WARNING: Spoilers for Masters of Sex Season 1, Episode 3.
The main theme of episode three seemed to be the limits placed on people by society. The episode started with a flashback to the 1940s, with Bill set to graduate from med school and looking for a way to study human sexuality. He’s told by Scully that that’s impossible. The only way he could manage it would be by going into obstetrics for decades to earn credibility.
Virginia, meanwhile, is struggling with the strictures of the job as Bill’s secretary. While she’s his assistant in secret, due to necessity, she’s very much one of the secretaries when at the hospital. I get the sense that the taste of respect she gets outside normal hospital hours is making the disrespect for women otherwise less palatable.
Virginia seems to have a major problem with all of the conventions of society, as we saw in episodes one and two, with her early adoption of friends with benefits. It seems like Bill and Virgiina are coming at the same restrictions from different backgrounds. Bill wants to study sex, Virginia just wants liberation from the societal strictures put on sex.
They both continue to study at the brothel, but Bill is feeling more and more that the study’s results are being negated by the background of the women. He attempts to get men into the study and gets male prostitutes. While it seems silly from our perspective, I can understand his point of view. We now know that sexual orientation makes no difference to the body’s response to sex, but he doesn’t know that.
Ethan finds a patient that’s about to deliver quads and sees it as his way to fame and fortune. Instead, Masters steps in at the last second and delivers the babies himself. While he doesn’t want the attention, Ethan doesn’t know that.
Virginia finally tells Libby about Bill’s low sperm count. After almost losing her job in the previous episode, I was kind of surprised that Virginia was willing to risk it all again, but it was cruel of Bill to withhold that information from Libby.
So, Libby is highly unlikely to get pregnant with Bill’s children and Ethan, as Libby’s doctor, has a grudge against Bill. It doesn’t take much to realise that the baby is probably Ethan’s.
The show continues to be a strong and powerful drama, showing 1950s medical practices and life in just the right amount of detail. The episode ends with Bill blackmailing Scully into allowing the study at the hospital again. I look forward to seeing where the show goes next.
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