“And so the minute we work out how to fit a brownie into a woman’s vagina, our problems are solved.”
I love that line.
“Love and Marriage” gives us both the rise and crumbling of some of the show’s couples, gives us an inside view of the female anatomy and reminded us that James Buchanan was, at the time, the only Presidential bachelor. Remember that. It will be handy for trivia.
We start off with Virginia and Jane, who is ever curious about her job performance. But as long as there’s no mayonnaise on Dr. Masters’ sandwiches, Jane doesn’t leave paper clips strewn about, does not ask question and is careful about the desks, she will be fine. As long as she turns out better than her cousin, May, who was fired from her boss after they had late night sex, he felt guilty for cheating on his wife and used May as a scapegoat, she’ll be fine.
Later, Virginia pays a visit to Dr. Lillian DePaul, who is examining some corpses that she plans to use for her class. She notes to Virginia that the corpses have been assigned numbers. However, given that the corpses once had names, a family, a life, she wants all of that information to be used so her students will have a connection with it. Virginia mentions that she wants to finish her undergraduate degree and still needs to complete a basic anatomy course, which Dr. DePaul just happens to be teaching. Given how busy Virginia is with the study, and how much she already knows about the body, she hopes that she can just place out of the course. Of course, Dr. DePaul won’t have that and is positive that Virginia can use her other assets to continue getting ahead. Noticing the ever apparent friction between the two, Virginia, unable to place out or take the class for partial credit, decides to enroll.
That evening, Margaret Scully is sitting on a bench by a train station, as if waiting for someone to arrive. Far off, she spots Austin Langham cancelling a pair of tickets. As it turns out, Margaret also had second thoughts on going out of town. Furthermore, she declares that they can no longer be together. Her cover story to Barton about visiting her Aunt Caroline would have stayed with her forever and it would be beneath her to shoulder such a lie. As it is, Langham and Mrs. Scully’s fling has come to an end. Langham, though clearly upset, respects the decision and promises to always think of Margaret with great affection, but the book has closed on their affair.
Back at the hospital, Virginia reads about systolic and diastolic pleasure with the enthusiasm of a corpse. This sort of information, she notes, belongs in a scientific journal with the rest of the boring information. Bill, watching nearby, refuses to relegate this type of information to a journal, but wants it to be used in Friday’s presentation. Virginia suggests spicing things up by showing the dynamic findings of vaginal contractions, but you can’t just wire up a vagina for graphical verification. Now, anyway. Bill gets his second wind and is ready for round two for the night, but Virginia is expected at home and she reminds Bill that he has, you know, a wife.
Briefly, we get a glimpse at Langham’s home life with his many kids and finally meet his wife, Elise, played by Elizabeth Bogush. Austin comes bearing gifts, including a Hoover vacuum for Elise. Not the best gift, but nothing to write a column about, either.
After her breakup with Austin, Margaret takes solace in drinks at a hotel. And who else is sitting a few seats away from her but Dale? Mrs. Scully asks whether Dale’s waiting for a mystery woman. Suddenly Barton! And, of course, the situation turns awkward as Barton tries to spin the situation: Dale is an up and coming student with a bright future in pathology, so Barton left his cancelled board meeting to meet up with him. Margaret doesn’t buy it, but leaves Dale with the parting words that he should stay single to avoid the sting of being let down by someone who loves you the most. When she leaves, Barton catches up with her and confesses everything: Dale gets him prostitutes. Yep. That’s how the story goes.
Virginia finds herself arriving late to Dr. DePaul’s class, but appears to make up for it with her knowledge of the body. Dr. DePaul, however, doesn’t seem to want to give Virginia the satisfaction of knowing more than the class, so she avoids picking on her when possible.
Elsewhere, Bill goes to meet Lester Linden, played by Kevin Christy, a cameraman who knows his way around the hardware. For example, one of Lester’s camera actually went all the way down a person’s throat. Given Lester’s expertise, Bill proposes that said technology be used for a greater purpose.
