A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 3, Episode 3: “The Excitement of Release”

A bit unsettling at times, a bit exciting at times with the return of a few characters, and Hugh Hefner all rolled into one.  With the book out, Masters and Johnson are looking to expand their market.  That isn’t cheap, so they’ll need backers.  That also won’t be easy, but hopefully you can at least arouse curiosity.  Or find a better way to say that.  This is “The Excitement of Release.”

The Excitement of Release- Bill and Virginia read reviews of the book

The episode begins with Bill and Virginia reading reviews of their book about the sexual revolution. The comments are quite positive. One critic even comments that Masters and Johnson killed Freud. Now that’s quite the achievement.

When the celebration is all finished, the two try and get intimate for the first time in eight months. All traces of George are gone, Bill says, so they should be fine. He even removes Virginia’s wedding ring, a very easy process. They’ve both missed this intimacy, but Virginia notes that Bill’s body doesn’t feel like itself, while Bill calls Virginia’s body perfect. Before the two can get hot and heavy, though, they’re interrupted by baby Lisa crying. Don’t you hate when that happens?

The Excitement of Release- Bill finds Libby's friends at the house

Bill returns home and finds it filled with some of the neighbors in Libby’s book group. Libby is in the middle of a conversation with Joy, played by Susan May Pratt, who was shown three apartments today and will make her decision by week’s end. If she doesn’t act now, it will be all for talk. Their conversation stops at Bill’s arrival, but he’s informed by Libby that Joy is leaving her husband, Paul. Apparently, Libby knows Joy well enough to give her a copy of The Feminine Mystique, which was an interesting book that shouldn’t have been used as an instruction manual.

The Excitement of Release- Joy, played by Susan May Pratt, talks with Libby about apartment hunting

Libby is concerned about Joy, who won’t talk to Paul until her bags have been packed. She wants Bill to talk to Paul, though Bill has only exchanged four words with the man. But Libby has attended three dinners and one neighborhood potluck. She’d think that Bill would want to know if Libby was leaving him, though Bill thinks that’s preposterous and people fantasize on what they never do. Fair enough. Libby left a Chinese menu for Bill. They deliver until 10 pm. Boom. Score for Caitlin Fitzgerald.

The Excitement of Release- Ronald Sturgis, played by Colin Woodell, of the Committee of Decency, discusses Bill's book

The next day, Bill heads into the office building and grabs some papers before having a run-in with Ronald Sturgis, played by Colin Woodell, of the Committee of Decency. He’s read the book and tells Bill that Hell is a real place. He thanks God that Washington University fired Bill before he corrupted the students with his filth and kept him from peddling his smut.

The Excitement of Release- Bill talks about the book with Lester and Betty

Upstairs, Bill fills in Betty, who knows that this is far from the end since they’ve received angry letters from…interested individuals. Bill looks ahead to the future of the book. He asks Lester about the number of medical students in the United States. Lester, like most people, doesn’t have that information readily available, but they settle for around 30,000. That means there are 30,000 copies of the book to be sold as textbooks. Bill can begin at Washington University and branch out to the rest of the Midwest, though Lester wonders whether medical schools even have courses on sex.

If they don’t, Bill will convince them. Betty isn’t sold on selling books as a get rich scheme and would much rather the team takes on an investor. She argues that if Bill wants this research to be self-sustained, he needs a dedicated funding source. Bill says that finding the right audience is the priority and that the money will take care of itself. His plan is for him and Virginia to meet with the dean of curricular at Washington University, but Virginia isn’t in. She called out due to a problem with her daughter. No, not the baby.

The Excitement of Release- Sister Annabelle, played by Wendy Worthington, informs Virginia about Tessa's behavior

Yeah, Tessa’s having issues at school. Sister Annabelle, played by Wendy Worthington, informs Virginia that Tessa’s behavior hasn’t improved, but part of that blame, she says, is the result of divorced parents that leads to kids acting out. Tessa skipped her afternoon classes two days ago and brought in a forged note yesterday- again. Sister Annabelle is considering all kinds of disciplinary action, including banning Tessa from the upcoming homecoming dance.

Even though Virginia is busy, Sister Annabelle reminds her that children learn from example. Virginia is more concerned with Tessa spreading word about her home life because it could have a bad impression. So what, Tessa then asks, is the right impression? Virginia’s response? No one’s business. Tessa spoke with Grandma, who also would have skipped school, too. Tessa just feels isolated at school from her friends since the book’s release, and in addition, Virginia is busy on the nights she has Tessa.

The Excitement of Release- Bill and Lester speak with a panel of university officials at Washington University

At Washington University, Bill and Lester speak with a panel of university officials, led by Dean Snyder, played by Pete Gardner, who calls Bill’s work impressive, but isn’t sure if Washington University is ready for this. He promises to run it by his colleagues, though. Bill just hopes that he managed to arouse their curiosity. A smarter man would realize what he just said and never say it again.

The Excitement of Release- Virginia arrives at Washington University

Virginia soon arrives after the quick meeting. Bill is upset that she missed the meeting, but, in her defense, Virginia had her own priorities and she did race from the office. Though Bill wonders if she can commit, Virginia says that she can since she did still show up.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa and Matt, played by Kevin Fonteyne, read Human Sexual Response

Tessa and a schoolmate, Matt, played by Kevin Fonteyne, read Bill and Virginia’s book. Tessa drops some useful knowledge Matt’s way: when a girl has an orgasm, it feels really good. Did you know that? Write it down if you didn’t. Anyway, after the girl has hers, there’s a lot of bulbar vasocongestion. Matt asks Tessa if she’s read Story of O, a French story, meaning that the characters go all the way. Apparently, that’s what French people do. Andy Zeitlin’s mom has a copy because she’s a major nympho.

Maybe all girls really like sex, but neither Matt nor Tessa cop to going all the way.  And with an upcoming homecoming dance, I get the feeling that this isn’t going to end well.

The Excitement of Release- Office celebration

At the office, Virginia’s almost run-in with Ronald is followed up with a surprise celebration upstairs. The celebratory champagne is courtesy of Mr. Hugh Hefner, someone who isn’t high on Bill’s list of potential interested investors. There’s a growing list of potentials, like this millionaire from Tucson that makes electric hand massagers- they aren’t just for your hands, didn’t you know? It has to be this week since Hugh Hefner is due back in Chicago for a Playmate Pajama Party…a party I assume most men would want to attend.

Not Bill, though. He’s not interested in pajamas. He wants to focus on the text that could change the face of medical education, but Virginia, like Betty, tells him that they should pay attention to the money trail as well. They should at least listen if there are potential investors. Betty and Virginia can meet with investors while Lester and Bill work on the book. Lester is glad to rededicate to the book after long days of no sleep due to kids and his grumpy wife. Huh. I didn’t think that Barbara could be a grumpy spouse.

The Excitement of Release- Jane brings Lester a homemade turkey sandwich and a Twinkie

Oh, never mind, it’s just Jane, who managed to take a break from spit-up and diapers to bring her husband a homemade turkey sandwich and a Twinkie. The hell is this? School? Jane drops the bag.

The Excitement of Release- Libby and Joy discuss apartment hunting and their husbands

Libby and Joy meet to discuss their plan, as tonight is the only good night for the realtor. Libby is more focused on handing out leaflets before the boycott and planning the next book group meeting, though Joy reminds Libby that if she’s unhappy in her marriage, she can walk away. Libby balks at that proposition. She has kids and isn’t unhappy in her marriage. Sure, Libby.

Considering Bill’s success, Joy figures that this must be a happy period for both Bill and Libby. When Joy first fell in love with Paul, all the girls were jealous. Paul had dreams…long ago. He’s a good husband, but none of those dreams have come true. As such, Joy feels that she’s walking down a straight, flat highway into the sunset. She agrees to help pass out leaflets if Libby sees the apartment with her.

The Excitement of Release- Bill and Paul, played by Benjamin Koldyke, watch football

Bill arrives and learns, to his surprise, that Libby made a casserole for Bill and his pal for the night, Paul. The two end up watching football. Paul, played by Benjamin Koldyke, read an article about the book. In his opinion, medical schools can use the text for their curriculum- exactly what Bill’s trying to do. Paul wants to read the text, but doesn’t think that the title is something married men should have. But Bill sees this work as a way to strengthen marriage.

There’s not enough irony in the world for that. Paul doesn’t think that he and Joy have any dissatisfaction in their marriage. He then talks about his college football days as a quarterback in Nebraska- and Bill recognizes him as that Paul Edley from the 1949 Rose Bowl. During a tense run, Paul had to run the ball himself. Sometimes, that’s the only way.

The Excitement of Release- Bill shows Paul his football card collection

Realizing that he may have a connection, Bill brings out his mint condition, 1933 Football Star Card Set. It took him two years to collect. Bill is ecstatic about the story behind each card, though Paul looks to just show casual interest in this…until Bill pulls out a card on Ernie Nevers, who Bill calls the single greatest fullback in the history of football. Paul disagrees. At school, one of Bill’s mates planned to give this card to him for five dollars.

Bill got one of his friends, Willy, to go in with him and they spent a month shoveling driveways to get the money. Eventually, Willy pulled out, so Bill spent a month and a half to make up the difference.

The Excitement of Release- Virginia buys Tessa a dress for the homecoming dance

At House Johnson, Tessa’s dinner comes in the form of a big bag of potato chips. Virginia enters with a surprise she picked up after stopping by Vandervoort’s: it’s a fancy new dress that Tessa can wear to the homecoming dress. Virginia did the logical thing that every parent would do: she volunteered to chaperone. After all, she thought about what Tessa said and thinks that it’s a good idea for the two to spend time together.

Virginia, you…you don’t get to do that.

Tessa is concerned about what the other kids at school will say. She won’t go to the dance if her mother attends. Fair enough. Virginia takes back the dress.

The Excitement of Release- Virginia notices that Lester is wearing the same tie

At the office, Lester reports that he received calls from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, all open to discussing the book as a textbook. Nothing from Washington University, though. Virginia enters and notices that Lester is wearing the same necktie as yesterday, as sleeping at the office has limited his wardrobe. I’m curious as to how Virginia noticed just when she came into the office.

Betty, meanwhile, has an investor meeting set up later. Hefner’s earliest availability is at nine. She and Virginia will handle this while Bill takes calls.

He does. He makes call after call to various doctors to discuss the book, possibly arrangements, and thanks for arousing curiosity. Again, a smarter man would realize what he’s said. Bill initially asks Betty to get Washington University on the line, but he decides against it.

The Excitement of Release- Bill visits Barton, also meets Judith, played by Eve Gordon

Instead, he pays a visit to Beau Bridges. Barton’s also in the company of a woman named Judith, played by Eve Gordon, who lives upstairs. One day, she showed up with homemade lasagna. The rest was history. Bill tells Barton about the medical school textbook offer. Barton can ask around, but he knows that Chancellor Fitzhugh has mixed feelings. We also learn that Barton gave up the provost job when he returned so he could get back to doctoring.

He’s done toadying up to authority figures and knows that Bill will do a lot of that in order to get his book in there. Bill is convinced that the book belongs at Washington University, given its reputation and since that’s where Bill started. It’s also where he was fired. Luckily, Fitzhugh is hosting a faculty cocktail party tonight. How convenient.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa learns that Virginia won't be attending the dance after all

So Tessa is going to the dance after all. I would think she’d be glad about her mother not coming, but she isn’t. She wanted her mother to not attend because she didn’t want her to, not because of work. Virginia says that Tessa is being deliberately difficult, but I disagree. Tessa is just deliberately being an asshole.

The Excitement of Release- Betty and Virginia speak with Dan Logan, played by Josh Charles

Betty and Virginia meet with various investors: Dan Logan, played by Josh Charles, who is our perfume man.

The Excitement of Release- Betty and Virginia meet with Leonard, played by Eddie Jemison, and his Electric Hand Massager 3000

We also have Leonard, played by Eddie Jemison, who has the Electric Hand Massager 3000. It relieves pelvic pressures. Hmm. But Dan is just curious as to how to bottle the smell of sex.

The Excitement of Release- Hugh Hefner, played by John Gleeson Connolly, tells Virginia and Betty that he has four million subscribers

Finally, Betty and Virginia meet with the man himself, Mr. Hugh Hefner, played by John Gleeson Connolly. Hefner senses Betty and Virginia’s skepticism, but he has something to offer. The book may have sold 4,000 copies, but Hefner sells four million copies a month. The science is expensive, but Hefner’s foundation can provide financial support. Enticing offer, but what does Hefner want in return?

The American Medical Journal posted a positive review about Bill and Virginia’s book. He’d like some of that good fortune to rub off on him, so he offers to feature Bill and Virginia in Playboy magazine and include their names on the foundation’s quarterly report. Changing the world is a lonely business. Why not do it together?

The Excitement of Release- Matt and Tessa in a car before oral sex

So Matt and Tessa sit in a car and go over the state capitals, with Matt failing and having to drink each time. Tessa picked up on this through her father’s travels. She hated never knowing where he traveled, so he put a map on her wall and stuck pins in places when he went on tour.

Matt admits that he hasn’t done a lot with girls and wants Tessa to teach him. Okay, that’s fine, but she doesn’t want to do that one thing that they shouldn’t do. It’s her time of the month. That and Matt doesn’t have a condom. They can plan ahead next time. Matt’s still hard and apparently never heard of masturbation, so he wants Tessa to take care of his erection. Not with her hand, though, but her mouth. Tessa doesn’t want to, but hey, it was in her mother’s book, so quit being a prick tease. Down you go.

When it’s all over, Tessa vomits on her dress.

She later cleans up in the bathroom, still shocked about what just happened. To be honest, I should probably feel bad for what Tessa just experienced, but I don’t and I’ll explain why later.

The Excitement of Release- Bill and Barton meet with Chancellor Fitzhugh

Barton brings Bill to Chancellor Fitzhugh’s cocktail party. Fitzhugh sends Barton to get a drink while the two talk. Though Fitzhugh calls the book an achievement, it’s still about sex. Bill also still lied, abused his authority, and embarrassed Fitzhugh. Fitzhugh believes that Barton showed poor judgment in his decisions, both with his professional and personal life, if rumors and gossip are any indication. A queer like Barton is lucky to have a position and at least Fitzhugh was able to get rid of one of them for now.

The Excitement of Release- Barton and Bill argue outside

When Barton returns, Bill knocks away the drink. Outside, Barton blasts Bill for blowing yet another chance, but Bill wants Barton to work for him by helping manage his fertility practice and bring in patients. Barton isn’t appreciated at Washington University, Bill says. Bill doesn’t need to wonder about Barton’s personal life because he already knows it, but that doesn’t matter to him. Barton should be where he’s respected.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa on the car ride back from the dance

On the car ride back from the dance, Tessa’s only comment is that she was the last one waiting. After that, she remains silent.

The Excitement of Release- Betty brings Lester an actual bag of good and bad letters

Betty brings Lester a literal sack of letters. Though much of it is hate mail, there are a few gems, such as one from a Lutheran pastor who needs advice on how to talk to his congregants about sex. Lester doesn’t want to do this because he’s busy enough with work, home, and the she-wolf.

The Excitement of Release- Betty tells Lester that Jane is bored, not a she-wolf

Okay, Betty has a few choice words about Jane: she’s not a she-wolf, she’s bored. Maybe she’s a bored she-wolf, Betty. Did you think about that? Betty knows that Jane is too smart to just be at home with the kids. She can sort the letters. Write back to the good ones. If Jane agrees, she’ll be paid five dollars a bag.

The Excitement of Release- Matt apologizes to Tessa about the Schnapps

The next day, at school, Matt apologizes to Tessa. Not for getting his rocks off, but for the vomiting. The same thing happened to him. You are really missing the point, asshole.  Anyway, Matt had a great time and wants to be with Tessa again. Tessa? She’d love to.

The Excitement of Release- Betty and Virginia tell Bill that they're leaning towards Hugh Hefner

Virginia and Betty update Bill on their meetings.  Initially, they were set on Dan Logan until they met Hugh Hefner with his built-in audience of four million subscribers. Bill wants nothing to do with Hefner, as he feels that he stands for everything Bill wants to get away from: titillation. What do you call sexual touching, then, I wonder? Bill thinks that Hefner would use the practice as a good housekeeping seal of approval. Hefner would be seen as high-minded academic through association. And yet, Virginia reminds Bill that no one comes close to Hefner.

The Excitement of Release- Dan Logan meets Bill and Virginia

Bill and Virginia meet with Dan Logan, who asks why people kiss. How does it start? It all goes to smell, which tells us what we need to know. We can smell things like fear, revulsion, and desire. What Logan wants is to create a fragrance that says ‘I Want You.’ Bill speaks for himself and Virginia when he says that they agreed on him as the right man, yet he doesn’t sound convinced with his own words.

The Excitement of Release- Jane reads Lester a letter

Jane goes over some letters, but she tells Lester that she doesn’t need a hobby. $5 isn’t a lot to her because she was once paid $35 to be in a Chiquita Banana commercial, but that was a long time ago.

Think about that. Jane was a Chiquita Banana. Lester concedes that answering hate mail isn’t fun, but staying at home isn’t fun, either. Jane did manage to find a letter from a Debbie from Des Plaines. She asks Dr. Master and Mrs. Jonathan- well done- about her yearning desire to be touched.

Lester and Jane then have their fun. She’s still angry and hasn’t forgiven Lester, but luckily, Lester didn’t ask for forgiveness.

The Excitement of Release- Libby tells Paul about the car running, Paul tells her that Joy collapsed

Back at House Masters, Libby sees a car idling in the driveway. She heads to Joy’s home and tells Paul that the car is running. He’s too concerned about Joy, who collapsed and, according to the doctors, has a brain aneurysm. She’ll be at the ICU for some time and the extent of the damage isn’t known yet. Despite the catastrophic news, the doctor assured Paul that Joy will make it.

The Excitement of Release- Bill, Virginia, and the baby

Bill asks Virginia why people go where they aren’t wanted. However, she tells him that he’s at least wanted with her. The two try and have their fun again, but they’re interrupted by the baby again. Virginia brings Lisa to join her and Bill as the episode comes to a close.

If the previous two episodes were about setting up Bill and Virginia setting up their book’s release and contending with George, then “The Excitement of Release” deals with taking their storyline forward as they continue pushing forward with the sexual revolution.  That, among everything else in their lives, is priority, which is unfortunate, because there’s disappointment all around them that takes a backseat to them focusing on finding financial and moral support for their book.

The Excitement of Release- Barton and Bill talk

Before getting to that, though, I want to address the reintroduction of two longstanding characters.  Barton’s welcome is a welcome one and it makes sense that, if Bill wants to take the book to Washington University, he’d seek out someone who works there and who has a past association with him.

The Excitement of Release- Bill tells Barton that he isn't respected at Washington University

The problem with Barton is that he’s still lying to himself and others around him.  Last season, we saw him try to convince his wife that he was straight.  When that and even electroshock therapy didn’t work, he attempted suicide.  His life is a tragic one, but he maintains this public image of being a heterosexual male so he can have some semblance of happiness.  It’s maddening to see him refuse to accept who he truly is.

The Excitement of Release- Bill calls Fitzhugh a smug, small-minded bureaucrat

But even if he did, Barton’s personal life has spilled into his professional and the rumors of his homosexual activities have become known amongst his colleagues, who may tolerate his work, but don’t respect him as an individual.  Fitzhugh is one such individual.  He says that he’s lucky to even have his position.  Bill calls Fitzhugh a smug, small-minded bureaucrat.  To Bill, Fitzhugh represents the world that hates what it doesn’t understand or can’t begin to embrace.

That’s not to say that everyone should just embrace Barton Scully’s homosexuality with open arms- we are still in the 1960s and the status quo hasn’t been upset yet.  To many, it’s preferable to keep their ideals and beliefs the way they are instead of trying to accept new lifestyles and ideals.

