WARNING: Spoilers for Masters of Sex Season 1, Episode 8
This episode focused on the difficulties around the marriages in the show. We start off seeing Ethan waking up and seeing Vivian singing “Love and Marriage”. It gets him thinking that he should propose. He goes to consult Austin and they go to the jewelery shop together. Ethan finds and ring and plans how to propose to Vivian, but she jumps the gun and figures it out. Ethan seems to suddenly become uncertain once it all becomes real.
Meanwhile, Austin meets Margaret at the train station, intending to break up with her. In the previous episode, he’d gotten similar cold feet when she revealed how much he means to her. Margaret realises what he’s about to do and spares him the trouble by dumping him instead.
She goes to a nearby hotel to drown her sorrows and runs into a young man called Dale. Barton’s young prostitute lover. Margaret gets to talking to Dale when Barton turns up. She can see that something is going on, but she doesn’t know what.
Margaret makes a speech about getting married being the worst decision that anyone could ever make. That people grow apart, even if they think they won’t. She retreats down to the ladies room to cry. Barton follows her and feeds her a line about Dale finding him prostitutes to sleep with.
It’s not entirely false, but it leads him to then try to change himself. He wants to try aversion therapy with Dale. Again, this is only sixty years ago, but it just seems so primitive now. Trying to change your sexual preference is like trying to change your eye colour. You can mask it, but it’s never going to really change.
Margaret asks Barton for a divorce.
Meanwhile, Virginia is studying to get her undergraduate degree. She needs to take an anatomy class with Dr Lillian DePaul. Lillian doesn’t mask her contempt of Virginia, but as Virginia shows her dedication, she slowly begins to gain Lillian’s respect.
When Lillian reveals to Bill that Virginia is taking classes, he’s obviously displeased. He can’t reasonably object, though, so he tries to mask it by tell Lillian that it’s interfering with his study. Lillian sees right through him. If Virginia gets her qualifications, then she won’t be under Bill’s thumb any more.
Lillian is looking for pap smears to become routine and she makes a deal with Bill for him to push for funding, if she agrees to discourage Virginia. Lillian does a presentation where she shows stage four cancer in a patient and we learn that the patient is her. She’s going to push for pap smears at any expense.
Bill is pushing for more and more “research sessions” with Virginia, while she’s trying to pull back. His sessions are obviously just a way of getting her into bed, but they do share a moment of pure research at the end when they watch the first film from inside a vagina.
The show is now very much a soap opera, however with a HBO budget. While it’s not one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment, it’s a good stop-gap until Vikings, Da Vinci’s Demons, Game of Thrones and even The Walking Dead. return. While Masters of Sex makes a lot more sense than The Walking Dead, there just doesn’t seem to be much of consequence happening. If that continues, I can’t see staving off boredom for too much longer.
Not that it’s boring yet. At the moment, there’s just enough happening to keep things ticking over.
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