Said purpose does not involve his wife, as Libby has found herself dancing around the house with the help of the handyman, Walter, played by Flex Alexander. Though originally called to help with the gutters, Walter notices Libby dancing and shows that he knows just as much about the tango as he does about architecture. Walter and his wife, before she died, used to dance often and he’s able to show Libby a few moves. It’s brief, but we do see shades of the happy, lively Libby that we got to see in Miami a few episodes ago.
So if Libby gets to be happy, someone else has to be stuck. We return to the hospital with Austin Langham and Dr. Haas, who just overheard Vivian singing along to “Love and Marriage,” as the two discuss…well, love and marriage. Langham is still distraught over both his breakup with Mrs. Scully, but also the evident lack of passion in his actual marriage. Haas, on a bit of an upswing, advises Langham to shower his wife. After all, a wife stays with you despite your faults and failings. He’s quick to point out that Langham isn’t exactly husband of the year, never mind how Haas said once that Vivian took advantage of him. Either way, the talk of loyalty and devotion gets Langham thinking of a jeweler in Washington that the two can visit.
Virginia brings the ‘video of the vagina’ idea to Jane, who at first finds it creepy. Despite being voted most likely to be in pictures, Jane finds it repulsive until Virginia mentions that Jane would play a role in the cutting edge of science. Besides, no one would recognize the anonymous organ. Convinced, and once again wanting to play a role in the study, Jane agrees. Oh, and she requests that her vagina be named “Beav St. Marie.” Not on the top on my list of names for my unborn daughter in the highly unlikely chance that I am wed, but I digress.
Lester manages to hardwire a camera into Ulysses, though he’s still unclear on why he needed to do that. But it’s for the best, as the camera can now shoot 24 frame per second in color. Enter Jane, patient F-26-002 and Beav St. Marie’s close-up.
Back with the anatomy course, Dr. DePaul shows the class the body of a man named Dr. Lloyd Dames. He had four kids by his wife, Susan, and nine grandkids. He also played the accordion. When Dr. DePaul brings up the scalpel, none of the men are eager- one even faints. Once again, only Virginia Johnson has the knowhow for this. Sure.
At a picture show, Barton, who actually managed to convince Margaret to go out with him, points to the young couple in the next car. When Barton tries to put the moves on her, it only works for a second. Margaret lets him have it and notes that passion does not make the marriage. When Barton proposed the date to a topless Margaret, he didn’t seem to notice her body, but there was still love in his face. That’s because, as Barton notes, that they’ve been married for 30 long years and are still the best of friends, but that’s not enough for Margaret. Time for a divorce. And Barton needs to let her go or she’ll break.
Haas and Langham arrive at the jewelry store and look for rings. Langham regales Haas and the female clerk with his story of how he proposed: he planned to put the ring into a cream puff, but he caught a nasty stomach virus and had to be taken to the ER. When the ring fell out of his pocket, he declared that all he ever had was in the ring. The ER applauded.
The two then make their way to Dr. DePaul’s lecture. While not the overtly sexist crowd that DePaul seemed to expect, there’s a lack of interest on everyone’s part, including the slide man, who fell asleep when going through slides.
Masters and Dr. DePaul talk funding. Masters has mostly come out of his pocket. As much as DePaul hates to admit it, Virginia is a good student. DePaul will continue to allow Virginia to take courses, but she’ll need help from Masters with her proposal. She has six months.
That evening, Virginia studies for an exam with the help of Henry and Tessa. When asked about why she would pursue studies when she already has a job, Virginia replies that having a degree is like magic: people believe you know what you’re talking about.
Scully meets up with Bill to discuss the study’s data so far, but he’s interested in something else: a cure. A way to change his sexual habits. Bill comments that such methods are unverified, but mentions a psychologist in New York who uses adaptational psychodynamics. A drug is ingested and when said habit is observed, the subject vomits and the brain is rewired to enjoy activity that they originally saw as repulsive- like having sex with a woman.