The Excitement of Release- Bill knows the true Barton Scully

And yet, Bill is someone who is always pushing the envelope and trying to change the medical world through his studies on sex.  He knows Barton believes in the work.  He also knows Barton well enough to not judge or think different of him because of his sexuality.  It shows that, despite spending so much time apart, Bill’s friendship with Barton has remained intact.  Rather than seeing Barton go where he’s not wanted, Bill tries to court into working where he’s respected.  Though there’s no telling what Barton will do, it would be nice to have him work alongside Bill.

The Excitement of Release- Jane returns

The same goes for Jane, who has seen happier days.  She was last seen way back in the Season Two premiere, “Parallax,” but she was referenced on occasion after that.  Last we heard about her, I believe, was on “Mirror, Mirror.”  She met a producer after spending time in Hollywood.  She then found Lester inadequate, but despite that, they’re somehow still together.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised- Barbara and Lester listen to Bill and Virginia

Based on how Season Two ended, I thought that Lester and Barbara’s bond would bloom into something more.  It felt as if Lester had put Jane behind him since she hadn’t been mentioned that much.  I was looking forward to Lester and Barbara taking that leap of faith together, so I do hope her disappearance is addressed, if she’s really gone.

The Excitement of Release- Jane reads a letter

But as far as Jane goes, we learn that she’s in an unhappy relationship that’s made her grumpy compared to the beaming personality from Season One.  Her life is at a standstill and she’s still unhappy with Lester about something, but we see, with the right trigger, she can jump back into that fun-loving Jane we remember.  Like Betty and Lester, bringing Jane back into the fold would not only be a good reunion, but for the purposes of her character, it gives her something to do and hopefully contribute to Bill and Virginia’s efforts.

The Excitement of Release- Jane and Lester talk

After all, Jane did take up the secretarial role at one point in the first season, so she has something to give.  I just hope this wasn’t a tease and that she actually does become involved with the others.  Plus, it’s great just to see Heléne Yorke again.

This episode dealt with characters trying to survive in places where they aren’t wanted.  It can be risky stepping into uncharted territory, but taking that leap of faith can prove beneficial if we’re able to stomach the dangers and come out on top.  So, at times, we have to swallow our pride and enter the lion’s den when we could be eaten at any moment.

This is the case with Barton, who works in an environment where he’s despised, Bill and Virginia with taking their study to universities, and even someone like Hugh Hefner, who only wants to contribute financially to Bill and Virginia’s work, yet isn’t desired by Bill.

The Excitement of Release- Hugh Hefner tells Virginia and Betty that he sells four million magazines a month

By the way, I do like John Gleeson Connolly’s performance as Hugh Hefner.  He comes off as a suave individual who knows that his work also isn’t won over by the morally righteous types like Ronald, but his four million subscribers stand as evidence that there is an audience for Playboy.

The Excitement of Release- Bill doesn't want to consider Hugh Hefner

Like last season, Bill has trouble marketing his work because he doesn’t know how to speak to everyday people about sex, the way that Betty and Virginia can.  If it’s not clinical, he’s stepping on his own foot by saying things like arousing curiosity.  Virginia and Betty have a point: if they want to expand, they need to follow the money, but I also understand Bill wanting to make sure the essence of the work remains untouched and not further vilified by having it associated with the likes of Hugh Hefner.  He thinks the money problems will take care of themselves, never mind his own money woes from last season.

The importance of this book cannot be underestimated.  It’s about opening up a world of sexual activity to those who haven’t experienced it or many lingering questions, as evidenced through the occasional nice letter found among the heaps of hate mail.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa vomits

However, even with a book about human sexual response out there, lessons learned still come from individual experiences and not just reading from a book.  Tessa learns this the hard way when Matt forces her to perform oral sex on him.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa realizes that her mother wants to chaperone at the dance

It’s bad enough that Tessa’s home life hasn’t gotten any better, going off of the strained relationship between her and Virginia.  She feels neglected because her mother is either too busy devoting time to work or the baby.  Not that Tessa even gets along with Virginia now that she’s a teenager, but she’s still young and doesn’t want to feel abandoned.  After all, she already claims that she raised herself.

The Excitement of Release- Matt kisses Tessa

If teenagers are meant to learn from example, Tessa isn’t far off from Virginia.  She lets on knowing way more than she actually does and ends up in a sexual situation with a man she has mixed feelings for, as of now.  I say mixed feelings because even though Tessa is clearly revolted by what she endured, she still agrees to see him again.  Whether that’s a forced response or what she really feels, I don’t know.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa and Matt in the car

Yes, seeing Tessa blow Matt was a tad uncomfortable to watch and she looked quite traumatized when she saw herself in the mirror.  Though Tessa wasn’t too enthused about this dance to begin with, she didn’t expect to be abused or for her night to end this way.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa examines herself in the mirror after being forced to perform oral sex

But, despite everything that happened, I can’t really say that I feel all that bad for Tessa.  Now, let me explain.  Was it bad that it happened?  Of course, and no one should ever have to go through that.  But Tessa did a few things to lead into this: she brought her mother’s book about sex and read it off to a boy she had to have known was interested in her, she acted as if she knew more about sex than she actually did, and she remained in the car while Matt became increasingly more intoxicated.  Something bad was bound to happen.

The Excitement of Release- Tessa's upset that her mother will NOT be attending the dance

And Tessa has been such an obnoxious little shit that it’s hard for me to have any sympathy for her.  She got drunk and hit on Bill, she chastised her mother for wanting to be at the dance, and then threw a fit when Virginia can’t attend not because of work, but because Tessa didn’t want her to.  Maybe this is just me, but I don’t have patience for petty characters like this when there’s little redeeming about them.  I’m not saying Tessa had it coming or deserved it, but I don’t feel anywhere near the amount of emotion for her as I should.  Then again, I’m a cold-hearted bastard.

The Excitement of Release- Matt is hard

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not absolving Matt of blame at all.  He’s the abuser here by forcing Tessa to do something that she didn’t want, and then to call her a prick tease and later just talk about the alcohol is downright insulting.  And if he was so sexually frustrated right there, why not have Tessa use her hands instead of forcing her to blow him?

The Excitement of Release- Libby talks with Joy

As for the Masters’, I’m glad that we’re getting to see some of Libby’s social life and friends outside of Virginia.  More than that, she has a connection through Joy’s similar desire to leave Paul.  Libby claims that she’s happy with where she is, and that’s obviously a lie.  She’s honest enough to tell it straight to Virginia, but to her neighbors, she hides the fact that she’s unhappy.

The Excitement of Release- Libby tells Joy that she isn't unhappy

But unlike what Joy implied, Libby is missing out on everything happening with Bill.  There’s much ahead for Bill, yes, but Libby is just looming in the background and exists in Virginia’s shadow.  She can’t imagine what it’s like to share Bill’s joy because she isn’t given much of a chance.  I hope that she shows more of the assertiveness we saw last time and opens up about how unhappy she is in her marriage.  She may not need Bill to be an everyman, but she deserves some happiness.

Though I’m suspicious about whether Joy really had an aneurysm…

The Excitement of Release- Bill shows off his card collection

Bill, meanwhile, almost had a chance at genuine happiness through bonding with Paul over football.  I quite enjoyed this scene, as it was one of the few moments I saw real joy in Bill’s eyes.  He was like the kid who had a toy that he wanted to show off to his best friend that would rather just watch television.  Though this didn’t go very far, I think it was an important scene in order to illustrate that, despite how distant Bill is outside of working, he still has hobbies and passions like everyone else.  It’s just a matter of asking the right questions.

The Excitement of Release- Bill tells Paul that the book is about how to strengthen marriage

Bill is focused on maintaining the integrity of his work, despite the duplicity of his personal life.  He tells Paul that the book is about bringing people together and strengthening marriages, not realizing the extreme irony of the situation.  He’s married to the job and, by extension, Virginia, as he tries to open a world of sexual exploration, but his wife remains unsatisfied and unhappy.  Hell, Bill is much closer to to Virginia’s child than we’ve ever seen him be with his own children.

He’s so focused on making sure the work remains intact that he’s passing up opportunities like having Hugh Hefner on board.  Sure, Bill doesn’t like what Hefner stands for, but that’s no different than most of society disagreeing with what Bill stands for and what he’s trying to accomplish.

The Excitement of Release- Virginia reads Bill's body

As Hefner says to Betty and Virginia, changing the world can be a lonely business.  Why not do it together?  That’s exactly what Virginia hopes to do.  Her bond with Bill is strong to the point that she notices changes in his body after so much time spent apart.  She has an intimate connection with him that Libby can’t have at this point.

The Excitement of Release- Virginia and Tessa talk about the dance and work

The problem is that, like Bill, her personal life suffers as a result.  It’s interesting that Virginia once told George that sex is possible without love, and Tessa experienced just that.  Given the women that Virginia has worked with from Season One until now, I wonder if she picked up that something was wrong with Tessa or if she just chalked it up to Tessa being difficult again.

The Excitement of Release- Betty and Virginia with Hugh Hefner

Virginia was always the more outgoing of the two and she realizes that, despite how their work is interpreted as smut, they need to branch out besides the medical community if they’re going to make a name for themselves.  If real life history is any indication, then we know that we’ve not seen the last of Mr. Hugh Hefner.  And here’s hoping Virginia and Betty bring that personalized touch when it comes to outreach.

“The Excitement of Release” was a very good episode.  It further established the challenge Bill and Virginia face in getting out their message to a very skeptical audience, gave Libby a friend to relate to with similar issues, and brought both Barton and Jane back into the fold.  Tessa’s incident is an unfortunate one and while I’m still not a fan of her character, it’s something that no one should endure.  Again, as Hefner mentioned, changing the world is a lonely business.  And going about challenging tasks can be hard, so no need to go at it alone when you can get by with A Little Help From My Friends.

I can’t explain why I shoehorned in a Beatles reference right there, but there you go.

A Look at True Detective- Season 2, Episode 6: “Church in Ruins”

So last week ended with Ray banging on Frank’s door for answers.  This week, sex, drugs, hard music, and some bloodshed make for one crazy episode.  This is “Church in Ruins.”

Church in Ruins- Standoff between Ray and Frank

The episode begins immediately following Ray confronting Frank at the end of “Other Lives.”  Both men sit down and skip the pleasantries.  Ray demands to know the name of the man that Frank delivered him on a piece of paper a long time ago.  Is it because Frank knew what Ray would do?  No, as he barely knew Ray at the time.  He only knew what he would have done to this greaser crankhead.

Frank, though, isn’t the originator of this information- he received and passed it on.  After all, why not get blackmail on a sheriff’s deputy?  Ray informs Frank that Gena’s attacker has been caught.  Frank didn’t know much about this since he thought the information was solid.  Despite Ray’s anger, Frank doesn’t falter.  He doesn’t see it as using Ray’s tragedy to get him to kill someone.  All he did was give Ray a name.  Ray made his own choice and he should own up to it.

So who gave the name?  A man that one of Frank’s men knew who told Frank all about Ray’s story.  Up until then, Frank had never heard of the crankhead or Ray- he just knew that he was scum.  If Ray wants out, then he’s got it, as Frank doesn’t feel that he’s had the nerve for this for some time.  Frank insists that he didn’t set up Ray.

So Ray fills in Frank about Blake running girls outside the clubs, which isn’t too much of a surprise to Frank, but then he learns that Blake is also in deep with Tony Chessani and has a special stable of Eastern Bloc girls that received surgery at Dr. Irving Pitlor’s clinic.  Caspere attended these special parties where men went to get deals done.  Ray needs Frank to look up the man who tipped him to the rapist.  Frank, who appears to have time on his hands, promises to look into it.

Both have their mutual interests beyond this, as both Frank and Ray are searching for Irina Rulfo.  If Ray helps find the hard drive, then Frank will give Ray the man who did him wrong.  Ray then heads off to see about killing a man.

Church in Ruins- Davis, Bezzerides, and Woodrugh talk about the cabin investigation

A tech team investigates the cabin that Ani and Paul found.  The team finds that the blood all over is female- dead gonorrhea biophages.  Davis shows up at random as Ani tells her that this discovery is part of the bigger picture involving Vinci, Caspere, and these parties.  Davis, though, is just interested in collusions, but maybe these parties are where the collusions get sealed.

The sheriff doesn’t have any word of parties being thrown up here as of recent.  The area itself is private property, not state forest.  As per the previous episodes, Ani is tasked with working the girls and parties while Paul works the diamonds.  Maybe they can finger whoever took them.  Ha.  When Davis asks about Velcoro, Ani covers and says that he’s looking into the Rulfo girl.

Church in Ruins- Ray visits a prisoner, played by Marco Rodríguez, to discuss Gena's rape

Well, not right now.  He visits a prison to take a stroll down memory lane with one prisoner, played by Marco Rodríguez, in particular who he thought he killed.  Ray starts by reminding the man about an incident that took place 11 years ago on September 2004.  The victim in particular was a 29-year-old female attorney and this incident occurred in an underground parking garage.  The man claims to have done a lot of things, but he forgets things as well.  Some kind of brain condition.

Ray tells the man that the victimized woman was his wife.  He just came here to look into the prisoner’s eyes.  He then warns that the man will be burned, but if he gets life, Ray promises to have every inch of the man’s flesh removed with a cheese grater, starting with his dick.  He’ll then cut off his nose, lips, and nuts as well, but Ray will make sure that the man lives.  Hell, if the man gets life, Ray may do it anyway.  Nothing about father butt-fucking, though.

As Ray leaves, the man yells that he doesn’t even know Ray, but Ray insists that he did- he just didn’t know that he did.

Church in Ruins- Paul speaks with a former officer about the jewel robbery

Paul takes part in his episodic ritual of looking into the diamond and learns about a robbery at the Sable Fine Jewelers in Hollywood on April 30, 1992.  A retired officer tells Paul about the tumultuous time that was 1992: fires starting everywhere, snipers taking shots at cops, ‘Fuck the Police,’ all that fun stuff.  A lot of officers just up and quit.  The Sable Fine Jewelers robbery resulted in a loss of $2.5 million in blue diamonds.

But it goes deeper than just a robbery: it was also a double homicide, husband and wife proprietors.  The woman, named Margaret Osterman, was pregnant.  There was no crime scene integrity and the police report doesn’t list a single suspect.  No looters, either, the officer figures, since the security tape was missing.

Paul shows a photo of the two kids, Leonard and Laura, who were at the scene but hid for a long time in one of the display cabinets.  The riots overwhelmed the system- if a case didn’t get closed soon, you just kept moving.  The kids ended up in the foster system.

Church in Ruins- Athena gives Ani the rundown on the party she'll be attending

Ani gets in some knife work while Athena explains the routine for this party operation at the Kali Klub in Ventura at 6:30 pm. She’s to use Athena’s name and has to wear a dress that makes her look like she’s $2,000 a night.  This is Ani we’re talking about, so that could take time.  She won’t be allowed to take anything in like a purse, phone, or even a knife.  Even if she snuck something in, the pat down and strip search will find any hidden items.  Whatever Ani plans, she gets on that bus and it’s fuck or run.

Church in Ruins- Frank and Jordan talk with Stan’s widow, Joyce, played by Sprague Grayden

Frank and Jordan talk with Stan’s widow, Joyce, played by Sprague Grayden, about the loss of her husband, and give her some cash, but not for consolation.  Joyce asks if Blake is present, as he stopped by her place after the funeral and asked how she was doing.  Joyce is just worried about her son, Mikey.

Church in Ruins- Frank speaks with Mikey, played by Austin Nash Chase, about Stan

So Frank heads out and speaks with Mikey, played by Austin Nash Chase, about Stan.  Even though Mikey has received enough sympathy, he agrees to sit and listen for some time.  Frank tells Mikey that things will be hard for some time, but Mikey, like his father, has a fighting spirit.  This sort of loss splits your life into a before and after.  Frank has a few, but this is Mikey’s first.  If you use the bad thing right, it can make you stronger.

This, Frank says, is what makes you stronger and shows that inside of you is pure gold.  Frank knows that, as did Stan, and now Mikey does as well.

Church in Ruins- Ray's supervised visit with Chad

Played against this nice little moment is Ray’s supervised visit with Chad.  It doesn’t go smooth, as Ray has to watch his words and tone around the supervisor.  Despite giving Chad a stealth bomber- which Chad points out can kill people- all Ray’s son wants to do is sit around and watch Friends.  I guess Ray didn’t have any idea that these visits were gonna be this way.

Chad learned from his mother that he may not be able to see father that often.  When he gives a nonchalant to Ray’s admission of love for him, Ray turns his attention to the supervisor.

Church in Ruins- Drunk, drugged-up Ray calls Gena to talk about the custody battle

Ray then returns home and heads down a spiral of angst as he drowns himself in alcohol and cocaine.  He later rummages about his wrecked living room and calls Gena to concede.  He won’t contest custody, saying that Chad will be happier with Gena and Richard.  However, Ray doesn’t want Gena to tell Chad about where he may have come from, since no kid should have to know that.  Let him believe that Ray is his father.  Though Ani needs to know the truth, she eventually gives in when Ray promises to leave her life forever.

Church in Ruins- Frank wants answers on where to find Irina Rulfo

In a parking garage, Frank and his men meet with one of Ledo Amarillo’s friends for information about Irina Rulfo.  When the man doesn’t initially fork over information, Frank has one of his underlings put a nail through this man’s left hand.  That doesn’t get him talking, so one goes through the guy’s back as well.  Frank promises the man a flat thousand…or the next nail goes right through his eye.  He learns of a location: El Monte.  Frank drops off the cash, but this is still gonna hurt.

Church in Ruins- Ray, Paul, and Ani brief each other on things that we already know

Ray, Ani, and Paul meet for updates on things that we already know: the diamonds from the unsolved robbery, double homicide, headway on the Rulfo girl, and Ani’s undercover plans.  Paul and Ray will be tailing the bus- Paul even provides Ani with a transponder that she can stick somewhere like her shoe.

This scene was kind of pointless.

Church in Ruins- Ani in disguise, speaks with Blake

Later that night, Ani goes in under Athena’s name.  After clearing with Blake, she boards the bus with other women.

Church in Ruins- Ani about to take pure Molly

As the journey continues, she’s given some pure Molly in order to keep her in a good mood.  Sheesh, Ani, don’t you do your drug research?  Come on.

Church in Ruins- Mexican standoff between Frank and Gonzalez

Frank, meanwhile, gets into an actual Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans: Gonzalez and his posse.  Frank tells Gonzalez about his search for Irina Rulfo.  Sounds like a deal, but Gonzalez remembers that these two never had a formal agreement.  All Frank wants, though, is to speak with Rulfo.

If Gonzalez can help, Frank offers him a chance to peddle his stuff through Frank’s two clubs for three nights a week for one year.  At the end of the year, the two will renegotiate based on mutual performance.  First year, Frank won’t take any percentage.  Gonzalez keeps what he makes.  Gonzalez agrees to get Irina to call.  It’s a start, but Frank insists upon a face-to-face encounter soon.

Church in Ruins- Frank speaks with Irina on the phone

Soon enough, the phone encounter comes as Frank speaks with someone on the phone going by the name Irina.  She refuses to talk in person at the moment, but she does admit that, as far as the stolen items from Ben Caspere’s place go, a man gave them to her.  In addition, Irina received $500 from a man she describes as a thin, White male cop.  How does she know it’s a cop?  She just knows one when she sees one and this cop in particular, she remembers.

Again, Irina won’t talk in person, but when Frank says that her people can come with her, she agrees.

Church in Ruins- Frank finds Irina's body

Frank then assembles some men to meet Irina at a construction site, only to find her with her throat slit.  Gonzalez and his men approach and take the Thursday through Saturday club option.  Frank is reasonably angry at this discovery.  Why hurt Irina?  She was working for the cops.

Church in Ruins- Ani runs into Mr. Wyman, played by Brett Rice

Back at Ani’s Most Excellent Adventure, many prominent men, such as Jacob McCandless and the attorney general, are in attendance.  The Molly blurs her vision as she tries to maintain her composure.  She runs into Mr. Wyman, played by Brett Rice, who calls her a real woman and tries to whisk her away.  She heads with him, but not before grabbing a knife from a table.

