Masters of Sex puts it gloves up tonight in the latest review.
Masters of Sex: Season 2: Episode 10: Below the Belt: GRADE: B
So somewhere during this episode I think the show just said, “Fuck it. Bill Masters is a self-destructive asshole!”
That seems to be the behavior of the night for old Bill here, sure he’s shown that in the past, but not as full force as tonight. This week our centralized theme is more or less the same as last week of truth, lies, and demons, with Bill right in the center of it. Most notably with Frank.
Bill feels that Frank is completely delusional about what life at home was like after he left. That father really didn’t beat him the way he beat Bill. Bill just can’t conceive that, Frank was the loved one, doted upon, and respected. Their mother in the episode says,“Everyone has their own version of everything that’s ever happened”. Bill and Frank try to reconcile their versions of their upbringings, but the more Frank reveals the more it does dawn on Bill that Frank was beaten too. Though Frank’s use of impotence also might have helped set Bill off in a furry that leads to them fighting. Frank wants Bill to write his own ending to his story just as Frank is doing with his. Bill’s torment from his father is what’s channeling him to be a better man, to succeed as a man and professional in the his father didn’t. Yet still afraid he’s gonna be the rage-fueled monster his father was. Frank wants to heal things further with him, but Bill doesn’t seem to want to.
They have a chance for the study to be further noticed and expanded upon with a chance to be on TV, but he doesn’t want his dignity or the studies reputation mocked, and he won’t let other businesses rent out spaces on his floor cause he wants his work to shine bright most of all. Michael Sheen makes this work. Yes Bill is full on asshole for the most part of this episode but his performance is great and very detailed in manners as it has been from the start.
Part of the season has been an examination about Bill and his upbringing when brought up back in Fight to his impotence which he and Virginia begin tackling. They are back to being together as part of the study and Virginia takes initiative in commanding over Bill, dominating him. He starts to enjoy it and is aroused as Virginia feels an erection grows but loses it once she goes to further it into straight sex. Its all about emotional connection as they are exploring to help cure one’s impotence, which Lester has with Barbara as they meet for the first time and from they way they meet and their diner scene, they will fall in love and be the answer to each other’s problems. I have no problem with that given the performance of the characters are great. They are each other’s bastions of hope for their dysfunctions.
Virginia also contemplates she’s still deceiving herself about herself and Bill, which is what the therapist implies after she comes clean to him (by the way that’s two Star Trek alums this season with John Billingsley joining the previously guest stared René Auberjonois). She fears she’s still hurting his marriage and while what they are doing is in the name of the study again, she might know its not right.
We do see Austen is settling in nicely to his new job with Cal-O-Metrics and Flo which takes a weird turn as she basically makes him sleep with her in order to keep his job. This kinda doesn’t make much sense to me given she would have this much leverage over him to make it happen. Sure she’s top dog but losing this gig wouldn’t hurt Austen too much. I mean he’s still a doctor, right? Its a bit unsure if he’s doing both jobs, but given the schedule she laid out its slightly implied he quit being a doctor for this, but if not, he still would have the job back at the hospital, being well paid.
Also Betty’s here this week. That’s all on her part.
We also have Libby and Robert’s parts at the CORE office with their not-quite flirting. It seems obvious here as well that they well be together because Libby just wants someone to appreciate her and see her as someone valuable which she obviously isn’t getting from Bill. This feels more tied to Bill’s story than Austen’s bit and I get we need subplots, I’m a writer myself and studied all there is about scripting, though it still feels disconnected. Libby is having an arc where Austen is simply just going by.
The episode feels a bit uneven, but at its center still progresses the season in a fantastic way. What works works well for the story, what doesn’t feels disjointed and doesn’t add too much, but this is still one of TV’s best offerings.