Dr. Haas runs into Vivian in the hospital cafeteria with plans for them to go out to Del Monico’s, a fancy restaurant. Haas tries to leave it at that, but Vivian continues to ask too many questions until Haas is forced to reveal the ring. No cream puff or stomach virus here, but Haas’ premature surprise is pretty much blown.
Dale and Scully reconnect, with Scully intending to take the drug while Dale masturbates in front of him. Scully would then get sick and be rid of this sickness forever. Dale is hesitant until Scully reminds Dale why he pays him in the first place. There will never exist a time when the two of them are any more than a business transaction. Dale counters when he points out that if he wanted to be sick, he could just go visit his parents. Sure, Dale is not proud of who he is. Same with Scully. The difference is that Dale basically gives the middle finger to those who hate him. He’s not cowering behind closed doors, like Scully is.
Back at House Masters, Libby and Walter continue to dance until Libby faints during a dip. She’s brought to the hospital and the doctor, after making an offhand remark about Walter bringing the car around, informs Libby that her blood pressure is 100/65. It’s not abnormal, but the hormones caused the blood vessels to widen. That increases the blood flow to the baby. That aside, Libby’s pregnancy should proceed without any problems. How about that?
We finish with Bill and Virginia, who discusses the class. Though she feels like an outsider, she still strives to win Dr. DePaul’s acceptance. Bill turns on the camera as the two get an inside look at Beav St. Marie. The camera is shaking throughout, despite Lester’s warning that using the vibrator function would ruin the camera’s focus. As it turns out, it’s just Lester’s hand shaking. Bill feels a woody and reaches his secondary arousal when the refractory period ends. Not at the sight of the inside of Jane’s vagina- though that would be a pretty good reason to go up- but because they’re the only ones to witness this revolution in science and sexual exploration.
But if you’re a straight man or a lesbian and you saw the inside of a woman’s vagina, I think you’d probably get a stiffy, too.
Moving on, “Love and Marriage” continues the internal and external conflicts that we witnessed in “All Together Now.” A few moments out of left field for me, but we got just enough of most of the story arcs here without it feeling sandwiched together. More focus is on the emotional aspect of relationships as opposed to the sex, which takes a backseat this week for more focus on character development and interactions. Last week showed us the blossoming of relationships, now we’re holding those relationships up to a cracked mirror.
I’ll start with Dr. DePaul this time, who got probably the most screen time she’s had all season so far. I like the idea of her showing the class a corpse and giving the body’s back story so the students can form a connection. It helps humanize the otherwise cold Dr. DePaul and shows that, despite being in a boy’s club, she is still a good doctor and professor.
Again, DePaul’s distaste for Virginia is understandable, given how DePaul had to scrape and fight her way into the club, while she believes Virginia won it all on attraction. She’s motivated by her fight to win acceptance, but now we as an audience know why she’s been fighting for pap smears. The reveal of DePaul herself having cervical cancer was well done and, on my first viewing, almost went by me because of how it was underplayed. The episode didn’t dwell on it- it just allowed us to see through DePaul’s facial expressions how she is running on a clock and trying desperately to win approval for her study. It gives the audience another reason to root for DePaul, but at the same time, does show that she sees a greater good in this push besides helping save her own life. Remember, back in “Brave New World,” DePaul told Virginia that pap smears are already mandatory in New York hospitals, but not in St. Louis, and she wanted to begin an outreach program to save women’s lives. Now, episodes later, we find out that one of those lives is her very own.
Though now it seems as if Dr. DePaul may have at least a begrudging respect for Virginia. From her test scores and incisions on the corpse, it’s clear that Virginia does know her way around a body, just without all the medical knowhow that Dr. DePaul had to acquire. Their relationship is combative, but there’s a mutual understanding that they’re both outsiders in the same boys’ club, just trying to win acceptance.