Church in Ruins- Ani's dream sequence

In the middle of this, Ani has flashes to her youth when a man brought her into his van…

Church in Ruins- McCandless and Osip negotiate

In another room, McCandless discusses a secure exchange with Osip.  They can enter the money into the system as marketing costs, investment overlay, just like with Frank Seymon.

Church in Ruins- Paul gets some documents

When the two leave, Paul enters through the window and rifles through the drawers until he finds some documents.

Back downstairs, Ani walks among the tons and tons of sex all around her.  It’s a strange sequence, I’ll admit.  Not too strange for True Detective standards, in my opinion, but it is an interesting change of pace.

Church in Ruins- Ani conveniently finds Vera, played by Miranda Rae Mayo

Anyway, it’s Ani’s extremely lucky day because she manages to find Vera, played by Miranda Rae Mayo, who also happened to be attending the party.  Ani helps her out and cuts down two men in the process, but outside of that, she has little to no trouble escaping the mansion.  Sure, she almost gets choked to death, but she did stab the guy before he got his hands on her and he bleeds out in under a minute.  Ah, so now we get that payoff.

Ani and Vera rendezvous with Paul outside and escape gunfire from men who have the accuracy of Stormtroopers.  Ray picks up the three and they whisk off into the night.  Ani announces that she may have killed someone while Paul and Ray see that those contracts have signatures all over them.  Contracts do tend to have those.

“Church in Ruins” does manage to ramp things up from previous episodes and build on the detectives trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened in Vinci.  While I have some issues with how this episode ended, I did enjoy a lot of how it dealt with characters battling their inner demons.

Church in Ruins- Frank tells Ray that he didn't make him kill anyone

Like Frank told Ray, all he did was supply a name.  If Ray wanted to act on his violent tendencies, he didn’t need Frank to push what was there all along.  And I think that’s true for a lot of us.  If we hold any resentment or deep hatred for someone, sure, a little push may help, but we had that inner anger inside from the beginning.  Own it, Frank says.  If doing less keeps you out of Heaven, he wouldn’t want to go because he’d rather walk the Earth as he truly is, not by repressing his darker side.

These characters have struggled with their demons from start to now and we see how people like Ray and Ani crumble under extreme duress, not made any better through drug usage.  Though in Ani’s case, she didn’t have much room to object.

Church in Ruins- Sex

Sticking with Ani and that ending sequence for a minute, I did like how it felt different from most of what we’ve seen this season.  From the choice of music to the blurred sexual encounters to Rachel McAdams’ spaced out expressions as Ani acted out of impulse, I think the whole orgy at the mansion was a well-done sequence.

Church in Ruins- Ani out of it

And given how Ani was undercover, the tension came from the possibility that something could go south if she made a wrong move or exposed herself.  Figuratively, anyway.

Church in Ruins- Ani's dream, joining hands

We dug a bit into Ani’s past through the dream sequence where she was literally lured into a van with a strange man and, presumably, lost her innocence.  This worked well against the orgy atmosphere because it just screws with Ani’s psyche and makes her feel vulnerable and fragile, just as she was during that fateful moment.

Church in Ruins- Athena tries to get Ani to open up

It’s a sharp contrast to how we’ve normally seen Ani, who makes a point of not caring that she’s alone and not becoming attached to people, even her flesh and blood.  She needed Athena’s help and yes, it was for her case, but she spent the majority of the time cutting away with her knife.  Hell, Athena even worked on a piece of art for Ani: a painting about a woman who drowned, just like their mother.  But Ani’s response is that she’s never been into art.

Church in Ruins- Ani with Athena

This shows how disconnected Ani is from everyone around her.  She’s married to her job and possibly even herself.  Rarely does she lower her defenses except in the rare cases she’s with her father or sister.  But in this charged, drugged atmosphere, until she finds Vera and has to fight her way out, Ani is exposed.

Church in Ruins- Ani after stabbing a man

She experienced the pain of losing her innocence, and those memories rushing back when she’s already emotionally unstable just meant that she was on the verge of doing anything.  Ani didn’t really have many options here, but I doubt her killing the two men was her first option.  It felt unplanned, which is what made it more surprising, but still a bit calculated for her.  Remember that this is the same woman who said that if a man put his hands on her, they’d bleed out in under a minute, and that’s exactly what happened.

Now I do have a problem with this sequence, but I’ll get into that later.

Church in Ruins- Ray clashes with Frank about Gena's rape

Since the two month time jump, Ray may have cleaned up his appearance, but he’s still as lowdown as before.  This isn’t anything new or something that someone like Frank brought about, but it’s who Ray has always been: a man with a dark past.

Church in Ruins- Ray spends time with Chad

He’s still committed to being a good father and being there for Chad, but just going off of his son’s indifference, Ray realizes that he’s fighting a losing battle, despite Davis’ help.

Church in Ruins- Gena talks with Ray

So he backs off the custody battle, thinking that he’s doing the right thing by letting Chad and Gena go.  In the end, he just wants Chad to have a happy life, which we see when he pleads Gena to spare Chad of the details surrounding his potential true father.  He says that no child should have to grow up with that.  Ray has already seen plenty of darkness, but he hopes that his son doesn’t have to grow up with traumatic news or incidents that could shape his life- the same sort of bad things that Frank would say make a person stronger.

Church in Ruins- Ray is a drunken, drugged-up wreck

Ray’s self-destruction is another example of Colin Farrell’s acting prowess, I’ll admit.  We’ve seen Ray drink before, but when he dips into drugs as well, we see how hard the pain of potentially losing his son and family for good is affecting him.

Church in Ruins- Ray talks with Gena in a wrecked room

It was a bit shocking to see him observing a model in one moment, but when we return to him after he calls Gena, we see that the entire room is in shambles.  Those models are just painful reminders of a time when Ray had a bond with his son.  Through his desire to let his son grow up with some semblance of normalcy and happiness, that bond has been severed with Ray realizing he wants what he can’t have.

Church in Ruins- Ray threatens Gena's rapist

The prison visit was also very well done and Ray’s threats to the man felt familiar to when he threatened Wit Conroy in the premiere.  And going off of the evil in Ray’s eyes, I don’t doubt that he meant it, but I wonder whether he would follow through on that threat.

Church in Ruins- Frank comforts Mikey

Vince Vaughn gets to show a tender side to Frank through his scene with Mikey about using bad things that make you stronger.  Frank, just like Ani, Paul, and Ray, has had his life split into before and after moments.  They are still enduring their share of demons, but Frank isn’t letting the negativity envelop him.  And Frank comes off as more genuine to Mikey than others apparently have because he’s not saying what he thinks Mikey wants to hear, but what he should hear when it comes to dealing with the death of his father.

Church in Ruins- Frank tells Ray to not shoot him

Frank may not be the most upstanding man, but he’s at least to the point and cuts through the bullshit when it comes to his friendship with Ray.  The conversation between the two was tense and I never thought they would come to blows or gunshots, but even then, the talk never got explosive.  You can tell that these two have known each other for years that, even though Ray wanted nothing more than to shoot Frank, he just wanted an explanation.  If he could get that, there’d be no need for violence.  And it speaks to their strong bond that Frank would trust Ray to not shoot him.

And part of me does believe that Frank didn’t set up Ray.  He didn’t know much about him, so there’d be little to no reason to blackmail a deputy.  And with Ray so hell-bent on getting revenge on who he thought hurt his wife, there’d be no reason for Frank to try and tame the beast when he’s already on the verge of exploding.

Church in Ruins- Frank asks why Gonzalez killed Irina

Again, Frank is someone who likes to remain in control, despite his circumstances, but Gonzalez has thrown that off track with him killing Irina.  And Frank did look genuinely concerned that someone not directly tied to this situation or his money loss, so if he can avoid violence, he will.

Now my problem with this episode is how it ends.  It’s too neat of an escape to end on, even though we know that the detectives’ problems are far from over.  Vera has been missing for quite some time, or at least since the season premiere.  There’s no telling where she might have been or if she was even alive.

Church in Ruins- Ani finds Vera

But this was either laziness on behalf of the writers or the stars aligned perfectly for Ani Bezzerides.  That or very little thought went into this rescue.  I don’t doubt that Vera could always have been alive, but I find it too easy that not only is she alive, but she also happens to attend the exact same orgy as Ani, who was only undercover for the first time when looking for her.

If Ani had attended several parties and eventually found Vera, I could buy that, but I don’t accept that Ani just happened to get lucky and rescue Vera on her first attempt.  That’s too much of a coincidence and it ruins an otherwise well done sequence.

But we are far from done.  There’s still the matter of Frank finding his money, what to do with Vera, Ray’s family woes, and I’m certain that Ani using Athena’s name will come back to haunt her.  Like the shooting, this was an unfortunate series of events, but made even worse because the three are working off the grid and one of the detectives assaulted two people, one of whom we know is dead.

“Church in Ruins” was pretty good at tying the threads of these storylines together and gave us an interesting and different sequence for this season as the detectives finally rescue the missing Vera and get the documentation that they may need.  Again, Ani finding Vera on her first go is lazy writing and could have been handled better, but I’m interested in seeing where things go from here.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 3, Episode 2: “Three’s a Crowd”

Three’s a Crowd.  Strange, I thought Three was just Company.  But with the reveal of Virginia’s pregnancy last time, she and Bill must take steps to make sure that their careers aren’t jeopardized since that’s the most important thing right now.  Kids? Spouses?  Not the most important details when your baby book is on the way.  Perhaps Bill and Virginia are crazier than I gave them credit for, despite their intellect.  This is “Three’s a Crowd.”

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Virginia discuss how to deal with Virginia's pregnancy

The episode begins immediately after the end of “Parliament of Owls,” with Bill learning about Virginia’s pregnancy, which he wants confirmed by actually hearing her say it.  Bill is more concerned about the timing of this since the book will be released soon, but also the impossibility of it being his child, but it’s not.  Yep, it belongs to George after a moment he and Virginia had at the lake, as they were both upset about Henry enlisting.

Virginia is pregnant, though.  She didn’t say she’s having a baby.  She wanted to wait until this book business was done because she didn’t want to be incapacitated for it.  This sort of problem doesn’t just handle itself, and while there is an alternative, neither Bill nor Virginia can imagine that possibility.  There’s only one doctor who can take care of this: a Dr. Ennis, and Virginia has already made an appointment for the day after tomorrow.

Three's a Crowd- Bill arrives at home as Libby emerges and talks about the Edley family

At House Masters, Bill arrives and makes himself a drink when Libby emerges, as she’s been up for some time, awaiting to hear the bad news in person since she heard a strain in Bill’s voice over the phone.  Bill is just in the mood to celebrate, though Libby thinks that he can and should take this opportunity to step away from the late nights and spend more time with the kids.  Johnny even made a whole three dollars helping the Edleys hang their wallpaper.  Apparently, couples need help with their wallpaper.

Maybe one of them could even help with the Masters’ gutters, though Bill remembers that Libby was supposed to call a service.  Libby has other plans in mind: as the Edley couple has invited them to dinner.  And they’re going.  Why?  Because Libby wants to make friends outside of Virginia Johnson.  One person isn’t enough for her.  And Libby wants people to know that she’s married, as she’s been asked if she’s a single mother.  People don’t even see Bill because he’s out so early and back in so late.

Three's a Crowd- Tessa needs the car to buy tickets for a Bob Dylan concert

More family drama.  Tessa needs the car so she can get tickets for a Bob Dylan concert, though Virginia has a more pressing need for her appointment with a…travel agent for book tours.  Tessa points out that Mom said ‘Yes,’ but Virginia corrects her, saying that she only said ‘We’ll see.’  If Virginia was going to say no, Tessa says that she should have just said that.  On that much, I agree.

Tessa offers to drive her mother, but Virginia shoots her down, since she can’t reveal where she’s actually going.  So Tessa lashes out, saying that her mother ruins everything since she either changes her mind about decisions or doesn’t remember.  This Bob Dylan concert is a reward for Tessa raising herself…she immediately regrets saying that, but then tells Virginia that she’s not the only one who thinks that she’s a bad mother.

Three's a Crowd- Betty reschedules appointments

Moving along, we cut to the office where Betty has had to make some schedule adjustments since Bill’s calls have slowed things for him.  Bill does make one request, though: block off everything on the morning of the upcoming 12th.  It will be a special occasion, so Lester needs a tie and Betty needs a dress that goes below her knees.

Three's a Crowd- Virginia at the abortion clinic

Elsewhere, Virginia goes under for the abortion procedure.  Despite what should be obvious pain, Virginia doesn’t feel anything.

Three's a Crowd- Mahdi, played by JB Blanc, spots a dildo

We then go back to the office.  Lester arrives with a man named Mahdi, played by JB Blanc, who inspects to make sure no one enters this area for the rest of the afternoon.  Oh, and he spots a dildo.  That’s something you always want to see.

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Virginia meet Mohammed, the Shah of Iran, played by Waleed Zuaiter, and his wife, the Queen of Iran, Soraya, played by Necar Zadegan

So Bill and Virginia meet with some prestigious guests: Mohammed, the Shah of Iran, played by Waleed Zuaiter, and his wife, the Queen of Iran, Soraya, played by Necar Zadegan.  Both are in good health and Soraya’s cycle is regular, but after three years of trying to conceive, they are concerned.  They’ve tried all of the best clinics available, but just know that Mohammed has a low sperm count.

It’s hard to find a doctor who shares more than just their advice since few want to risk their reputation of their work isn’t successful.  The stakes are high for the royal couple, as the laws of succession require a union to produce an heir that will grow up to be the next Shah of Iran.  Bill and Virginia plan to help by starting with the capping procedure.

Soraya, though, has good intuition, as she asks whether capping was necessary in Virginia’s case.  Soraya hopes that Virginia’s good fortune and hope can rub off on her.

Three's a Crowd- Bill tells Virginia that he got a replacement while she's on leave

When the two have a moment alone, Bill isn’t pleased with someone learning about Virginia’s pregnancy, but then, the clues have been there: Betty saw Virginia eating for two and Lester sent back a lab coat in a size Medium.  There’s a problem for the two of them, as it only takes one journalist to notice Virginia’s pregnancy.  The work, not the morality of the researchers, should get attention.

As Bill reminds Virginia, a pregnant, unwed woman cannot be the standard bearer for the cause of sexual enlightenment.  Bill suggests that Virginia take a leave of absence, but Virginia has another potential idea: marry George.  Bill is skeptical of that, but in the meantime, he’s spoken with a well-known gynecologist named Christine Wesh, who has agreed to temporarily relocate to St. Louis.

It’s much better than Virginia’s suggestion of Betty, though I have to wonder if Betty would have had that personal touch that Bill lacks.  But regardless of who it is, Bill needs a woman at his side to counter the perception that he’s a pervert.  What we see here is that neither Bill nor Virginia are making these decisions together, even though they’re both affected.  Bill won’t let Virginia’s impulsivity jeopardize the book.

But Virginia counters that claim, saying it wasn’t an impulsive.  The conception was a mistake, but keeping the baby was deliberate.  She already lost Henry and Tessa when she had to give up custody and that decision has been her biggest regret.  Even now, she doesn’t understand how that happened, but she won’t lose this third child, so she’s finally putting her needs ahead of her and Bill’s needs.  Virginia knew this day was coming, but she also learned from Bill that she doesn’t need to face unpleasantness today if she can put it off until tomorrow.  And when does Bill intend to tell Libby?

Three's a Crowd- Bill works on the television while Libby smokes

Well, in the very next scene and probably one of my favorite moments with Libby.  Bill tells her all about the pregnancy while fixing the television, but Libby Draper just smokes and listens while saying very little.  Bill can’t believe that he missed the signs, though Libby suggests that maybe George isn’t the father.  Bill can’t be certain that it’s not George’s since he wasn’t there.  It’s not impossible that Virginia has been with other men since she’s not one to just sit home alone.

But with pregnancy, Bill just takes the woman at their word, something Libby once thought Virginia was.  She’s due around the time of the book’s release.  Bill tells Libby about Virginia’s planned leave of absence that will end once the baby is born.

Three's a Crowd- Libby wants to know Virginia's next move regarding the baby

Then we cut to House Johnson as Libby and Virginia clash about this plan that Virginia will keep a low profile for five months.  Just as Bill has already said, Libby tells Virginia that it only takes one person to come to the conclusion that she’s a wayward woman.  And Libby knows that Virginia isn’t the only one affected by this or that will be in judgment.  There’s no ring on Virginia’s finger and no husband, except for Libby’s.

Libby thinks that people will look at and feel sorry for her and her kids, and she’s not keen to take Virginia’s suggestion of telling people to go to hell.  Why not?  She called that one driver who hit Henry an asshole.  Virginia accepts that people will gossip, but this isn’t something she did to harm either Bill or Libby, even though it was her decision.  Libby has no reason to think this implicates her, Virginia says.  And Virginia knows that Libby doesn’t even want this baby that he thinks is a nuisance.

But the baby is also something that Virginia has done without Bill.  With this comes an obligation that can distract Bill from the kids that he already has.  What does Libby want Virginia to do?  Just something.

Three's a Crowd- Fade to black for some reason

Then, for whatever reason, we fade to black.  Why?  No, seriously, why?  We couldn’t just cut to the next scene?

Three's a Crowd- Tessa snags an apple before leaving

We join Virginia making breakfast, but Tessa just takes an apple and gets ready to leave, as she’s to be picked up by a girl named Carrie.  Carrie, we learn, crashed her mother’s station wagon, but since her brother went to college, she’s using his car.  As such, Virginia doesn’t want Tessa riding with this Carrie girl.

I get the feeling that this is going to come up again later.

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Dr. Christine Wesh, played by Maggie Grace, prepare for Soraya's capping

Back at the office, Lester tries to make small talk with Mohammed and his crown and scepter while Bill and Dr. Christine Wesh, played by Maggie Grace from Lost, start Soraya’s capping- her third in three months.  If this isn’t successful, the two will see if a low sperm count is the only factor that’s preventing the pregnancy.

This would involve a laparotomy: an incision into the abdomen to see if there’s any damage to the ovaries or uterus, such as scarring, polyps, or fibroids.  Dr. Wesh also suggests that it could be endometriosis- an overgrowth in uterine lining.  Bill interjects, saying if it was that, the two would have noticed a menstrual irregularity.  It just depends on the severity of the disease.

Three's a Crowd- Dr. Wesh asks Bill if she overstepped

Later, Wesh informs Bill that Harry Vetters has arrived, but she then asks Bill if she overstepped her boundaries, based on the look she saw Bill give her.  Bill just isn’t used to having someone chime in when he’s speaking to patient.  Okay, but Wesh expected to participate just like Virginia, but Bill says that Mrs. Johnson is just there to offer support, not medical information.

Wesh remembers that, during the interview, Bill mentioned the give and take between Masters and Johnson, which is true, but that’s a dynamic that has built up over years, or two seasons- whichever you prefer.  The same can’t be done in one month.  Fair enough, but this also means that Wesh probably doesn’t have latitude with the Times reporter waiting in the conference room.

Dr. Wesh knows this material and is ready to help as a stand-in for Mrs. Johnson, but Bill tells her that he didn’t want to give off the impression that he can’t articulate his points about his work without Mrs. Johnson.

Three's a Crowd- Harry Vetters, played by Christopher Grove, interviews Bill

Let’s put that to the test.  We then see Bill interviewed by Mr. Harry Vetters, played by Christopher Grove.  The first question is how Bill responds to the accusation that his work is encouraging female promiscuity, as in the pursuit of sexual fulfillment for its own sake and to satisfy a physical urge.  Bill’s response is that we fulfill urges like hunger, sleep, and fatigue all the time, but Vetters counters that those urges don’t have the potential to be the ruination of our moral code.

So Bill poses his own question: is procreation the only acceptable goal of sexual activity?  Such thinking is outdated.  He and Johnson encourage sex as a means of strengthening a human connection, but they discourage the idea that sex can only occur in a traditional, singular context.  In layman’s terms for the uninitiated, Bill describes a scenario where a woman serves three different men and gives it as god as she gets.  She’s more honest than a faithful wife who services her husband while thinking of another man.  There’s physical and mental promiscuity, and the hypocrisy of the latter presents a greater danger to society.

