Here are the top 5 best moments from last night’s episode of Masters of Sex:
1. Hendricks’ Objection to the Study
The last episode ended with the assumption that Dr. Hendricks, the head of Buell Green, has been sabotaging the study for nefarious purposes. However, at the beginning of “Blackbird” he explains his position succinctly. Medical history has been marred by white doctors deciding to perform horrific experiments on black people to further stereotypes. Hendricks sees the addition of black patients on the study as a contribution to that long line of disgusting behavior in the medical community. It’s great that Hendricks isn’t being set up as merely a block to the future success of the sex study. (“Most of my staff has never seen a lynching. I have.”) He’s Bill and Virginia’s adversary, but he’s 100% right when it comes to the dangerous tightrope that they walk with their “just the facts” mentality. With the saintly characterization that Bill has undergone this season (at least when it comes to medicine, if not his personal life) it’s good to see him on the wrong end of the argument.
Later, Bill’s interactions with the two journalists proves how terrible he is with human beings. He’s all high and mighty when it comes to medical issues, but he can’t always bring himself to treat people with common decency. The episode ends with some instant karma for Bill. He’s forced to leave Buell Green and finds out that Virginia has been dating Barry Watson for months.
2. Lillian Gives Up
“You seem to not see me as a person, so I trust you to tell it to me straight,” Lillian says to her doctor, as she sits in a CT machine for yet another round of tests. He explains to her that she’s in for months of pain with no light at the end of the tunnel. The radiation would only slow her ovarian cancer, leading to a loss of memory and dignity in her final days. The doctor mentions family taking care of Lillian in her final days, but as we well know, she has nobody in her life by Virginia.
In the end, Lillian decides to stop the treatment so she can die on her own terms. Virginia, of course, is aghast at the prospect of giving up on anything, let alone your life. Resigned, Lillian says “I don’t want to fight with you.” Virginia responds: “You don’t want to fight at all… I don’t know how not to fight.” This interaction makes their final moments together all the more poignant.
3. Virginia’s Meltdown and the Kiss
Stop trying to make viewers believe that the love story is between Bill and Virginia. Nope. “Blackbird” proved that the real heart of the show is Virginia and Lillian. Their friendship will stand as one of the most memorable relationships in the series, even if it lasts another ten seasons. To think they began their relationship with a sort of standoffish animosity. Who knew they’d end up having such a profound effect on each other? Certainly not Virginia.
“I didn’t see her coming,” she tells Bill, when they’re alone in their hotel room. She explains that she’s always had a wall up and Lillian was the first and only one to slip through. (“She’s so rigid and demanding…and not very much fun to be honest.”) It’s ironic that Bill is the recipient of this tearful admission. In the moment (and until the end of the episode), he’s still under the delusion that he means more to Virginia than he does. He assures her that at least they have each other. Then he kisses her; their first kiss, if you’re keeping count. But it’s the kiss that comes at the end of the episode that really matters, the one between Lillian and Virginia. There’s a tenderness and love in that kiss that doesn’t exist with Bill. Not yet at least.
4. Libby Loses Her Damn Mind
The demon formerly known as Libby has taken her crazy to the next level. As if her treatment of Coral wasn’t bad enough, she’s become obsessed with the young nanny and her relationship with Robert. She watches them from the window as he picks her up and drops her off from work. He’s all sweetness and love with Coral, as he helps her into the car, which of course sends Libby into a jealous tizzy. Even Bill has started to notice how insane Libby’s obsession has become. (Libby: “I don’t feel safe.” Bill: “They haven’t done anything.”)
Yet again Libby tries to strong arm Coral into keeping Robert at a distance, this time telling her that he’s not allowed to drop her off anymore. But quiet, adorable Coral takes no shit from her demon employer and completely ignores the request, only pretending that she’s being picked up by her aunt instead. Libby decides that it would be a completely sane thing to follow her home and scrounge through her mail. When Robert reveals that he’s actually Coral’s brother, (Coral apparently built on Libby’s assumption that they were a couple just to mess with her) Libby gets so flustered at the sexual tension oozing from him that she fires Coral on the spot.
(Side note: Did they just write off all the black people in the course of one episode? Yikes.)
5. Lillian’s Farewell
As upsetting as it is to lose a character as pivotal and consistently fantastic as Lillian, her ending was beautiful. After a sweet, drunken conversation between the two friends, Virginia takes Lillian to bed and treats her like a child, a best friend, and a partner. Everything that Lillian never really got a chance to be. She tucks her in, tells her stories, and kisses her on the lips, showing her real affection for maybe the first time in her life. When Virginia comes back, she sees that Lillian has taken sleeping pills. She’s all ready to call an ambulance, but she stops at the last minute. Instead, she holds her friend as she dies. Lillian respected Virginia enough as a woman and professional during their short time together. So, Virginia respects Lillian enough to let her make this decision, as much as it hurts her.
Lillian was a great character and Jullianne Nicholson did incredible work every week. She will definitely be missed.
Bonus Worst Moment:
Betty is always a delight. She’s a funny, smart, and dynamic character who steals the show no matter who she’s interacting with. However, her story has diverged so far from the major storylines, with very little potential to be connected with Bill, Virginia, and the study ever again. At least last season’s insight into married life with the Scully’s had the occasional interactions with Bill and the study. The more that’s introduced into this storyline, the further it pulls away from the major plot. The Betty/Helen/Gene/Al love rectangle could make for an interesting show by itself, but just not this show.