That said, I’m not really a fan of the way in which Virginia is proven to have more medical prowess and knowledge than her male colleagues. She corrects one of them when he identifies the spleen as the liver, and after none of the other students want to perform on the body, and another faints, a student passes on the scalpel and insists: ladies first. The problem is I do not find it credible or believable that students taking an anatomy course would not be able to identify the body properly and get cold feet when it comes to bringing a scalpel to a body. This can’t be the first time they’ve been in DePaul’s class and I refuse to believe that the others are so timid and cowardly that Virginia is the only one who can get things done. This makes them all look incompetent by comparison and just serves to help make Virginia look credible in Dr. DePaul’s eyes. But this can be done without making the rest of the class look like weak, little morons. You can’t tell me that they never expected to perform on a body in an anatomy course.
Sure, DePaul takes note of Virginia’s knowledge, but it feels forced, in my opinion. Just lazy writing. Luckily, DePaul isn’t all cheery, as she rightfully points out that Dr. Masters does not want Virginia in too many classes because it will distract her from the study. But since DePaul has something to gain from Masters’ help, it makes sense that she’d allow Virginia to continue. What’s telling, though, is that DePaul refuses to embrace Virginia’s alternative methods to gaining recognition from her colleagues. When going over her presentation, DePaul notes to Virginia that she needs something to make others really pay attention. Virginia suggests having a friend in the audience applaud, but Dr. DePaul refuses, stating that she prefers support over adulation. By proposing that Dr. DePaul do this, Virginia is asking DePaul to embrace the very thing DePaul does not like about her: getting by on assets other than knowledge.
We know Dr. DePaul wants to prove her worth, but from her descriptions of the hospital, you would think all of the men at the hospital were sexist jerks. Sure, Langham makes an offhand remark about how DePaul could cure insomnia, but nothing here suggests sexism. In fact, most of the criticism toward DePaul came from women. When DePaul was first introduced, the secretaries sneered at the idea of another women looking up their skirts. So while this is still very much a boys’ club, very little here suggests that conditions are as oppressive as Dr. DePaul makes them out to be.
But as long as we’re talking about DePaul and Virginia, let’s move on to her. First off, I like her growing friendship with Jane. Given their solo study during “Brand New World” and Virginia getting Jane the secretarial position, their relationship is growing and feels very natural. Jane comes off as someone Virginia can relate to on the same level, as opposed to Libby, who Virginia likes as a friend, but also looks up to due to her busy work schedule.
We’re seeing more and more of Virginia standing on her own feet when she turns down Bill’s offer at another round of coitus, but as DePaul notes, if Virginia stood on her own feet, there’s a chance that she could walk off. Though I’m not a fan of the way her involvement in class was handled, her 100 percent score on the exam felt earned, as if this was one of the plateaus she had reached. She’s not doing this entirely to be accepted by others- she’s doing it because, as established, she is her own woman. She’s moved on from the sobbing woman in “Catherine” to walking a fine line between work and home. Like she tells Henry, having a degree adds credibility to her work since she will be taken seriously. What could be interpreted as trying to please both Bill and DePaul is just Virginia trying to make it on her own steam. She’s making this choice because she wants to, not out of obligation to her work.
Side-note, character consistency for you: Henry no longer seems to hate Virginia anymore or want to live with his father. Funny how characters shift back and forth.
The message of love and marriage going together like a horse and carriage is shown through both the old and new guards of relationships. The young guard, Ethan Haas and Vivian Scully, are bright, cheery and full of hope for the future. Though Haas panics when he overhears Vivian singing “Love and Marriage,” his decision to buy her a ring shows his willingness to move forward. Or a willingness to move too fast. He’s not exactly in a position to criticize Langham on his marriage when he was so afraid of Vivian going to Barton after he deflowered her, not to mention telling Jane that Vivian forced herself onto him. Again, though, I like that Haas has somewhat of a steady relationship for once and he does appear to be over Virginia.