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Virginia make a proposal to George

After that impressive display of layman’s terms, Bill assembles both Virginia and George not to discuss that one time at the lake, but an nontraditional arrangement to help give this unborn child legitimacy, but, as George notes, also legitimacy to Bill and Virginia’s partnership.  George, to the point, wants to know how this sham marriage can be spun in his benefit.  Well, Virginia’s legacy as a researcher is worth protecting, but that’s just going to make her look famous while George looks like a chump.

There is a third option: George and Virginia just get married for real.  They were in love once and they’re smarter than they once were, but Virginia says that their life is filled with potholes and they’ve hurt each other way too much.  The lake was more comfort than love, but it’s a starting point.  In essence, George sees himself as good enough to fuck, but not marry…just like a mistress.  George doesn’t see this as his problem, but it could harm him financially if the book fails.

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Soraya discuss marriage

Bill gets to work performing the laparotomy on Soraya.  Following the procedure, he informs her that there was distal blocking on her fallopian tubes.  Even if he undid the blockage and removed the adhesions, the tubes have been permanently damaged.  Soraya is distraught, but more than that: she fears that her husband will take a new wife in order to produce a child.  However, she feels that he will always save part of his heart for her.

She doesn’t expect an American like Bill to understand this, but he knows that there are marriages of convenience.  Some work.  But among three people?  Soraya says that love is an upside down triangle that can topple at any moment, but it falls on the side weighted with the child.  It’s a bond two people share stronger than anything.  But, as Bill suggests, maybe Soraya imagines it in such a way because she’s tried hard to make it happen.

By comparison, Bill hasn’t found parenting to be the connection that trumps others.  What is, then?  Desire and respect- the sense that your partner is your other half.  Bill has that plus three kids, but Soraya doesn’t have enough to say.  She plans to leave Mohammed to see him love a child because she knows the two will never be the same again.  After knowing love, she can’t settle for less than everything.

Three's a Crowd- Virginia and Libby discuss the marriage

At House Masters, Libby is more excited for this legal marriage than Virginia, even going as far as suggesting that Virginia and George take photos to commemorate this day and so their baby can know.  You know, because Virginia’s baby bump isn’t enough of an indication.  Even if there one was a spark, Libby thinks that the two can recapture it and reclaim their happy days.  After all, they should want to give their kids a real family.  That would just solve everything, now wouldn’t it?

Three's a Crowd- Herb Spleeb goes over the terms and conditions of custody

The marriage takes place, but at the same time, Herb Spleeb goes over with George and Virginia the terms and conditions of custody and how there should be no expectation of cohabitation, marital relations, and celibacy.

Three's a Crowd- George and Virginia toast and talk about their past

After the false marriage, Virginia and George talk.  He and Audrey split over having kids.  He doesn’t get why Virginia isn’t reciprocating his feelings.  In his mind, you can’t have sex with someone and not feel anything, but Virginia disagrees, saying that you can because, sometimes, the body can take over.  George feels that this work has ruined Virginia.  Sure, she’s found success, but George married a romantic.  That girl grew up…to plan a divorce on the morning of her wedding.  George’s wedding ring once meant love, but now it just means that no one can ask questions.  He believes in love, but what about Virginia?

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Virginia address their book during a reception

At the book reception, Bill and Virginia address some of the concerns that their work may threaten the fabric of marriage.  A successful marriage demands successful communication to ensure a relationship of honesty.  Sexual inadequacy is the number one cause of divorce.  Their focus is not just the physiological study of sex, but how to help couples develop a meaningful and mutual relationship, which is the basis of a happy, healthy marriage.

So Bill and Virginia toast to the two people who helped with their work: the spouses themselves, Libby Masters and George Johnson.

Three's a Crowd- Bill sings Danny Boy to Virginia

Later, at a hospital, Bill spots Mohammed delivering an address on television saying that he has parted with Soraya.  He doesn’t have time to dwell on this because he has to help a pained, struggling Virginia get to her bed.  She needs a distraction, but Bill focuses too much on the work.  Instead, he starts singing Danny Boy.  This is the first song, I guess, that popped into his head.  Virginia’s pain immediately and conveniently stops.

Virginia plans to be awake for the birth, against Bill’s objections.  She was put under for George and Tessa and feels like she missed something, then woke up with a cleaned child in her arms.  It’s like a present picked when you’re not around, she says, even though she was.  And yet, she feels that she hasn’t changed at all.  She failed twice at being a good mother.

Bill does see success…in the book, but he does also say that success requires patience, focus, and sacrifice, all of which Virginia has exhibited for their work.  She helped give birth to…well, this book.  But it’s just a book.  The problem is that Virginia cares about things outside of her personal life more.  She’s been unable to put kids before work, but she vows to try harder by spending more time at home.

But Bill doesn’t see how and why a mother being a home will be an automatic benefit to a child’s well-being.  After all, both Bill and Virginia had mothers in their lives, but did they feel loved?  Or did they feel resented by mothers who wanted more in life than staying at home?  Virginia needs to push ahead for this new baby in order to be able to bring them a piece of the world home every day.  This book shines a light on infinite variations of a single act.  In Bill’s mind, there’s more than one way to do things.

Virginia cries out in pain.  It’s time for the birth.

Three's a Crowd- George arrives at the hospital

As George arrives at the hospital, Bill leaves.  The episode comes to a close as George and a tired Virginia watch their newborn baby.

Three's a Crowd- Family photo

If there’s one thing Bill and Virginia do well, it’s how they rationalize hurting and outright walking over the people they love for the sake of their work.  For the longest time, they’ve managed to do so and there have been casualties along the way, but this week, we see it hit home with both of their spouses being hurt in a huge way.

Three's a Crowd- Queen and Shah of Iran

The subplot involving the Shah and Queen of Iran felt very ‘back to basics’ for Masters of Sex, as a lot of episodes in the first season often involved Bill and Virginia’s storyline played against one of Bill’s cases of the week.

Three's a Crowd- Soraya talks with Bill about marriage and upside down triangles

It was unfortunate that Soraya felt she had to leave her husband because she couldn’t conceive.  The scene between her and Bill had the right amount of emotion to it and it felt reminiscent of the scene in “Standard Deviation” when Bill told Betty that she had chronic salpingitis and even if he tried to untie her tubes, she wouldn’t be able to conceive.  Like that moment, Bill shows a more humane side when he tells Soraya the bad news and doesn’t come off as cold and clinical.

Three's a Crowd- Bill and Soraya have a blatantly obvious conversation about the episode

That said, I wish the conversation between the two about love triangles and marriages of convenience weren’t so telling.  Masters of Sex is usually pretty good with getting across messages about love, sex, marriage and such, but this was a tad too blatant, as I can’t imagine a woman just learning that she can’t give birth suddenly talking about love being an upside down triangle.  At the very least, I could see it coming from a character that Bill knew for a long time, such as Betty or even Jane, were she still around, but Soraya just met Bill, so it’s strange for the two to have this suddenly deep, yet obvious conversation regarding Bill and Virginia’s circumstances.

And their circumstances tend to be both good and bad for them, but mostly bad for everyone else.  These two are ahead of their time and call themselves the sexual revolution, but they’re pulling a fast one on the world by presenting themselves as perfectly capable and competent researchers taking on a world not yet ready for their ideas and concepts.  They have no problem doing what it takes to defend their work.

Three's a Crowd- Tessa says that the concert tickets are a reward for raising herself

But that comes at the price of further damaging their home lives.  Virginia and Tessa’s relationship is fractured, but I’m not as invested in this as I should because we’ve already seen Virginia deal with this from a young Henry in the first season.  I get it: Tessa is a teenage girl and she’s occasionally going to act like a bratty little bitch, but like Henry’s sudden change, I’m wondering when all this started.  Between the two, Tessa was more respectful towards her mother than Henry, so where does all this resentment come from?

I’m gonna guess it has to do with the custody battle and the amount of time Henry and Tessa spent separated from their mother, in addition to Virginia just putting more focus on her work and professional career instead of her kids.  But to say that Tessa practically raised herself is both wrong and unfair, considering the many times Virginia has managed to be there for the kids.

Three's a Crowd- George learns of Virginia and Bill's arrangement

George loses a lot here and it’s unfortunate because since he’s reappeared in Virginia’s life, going as far back as competing with Ethan, he’s tried to do a better job at being there for Henry and Tessa.  While Virginia was off working on her career, George made himself available, and I find that to be the sign of a changed man.  But now he’s being coerced into a sham marriage that he knows ultimately won’t make anyone happy.

Three's a Crowd- George reminds Virginia what love is all about

Unlike Virginia, his focus is on now as opposed to later.  He even tries to remind Virginia who she once was when he talks about the romantic who made the two of them shower in clothes to recreate their first kiss on a rainy street corner in Chicago.  Virginia tells George that she grew up, and so did George, but the difference is that George isn’t willing to put himself before his family.

Three's a Crowd- George doesn't like the terms and conditions

So of course he’d be upset that Bill and Virginia would try and force him into a marriage in name only with absolutely no promise or expectation of marital relations or cohabitation.  Virginia gets the kids back in her custody, but like last season, this comes at a cost of fracturing her already tense relationship with George.  There’s no way to rationalize this, in my mind, and I’m glad that George doesn’t just accept these terms without telling both Bill and Virginia that this is ludicrous.

Three's a Crowd- Virginia reacts to Tessa saying that she raised herself

Virginia isn’t as bad as Bill when it comes to putting work over kids and at least she acknowledges that she’s been a terrible parent.  I can’t cut her that much slack on this because she should have come to this conclusion much earlier than she did.  Granted, she knew back when she lost custody last season that she wasn’t the best mother, but that’s my point: she didn’t learn much in between now and then.

Three's a Crowd- Virginia doesn't feel anything

She’s almost at the point of not feeling, as exhibited during the abortion procedure when she says that she doesn’t feel anything.

Three's a Crowd- George and Virginia see their baby

If she’s serious about being a hard worker and responsible mother, she and George would have come to terms much earlier and in a cleaner way that would make everyone happy.  As is, she’s got her kids back and wants to set things straight with a third, but she’s still wayward.

Three's a Crowd- Virginia acknowledges that she's been a bad mother

Unlike Libby, Virginia doesn’t care much what people think of her, and she doesn’t have to because there’s enough self-loathing that Virginia can weather most criticism thrown her way.  She takes it out on herself because she feels responsible for the ruination of the very happy and healthy relationship that she and Bill champion through their work.  It’s ludicrous, the amount of double talk these two do, but it shows how much they buy into their own bullshit and how far they’re willing to take this lie.

Three's a Crowd- Bill doesn't think parenting leads to a strong connection

But Bill takes it much further because, as several characters point out, he sees children as a nuisance.  He wants Virginia as far out of sight as possible not because of maternal leave, but because he doesn’t want negative attention drawn towards their baby book.  Bill is as clinical and professional as he’s ever been during these scenes and we see again that family, ultimately, isn’t what makes him happy.  I mean, it can be, but not the family he has with Libby.

His future is with Virginia and he won’t allow anything to jeopardize that, even if it means cutting off most emotional attachment to his own flesh and blood.  So he tries to make the best out of a bad situation and still find a way to work it in his favor because, as he says, there is more than one way to do things.  At one point, Libby refers to Bill as a magical thinker who can will anything into existence, and that’s very true.

Three's a Crowd- Bill tells Virginia about what they can accomplish in their future

He rationalizes Virginia spending more time working instead of being a mother not just so she can provide for her child later in life, but so they can put all their attention towards the future of their study.  When Virginia asks Bill to distract her, all he can do is talk about work instead of just being comforting.  Maybe it’s for the best that he wasn’t around when Libby gave birth to their first child.  That would’ve been worse, I imagine.

Three's a Crowd- Bill repairs the television

Bill may be a hard worker and great doctor, but he’s a bad boss and even worse father and husband.  He can read Virginia as best as he can like she’s his soul mate, but he can’t even tell that his actual wife is crumbling before his eyes.

Three's a Crowd- Christine speaks with Bill

And he’s unnecessarily cold to Dr. Wesh, who came in on his request and just wanted to help as best she could.  She comes off as a very credible doctor from her knowledge of the female anatomy.  Bill, though, can’t have someone like her speaking because he wants to be the one giving the diagnosis.  I think Wesh could have that personal touch that Virginia has and Bill still lacks- which is why he flubs his way through that interview- but Bill doesn’t give her enough of a chance to show that because he’s too focused on his dynamic with Virginia.

Three's a Crowd- Libby smokes

However, credit where it’s due, I like an assertive Libby and Caitlin Fitzgerald brought some more of the same passion and emotion shown in “Parliament of Owls.”  I’m not a smoker, but Fitzgerald makes it look so…hot.  I love her cold demeanor during the conversation with Bill about Virginia’s pregnancy.  She knows that Bill is having an affair, but Bill continues to act like everything between them is fine.  She’s a much smarter woman than she was two seasons ago and I’m glad she’s not just turning a blind eye to the duplicity all around her.

Three's a Crowd- Libby clashes with Virginia

And that extends to her lashing out at Virginia because, let’s face it, she’s part of the reason Libby is so miserable.  The difference between the two is that Libby takes other people’s opinions into account much more than Virginia.  Libby doesn’t want to be seen as a single mother or have others take pity on her, but she also believes that Virginia has a genuine chance to have something that Libby doesn’t have right now: a real family.

Three's a Crowd- Libby before the fade-out

But for the sake of consistency, I do have a problem with Libby suddenly wanting Bill to be visible and show up at functions when, just one episode ago, she told Virginia that she didn’t mind if Bill wasn’t an every-man.

“Three’s a Crowd” is a good episode that set up and gave us more family drama and interpersonal conflicts between the Masters’ and Johnson families.  While I enjoyed the performances, Caitlin Fitzgerald being the standout, I think this one suffered a bit from spelling out too much instead of normally giving the audience credit to arrive at certain conclusions on its own.

The stakes are much more personal for Virginia as she considers her future with a third child, Bill considers his future with his baby book, while Libby and George, the spouses who get nothing more than a toast to their honor, are left on the sidelines, neglected by their so-called loved ones.  Tragic.

A Look at True Detective- Season 2, Episode 5: “Other Lives”

Time for a slight jump forward, but don’t worry.  That shootout from “Down Will Come” is still fresh in everyone’s minds as our characters grapple with the fallout of that battle, but also come across some key opportunities and leads that will give them a second chance at redemption.  This is “Other Lives.”

Other Lives- Aftermath of shootout

The episode begins with the aftermath of the shootout from the end of “Down Will Come.”

Other Lives- Frank checks on Jordan

Frank watches a news report detailing the 66 days that have followed since Ben Caspere’s murder.  After checking in on Jordan, he gets ready and heads off for the day.

Other Lives- Lieutenant Burris visits Ray's place to ask about Dixon

Lieutenant Burris stops by Ray’s place and the two chat about Ray’s decision to leave the force.  Burris reminds Ray that he didn’t have to quit, but Ray doesn’t think that the previous events were well-handled.  The state made its move and Ray found it better to walk before the investigation made him run.  Geldof closed the case, so Ray is in the clear.  There’s a chance that word is being spread about the Mexicans being behind Caspere’s death.

Then Burris asks Ray if he and Dixon ever talked when they worked together.  Why?  Turns out that Dixon knew some things and has some photographs that show he may have been into some people.  Also, bad news for Ray: he’s being evicted, as the row houses are reserved for municipal employees.  It sucks, but Burris was at least nice enough to give Ray 60 days’ notice.

Other Lives- Ray collects money on Frank's behalf

Never mind this.  Ray gets to work as Frank’s muscle.  He heads to the apartment complex where Luca Relles lives in order to collect, but there’s $200 missing.  What gives?  If Relles can buy beer, he can pay rent.  Ray, after looking inside and seeing a room with kids, tells the tenant that she and Relles have until tomorrow.

Other Lives- Sexual Misconduct circle

Meanwhile, Ani sits in a circle with other people who have a history of sexual misconduct.  And she’s the only woman.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that there aren’t a ton of women who have complaints brought against them for sexual misconduct.  But anyway, this is a time for sharing stories about how apparently complimenting a woman means that she’s going to hire a lawyer.

Other Lives- Ani really likes big dicks

Ani, though?  What’s her story?  Apparently, she just likes big dicks.  It’s not just about length, though.  It’s also girth.  She really wants to have trouble handcuffing the thing.  The men, with the exception of the moderator, are willing to let the lady finish.  How kind of them, I guess.

Other Lives- Paul still has to deal with Lacey Lindel

Then there’s Paul, who may have received a commendation for his work, but now works insurance fraud cases and still has to contend with Lacey Lindel, who just wants to put this terrible thing behind her.  You bitch.  Paul claims his innocence, but Lindel’s representatives start to ask him question about his Black Mountain days and whether he was at Pandahar village.

Lindel feels that she’s learned a lot in therapy, as she got her publicist to try and smear Paul, but now she wants to drop the allegation.  Though there could still be a civil suit, Paul stands his ground.

Other Lives- At Lux, Frank receives a visit from Cisco Kid and Gonzalez, played by Robert Renderos

Over at Lux, Frank receives a visit from a man named Gonzalez, played by Robert Renderos, who had an arrangement with Danny Santos.  But hey, nobody’s seen Santos, so Gonzalez wants to ratify his agreement with Frank, even though he never had one in the first place.  Gonzalez and Cisco Kid leave.

Other Lives- Frank and Mayor Chessani discuss Archeron Waste Management

Following this, Frank visits Mayor Chessani to discuss Archeron Waste Management, which was sold off after they sprinkled the corridor valley with heavy metals.  The guy who Frank sold it to, Ali Komunyakaa, whom Frank never saw finish a beer, got drunk once and drove off of a hillside in Ventura.  Now how does that happen?

Frank reminds Chessani about how there were outside interests looking into the poker room.  Who?  Chessani says that they’re foreign interests, but he hasn’t been in touch for some time.  However, he does order Frank to pay an extra five a month for running girls through the poker room.

Other Lives- Ray and Gena at hearing regarding custody and Ray's actions

Now let’s see how Ray’s troubles can just pile on for him today.  He and Gena attend a hearing regarding Ray’s role as a person of interest in the state investigation, which yielded nothing.  After the firefight in Vinci, he resigned under scrutiny and pending a substance abuse charge.  Ray voluntarily submits to take a drug test, so it seems like he’s in the clear.

Then he learns that Gena’s attorneys are contesting Ray’s paternity and wish to establish whether he qualifies for father’s rights.  After all, Gena believes that her rapist is the biological father of her son.  So there’ll still be a paternity and toxicology test, but until those results are in, Ray must have supervised visits.  Needless to say that Ray is livid.  He’ll fight this, but he needs to get some cash.

Other Lives- Ray tells Frank that he needs more money, the two discuss Ben Caspere

So he meets up with Frank and lets him know his situation.  He offers to work more hours at Lux, but Frank may have another job for him.  The guy who bought the waste corridor died and the place has been cleaned, but Frank is going to start listening to the hot feeling in the back of his neck.  He wants Ray to tail Blake and learn his life outside of Frank.  Ray is curious about Frank’s reasoning and guesses whether it has to do with running girls, but Frank isn’t in the mood for confession.

The two then discuss whether the Mexicans really did in Ben Caspere. No idea, though, since it was bullshit surveillance.  Regardless of who was responsible, Caspere still died with five million of Frank’s money.  More than that, Stan is dead and Ray has been squeezed out of the rail corridor.  The enemy won’t just reveal itself.  It stymies Frank’s retribution, like blue balls in your heart.  Make of that what you will, because I can’t think of something snarky.

Other Lives- Cynthia isn't pleased that Paul is getting married

Paul tells his mother the good news that he’s getting married to Emily.  Cynthia is less than enthused about her son getting hitched to a woman whose four years pregnant.  She thinks it a stupid decision since Paul is a good-looking White man with who could do anything he wants.  And how!

