Masters Of Sex Recap: The Episode That Keeps Breaking Your Heart
We open with Lizzy Caplan aka Virginia Johnson in the bath, which is really how every show should open. Every episode of “Masters of Sex,” the 6pm news, “Breaking Bad” reruns, “Sesame Street.” Everything could benefit from Lizzy Caplan bathtime.
We are moving briskly along with the Mrs. Masters pregnancy and sex-starved Dr. Haas as her attending physician. No, we still have no idea how she got pregnant given the whole Masters shoots blanks thing.
Dr. Haas is chatting with Provost Scully about his daughter and how Haas maybe kinda sorta went on a date, which is what we’re calling last week’s aborted attempt at fucking. Scully’s daughter looovvvveees Haas and wants him to take her out for an egg cream. No, really. Sort of a step back when you’ve already dumped scotch on her tits, but hey.
Masters and Johnson are ready to move on from masturbation-watching to couples-watching, which leads Virginia to have to try to explain to Masters that (1) you can kinda sometimes tell when people are attracted to each other and (2) sometimes people, if they are “well-matched,” will come at the same time. Masters looks as skeptical as if she was explaining the existence of the Loch Ness monster.
Since the couples study is back on, eager Dr. Austin Langham and secretary Jane Martin from waaaayyyy back in episode one are going to get to have the sexytime again, and they are extremely happy about their contribution to science, until Langham finds out he’s been paired up with random brunette instead. Doctor, you go to science fucking with the lady you have, not the lady you want. Sad doctor cannot get it up for random brunette, who is very matter of fact about the whole thing, while he looks like he might cry.
Haas has decided to take Vivian Scully out on a “proper” date, and oh dear lord they actually did go to a diner to have an egg cream.
Wholesome! Except Vivian doesn’t want wholesome. She’s young! She’s casual! She’s fun! She’s easy! She’s daring! Also, too, she’s not going to tattle to daddy the provost about Haas, so it’s time to have awkward lights out sex and…oh, god, she’s a virgin – full-on blood-on-the-sheets-virgin, a fact she failed to inform Dr. Haas of.
Masters is sleepwalking again, and being a stubborn jerk about doing anything about it. He’s also being a jerk about his mother, but thanks to last week, we now have complex feels about Masters relationship with his mother.
Haas is whining to secretary Jane about what how hard it is on him that he deflowered the provost’s daughter. He doesn’t want to get fired for fucking the provost’s daughter but he doesn’t want to give her the wrong impression and oh, Dr. Haas, you are an asshole. You’re not an asshole for the fuck and run. You’re an asshole because you fuck and run and then whine about it SO HARD.
Oooh, Dr. Langham is mad mad mad because he is going to go down in the study record as a “sexual lemon” – aka he does not want it recorded anywhere that he couldn’t get it up. Man, we are going to use “sexual lemon” for EVERYTHING now, though. Also, too, he really only wants to be in the study so he can make sexytime with secretary Jane as is his god-given right as someone who is married to someone else but really needs to get some on the side, for science. Except that now he’s having trouble getting it up even for Jane. The Masters and Johnson data collection team is intrigued by this change in pattern, but Dr. Langham is just stone cold pissed off that his dick doesn’t work.
Big-time fancy party at the provost’s house for their 30th anniversary. Is it awkward to attend a party at your boss’ house when you are blackmailing him about his sideline gay sex? Yep, it sure is. The provost gives him the coldest of shoulders and instead ostentatiously parades Haas around as his new favorite. Because Masters is not generally a creature with human feelings, he seems confused by the whole thing, because who doesn’t want to hang with their blackmailer?
Allison Janney is here! Oh sweet frabjous day! She’s the provost’s wife and mom to the now-deflowered Vivian, who Haas is avoiding like the plague tonight.
Remember how we learned last week that 1950s dinner parties were awesome? 1950s 30th anniversary parties are positively baller and have bands and fancy dancing and Allison Janney.
Vivian finally corners Haas and drags him outside to tell him that the sex will get better and she loves him and they are meant to be and hahaha suck it, Haas.
Libby is trying to entice Masters to dance, but he just wants to go home because he’s feeling whiny about the fact that the provost no longer loves him. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BLACKMAIL YOUR FRIEND AND MENTOR. She gets up to go to the bathroom and her dress is covered in blood. She’s rushed to the hospital and there’s no heartbeat. Aww, Jesus. She’s clinging to the hope that she hasn’t miscarried, and begs Masters to stay with her, but he tells her he’ll send Virginia in to stay with her instead because that’s compassionate. This is a problem, since Virginia is just leaving the hospital with her kids for a cherry pie and ferris-wheel evening. Her son Henry has been furious and threatening to go live with dad because mom works all the time.
Masters has abandoned his probably-miscarrying wife to go pick a fight with Haas because it is Haas’ fault that his wife might have miscarried. Masters is a prince among men. Virginia has gone in to sit with Libby while Libby tries to sort out why on earth Masters can’t just be vulnerable and be there for her. It’s actually a complex and touching scene, but you spend the entirety of it wondering how Virginia ditched her children.
Tessa is asleep on some waiting room chairs, but Henry has run away. Like, really run away. He’s nowhere in the hospital, and has probably tried to go look for dad on foot. Haas spots Henry walking outside the hospital and brings him in the cafeteria and is actually being a good guy about the whole thing, defending Virginia and being downright understanding and gentle with Henry. Haas, how are you so good with children and so terrible with adults??
Actually, he’s being not terrible with Virginia, even. Goddammit, show, do not make us like Dr. Haas, who is a callow horndog. He’s even offering to spend some time with Henry just so that Henry can connect with an adult male, and he genuinely does not seem to be doing this to get back in Virginia’s pants. He tells her he has a girlfriend now – Vivian – and he can just be friends with Virginia. Good on you, Haas.
Libby has miscarried, and Masters at first to have no feelings about it whatsoever, sending her off with Haas to have the procedure to remove the miscarried fetus. Libby has to beg him again to stay with her and perform the procedure himself, which he finally does. We see the surgery in a scene that is both clinical and tender, with Masters finally connecting with his wife, his child, only at this too-late moment. Masters is at Libby’s bedside when she wakes up, just like a real person.
At first, you feel like Masters is squandering this tiny amount of earned goodwill by immediately turning around and picking a fight with his mother, who is trying to feed and comfort him, but it seems he’s finally going to confront her in a meaningful way about how her refusal to face how Masters’ father beat him, how it affected his whole life. Her head is still stuck in the sand, he tells her, and he is just turning into his father. The scenes between Masters and his mother are among some of the most touching and complex in the series thus far. She’d like to move on, now that Masters’ father is dead, but he won’t let her, but his solution – to simply stay angry, stay repressed – isn’t going to work either, so they stay locked in sadness.
Masters tells Libby that he can’t watch her go through another agonizing attempt to get pregnant and another miscarriage. He isn’t capable of having a dialogue about it. He just informs her, flatly, that he can’t do it. And he’s planning to re-start the study right away. Like this evening. Virginia tells him that isn’t going to happen, not even a little bit, and Masters finally, agonizingly, breaks down and cries. He makes Virginia close her eyes so she can’t watch him, but stands there holding her hand nonetheless, and he’s so little boy lost your heart breaks into a million pieces.