Haas’ image of marriage is coming to life here. Remember, he told Jane that once a man deflowers a woman, he’s stuck with her forever. He’s almost living out that very fantasy here, but now it’s as if he’s embracing it as opposed to running away. Both he and Vivian are living in a dream world where everything turns out sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Haas believes that a woman will stand with her husband no matter what, but given the time period, there may not be better options. Recall back in “Standard Deviation” when Betty told Virginia that the only way a woman could get ahead was to hitch her wagon to a man. Even if, for some reason, Vivian lost interest in Dr. Haas, she has limited options. Haas’ motivation doesn’t seem very genuine, given his roller coaster reactions to most women. First, he’s afraid after he takes her virginity, then he says Virginia, the women who he helped during one of her lowest moments, is no longer her friend, and now he thinks a ring is the next step for his relationship. He’s moving way too quickly and not being practical. He still deflowered the Provost’s daughter! Forget about rational thinking, this is still a giant conflict of interest. No fantasy can escape that.
Haas’ vision of a perfect marriage contrasts with the other two main relationships of this episode. We’ll start with Austin Langham, whose wife is all but forgotten about. When we first met Langham, his entire reason for wanting to get involved with the study was to have sex with Jane. Then he couldn’t get it up. And then he had a fling with Mrs. Scully in what felt like a genuine, yet rushed, connection. Now here we are and it appears that he has cold feet. The breakup moment is a bit sad because, as we’ve seen in the past two episodes, Langham and Scully bonded over their flaws and experienced a sense of elation that neither managed in their own marriages. Seeing them happy was good enough, but Langham isn’t doing this to form any sort of emotional connection. It took his psychiatrist to tell him that he only saw women as types, not people. When Mrs. Scully got too close, they had to end it, though for different reasons, as Mrs. Scully says it was just a fling.
Langham comes off as a seasoned man compared to Haas. He’s been married to Elise for years and his disinterest is noted not just with his flings, but with him buying the Hoover vacuum as a gesture. And probably a reason to get her to clean more. The conversation he has with Haas at the hospital is one of his better moments, not just because he calms Haas’ dream fantasy marriage, but because his marriage shows that love and marriage don’t go together like a horse and carriage. Like Barton and Bill, Austin may care about his wife, but he’s not particularly interested in her. It’s interesting to see characters play out the lives that other characters crave. Austin is living the future that Haas imagines and it’s a mundane one. Any passion Austin has for a woman is saved for ones like Jane or Margaret.
Even worse, Elise seems to know about the other women when she makes an offhand remark about some other woman out there crying when Austin comes home. Yet she’s anchored down by their children. In a way, Elise is living out the life that Betty wants to live where she walks down the aisle and has children of her own. And instead of Austin showing any emotional attachment to his own wife, maybe taking Haas’ advice and buying something for Elise to show his loyalty, the gift ends up going to the jewelry girl. But hey, Austin gets his second wind and he’s back in the study, Jane or no Jane. So all’s well that ends well for Austin! As for the wife and kids, not so much.
As for the Scullys, Margaret has taken her second step toward happiness through declaring she and Barton get a divorce. When Barton notes that, after 30 years, he and Margaret have remained friends, her only response is that it’s not enough. And in my mind, I can’t help but feel that Margaret has felt this way in her heart all along. Instead of love and marriage, Margaret has experienced inaction and marriage. From the way the family sits so far apart at dinner, to her and Barton sleeping in separate beds and now Margaret being surprised at Barton wanting to take her out, this relationship seemed destined to crumble from the minute we learned Margaret had never experienced an orgasm.
I can’t compliment Allison Janney enough on her performance. She adds layers to Margaret and paints her as a fractured woman, but one who is not going to remain in a rut forever. If her fling with Austin is evidence of anything, it’s that she can and will do better than a man who does not want to make love to her. Like Libby in Miami, Margaret is envisioning a life without a husband because what she has does not work.