Other Lives- Paul learns that his mother took his money

But then Paul isn’t happy when he searches a backpack and realizes that the $20,000 he brought back from Afghanistan is missing.  Yeah, Cynthia took it.  After all, she thought it was for her.  She’s been out of work and had every reason to expect a little help.  And Cynthia has had a hard life, you know!  She carried Paul in her stomach while still working as a dancer.  She claims that Paul ruined her career and she’s still carrying him due to his weirdness.  Yup.  Mom knows all about Paul’s good friends, the boys.  How’s a son to respond?  Call your Mom a fucking poisoned cooze and storm off.  That’s how you get under Mom’s skin.

Other Lives- Ani speaks with Vera's sister

Ani shows some photos to Vera’s sister.  The police never found anything.  There’s not much to make of the photos except that it looks like a party scene.  Vera’s sister didn’t get any follow-up with the Sheriff, though, and she didn’t want to just hand this over.

Other Lives- Elvis visits Ani in evidence and tells her about the last address Vera called from before disappearing

Because of Ani’s sexual misconduct, she’s been reduced to the dungeon of the department and deals with handling evidence.  She examines a photo and notices one face looks familiar to that of State Senator Fred Jenkins.  Elvis stops by and reaffirms that he did not rat out Ani, as the Sheriff already knew about the two of them.  Somebody was trying to do Ani in- perhaps if she had a few more friends, it might have been harder to get done.

Ani brings up the foreclosure from way back when involving the missing girl, Vera, and how Elvis looked up her old roommate’s phone records.  Elvis found an address up north from where Vera last called.  If he can get it to Ani, she promises to do a fearless and searching moral inventory of herself.  Bullshit, but okay.  Let’s keep moving.

Other Lives- Ray spots Blake greeting Rick Springfield and Tony Chessani

Ray tails Blake and spots him not just greeting Osip, Rick Springfield, and Tony Chessani, but bring along some females as well.

Other Lives- Jordan and Frank discuss the gangster life, their future, Danny Santos' books, and children

Back at the Lux, Jordan tells Frank that Danny Santos’ books are bullshit.  She can’t make out what was made here, but that’s expected.  Frank says that can be wiped clear.  Jordan is wise to what’s going on in what she calls Backslide City.  She knows what’s going on in the poker room- she and Frank aren’t just running a club

But what’s happening now, Frank says, is that they are surviving.  It’s like having a design.  Such a design doesn’t work when someone has stolen your money, leaving you knee deep in dirt.  This isn’t a situation where you bring in a kid.

Other Lives- Jordan tells Frank that she doesn't think she can have kids

This has to be about more than them, as Jordan isn’t interested in being a fucking gangster’s wife.  Frank hates that word.  He didn’t ask for this world- he was just born drafted on the wrong side of a class war.  Jordan doesn’t falter- going as far as calling Frank a pimp, but Frank refutes that.  He’s just trying to keep the two of them above water.  Crime exists contingent on human desire.  These are the avenues left for him.

But what’s the expiration date for this?  Their child?  Well, the child and being legitimate are part of the design.  Right now, that’s on hold.  If Jordan loves Frank if she’s not with him, just say so.  Jordan ultimately doesn’t think that she can have kids.  She’s been pretending that it might not be that way, but she went to the doctor alone for multiple visits.  Frank is upset, but he also wants to know why Jordan picked this time to come clean.  Well, it helps that they’re both out in the open.

Jordan thought about when she first talked adoption a few months ago.  She thought of a young Frank and what it would have meant if someone looked out for him.  Jordan does love Frank, yes, but she doesn’t want to see him lose who he’s become, and she doesn’t mean the money.  Her problem is with Frank not coming to bed and both of them being half in the bag each night.  She thinks that when Frank said no to the adoption, he said no to the kid he once was.  With that, Jordan leaves and hopes that her husband makes time to join her.

Other Lives- Frank and Jordan have a quiet moment at home

Later on, the two do just that.

Other Lives- Paul and Emily have dinner with Emily's mother,  Irma, played by Saundra Santiago

Paul has dinner with Emily and her mother, Irma, played by Saundra Santiago, who is looking to move in until the marriage, which she thinks needs to be sooner, rather than later.  They’ll want her around.  Also, Irma likes Paul in a suit instead of being on a motorcycle.  I suppose somebody should.

Other Lives- Ray and Ani meet at the bar to go over some photos

Over at the bar that time forgot, Ray and Ani meet to discuss the evidence and how Ani has hit dead end after dead end.  But the folks in the photos look familiar, though, and the pictures themselves had to have been taken before Caspere died.  In addition, the diamonds from Caspere’s safe deposit box went missing from evidence.  That’s not unheard of, though.

Ani speaks about the missing girl who disappeared shortly before Caspere’s body turned up, so it’s time to return to those talks about those escort parties that Caspere attended.  Judging from the photos, these types of parties wouldn’t allow cameras, so maybe whoever took them wanted them for blackmailing someone else.

Though the Caspere case may not be completely clear, Ray doesn’t see why Ani even cares.  But that’s just the point: this girl is missing, the interior’s poisoned and suddenly worth billions, and a bunch of people got shot to shit, but no one gives…well, a shit.  Either way, Ray isn’t a cop, Ani isn’t a detective, and Paul is miserable.  Granted, we’ve known that since the season premiere, but sure, let’s hear it again, two months later.

Other Lives- Davis tells Ray that she's opening a special investigation

Paul, Ani, and Davis are ready to start a confidential state investigation.  The slated goal is to track down Irina Rulfo, who was never brought in.  The real purpose, though, is to find out who killed Caspere: uncover any evidence of collusion between Vinci PD, the mayor’s office, attorney general, and any other state bodies.

Other Lives- Ray is hesitant to join Davis' special investigation

Ray, though, is hesitant to join since he’s not a cop, but he has his PI license.  Davis, therefore, could detail him as a state attorney’s investigator into a missing person.  She needs people who won’t who won’t ping on the radar.  Though Ray has a job, Davis tells him that the job won’t help him get Chad.  It’s not looking good for him, but the State Attorney’s office could intercede on his behalf with Family Services and offer recommendations and testimony.

Ray agrees to help, but all he can offer is that the camera and hard drive were never found.  In addition, Ray doesn’t think that the nut who shot him was in that crazy shootout.  Ani wants to take a look at some land up north, and she may have a line on those hooker parties.  Yes, Ani can’t be cleared for this, but luckily she’s using vacation time.  She’s being placed as a confidential investigator, meaning Davis doesn’t have to register.  Well, that’s a tad convenient.

Paul can follow up on the diamonds, but Ray asks why Davis wants him.  Her response- he’s out of the system, but knows Vinci PD.  With proper motivation, he’s a good bet to get the dirt.  Ani tells Ray to think it over since it’s never too late to start all over again.  I get a feeling that the writers and directors of this season thought the exact same thing…multiple times.

Ray is still a bit skeptical since Davis once thought Ray was an awful person. But then Davis saw that the rumor about Ray killing a guy was bullshit.  Wait, what?  How did Davis know it was a rumor?  Ray has been so out of the loop that he didn’t know that the guy had been captured a few weeks ago in Venice for sexual assault.  His DNA matched that six unsolved rapes, including that of Gena’s rape kit.  Sounds like he’ll get life.

Other Lives- Frank speaks with Jacob McCandless about land

Frank speaks with Jacob McCandless about some land owed to him, which McCandless will have trouble explaining to his board.  Frank threatens to spread word of how the corridor’s been brought up over the past five years and how it came to be so cheap, though McCandless can’t see that being of any interest.  Archeron Waste Management is dissolved.  There may still be something for Frank, though.

McCandless asks Frank if he knows of Caspere possessing a collection of films, home movies, to be specific.  If Frank is interested in helping out, this could put him back in the corridor.  The police never did find that hard drive in either of Caspere’s houses, though.

Other Lives- Ray visits Rick Springfield, Dr. Irving Pitlor, to talk about Chessani and Caspere

Ray visits Rick Springfield, who we can now identify as Dr. Irving Pitlor, to start asking the right questions about Pitlor, Chessani, girls, and human trafficking.  Ray figures that Pitlor does their implants and nose jobs- he’s not just a psychiatrist.  As Ray begins to beat the hell out of Pitlor, Pitlor spills that, for these hooker parties, he turns eights into 10s and makes sure that they have the proper prescriptions.

The parties are a conclave for men of influence.  Caspere came up with the idea of the parties with Tony Chessani- a pimp with political ambition.  Tony’s service makes him friends with these influential men.  Caspere facilitated the deals.  Pitlor thinks that the men used the occasions to compile potential blackmail material on their guests.  Caspere may have had footage of important people, possibly including McCandless.

But Ray keeps going, saying that Pitlor must have put Chessani’s first wife in a mental hospital.  He did everything that he could for Helene.  The Chessani family, Pitlor says, is a highly inventive family.

Other Lives- Ani and Athena walk on the beach, Ani wants Athena to gain access to a party

Ani and Athena go for a walk on the beach. Ani wants Athena to get back into this party scene and get in touch with some girls, even if she has to lie, though Athena isn’t about that life anymore.  She’s busy getting into Cal Arts.  And Ani’s reaction has about as much enthusiasm as a brick.

Other Lives- Paul checks with vendors about the blue diamond

Paul checks various jewelry and pawn shops to find anyone that can identify the Caspere’s blue diamond.  He finally gets to one owner who not only recognizes it, but tells Paul that other policemen came by a few months back with pictures of identical diamonds.  The detective left his calling card that the man still has.  And the detective’s name?  Teague Dixon.

Other Lives- Paul and Ani look for a spot that used to be a commune on River Valley

Later, Paul shares this with Ani.  He would have to have come around before the two of them found the safety deposit box.  The two are en-route to the address Elvis found- a spot that used to be a commune on River Valley.

Other Lives- Gena learns about rapist being captured

Meanwhile, Ray tells Gena about the captured serial rapist.  Gena isn’t swayed, though.  What Ray did ruined everything, including Ray himself.  She’s having the paternity test to put everything where it’s supposed to be and so Chad doesn’t have to continue living this family fantasy.  An incensed Ray says that Frank set him up, but Gena doesn’t know what that means.

Other Lives- Ani and Paul find a cabin with arterial spray everywhere

Paul and Ani follow carrion birds- not high on Paul’s list of things to do- and end up at a cabin.  Inside the cabin is a worn down chair and arterial spray decorating the walls and floor.

Other Lives- Jordan and Frank in bed

After Frank and Jordan have some bed time, Frank notices that the damn water stain in the ceiling is finally gone.  Well, no more monologues about that, I suppose.  The two talk of selling what they have, leaving this life, and buying a farm so they can grow organic products as farmers.  As far as Frank getting back in the game, though, with McCandless, Jordan asks if he trusts him.  Frank just trusts self-interest.  But this talk is interrupted by pounding on the door.  Frank gets his gun and heads to the door.

Other Lives- Ray tells Frank that they need to talk

The episode comes to a close as Frank comes face to face with a furious Ray, who tells Frank that the two need to talk.

Very interesting, this episode.  As easy as it is to latch onto one line, Ani telling Ray that it’s never too late to start over again really does, I feel, represent the approach taken for “Other Lives.”

In the aftermath of such a bloody shootout, it would be easy to just move on and not acknowledge it.  Time skips are tricky like that, depending on when and how you do them, as we’ve seen with recent examples on Masters of Sex, Fargo, and hell, even the first season of this very show.  You want to bridge the past with the present and not just gloss over something huge.  A lot went down in that battle and there should be some aftermath.

Other Lives- Ani observes a photo in evidence

For that, I’m grateful that there are repercussions for what took place, as the detectives and even Frank aren’t in good places.  It’s only been two months, yet their lives feel very different: Ani is reduced to evidence work, Ray is Frank’s muscle, Frank himself is back to gangster work, and Paul, while he technically looks more presentable with his work, is miserable.

So really, we’re not in completely different territory since we’ve seen these people be unhappy for four episodes now.  I understand the need to bring them back together to get to the bottom of Chessani’s murder, but for my money, I wouldn’t have minded seeing a full episode dealing with the aftermath of “Down Will Come.”  What we got is fine, but I think a longer episode just about what happened after the shooting would show us much more how far the protagonists had fallen.

Other Lives- Ray says that there is no limit to pain we experience- pain is inexhaustible

But they continue to weather the storm because they’re built for this and will encounter much more.  Ray says at one point that there’s no limit to pain we experience- pain is inexhaustible, it’s just the people that get exhausted.  We can try and protect or cover ourselves as best as possible, but we aren’t invincible.

Other Lives- Ray versus Irving Pitlor

I think one way this comes across very well is in Ray’s fight with Irving Pitlor, who has spent so much time changing and altering his face, but even if he feels that he looks better, he still registers pain like anyone else.

Other Lives- Geldof announces gubernatorial run

At the end of the day, they just want to find out who murdered Ben Caspere, and it’s not as simple as ‘There was a shootout.  Problem solved.’  Geldof used the massacre to springboard a gubernatorial run because he wants to ‘protect’ locations like the always corrupt Vinci.  He’s doing it because he claims that he cares, but he’s being opportunistic.

Other Lives- Ani talks about the many ways in which people don't care

And that’s because, for the longest time, no one gave a shit about things that went on in Vinci, as Ray has known.  He even wonders why Ani would put so much stock into this case.  She’s not even from the area and this should be far from her mind, but it’s because no one cares about things like the people who died during the shootout or Vera’s disappearance that’s pushing her to get to the bottom of this and bring herself some real closure.

But, this being True Detective, it’s never that simple, as we now learn that not only was Frank right in suspecting that Blake played him, but that it was Tony and not Mayor Chessani himself- as far as we know- who played a part in this seedy business.

Other Lives- Ani reminds Elvis about the foreclosure they served

It’s interesting how some moments or subplots that could have been interpreted as throwaway have more significance as a result of not just the time jump, but the reinvestigation into the Caspere murder.  Ani and Elvis looking into Vera’s disappearance was strictly their own work and had no bearing in the Caspere investigation, but with these sex parties and cases of trafficking going on around them, it connects to the larger case.

Other Lives- Torture chair

In addition, the address where Vera called from led to the discovery of the cabin where someone was tortured.  It could have been Caspere, Vera, or any number of victims, but I do like how this unconnected thread now has a bit more importance due to where it takes Ani and Paul at episode’s end.

Other Lives- Ani likes big dicks

But their journeys are still rough ones, as Ani is not just stuck dealing with evidence, but she has to share her stories about sexual misconduct.  Whether Ani actually meant what she said, was exaggerating, or wanted to see if the guys would freak out, I’m not sure, but it seemed to have the opposite effect since most of the guys were suddenly interested in hearing Ani share her story.  I can’t help but smile at Rachel McAdams’ straight face when she talks about big dicks.

Other Lives- Ani needs Athena's help

She’s trying to be a supportive sister, but her family life isn’t much better since she barely reacted upon learning that Athena got into CalArts.  In addition, she hasn’t returned any of her father’s calls.  Ani isn’t the best of sisters, we’ve seen, as she tries to get Athena to jump back into this party scene.

Down Will Come- Ani and Athena discuss their mother and memories

In a nice nod to continuity, in a line that easily could have been a throwaway, keep in mind that Athena did say during “Down Will Come” that she never went to the serious hooking parties and how she would leave the business in two months- which is just how much time that has passed between “Down Will Come” and “Other Lives.”  It’s small, but it does show how, I feel, the writers mapped out how certain lines and plot points would play bigger roles in later episodes.

Other Lives- Ani smokes a regular cigarette

At the very least, Ani isn’t smoking e-cigarettes anymore.

Other Lives- Paul and Lacey Lindel

Paul looks more presentable with his circumstances, but he’s not happier.  Again, this is a man who enjoys a huge rush, which is why he felt so comfortable riding his motorcycle at blistering speeds or how he never shirked during the shootout.  As Ani and Ray note, he belongs in the field, not working insurance fraud.  Despite his situation, he hasn’t been neutered and he remains firm on how he didn’t accept sexual favors from the lying harlot that is Lacey Lindel.

Other Lives- Paul listens to Irma

So he’s still trying to go on with a cover life by going through with his marriage to Emily, even if he knows that he’s living a lie.  And he still drinks, so he hasn’t kicked all of his bad habits.  His mother certainly isn’t a stranger to his weirdness, which many suspected that she knew all along.  That said, the scene with Paul and Cynthia arguing over the money wasn’t as impactful for me as it could have been.

Other Lives- Cynthia blames Paul for how her life turned out

Five episodes in and only now do we, as an audience, learn a bit more about Cynthia’s history and how much she resents Paul for ruining her career.  This seems like an odd moment to bring it up when this can’t be the first time the two have clashed like this.

Other Lives- Paul searches for his money

If it’s more volatile because of the missing money, then maybe, but that’s part of the issue: Paul knows that his mother has had trouble with work and isn’t the best with money, so I’m not sure why he’d think it was ever a good idea to keep $20,000 at her home.  And even then, why is he only looking for it now?  If he’s been with Emily all this time and even wanted to marry her prior to this episode, why not keep it at her place?  The two obviously trust each other to stay together, despite what they’ve endured.  This is just a case of Paul not thinking straight.  I guess being weird does that to you.

Other Lives- Frank asks Ray if he thinks the Mexicans killed Caspere

Ray finds himself still indebted to Frank by being his loan shark and while this apparently allowed him to get a quick shave, he’s still got family problems.  Gena warned Ray that a custody battle wouldn’t be easy and, of course, it isn’t.  He’s already at a disadvantage due to his past and isn’t in a position to barter, despite his good intentions.

Other Lives- Ray learns about his wife's attacker

And yet, he may have a chance to set things right when he learns that Gena’s attacker is still alive.  No, this news didn’t let Gena and Ray make up, but now Ray has motive to find out why Frank set him up.  I really enjoyed Colin Farrell’s performance when he learned about the captured rapist, as if he were relieved by this revelation, but didn’t know how to process it.  He now has a chance to reunite with his son and clear his name.

Other Lives- Davis offers Ray a way to possibly keep his son

Though I question why Davis would use Ray’s happiness as a bartering chip just to get him to help her.  After all, he’s right: Davis wanted to pin him to the wall.  Sure, she now doesn’t think he’s as bad as she previously believed, but it came off as a bit convenient to me.

Other Lives- Frank hates the word 'gangster'

I’ve said that Jordan reminds me of Anna Morales from A Most Violent Year, but now I’ll go one step further and say that Frank almost reminds me of Abel, Oscar Isaac’s character from the same film.  He abhors the word ‘gangster,’ as if he considers himself above it- which could explain spout lines like ‘blue balls in your heart’ or ‘There’s no bandwidth for that right now.’

He doesn’t like the gangster lifestyle, but he acknowledges that he’ll need to get his hands dirty to ensure that he, Jordan, and whomever else they bring into their lives will have a promising future.  Right now, that involves Frank reverting back to sleazy tactics that pull him away from the businessman and more towards the mobster.

Other Lives- Frank gets a second shot from McCandless

He also gets a second chance at redemption through McCandless’ proposition, and right now, after all Frank has been through, he needs a win.  He needs to prove that he’s not a gangster and that he has what it takes not just to be a capable leader, but potentially a capable father as well.

Other Lives- Ray, Paul, and Ani back on the investigation

Oh, I know that we’ve been following the main characters since the season premiere, but keep in mind that this is just Ray’s jurisdiction.  So from a writing perspective, I see why Davis would corral in Paul and Ani so we don’t have to be introduced to two new characters, but if it’s not their area, why not just go with officers from Vinci?  What, are there no other officers in the Vinci PD besides who wouldn’t pose a problem?  Or does the narrative just necessitate that Ray, Paul, and Ani reunite to finish this investigation?

Other Lives- Jesus

Why do Ani and Paul pass Jesus?

