Here are the top moments from “Kyrie Eleison:”
New Additions to the Cast
Masters of Sex can already boast of having one of the best ensembles on television, with Lizzy Caplan, Michael Sheen, Alison Janney, Beau Bridges, and Julianne Nicholson making up the cast. It’s always a risk to add members to an ensemble so filled with chemistry because there’s the chance that it can change the dynamic. However, so far the two new additions seem great.
First there’s Keke Palmer as Coral, the Masters’ new nanny. She’s young, sweet, and has plenty in common with Libby. Coral and Libby bond early on over the deaths of their mothers and their need to take over the maternal role in their families. Libby even opens up about Bill’s inability to connect with their child. But once Coral proves to know a bit more about raising a child, by getting the baby to stop crying, Libby’s jealousy severs their connection. She corrects Coral’s grammar in the most demeaning way possible, while pretending she’s doing it for her own good. The look on Coral’s face said it all: she doesn’t have an ally in this woman at all.
The second addition is Betsy Brandt as Barbara, Bill’s new secretary. She’s completely befuddled by Bill’s cold demeanor. Bill had no control over her hiring, as she came with his new job at Memorial Hospital. The plan was for Virginia to convince her to quit, but after a few minutes in her cheery, desperate presence, Virginia changes her mind—for now. The character’s future is filled with potential for conflict and Brandt is always a welcome addition.
Betty’s Contribution to the Office
Betty is still playing the long con with her new Pretzel King husband, Gene. She knows she’s infertile, as does Bill, but Gene is so excited at the prospect of children that she is pretending to get fertility treatments with Bill every week. Bill doesn’t want to keep up the charade, but it’s Gene’s money that got him his position at Memorial. At first, Betty’s presence in the office is treated like comic relief. She’s bringing in donuts and sitting in the office, much to the bewilderment of Barbara. But when she overhears the head of the hospital, Greyhouse, calling Rose, a teenage patient who had a botched abortion, a whore, Betty becomes more than just an added bit of comedy here and there. She goes to Rose and tells her the story of her abusive mother, who used to call her all sorts of horrible names for her lifestyle choices, who she blinded with the heel of her shoe. Betty’s been through a lot and would be the perfect person to counsel women who have been through the same things as her.
Lillian and Virginia’s relationship continues to be the most refreshing part of Masters of Sex. The show could have focused solely on the sexual parts of this world, from the work to Bill and Virginia’s relationship. But they built one of the strongest female relationships on TV with this boss/assistant pair. Both women have ambition and admiration for each other. They never talk about men, mostly their work and each other. It’s perfect.
On Virginia’s insistence, Lillian needs to make an instructional video for doctors who have never done a pap smear before. Lillian only wants to do a pamphlet and the reason why soon becomes apparent. She can barely spit out the dialogue for the video. The director even thinks she’s drunk. But in reality, her cancer has metathesized. We’re going to need a miracle cure over here, because Dr. DePaul is one of the best characters and it’s far too soon to lose her. Virginia thinks so too because she’s declared that she’s going to do everything she can to help her.
“Nothing is ever big enough for you. Your eyes are always on some other prize,” Lillian says to Virginia. She knows her better than anyone else and is the only one willing to call her out. Masters of Sex needs these positive female relationships, because it sets this show apart from everything else.
One of the dangers of having William Masters as the protagonist of TV program is keeping him likeable. Bill was a well-known bastard and not always ethical. On the show alone, he has cheated on his wife, refused to hold his child, and treated the woman he loves coldly. In this episode, he’s faced with the dilemma of pleasing his new boss by doing something unethical or helping just the sort of person that his sex study was designed to help.
Bill’s new patient is Rose, a teenage girl who can’t help her sexual urges, after a badly done abortion leaves her bleeding. She can’t discuss it with her mother, because she sees her daughter as defective and wants to “fix” her. She tells Bill to give her a hysterectomy, without so much as consulting her daughter. When Bill goes to Rose to ask what she wants, she tearfully pleads for him to sterilize her in the hopes that it will take away her dark urges. Bill explains that she’s not her worst part and that one day she’ll be able to understand herself better. Instead of sterilizing her, he simply gives her an IUD.
So much of the real Bill Master’s techniques were seen as unethical that it’s good to see him fleshed out as a person who actually cares about his patients, despite the limited views of him time period.
Bill and Ginny’s Dirty Colleagues
In a brilliantly edited segment, Bill and Virginia both have discussions with their new colleagues about the sex study. Greyhouse asks Bill for details on different positions used in the study. Doctor Ditmer, who has asked Virginia to help his study, examines the Ulysses, the see-though dildo camera from season one. The scene pops from one pervert to the other, each finishing each other’s dirty sentences. The scene ends with Ditmer getting off at the thought of Ulysses and quickly cuts to Greyhouse smoking a cigarette. It’s one of the rare times that the show uses sex-as-humor. It’s a shame that Ditmer’s respect for Virginia was all smoke and mirrors, but it made for a funny scene anyway.
• Bill is disturbed that Coral is only 18. “You hired a child.” Libby and Coral hold hands in the beginning. It’s so cute.
• Greyhouse on Bill: “The fastest spectrum in the west.”
• Vivian has multiple noteworthy interactions throughout the episode. First, she is disgusted by Langham as he flirtatiously puts a cast on her arm. Then she’s disturbed by Virginia’s attempts to talk to her, even though Vivian was engaged to Ethan before Virginia started her relationship up with him again. (Virginia seems to have forgotten he existed at all.) Lastly, she talks to Bill and reveals what really happened to Barton.
• Rose was such a sad character. It’s be great to see more of her. “After, when I think about what I’ve done. What I am…” “What kind of mother would I be anyway?” “I don’t want these sick thoughts anymore.”
• Barton is apparently on a much needed vacation. About the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he said “800 years of leaning. Can you imagine how tired that tower must be?” Even without his presence in the actual episode, he still managed to be one of the saddest parts about it.
• Rose about the IUD: “How’s that supposed to stop me from acting like a whore.” Bill: “Don’t say that Rose…You’re not going to have to suffer like this forever.”