Her run-in with Dale, while very convenient that they happened to be in the same place, is also very telling, and is a conversation that she also ought to have with her own daughter. When she tells Dale to stay single for as long as possible and how you’ll feel like a failure when your loved one loses interest, she compares it to surgery in that you will never feel whole again. And between both Barton and Austin, Margaret has never felt whole. However, her affair with Austin brought her back from sexual exile and on a path toward completion. Also, as unhappy as Margaret is with Barton, this episode shows that she’s at least open and honest about her affairs and lies. She admitted last week to having sex with another man. She refused to leave because she knew the lie about visiting Aunt Caroline would remain with her forever. We see that Margaret isn’t in the business of keeping secrets and lies, which sets her in stark contrast with Barton.
We see Barton at one of his weakest moments this week when he’s almost exposed during his run-in with Dale and Margaret. His story about picking up prostitutes just shows disconnect with his marriage and reluctance to accept who he is. He may as well hang his head in shame anytime he pays Dale a visit. There’s a real sense of awkwardness when Barton comes to Bill and asks him how his homosexuality can, in a sense, be cured. It doesn’t appear that Barton will come to terms with it anytime soon. Calling his relationship with Dale a business transaction shows that, even when he’s exposed, he can’t fully accept his ‘deviant’ nature. We can only hope that Dale flat out refusing to play along with this has an effect on Barton. Granted, Dale admits that he isn’t proud of who he is, either, but he refuses to cower to those who hate and fear him. If Barton wishes to come to similar terms, he needs to start with acceptance. Again, like Langham’s marriage, Barton and Margaret have seen the effects of long term relationships and, for them, they have not been pretty.
And so we’re left with the Masters. You know, let’s start with Libby first. Surprise, surprise that she’s pregnant again. I guess Dr. Haas really did save her life, but I wonder what Bill’s reaction will be, especially so soon after the miscarriage. This week gives us another look at Libby when she’s at her happiest: away from her husband. Walter is really just here to give her a dancing partner, but he does get her to loosen up and have fun. When Walter talks about dancing and says it’s easier when you don’t think about it, we know it can apply to both dancing and the miscarriage. But, as Walter knows nothing about that, we can chalk it up to convenience. Flex Alexander and Caitlin Fitzgerald do have a spark when they’re dancing, but Walter himself feels like a device. Oh, he’s good with his hands and dancing. Stereotypes aside, we get a not so subtle hint of racism when Libby’s doctor says that ‘the boy’ can bring the car around. Whether Walter will be around for more episodes is up in the air. It’d be great if we saw him more not just to give Libby more to do, but so we can learn more about him.
And Dr. Masters himself. He’s more of an observer and planner this time around. Although we see his repeated attempts to resume the study with Virginia show his growing interest in her, it’s clear that Virginia is pushing back. They’re growing closer within the study, but things like Jane’s story just foreshadow that Virginia may be reluctant to continue under the conditions. Bill, however, pulls strings with Dr. DePaul to keep her in the class, but when she correctly points out that Virginia, someday, may not need him, it almost makes him obsessed to keep her on a tether. He has a reason to hold onto Virginia. That’s part of what drives him to continue with the study. But not with Libby. After all, last week, Virginia was the one who had to talk Bill into going home to spend time with Libby. Now he doesn’t seem willing to want to do that on his own accord. It’s maddening, but it further shows how much Masters is burying himself within his study, while at the same time distancing himself from his wife.
“Love and Marriage” was an eye-opener for many characters this week. Sex was not priority number one here and we were allowed to watch tensions rise and spill over with characters like Barton and Margaret. Dr. DePaul was given greater weight to her proposal through the reveal and I hope that drives her to continue striving to achieve her goal. Bill and Virginia continue to walk a tightrope, but this week, their arc took a backseat to the dilemmas of the other characters. They’re still vital, Masters and Johnson, but this week was more about the rest of the cast. This episode also showed that none of the characters have what they truly want, and those who do, do not have the practical, or in the case of Virginia, educational experience needed to guide them to their goal. There were some moments of lazy writing and plot convenience, but they didn’t take away too much from my enjoyment. Another good episode.
Also, “Love and Marriage” not sung by Frank Sinatra. Blasphemy.