“Other Lives” showed that not only do serious actions lead to serious repercussions, but that, if you commit to it, you can have a second shot at redemption, which I find also speaks to those who have found this second season of True Detective to be lackluster in comparison to the first season. The episode took us forward a bit, but also had some payoffs to minor moments in previous episodes that hold more weight as a result of their importance. While I had some issues with this episode, I like where the story is going now that the detectives are asking the right questions as we dig deeper into the corrupt hole of Vinci.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 3 Premiere: “Parliament of Owls”

We ended with the dawn of a new day as the nation watched the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.  Now let’s jump forward a few years as we revisit the lives of Masters, Johnson, and everyone in between in Masters of Sex.  This is “Parliament of Owls.”  An odd title, really.

Parliament of Owls- Bill and Virginia in bed

The season begins at a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston, 1965.  Virginia and Bill try to sleep, but Virginia is too distracted by the setup needed for their big, upcoming day, like a hired caterer and whether they should cancel the photographer.  She works on giving Bill a handjob, though she keeps talking to the point where Bill tells her to quit it so he can fuck her properly.

Not three minutes, Masters of Sex, and we’re already back to the fucking.  Well-done, really.

The next day, Bill and Virginia go over how they’ll address certain questions.  There will be no rebuttals.  Their one defense is continued research.

Parliament of Owls- Bill and Virginia at a press conference to promote their new book

We then cut to a press conference where the two address reporters who have come to hear about the duo’s book: “Human Sexual Response,” which will be published early next year.  The two are ready to have an honest discussion.  They open the floor to questions, starting with one reporter: David Buckland, played by Eric Lange, has some questions about the language and whether a candid talk on sexual language can incite people.

He wonders if Masters and Johnson deliberately planned this, if this book is supposed to be geared toward the medical community.  This book, he says, is a Trojan horse for much bigger plans.  Maybe they’re just piggybacking off of the so-called sexual revolution.  Not possible, since this has been a 12 year study.  Seriously, has this guy not watched the first two seasons?

The work of Masters and Johnson supersedes that of Alfred Kinsey and is based on empirical evidence.  Hell, these two are the sexual revolution.

Parliament of Owls- Sexual touching with Linda Einhorn, played by Hanna Hall, and Donald Einhorn, played by Chris Dougherty

We then flash back to four months earlier as Bill, Virginia, and Lester observe a couple.  These are the Einhorns: Linda, played by Hanna Hall, and Donald, played by Chris Dougherty.  The couple partakes in the sexual touching we touched- not intentional- upon last season, but Linda is ticklish.  She suggests that Donald give her a rub rump, similar to the ones she receives from a man named Sergio, who does her alterations.  She finds the brushes exciting.

Parliament of Owls- Bill, Virginia, and Lester watch observe the Einhorn couple

Donald, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to fondle her, prompting Linda to cry.  Not a strong way to try and save your marriage.  At this point, Virginia cuts off the couple and then discusses her upcoming lake plans with Bill, who isn’t looking forward to this trip, relaxing as it may be.  As for the couple?  They’ll be back, just based on the look on Linda’s face.  Lester can’t imagine anything scarier.

Parliament of Owls- Betty delivers a proof of the book to Bill

At the office, Bill states contemplatively out the window.  He doesn’t even notice Betty- sporting a stylish new hairdo- until she walks in, bearing a package.  He tells her that she’s free to leave, but she knows that already since even Lester has left to avoid going home to screaming kids and his Caligula in curlers.  Apparently Lester’s words, not Betty’s.  Honestly, it could have come from either of them, I think.

Betty was courteous enough to fill up the car with a full tank of gas so Bill and Virginia can get to the lake in no time at all.  Why?  She wants to be thanked, though Bill feels that he does often thank Betty.  Bill’s focus is on the package from Little Brown & Company: a proof of the book.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia talks about her college aspirations

As the two arrive at the house by the lake, Bill makes plans: it will take six weeks to proof the galleys.  Little Brown’s plan is to send the corrected copies to a few journalists for an exclusive press conference, but Bill doesn’t want to let the publishers decide how to release the book.  Once the book gets out to critics, they’ve lost control.

It’s just like Darwin.  He achieved international fame, but he waited 20 years to publish his work, even when Cardinal Manning called his work a brutish philosophy with no God.  Virginia shifts the discussion to her incomplete studies.  She needs four months to finish off her degree and she’s not as good at Bill is at proofing.  And Bill has always had a reason as to why it’s impossible for Virginia to go to school, through some form of subtle discouragement.

Bill rejects that, since Virginia not getting her degree is partially her fault.  He does eventually admit to being discouraging, but not this time.

Parliament of Owls- Inside the lake house, introduction to Jenny, played by Alvia Alyn Lind, and Johnny, played by Jaeden Lieberher

Inside the lake house, Libby is hard at work and we’re introduced to some new and different looking faces: a slightly older Jenny, played by Alyvia Alyn Lind, Johnny, played by Jaeden Lieberher, and the Masters’ third baby, Howie.  Tessa is down by the docks and Henry will be joining the family later.  When Virginia asks for a second opinion, Libby agrees that it’s wrong that Virginia doesn’t get to go to college.

While Bill claims that you can’t predict or control what will happen at a press conference, Virginia fears that she’ll be exposed for not having an education.  For Bill, he feels that Virginia should wait until after the book is published or she’ll look like she’s desperate and sneak in a degree under the wire.  She needs to focus on how this will appear.  Virginia finds that to be unfair, as she’s been planning for this.  If she waits until after publication, it will be too late.

Parliament of Owls- Libby appeals for calm

With so much madness going on around him, Bill orders the kids out so the adults can talk.  Or rather, so Libby can talk.  She reminds Bill and Virginia that there are only a few weekends where their families come together and she doesn’t want it ruined.  Fair enough.  Bill and Virginia have work to do, but Bill has an additional task set on him by Virginia: talk to Tessa about sex, unplanned pregnancies, and the male libido.  Basically put the fear of God into her.  After all, Tessa won’t listen to her mother.

Bill says no.  After all, Tessa has a father, but George has apparently been sleeping with an 18-year-old in order to mend his broken after his divorce with a woman named Audrey.  Even still, Bill sees no reason why Tessa’s mother and close-enough-aunt Libby can’t talk to a 15-year-old about sex.  He just wants peace and quiet so he can work in the front room.  That’s Tessa’s room, but Bill says that she can move.  Smooth move, Bill.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia catches Henry having sex

While Bill prepares to get proofing, Virginia explores the lake house and hears some moaning.  She sneaks a peek into one room and finds, wouldn’t you know, Henry having sex!  With a real girl!

Parliament of Owls- Older Henry, played by Noah Robbin, speaks with his mother

Virginia immediately backs out and acts as if she’s been in the hallway the entire time.  When Henry, now played by Noah Robbin, eventually emerges from the now empty room, he tells his mother that he got in earlier.  How convenient.

Parliament of Owls- Bill and Virginia take questions about sexual tension

Back to the press conference, Denny Keller, played by James Lujan, brings up the use of the term ‘sexual tension’ in the book.  Such a phrase isn’t in the dictionary, but Bill explains that it’s a physiological elevation of sexual enjoyment, with signs like increased blood flow in the genitals- basically what the body does in response to sexual interest.  It’s a term that Masters and Johnson feel that they have coined.

Virginia is caught off guard when David Buckland asks about her educational background and what makes her qualified to coin such terms.  After all, Bill has his B.S. from Hamilton, but what about Virginia?  Bill jumps in and says that Virginia has a B.A. in psychology from St. Louis University and is pursuing her Master’s in the same subject.  Hell, she might even go for a PhD and become a practicing physician. After all, studies have shown that women are capable of almost anything.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia tells Bill that she hasn't received her degree yet

After this, Virginia heads right to a bathroom stall.  Bill, for some reason, heads in after her, but Virginia is upset with him discussing her credentials like that in front of the press.  You see, the thing is that Virginia hasn’t taken her final in her last statistics course, despite Bill giving her three months off for her studies.  Right now, though, Virginia just feels Bill has managed to invade every corner of her life.  In response, Bill will accept Virginia’s apology later.  As for now, she has five minutes.

Parliament of Owls- Libby and Virginia talk about Henry's girl

Back in the past at the lake house, Virginia and Libby theorize who may have been the girl that Henry had with him.  Henry himself isn’t being very proactive with his life, as his job opportunities seem to keep disappearing.

Parliament of Owls- Older Tessa, played by Isabelle Fuhrman

It’s here that we’re also properly introduced to an older Tessa, now played by Isabelle Fuhrman, who wants a puff of her mother’s cigarette in exchange for something.  It’s a longer drag than necessary.

Parliament of Owls- Johnny brings coffee to Bill

John brings some coffee to his father, who is busy proofing away at the…well, proof.  He’s not joining in on the game of Life since that’s not his thing, but he thinks that the others want both him and Bill to play.  He sneaks a peek at the proof and asks what human sexual response means, but Bill doesn’t respond.  So John leaves.

Parliament of Owls- Playing the game of Life

Back to the game of Life, Virginia ends up learning that she’ll have kids.  She names one after her best friend from school- Lisa Soracco.  Oh, we also learn here that Henry drives an ice cream truck, but he’s not on schedule this weekend.  Or any upcoming weekend, as he’s not working there anymore.  Virginia isn’t pleased with this.  The agreement was that Henry would defer college for one year to find gainful employment, but he’s had and lost three jobs.  Rather, he’s quit.  Why?  That’s something Virginia probably won’t understand.  Maybe it’s time for Libby to serve some lingonberry pie.

But she takes some time to check on Bill, who is making slow progress.  Tessa needs the room for tonight and she can’t sleep with Henry, as she feels that they’re too old for that.  Bill could always sleep in the room with Libby or use the spare mattress, but the spare goes in the living room.  So he decides to sleep in the backyard, under the stars.  Wasn’t that the point of this getaway?

Parliament of Owls- Jenny puts a grass skirt on Virginia as they prepare to hula

The next day, Libby watches- and pops some pills- as Virginia and Jenny hula together since Henry is scarce.  I’ve gotta wonder why Jenny is so obsessed with Henry.  Is it the ice cream truck connection?  Anyway, Virginia and Libby soon head into town.

Parliament of Owls- Tessa asks Bill if he can take her to the store for Kotex

Not long after, Tessa tells Bill that she needs something in town and it’s too late to ask her mother.  Bill is far too busy to drive her, even if she’s started her period and doesn’t have any Kotex.

Parliament of Owls- Bill tells Tessa that her mother just wants what's best for her

But Bill does head out when he spots Tessa trying to hitchhike.  My God, Tessa, you’re a young White woman.  Don’t you know better than that?  Tessa says that they can go to the general store since it’s closer and she won’t ask any questions about sex.  After all, she agrees that Bill is one of the last people to ask about sex.  Bill takes a bit offense to this, but he reminds Tessa that her mother just wants what’s best for her, though Tessa doesn’t see why her own mother is afraid to have a frank conversation with her about sex.

Though Bill knows that Tessa would ignore anything that Virginia says.  She doesn’t need to ignore the advice of people who care for her.  Tessa offers a trade: if Bill lets her drive, she’ll let him talk about her body works.  No dice.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia and Libby at the park

At a park, Virginia tells Libby that she thinks Tessa called Virginia’s mother, who now wants to see the kids.  Also, the arch has put St. Louis on the map, so Virginia’s parents would be willing to move.  That must be one hell of an arch.  Henry also left and didn’t tell anyone where he’s going.

Parliament of Owls- Libby and Virginia meet Tina, played by Caitlin Gallogly

Oh, there he is with a lady named Tina, played by Caitlin Gallogly.  She seems like a nice person, but she can’t come by the lake house for dinner because she has to take care of her little one at home.  Henry also says that he has business to take care of and won’t allow his mother to judge or guilt him.  He is taking charge and plans to get a job.  It should be noted that as Henry is arguing with Virginia, he’s stepping backwards into the street and not looking where he’s going.

Parliament of Owls- Henry gets hit by a car

So yeah, he gets hit by a moving vehicle.  Always look both ways before crossing the street, people tell you, but no one listens.  Anyway, Libby, more frantic about this than Virginia, yells for someone to call a goddamn ambulance!  She also tells Henry to not goddamn move.

Parliament of Owls- Libby tells the receptionist, played by Lashette Showers, that they’ve been waiting for a whole goddamn hour

We then cut to the goddamn hospital, where Libby rants to the receptionist, played by Lashette Showers, that they’ve been waiting for a whole goddamn hour.  George is on his way later.  An ambulance didn’t show up because of the long weekend.  Virginia doesn’t think much of the incident and Henry himself doesn’t even look to be in bad shape at all, but Libby snaps and calls Virginia cavalier for being so calm.  Henry could’ve died.  He could have goddamn died, people!

Parliament of Owls- Virginia consoles an upset Libby

Outside, Libby calms down and embraces her inner Betty Draper by smoking again.  She apologizes to Virginia for her behavior, and Virginia notices that Libby hasn’t been herself as of recent.  Libby concedes that her children deserve much better than a mother who gets by on two Serax a day.  Serax?  The drug you take for anxiety and depression.  Libby is just so upset about the 30 people who have died for Dr. King’s human rights cause.

Virginia, though, tells Libby that there are better ways to process news than drugs.  I tend to agree, but Libby says that life is filled with loss.  It’s ridiculous to think that you can stop it.

Parliament of Owls- Press conference, Bill and Virginia speak about the vanishing double standard between the genders and emphasis on female sexual pleasure

We cut back to the conference, where Buckland notes that Masters and Johnson’s data supports a societal trend, the vanishing double standard between the genders and emphasis on female sexual pleasure.  Is a woman now free to say no?  Of course she is.  Women have freedom to act without deciding based on fear.

Parliament of Owls- Miss Carole Delacourt, played by Liesel Kopp, from Ladies Home Journal, wants clarification on fear

Then Bill and Virginia take a question from Miss Carole Delacourt, played by Liesel Kopp, from Ladies Home Journal.  She wants clarification on whether, when Virginia says fear if she means the traditional fears women have to face in regards to sex, like fear of disease, social ostracism and unwanted pregnancy.  Bill responds that this all stems from sexual ignorance, meaning a woman now has a more sophisticated choice because it is, in fact, her choice.

Following this is a question from Peter Norris, played by Colin Trahan, from The New York Times.  Is it possible that the elimination of fear will break down barriers, including ones that protect us from diseases, stigma, and unwanted pregnancies?  Virgina’s response is that it depends on what Mr. Norris means by barriers.

Bill jumps in and says that there is no universe where fear is a barrier worth preserving.  Buckland asks if Bill believes that people shouldn’t be bound by societal convention, but Virginia interjects evidence showing that young men and women today are inclined to work things out emotionally rather than fixating on sex.  So no, neither Bill nor Virginia believe that the removal of fear leads to the destruction of good values, but an arrangement between consenting adults must begin with the truth.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia's dress unzipped

Oh, and Virginia’s dress is slightly unzipped in the back.  This’ll be important later.  That and, hey, it’s a shot of Lizzy Caplan’s ass.  You can’t really go wrong.

Parliament of Owls- Henry introduces Virginia to Sergeant Marcus Ivey, played by Peter Douglas

Back at the hospital, Libby has gone home.  Henry is just a bit sore and only needs to take some iodine for his knees.  See?  Not that bad at all.  He’s been talking with Sergeant Marcus Ivey, played by Peter Douglas, and the two have apparently been in talks for much longer than today.  Turns out the reason Henry was downtown was to head to the recruitment office again and meet Sergeant Ivey.  Henry is ready to enlist, and though he’s not 18, he doesn’t want to wait.

I don’t see this situation ending well.

Parliament of Owls- George and Lizzie discuss Henry wanting to enlist

Later, Virginia meets with George, who already knew about Henry’s plans, but didn’t think that he meant it.  The two clash, though George thinks that Virginia is just sore about losing the kids.  She never once tried to change the custody arrangement in the last four years.  In addition, he thinks that having more time with the kids must be great for Virginia since she’s so busy.

Only one parent is needed to sign the consent form and Virginia refuses.  George plans to, even though Virginia wants this to be a team decision.  George wants them to meet halfway.  That way, they can reason with Henry and try to buy some leverage.  It’s their best shot.  Though it doesn’t seem like it, George is just as terrified of Henry’s future as Virginia is. They both just want to make sure their boy is safe.

Parliament of Owls- Johnny wants to eat, Bill wants to wait

At the lake house, Johnny is hungry and wants to eat with his father, but Bill insists that they wait for the others.

Parliament of Owls- Drunk Tessa tries to kiss Bill

Tessa, who got into the liquor earlier, is now drunk off her ass and resting in the tub.  She takes off her dress and puts some moves on Bill and, in one of those convenient television moments that I hate, kisses him when Johnny approaches.

Parliament of Owls- Johnny sees Tessa trying to kiss Bill

How cliché can you get?

Parliament of Owls- Johnny throws the proof into the lake

Johnny doesn’t want to talk about it.  He takes the proof and rushes outside to the lake.  Bill chases after him, but it’s too late, as Johnny throws the work into the water.  Bill rages and comes very close to striking Johnny, who refuses to apologize.  So Bill decides to ground him instead.

Parliament of Owls- Bill tells Libby that he wants her to read the proof of the book

Libby finally arrives at the lake house just as Bill lets her know that he’s going to order more copies of the proof, but he also wants Libby’s opinion.  If she approves, maybe Bill and Virginia will proceed with this press conference and let the work speak for itself.  Libby is a bit surprised by this, but agrees.

Parliament of Owls- Libby opens her heart to Virginia about her children, family, and depression

After this, she pops by Virginia’s room and asks about Henry.  He’s off celebrating with Tina.  Of course.  Libby tells Virginia that she’s been thinking a lot about her kids.  She’s spent time medicating herself to not feel and it’s as if she hasn’t slept in forever.  As for her marriage, she realizes that she doesn’t need Bill to be all or most things.  The heart can only be broken so many times, and then she’s done, so long as her home and family remain intact.

A tough childhood can make you stronger, but sadder as well.  Libby just wants to spare her children from pain.

Parliament of Owls- Libby kisses Virginia

And then Libby kisses Virginia, just to know what it felt like with her.  It’s not a long kiss, but there you go.

Parliament of Owls- Bill hopes that his and Virginia's book will reacquaint people with their natural selves

Back at the press conference, Bill and Virginia acknowledge that they’ve taken a risk, but they’re standing by their work.  They know people have fears of sex, but keep in mind that sex used to be valued, even if people didn’t fully understand it.  This book, they hope, will reacquaint people with their natural selves, free of fear, but full of understanding.

Parliament of Owls- David Buckland, played by Eric Lange, admits that he used up too much time asking questions

Buckland jumps in yet again, but this time he admits that he’s scrutinized the book far more times than necessary.  He has a reason, though: to evaluate the impact this material will have on society through its immense contribution.  If people view the sexual union as so sacrosanct that it’s not open to question, keep in mind that people took a similar view in regards to the stars in Galileo’s day.

Parliament of Owls- Bill realizes that Virginia is pregnant

Virginia heads to the bathroom to vomit.  Bill follows her in- I’m guessing that any man could just walk into a women’s restroom in the 1960s- and realizes what’s going on with Virginia: she’s pregnant.

“Parliament of Oaks” is a different sort of premiere than last year’s “Parallax.”  Instead of directly continuing the storyline, we take a leap forward about four years.  Like “Parallax,” we fill in some of the blanks by jumping back in time to the lake house and then to the present-day press conference.

It’s still a brand new world for Bill and Virginia, as the world around them is just as lively as it was when we took a time jump forward in last year’s “Asterion.”  Like that episode, however, some of this episode is a bit jarring to watch.

One for the Money, Two for the Show- Tessa and Henry look pretty much the same

One of my gripes with last year’s time jump forward was how Henry and Tessa didn’t really look all that different.  Their personalities were intact, but physically, they looked pretty much the same.

Parliament of Owls- Henry wants to enlist

Regardless of them being recast now, these older versions of Henry and Tessa feel like completely different characters, in my opinion.  Though Henry and Tessa weren’t prominently featured in the first two seasons, we did get to learn about them a little bit.  Henry clashed with his mother in the past, but to go from that to having sex with a woman who has a child was a bit hard to accept.  It may be a step forward from the introverted nerd we’ve seen for two seasons, but I’d like some explanation as to where he got this sudden confidence.

