect of adding this new aspect to the study. Betty, as a former prostitute, is the expert on men with erectile dysfunction. She used to give the men a special Indian tonic, made of rum and cayenne pepper, as a placebo. (The best part is that Bill, who is currently suffering from his own karmic sexual dysfunction, believes the tonic is real for a second and gets a hopeful look in his eyes.) Virginia even recalls a time when her high school boyfriend found his mother’s handkerchief in the car and could no longer sexually perform. Bill helplessly walks back and forth while Virginia and Betty discuss these issues, unaware that he’s suffering in silence.
Libby Observes a Hate Crime
Libby’s role this season has mostly been to furiously stomp in the background, be vaguely racist, and be mostly ignored by her husband. It shouldn’t have been a shock when she witnesses a hate crime only to drive away without so much as calling the police. But seeing her, with her perfect blonde curls, sitting behind the wheel of her picture perfect car, drive past a black man bleeding on the pavement was an appalling image. Even Libby was a bit taken back by her gut reaction to the ghastly scene.
Later, when Bill brings up the incident, he mentions that the man was found with an ounce of marijuana on him, likely planted by the perpetrators (“So I wouldn’t feel too sorry for him if I were you,” Bill says.) Coral’s brother, Robert, comes by to ask for Libby’s help as a witness, as her word as a white woman would hold more weight with the police. In the end, she decides to help him. It’s definitely a turning point for a character who has been so denigrated throughout the season. Hopefully this development doesn’t lead to a seedy affair with Robert, as that would be the most obvious and boring possible outcome. Instead, wouldn’t it be amazing if Libby takes a good hard look at her life, her privileges, and her mistakes and changes for the better? Masters of Sex has never been the sort of show that has women change for a man, so no need to start now.
Virginia’s Career Goals
After hearing Barbara’s revelations that she used to have a sexual relationship with her brother as a child, Virginia decides to go back to school to become a psychologist. She knows that the study can’t just be about the physical facts. The mind is just as pivotal a factor in the study as anything else. Bill pretends to be supportive, just like he did in season one, but also points out that she would need to finish her undergrad degree, a grad program, and 100s of clinic hours. The more Virginia does to help further her own career, the less dependent she’ll be on Bill.
Unfortunately she’s not off to a good start as she begins therapy by pretending to be Barb, discussing her issues as if they were her own. Maybe somebody should explain that whole ethics thing to her.
Langham Becomes the Spokesperson for Cal-O-Metric
Because why not?