Parliament of Owls- Tessa watches Virginia

And Tessa is also a bit more defiant, when she seemed more reserved as a child.  Now she’s drinking, smoking, and hitting on Bill.  Virginia says that Tessa apparently looks up to Bill.  I can see her being more willing to have a conversation with Bill about sex instead of her own mother, but I do find it strange that she would be fond of Bill.

Blackbird- Bill gets a surprise

Especially considering she didn’t even know who he was at one point last season.

Parliament of Owls- Bill and Tessa discuss sex

Sticking with the kids for a moment, Bill and Virginia’s handling of their own children hasn’t gotten any better from season to season.  I repeat, with their own children.  While Bill isn’t able to have a long conversation with Johnny or avoid being bitten by Howie, he’ll take time to speak with Tessa about sex because she’ll be more receptive to him and he does have the expertise and educational background that Virginia lacks.

Parliament of Owls- Jenny and Virginia hula

Virginia, meanwhile, may not be able to keep Tessa from getting into the liquor cabinet or warn Henry about why he should look both ways while crossing the street, is able to bond with Bill’s kids and connect with them in ways that Libby can’t.  She’s pretty much the replacement, as far as Libby is concerned.

Parliament of Owls- Johnny refuses to apologize to his father

The show is now set at a point in history where youth rebelled against the old guard and established ways of life.  This comes through in not just Henry and Tessa’s behavior, but Johnny’s anger at his father for neglecting him.  He spends a lot of time with himself, but he’s not blind to the fact that his father and mother don’t get intimate or kiss.

So seeing his father in an awkward position with Tessa is the last straw, and Bill suffers a work setback because of it.  Though, if I’m honest, it was pretty easy to call that something would happen to that proof.  It’s a thick stack of papers that required Bill’s full attention.  I guessed that something would either spill on it or it would be destroyed.  And that’s just what happened.

Parliament of Owls- Bill threatens to punch Johnny

And in that moment where Bill raged, he saw himself becoming his father- the same rage-filled, abusive man that he spoke of in “Fight.”  Here, Bill was his own worst enemy and he’s let his devotion to his work cloud his judgment and cause him to neglect his family.  At least he had the sense to stop himself from making a huge mistake.  But I do think Johnny’s reaction was a bit over the top since he didn’t have the full story.  Plus, Bill and Tessa never actually kissed.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia and George want their son to be safe

Virginia’s problems don’t fare much better, as she’s on the verge of losing one of her children.  I like how this is the issue that managed to bring her and George together, as neither of them wants to see Henry brought home in a flag draped coffin.  George is making an attempt to bond with his children, but Virginia is just as distant as she was last season, even more so now that the kids are older.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia can't even have a bathroom stall to herself

Like Bill, her focus on her job and education has distracted her from being a good and attentive mother.  The problem is that Bill has become too interwoven in her life, such as when she said that she couldn’t even have a bathroom stall to herself without Bill following.

Parliament of Owls- Virginia wants Bill to put the fear of God into Tessa

After all, she wanted to pass off sexual education for Tessa onto Bill, telling him to put the fear of God into her.  Side-note, I do like that Bill refuses to give advice based on Virginia’s reasoning.  Sure, he’s busy with the proofs, and I know that Virginia means well for her daughter’s sake, but she and Bill know that using sex as a means of scaring someone goes against everything they are trying to accomplish.  An open and frank conversation can’t proceed if it’s based on fear.

Parliament of Owls- Libby lets her emotions go

Libby, though, is finding it harder and harder to have a frank conversation with almost anyone due to her mental state.  Caitlin Fitzgerald has always been great in her performance as Libby and she was just as good in this premiere as we see just how far Libby has fallen.  Before, she was willing to challenge Bill at times, but now she’s buried herself in drugs and depression.

It surprises me that she even had time to push out a third child, considering how she doesn’t see herself as a good fit for her kids, compared to Virginia.  When she watches Jenny and Virginia hula, I could feel that Libby knew she was being replaced and that eats away at her.  Considering how this episode picks up four years after the Season 2 finale, I hesitate to wonder whether she’s allowed herself to suffer for this long.

Parliament of Owls- Libby wondered what it felt like with Virginia

All she wants is for her home to remain intact, and it is, on the surface, but below that, the family is disjointed.  Libby accepts that Bill won’t be an everyman for her, but to me, that makes it seem like she’s allowed herself to settle for less when she deserves much better.  In this love triangle, Libby is the third wheel, but at least she pretty much alerted Virginia to the fact that she knows about the affair.  I wondered last season how she figured that out and I still do, but now Virginia knows that her indiscretion with Bill isn’t as secret as she would have liked.

Most of the people in Bill and Virginia’s personal lives become casualties as the two push forward with their work.  They told themselves last year that this wasn’t affair, so while they keep lying to themselves to start a frank conversation about sex and the importance of their work, others around them suffer.

Like “Asterion,” there are some story points that we aren’t made aware of, but I assume will come up as the season progresses.  What’s the deal with Lester’s home situation?  When did Virginia first notice that she was pregnant?  When did Libby and Bill decide to have a third child when Bill was never a fan of children in the first place?  That and his sperm count, after all.  What became of Libby’s affair with Robert?  Though I wasn’t a fan of it or her previous treatment of Coral, it was one of the few times she allowed herself a bit of happiness.

Parliament of Owls- Disclaimer

Oh, and what was with that disclaimer at the end of the episode?

“Parliament of Owls” wasn’t as strong of a season premiere as “Parallax,” but it was still a good episode that showed us how far Bill and Virginia have gone with their lie while leaving a trail of unhappy friends and family members in their path.

A Look at True Detective- Season 2, Episode 4: “Down Will Come”

Just nobody is having a good day, today, I tell you.  This is “Down Will Come.”

Down Will Come- Frank and Jordan discuss wealth, adoption, and future

The episode begins with Ani and Ray inspecting the remains of the burned car, but our attention goes to Frank and Jordan, who are dealing with everyday issues like dying avocado trees.  Frank has a lot on his plate right now, but Jordan thinks that maybe they’ve been going about this all wrong.  Maybe they should consider alternatives…like adoption.  No, Frank won’t have any of somebody else’s time or grief.

Jordan doesn’t see a child as grief since they all come in with their own, but then so does everyone else.  Okay, but what if Jordan can’t get pregnant?  Frank doesn’t see that as a possibility since she did get pregnant before, yet Jordan’s operation may have made things hard.  Frank suggests that Jordan get more tests while he heads to work.  If he doesn’t come up with a new play, the dead trees and gift from the stork will be moot points.

Down Will Come- Paul wakes up at Miguel's place

Paul wakes up and finds himself in a strange situation.  Or rather, a strange place, as he awakens in nothing but his underwear and soon realizes that he’s in Miguel’s bed.  Miguel, sitting on the couch and watching television, tells Paul that the two put out some fires last night, when Paul met Miguel at Lux Infinitum.  Paul, though, has no recollection of the night and leaves in a rush.

His problems don’t end once he leaves, though, as reporters soon swarm him about war crimes allegations and the Lacey Lindel incident.

Down Will Come- Ani and Ray discuss the investigation

Back to Ray and Ani, who believe that they had been set up and that it wasn’t the former transportation man they interviewed in the previous episode.  Instead, it was someone who wanted them to think that it might be dumping the car near his place.  Ray then brings up Ani’s visit to the mayor’s house and how that may come back to bite her in the ass.

Ani isn’t afraid of what Chessani could do, but Ray informs her that the Chessani family controlled the area for 100 years and he lives in the biggest house on his street in Bel-Air.  A man in such a powerful position has to have high-up friends.  Ani doubts that Chessani will have many friends once the state investigation shakes out, but that’s Ray’s point: the family has seen investigations before, but rarely has someone gone to jail.

No, this investigation is the attorney general looking for a handout, possibly in the form of Caspere’s development money.  Does Ani think this is about stopping Vinci from doing what it’s done for a century?  Nobody wants to stop it because nobody gives a shit.  Ani tells Ray that she’s just here to solve a murder, and that’s fine, but once the money has traded hands and the detectives’ betters need something to show for the investigation, who will be the first in the line of fire?  Ray assumes that neither Ani nor Paul are popular on their squads.  Expendable, even.  If there’s a buyout with the state attorney, Chessani could make Ani part of the deal.

Down Will Come- Frank meets with Armin, played by Jack Topalian, about the importance of favors

Over at a bakery, Frank meets with Armin, played by Jack Topalian, about the importance of favors.  Armin payed Osip when he was around to be paid, but Frank just called it a favor, though a favor doesn’t guarantee you free merchandise.  Frank doesn’t want a handout- he’s talking consignment.  Now that he has the Lux again, he needs products like coke and crystal to run through it and he’s offering five percent above Armin’s current going rate.  All Armin has to worry about is his money.

Though it’s suspicious why Frank would choose this path at this moment, as if every other road led to failure.  Frank counters that this is a respectable client that will only upscale Armin’s clientele and increase his market.  5 percent isn’t just a one-time number, either: this is monthly, long-term process of a mutually beneficial relationship.  Oh, and Frank’s never had a fucking cavity.  Think about that.

Down Will Come- Ray picks up Paul

Ray picks up Paul, whose motorcycle was stolen, and offers him some liquid courage in his well-stocked glove compartment.  Ray tells Paul not to worry about the reporter mob, a group for which Ray has little sympathy.  One of those ‘dog fuckers,’ as he described them, said that they would rather be wrong first instead of right second.

The unfortunate thing is that a lot of journalists love the whole concept of being able to break a story first.  And while journalists have a big impact if they get a story right, there’s an even bigger impact if they’re first, but they get the story wrong.  But I digress.

Anyway, Ray knows that Paul has seen some crazy shit in his life, and after what he’s been through, life going forward should be a cakewalk.  Though Paul thinks different, Ray calls him a hero, saying that no one needs to know about the shitty night that he had.

Paul reflects: he did everything that his superiors asked of him, whether the army or police department.  Despite receiving orders, nothing he did seemed to matter.  He’s listened to them so long that he doesn’t even know who the fuck he is.  In Ray’s mind, however, Paul is a survivor.  Even if Paul doesn’t know how to exist in this world, all he has to do is look around and see that few of us do.

Down Will Come- Frank visits Luca Relles, played by Allel Aimiche

Frank visits a less than pleasant looking apartment complex to meet with Luca Relles, played by Allel Aimiche, about some extra hired hands.  Frank offers a 40 percent partnership, even though Luca is already paying Chessani.  Frank will be by at the first of the month.

Down Will Come- Ani and Ray talk with Betty, played by Emily Rios, about Ben Caspere and Mayor Chessani

Ray tags along with Ani, who pursues the Chessani daughter that we briefly met in the previous episode: Betty, played by Emily Rios.  The two follow her to a either a hookah or marijuana bar- I can’t tell, really- and question her knowledge of Ben Caspere, given how many calls he made to the Chessani household.  Tony, though, wouldn’t have much in common with Mr. Caspere.  She’s not sure whether Tony or her father talked to Ben.  And how would she know?  There have never been any rules.

Ani brings up the fact that Mayor Chessani’s wife isn’t Betty’s mother.  True.  Her mother died in a hospital in Nevada.  When Betty was 11, her mother started manifesting schizophrenia, so her father had her committed.  Not long after, she hanged herself.  Betty also mentions a doctor by the name of Pitlor before realizing that she shouldn’t be talking to these cops.  She leaves.

Down Will Come- Ani and Athena discuss their mother and memories

Later, Ani heads to Athena’s place and talks about having memories of their mother.  Some moments are so vivid, but you can’t even remember details from the previous week. As Ani says, some memories stare back at you.  Ani hopes to get one back, but she already took her mother’s knife.

Ani then tries to talk her sister out of this webcam stuff, saying that Athena is working with bad people, but Athena is a straight arrow.  She doesn’t go to parties and she’s saving up to leave that business in two months.  Parties?  Ones with the real hooking, but Athena wasn’t into that shit.  Though Ani admits that she should have been there for Athena, Athena says that Ani isn’t even there for herself.  As we’ve seen and will see again very soon, that is a valid point.

Down Will Come- Emily tells Paul that she's pregnant

Paul and Emily meet up at a diner to discuss their argument during their last interaction.  He admits that he’s not easy to be around, and Em was right.  Know what else Em is?  Pregnant.  Sure, she was on the pill, but you know those things aren’t 100 percent effective.  Also a valid point.  Emily doesn’t believe in abortion and plans to keep the baby.  To her surprise, though, Paul wants her to do that.  In addition, he thinks that the two should get married.  He doesn’t think this is completely right, but he loves her.  Damn it, he wasn’t sure until right now!

I mean, it’s not as big as the swift marriage in Big Eyes was, but it comes very close.

Down Will Come- Ani and Ray speak with Elliot about Pitlor

Over at the Panticapaeum Institute, Ani and Ray speak with Elliot about Pitlor.  He recognizes the name belonging to a man who was around in the 1980s, researching the dynamics of communal living.  Part of Chessani’s lodge, too.  Yup, good old Dad knew Chessani.  He recognizes the name Ben Caspere, as he attended a few seminars, but never spoke.

Elliot shows the two some photos of the men when they were younger.  Also, he likes Ray’s green and black aura, that and Ray must have had hundreds of lives.  Auras are green and black, apparently.  That or someone is really into mood rings.

Down Will Come- Ani and Ray meet with an EPA agent, played by Travis Hammer

Ray and Ani then drive to Fresno, as Ani noticed during her visit to Chessani’s that there were soil readings for Fresno land.  They meet with an EPA agent, played by Travis Hammer, next to a field where they believe that bodies could be buried.  The agent explains that the EPA is constantly finding new contamination.  A lot of the mines have been closed for decades.  Companies are bankrupt and the state doesn’t have the resources for a cleanup.

But why would Caspere visit so many of these sites?  No idea.  So many unsafe levels of cadmium, arsenic, lead, or mercury.  It’s contaminated the water level to such a degree that farmland is useless and people have just given up trying to cultivate the land.

Down Will Come- Frank and Jordan speak with Malkin, played by David Denman, about making him a part owner of the club

Frank and Jordan speak with Malkin, played by David Denman, about making him a part owner of the club.  The club’s equity guarantees the land investment, but how is the capital multiplied in dry farmland in the middle of the state?  The rail puts the land in line for commercial zoning and development.  Federal money means more coverage.  This is the last pork barrel outside of defense, Frank says.

Malkin says that he’ll talk to his business managers, but Frank sees right through that and knows that Malkin isn’t interested.  Hell, he only agreed to this meeting because Jordan asked.  He is interested, but trust takes time.

Down Will Come- Paul and Teague at a pawn shop, checking watches

Paul and Teague visit a pawn shop and match Caspere’s watch with one on a description form.  Turns out that a female pawned them, and the shop owner has the tape as well.

Down Will Come- Ani gets a complaint about sexual misconduct

Ani speaks with her superior about the previous night and wants it made known that Detective Velcoro put herself in harm’s way for her.  That’s fine and all, but Ani has a problem: there have been complaints of sexual misconduct from Deputy Steve Mercer- conducting a relationship with a subordinate.  That’s coercion, didn’t you know?  And Ani should know better- she attended the seminar!

Ani can’t believe this shit.  She feels what she does outside of work is her business, but this is an Internal Affairs complaint.  Even worse, officials now know of her relationship with Detective Ilinca as well.  No choice now- the county has to begin an investigation.  Until then, Ani, who refuses to apologize or back down, cannot enter the building.  She’s placed on departmental leave, but she can work on this investigation as a special investigator.

More than that, word is Ani may have gambling debts, and if that’s true, investigators will want to look into her bank records as well.  As Ani leaves, Elvis confronts her, explaining that he wouldn’t try and slap a complaint on her, especially considering his busted marriage.  There’s talk of a hotel room meet between the two that Ani apparently didn’t give a chance, but there was no chance.

Down Will Come- Paul gives a lowdown of Ledo Amarilla, played by Cesar Garcia

Following this, Ani heads to a squad room where Paul explains to the detectives there that they’re looking for Ledo Amarilla, played by Cesar Garcia, whose prints, along with Caspere and those of Irina Rulfo- who assisted Ledo- appeared on the jewelry.  An APB has been put out in Los Angeles and Ventura.  The idea is that Ruflo turned tricks with Caspere.

Down Will Come- Ray fills Frank in on Ledo Amarilla

Ray meets with Frank at their location to fill him in on Ledo Amarilla.  Even if he’s pawning shit, Amarilla may not be the guy with Frank’s money.  And there’s no connection between him and Stan, which prompts Ray to ask what happened.  After a long silence, Ray figures it out.  But Frank isn’t worried.  He’s getting back into the club scene.  Ray figured that was behind Frank, but Frank thought that being poor was behind him as well.

But Ray knows that sort of shit never leaves you.  Frank informs Ray that he’s got big plans and could use Ray in fuller capacity.  Ray, though, knows that he’s not muscle material, but Frank thinks it may be time for Ray to put this cop shit to bed.

Down Will Come- Ray gives Eddie's badge to Chad

Later, Ray gives Chad the badge that belonged to Eddie, but he should probably hide it from his mother and Richard.

Down Will Come- Frank fills everyone in about Ledo Amarilla, tells Blake to stay

Over at the casino, Frank fills everyone in about Ledo Amarilla, who now owes Frank a long conversation.  In addition, Frank senses something off about Blake, as he and Osip talked for a very long time at the Soho.  Not to mention that Osip was particularly glad to see him.  Frank asks Blake if he’s familiar with the word louche.  Somebody is pulling him out on the streets and Blake is louche.  Tonight, he’s the pit boss.  Though Blake hasn’t done that for three years, he’s to stay there until he can prove himself to Frank.

When Blake leaves, both Jordan and Frank see something is amiss with Blake.  The new generation, they say, just wants to get straight to the top without any hard work.  Frank recalls that Chessani said last week that someone wants the poker room, but he was vague about whom.  He implied that he was choosing sides since Frank is broke and all.

Down Will Come- Officers prepare to make a move on Ledo Amarilla

Back with the detectives, one of Dixon’s criminal investigators tipped them to Amarilla.  He crashes at his cousin’s warehouse off of 6th.  Dixon called in surveillance and Amarilla himself just arrived home.  State can’t get a tactical squad until later, so the detectives will have to go with the firepower that they have right now.

Okay, what follows is a scene that has apparently divided True Detective viewers.  Some like it, some dislike it, and some wonder if it’s reminiscent of a similar scene in Season One.  Take it how you will, and let’s get to it.

We go to the warehouse and see citizens who rely on public transportation, protesting a shortage of bus routes and maintenance in order to subsidize a rail system that they feel doesn’t service their communities.

Down Will Come- Trailer shot

The detectives head towards the target- and give us one of the shots we saw in the trailer for this season- when gunfire breaks out around them out of nowhere.

Down Will Come- Explosion

A shootout ensues and they turn their fire toward the top floor of the warehouse.  These detectives must have some of the most combustible bullets ever because the top floor soon explodes.

Oh, and Dixon takes a bullet to the head.

Ani heads in to pursue one of the shooters that escapes in a getaway van.  This van is either the slowest moving van ever or Rachel McAdams is quick on her feet.

Either way, the van collides with a bus.  The shooters fire at some of the protestors.  Ani runs out of ammunition and prepares to take out her knife, while Paul shoots and kills one of the shooters about to kill Ani.

One shooter snags the bus driver and uses him as a hostage that he soon kills, prompting Velcoro and Woodrugh to empty into him.  As almost everyone around the three lay dead, they can only wonder what in the blinking blue blazes just happened.

Down Will Come- Shootout over

And scene.

That literally escalated quickly.  I mean, that really got out of hand fast.  Yeah, tons of people made that Anchorman reference already, but it’s pretty applicable to what happened in “Down Will Come.”  This episode dealt with taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy, minus a magic bus.

True Detective has always been about the unexpected, and that’s very clear in this episode here, as we didn’t know everything that would happen going into this shootout.  But even before that, characters had to contend with situations where they weren’t prepared for the outcome and, in some cases, were outright blindsided in a big fashion.

The director of this episode, Jeremy Podeswa, directed the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” and we all know how that went down, so we know that the man has a taste for the surprising.  Sure, a lot of that is writing, but how a scene is directed factors into that as well.

Down Will Come- Malkin says that trust takes time

An overall message that I picked up on this week was ‘Trust, but verify.’  The detectives, Ray especially, know that they’re working in a corrupt world for corrupt men, but they’re striving do the best job possible.  No one is completely sure about the deals or moves they make because there’s a chance that a partner or friend can screw them over and leave them with nothing.  And while it’s one thing to be knocked off by a random person, it’s another to get it from someone that you trust, or thought you trusted.

Down Will Come- Frank negotiates with Armin

Frank is in the midst of losing his wealth, which he thought would never happen.  Last week, Danny Santos and others reminded Frank that his glory days were behind him.  Even still, without many options, he has to go back to running clubs in order to turn a profit.  It’s not the move he wanted to make, but it’s one where he feels he can recapture what made him such a force in the first place.

Again, Frank is an opportunist.  When one door closes, he has several others waiting for him.  He’s someone who needs to remain in control of the situation, no matter how dire.  He suspects something off about Blake and though there’s nothing concrete, it’s enough to reel him back in order to prevent a potential future sabotage.  While Frank isn’t afraid to take a gamble, he’s not going to give Blake a chance to screw him over, so he pulls him back sooner, based just on instinct.

Yet he isn’t willing to take a chance with his marriage since he insists that he isn’t the problem.  We had this issue last week, but here, we see that Frank isn’t willing to take risks if they don’t satisfy him in the grand scheme of things.  Going back to running clubs isn’t ideal for him, but he knows that it may help later down the line.  Adopting a child serves him no purpose because he played no part in that child’s creation and it would be taking on someone else’s grief.

Down Will Come- Jordan says that people take chances

Jordan has one of the standout, yet blatant lines in the episode: people take chances.  We take chances on happiness and ensuring a better future for ourselves, regardless of the risk.  We take risks when we leap headfirst into danger without assessing the situation or considering the consequences.

Down Will Come- Ray warns Ani about the Chessani family

And I feel that’s what Ray tried to get across to Ani when he warned her about meddling with the Chessani family.  Ani just wants to solve the murder, but she’s getting in too deep with corrupt forces that she doesn’t understand.  She doesn’t fear Mayor Chessani- or much of anyone, but she’s still in unknown territory.  Vinci is a city that’s been corrupt for years.  Ani can’t just come in and try to break that power structure in a little bit of time.

Down Will Come- Ani is defiant

Things reach a turning point for Ani when she receives the sexual misconduct notice.  Ani balks at this, even going as far as asking whether a man would receive the same type of treatment.  First off, fuck off with that shit, True Detective writers.  Don’t pull that gender bullshit nonsense with this show.  You’re better than that.  Regardless of who brought the complaints against Ani, the point is she still screwed around with subordinates.  And what’s worse is that she seems incapable of forming a long lasting relationship.

Down Will Come- Ani and Elvis argue

She told Steve that it didn’t work and apparently Elvis never had a chance, either…which makes me wonder why she had these flings in the first place.    Was it out of desperation?  A quick fuck?  I’ve gotta wonder what it is that Ani wants out of life.  It’s not a long-lasting relationship, from what I can gather.  Rather, she’s clinging to the memories of her mother, as if she connects more with the dead than a living person.  After all, she, Ray, and Paul don’t exactly have what I’d call a bond- they’re just working the same case.

There’s no telling who leaked this information Ani’s superiors.  Maybe they just found out, perhaps Steve said something, or maybe it was Chessani who had dirt on her.  Either way, as a result of the investigation, her role in the case has been reduced.  She’s still a special investigator, but it’s still a reduction.  She made a choice of her own volition and now she has this hanging over her head.

Down Will Come- Miguel embraces Paul

While Paul has his affairs of the heart hanging over his head.  He’s downplayed his queer side, but now he’s awoken in Miguel’s place.  This wasn’t supposed to happen for him.  Paul talks about following orders amounting to nothing.  He went to work, did what he was supposed to do, came home to his girlfriend and tried to keep out of trouble, but the past continued to haunt him.

Down Will Come- Paul asks Emily to marry him

So now Paul is torn.  He won’t be able to push out his past forever, but he doesn’t want to ruin the life he’s made for himself.  As such, he hastily decides to marry Emily not because he wants to or because he wants to be a father, but to prove that he’s moved on from his shady past.  As we see from his reaction to being at Miguel’s place and how he handles the reporters, he’s still haunted by his past discretions.

Down Will Come- Ray encourages Paul

But Ray at least seems to see Paul in a positive light.  It’s not a very long scene, but I did like the conversation between Paul and Ray.  He also had a telling, yet obvious line when he told Paul that no one really knows how to live their life.  If these characters are any indication, that’s very true.  However, like Paul, Ray’s past can’t escape him.  If he could get away, Ray probably wouldn’t be indebted to Frank and be his eyes and ears within law enforcement.

Down Will Come- Ray with Frank

As of now, though, Ray is stuck and being pulled from different sides.  He’s tasked with the investigation, yet also sent to sidetrack Ani and Paul from learning too much about Vinci.  And in the middle of all of this, he’s feeding information to Frank.  He is, quite literally, tired of this shit and Colin Farrell sells the look of a man exhausted from this life.  He doesn’t know how to live his life either, and I think he’s just going through the motions.

Down Will Come- Shootout

Now as for the shooting at the end of the episode, it felt all over the place, if I’m honest.  The frantic cuts keep you from really taking in certain moments like Dixon’s death, but this is a shootout I’m talking about here.  The detectives didn’t even see it coming, so we at least share their surprise.  That said, even when Ani ran out of ammunition, I never felt that the main characters were in any danger.  We’ve seen Ray take two shots at close range and survive, so I doubt any of the three detectives would be killed here.

When it’s all said and done, with so many dead around them, the three are sure to wind up in a lot of shit after this.  “Down Will Come” was all about building up to this moment.  Think about it: it wasn’t until the end of the second episode that Ray got the idea to investigate on his own after spending a fair amount of time looking into Caspere’s background.  Here, the detectives learn about Amarilla and are tipped off to his location in one episode.  Seems a bit too easy, but then the shootout started.  Was it a setup?  Were they expected to live?  Who knows?

What we do know is that some major shit went down this week.

A Look at You’re the Worst- Season 1, Episode 9: “Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction”

Episode Nine, “Constant Horror and Bone Deep Dissatisfaction,” is what many would call the origin story episode, and I agree with this.  I do have another name for this episode, but if I say it now, it would spell out the point of what the characters go through here, so I’ll save that for the end.

The challenge of doing an origin story in the middle of a series’ run is how to present it.  You don’t want to just overload the story with winks and nods that viewers already know about and you don’t want to just set up what we know is to come later.  You do want to show who these characters were before we got to know them, but you also want to see something new.

 Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy proposes to Becca

You’re the Worst manages to do both by showing us who Jimmy and Gretchen were before they met and how they somehow managed to impact each other’s lives, in their own, terrible ways.  Sure, Jimmy was still cynical as he was two and a half years ago as he is now, but he still had a shred of optimism to him, as we see when he proposes to Becca.  But when she shoots him down, we see, through a look on Jimmy’s face, that something about this man has changed.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy interviewed on his book

So he took all of that negative energy and cynicism and channeled it into his book.  Jimmy relishes in the temporary fame and attention he receives from a very pretentious radio host.  Jimmy describes the writing process as a combination of rage, heartbreak, and a lot of alcohol.  The truth is that life sucked for Jimmy when he was happy, but constant horror and bone deep dissatisfaction can be helpful, but not miserable.  At the very least, Jimmy found a way to turn a negative into a positive.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay and Gretchen snort cocaine

On the other hand, we have Gretchen, who still wanted to live a carefree life, full of sex, drugs, and all that fun stuff.  She can’t enjoy herself, though, because everyone around her is becoming an adult.  Lindsay even has a nice thing with a guy whose name she can’t remember.  Despite that, Gretchen thinks Lindsay should just call it off so the two of them can keep this party train going.  So even here, Gretchen isn’t someone with a lot of ambition.  She wants to remain that kid that didn’t have to deal with responsibilities.  If she’s going to go nowhere, she may as well make sure that Lindsay is right there with her.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen advises Sam, Shit Stain, and Honey Nutz on their attire

She’s still as blunt as ever, which ends up working in her benefit when she gives Sam, Shit Stain, and Honey Nutz some fashion advice: instead of dressing like your run-of-the-mill rapper, dress the way you like.  As such, Sam makes Gretchen the group’s new publicist, never mind that the new publicist is also doing drugs with the group.  Who knew it was that easy?

Again, though, her core personality is just the same as it is now.  She’s still cynical and not into the dating scene, as we see when she first encounters Ty at the film premiere.  She’s not into dating, but Ty’s persistence does manage to grab her attention.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen and Lindsay before wedding

All around Gretchen, people are growing up and maturing, but not her.  She needs to stay where she is because that’s more fun, but it will be less fun if she’s all alone.  And that extends to the symbols of adulthood.  Paul and Lindsay bought Becca and Vernon a food processor- a lesser kind than Lindsay’s, mind you- and Gretchen is bothered by the fact that people need to have these items that show they’ve grown up.  Perhaps, Paul suggests, you’re just investing in your future.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Paul meets up with Jimmy at the wedding

I suppose weddings are a part of that future.  Jimmy shows up at the wedding- with Edgar in tow, but I’ll get to him later- ready to heckle Becca.  This really is a thing of his, it appears.  Though his plan to ruin the wedding included seducing the groom’s mother, he takes a more subtle approach.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy tells Becca that they haven't made love for the last time

And it’s here that we finally learn what Jimmy said to Becca that we didn’t get to hear in the pilot: the two of them have not made love for the last time.  Not as harsh as I at first thought, but still very much a dick move.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Present day, Paul, Vernon, and Becca watch wedding video

When we come to the present, Vernon and Becca are watching the footage of their wedding.  Paul lets them know about Gretchen’s break-up, which sets Becca on a mission.  Jimmy isn’t the man that she needs or, quite frankly, wants, but now that she knows he is single, she has motivation.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy tells Edgar that women and romantic happiness are his kryptonite

Many of the characters do, actually.  Jimmy got his second wind and is ready to let his creative juices flow.  After Becca dumped him, he wrote the book.  While with Gretchen, his work suffered, but now he can focus on work again.  Edgar, however, doesn’t have a snarky retort this time for one reason: Gretchen isn’t around anymore.  With Gretchen, Jimmy was decent to be around, but with her out of the picture, Edgar isn’t looking forward to Jimmy being 100 percent dick again.  He’s tired of being taken advantage of and plans to move out of Jimmy’s place.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay and Gretchen do drugs, present day

Gretchen, meanwhile, is in a freefall and once again relies on Lindsay to be her partner in crime.  The two still find marriage to be bullshit and Gretchen puts down the responsibilities of adulthood.  She would much rather just go to New York, as she originally intended.  So, Lindsay says, let’s just go!  Sounds like a plan.  They can put their troubles behind them, go to Puerto Rican dance halls, and take in so much New York dick that their pussies will be overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, Gretchen’s reckless behavior ends up getting her fired when Sam reminds her that the recording studio is a place of business.  It’s a bit of a double standard, but I’ll go into detail this when discussing Gretchen later.  Now jobless, Gretchen realizes that she may need to take a minute to reevaluate her life, so she decides to head home, much to Lindsay’s anger.  After all, Lindsay is the one who got married and had some semblance of an adult life, but the minute she’s willing to drop adulthood and embrace the carefree life with Gretchen, she’s left on her own.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Becca shows up at Jimmy's

Becca also receives an unexpected surprise when she shows up at Jimmy’s place to have sex with him, and he’s actually not interested.  He doesn’t even remember his comment, but he does advise Becca to go home.  This isn’t her.  She’s married.  Shocked and outraged, Becca is kindly shown the door.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy plays guitar

The episode draws to a close as Jimmy and Gretchen sort of begin to clean up their acts.  Jimmy begins to compose a song that probably won’t go anywhere.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen cleans up some of her home

While Gretchen cleans up some of her apartment and uses the food processor to make drinks.  Hey, it’s a start.

I like to think of “Constant Horror and Bone Deep Dissatisfaction” as the midlife crisis episode.  In addition to learning how our characters came to be who we know them as now- or how little they actually changed- they go through some big changes and slowly accept that they can’t be kids forever.  There’s no way you can stay a kid forever.  Eventually, you realize that adulthood is inevitable and, even though the journey may be scary, unpredictable, and uncomfortable, it’s a journey we all have to take.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay promises to keep the party going

Jimmy and Gretchen, though, don’t go on much of a journey because they stay pretty much the same in the past and present.  That’s not to say they don’t change, but they don’t go through any substantial development.  They’re both still petulant children, but what ended up keeping them in line was the other person.  For example, Gretchen talked of being ready to walk away from her life and go to New York, but her relationship with Jimmy kept her there.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen in a fender bender

In the past, though, both characters are in a funk.  As mentioned, Gretchen found herself increasingly lonely with everyone around her embracing adulthood.  More than that, she got herself in trouble with the law when she ended up in a fender bender, which she referenced in a previous episode.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy runs into a homeless Edgar

Jimmy, meanwhile, isn’t receiving the level of royalties from his book that he expected, which is only a problem since he needs those to live.  He could get to work on the sequel, but nothing has come to him yet.  He also had to contend with a nervous Edgar, who Jimmy saw more as a distraction than a roommate.

The Jimmy from a few years ago is only a bit more optimistic about love than the one we currently know.  He actually has hope that things could work out between people, even if he didn’t fully believe in love.  He references literature that states a problem isn’t being single, but being alone.  And, when referring to The Notebook– is that any good?- he acknowledges that love isn’t easy, but hard.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Edgar sits with the kids at the wedding

But once he gets dumped, the idealistic Jimmy dies, and out of the ashes comes the jaded Jimmy who feels a need to have a witty retort or insult for everything.  He has little to no regard for anyone’s feelings except for his own, which shows through his poor treatment of Edgar at the wedding reception.  As Edgar mentioned, he could endure Jimmy he was with Gretchen.  Not in a nagging way, but Gretchen kept Jimmy in check and called him out on his shit, which is made very clear when she called him a mean person in the previous episode.

Yes, Jimmy is a mean person, but he believes that his negativity is a result of the world’s cruelty.  He tells Edgar that women and romantic happiness are his kryptonite, as if a few bad experiences automatically make him impervious to love.  Is that how people react when they go through a bad breakup or two?  They suddenly feel that they can’t be happy?  Because if so, that’s pretty pathetic.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Becca smokes a cigarette

Recognize that you can’t and won’t always land on your feet when it comes to love, that and learn to enjoy yourself.  Again, this isn’t my area of expertise by any means, but relationships don’t always work out the way we want.  If they did, chances are that more people would believe in love at first sight.  That, or it would be more scientifically accurate, but that’s beside the point.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen and Ty meet at premiere

At the same time, Gretchen isn’t any more into relationships now as she will be later on, but her issue is that her friends are moving on without her.  She looks down upon adulthood, even going as far as saying that marriage leads to kids, which leads to you realizing that you were dead the entire time.  She’s not ready for that because she still doesn’t even know what she wants to do with her life.  A little bit of constructive criticism- not hard work- landed her the publicist position, and even then, it’s not a position she took seriously.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Gretchen is cynical about adulthood

Gretchen really didn’t take a lot of her life seriously.  She wallows in her own pity, but also doesn’t want any sort of help because she prefers to do things on her own.  Or, maybe, she does things on her own because everyone else has found a partner.  At the wedding, she rants about how there’s nothing for here, which is why she planned to go to New York without telling anyone.  She hates goodbyes.  Instead of behaving like an adult and accepting some responsibility, she wants to stay right where she is because it’s comfortable and easy.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Sam is not pleased with Gretchen's drug usage at work

But in addition to Jimmy keeping her around, Gretchen’s personal issues and drug use prove to be her undoing.  She defends herself to Sam by pointing out that he, Shit Stain, and Honey Nutz do stupid shit like this all the time, but the difference is that Sam is 21.  Gretchen is 30.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Sam tells off Gretchen

While not technically a kid compared to Gretchen and the others, he’s still young and can get away with doing stupid shit.  Gretchen, though, is an adult and, in Sam’s mind, should take some responsibility, especially when she’s the group’s publicist and promotes their brand.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay wants to go to New York

Only when Gretchen starts acting like an adult does she end up alienating Lindsay.  All this time, Gretchen has been needy for attention.  Lindsay finally decides to take her up on that offer, and it’s at that moment that Gretchen decides to grow up.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay pissed that Gretchen is leaving her

Let’s talk about Lindsay for a second.  She has the life that Gretchen despises: one with a husband, mortgage, a future, you know how it goes.  But by this point, we know that Lindsay isn’t happy in her marriage, so she’s willing to walk down the self-destructive path Gretchen wants to walk if it means they get to keep the party going.

But, to be frank, if Lindsay wanted to go down a self-destructive path filled with sex, drugs, and Puerto Rican dance halls, she could probably do that on her own.  Both she and Gretchen are needy, but Lindsay already lives a life on the wild side.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay talks about taking New York dick

She doesn’t have her shit together at all- she just has some semblance of stability that’s rocked by her antics.  When she talks about what she’d love to do in New York, it’s clear that this is something she’s dreamed of doing.  The only thing keeping her where she is right now is her crappy marriage.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Lindsay tries to do coke off of her own titties

By the way, the scene with Lindsay trying to snort cocaine off of her own breasts may simultaneously be one of the funniest and saddest images of the series so far.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy and Edgar about to leave for the wedding

Edgar actually starts at a low point when we first meet him, but makes some significant changes for the better by episode’s end.  He starts off as a returning veteran that has trouble fitting back into society, so he lives on the streets and gets in fights with random strangers.  It was established in the pilot that Jimmy once bought drugs from Edgar, so it was nice to see them make that connection during their first encounter in years.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Edgar tells off Jimmy

It’s quite sad how Jimmy treats Edgar in this episode and Desmin Borges is great at letting Edgar’s inner anger loose.  Edgar gets stuck at the kids table and not only does he not know how to deal with crowds yet, the kids didn’t even invite him to the after party.  Despite Edgar willing to put up with Jimmy’s antics, he’s still relegated to the side.

Like Edgar told Lindsay, they’re both sidekicks, but for Edgar, he’s more than just a sidekick: he’s a prop.  A nice tie-in to the way countries treat returning soldiers, but Edgar came back from fighting for his country and ended up being treated like a hindrance instead of a friend.

With Gretchen, he could stomach Jimmy because he knew Gretchen would call him out on his shit.  Without that, there’s nothing keeping Jimmy from going back to being a complete asshole, so Edgar refuses to put up with that.  He becomes more assertive, doing things like paying for drinks, and he tells off Jimmy.  It really felt like he’d been holding onto this anger for a long time.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy reacts to Edgar calling him out

And even though Edgar is right about Gretchen keeping Jimmy in line, you can tell from Jimmy’s reaction to Edgar’s rage that even he realizes how much of an asshole he’s been to someone he considers a friend.  And once Edgar leaves, Jimmy realizes just how alone he really is.

Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction- Jimmy tells Becca to go home

He even turns down Becca because he’s having a change of heart about who he is, and this is a woman who threw herself at him.  He’s at his lowest point and would probably want a woman at his side, but he’s actually not interested because he wants to show some responsibility.

“Constant Horror and Bone Deep Dissatisfaction” showed the characters at a low point and took a look at their pasts so we could see what led them to become who they are today.  They didn’t change much between the past and the pilot, but by episode’s end, they go through significant development as they try to become more responsible.  Well, except for Lindsay, anyway.  But wait, there’s still one more episode.