Well, here we are at the finale: “Full Ten Count.” There are a lot of great little moments to this episode, but combined with a lot of scattered storylines through the season that aren’t resolved and some issues with this episode in particular, it’s not a bad episode, but nothing great either. But what do I know? Let’s jump right in.
The episode begins in a boxing ring, with Johnny and Francis Masters, again played by Dennis Cockrum, watching Bill get the ever loving shit beaten out of him. Francis tells Johnny that a man has to know when he’s beat.
As Bill prepares to take one last hit, he awakens in a fright, Libby at his side to comfort him. When asked if it was his father again, Bill responds that he isn’t sure. This all needs to go away.
We cut to House Johnson, where Virginia informs her father about her daughter’s schedules. Edna is miffed because she was not invited to babysit. That’s probably for the best and Virginia is busy enough as it is. Harry is a bit concerned. When things get tough for Virginia, she tends to dig in more. It’s not like her to flee, but she says that she isn’t. She just needs to clear her head for a few days.
And Virginia is unsure to trust, especially Bill due to his insistence on the surrogacy program and the ambush in New York. In addition, the man she’s seeing is making promises that may not be true. Man she’s seeing? That isn’t Bill? Virginia tells her father that most people wouldn’t get her life. She just keeps waiting for things to click into place so she can say this is how her life should be.
Then Libby arrives to fill Virginia in on why she called him home: something has happened that could affect everyone and even hurt the clinic. Somehow, it always comes down to Libby and Virginia.
Barton is ready to leave Jonathan’s place early, though Jonathan wishes he would stick around for some pleasantries. It’s Jonathan’s birthday, so he hopes that Barton could stay. In light of hearing this, Barton proposes the two celebrate tonight at his place.
As Libby drives back home, she sees a realtor, Cindy Loman, played by Celeste Pechous, placing a ‘For Lease’ sign on the lawn of the Edley household. Mr. Edley, it turns out, has taken a leave of absence and will be out of touch for at least a year.
After a brief elevator scene of Bill and Nora discussing their unguarded moment, the two head into the office, which is in the middle of a busy setup for an upcoming press conference on the new book. The Little Brown people will be coming by soon. Much to Betty’s irritation, Bill wants this rescheduled and starts going through Virginia’s messages- all from Dan Logan. Betty reveals that Dan has been calling nonstop and Virginia refuses to answer. Maybe she’s trying to freeze him out.
And then we get a brief scene of Dan getting off of a plane after returning from a Mexico trip.
Virginia’s next to approach the elevator, but she gets yet another run-in with Ronald Sturgis. He warns her that this is her last chance to get out and save herself. Do what must be done.
Upstairs, Virginia and Bill discuss the case. Mrs. Daughtry’s attorney even came to the Masters’ household late at night. The Daughtry family is willing to rescind the charges in return for a check, so yeah, we’re dabbing into extortion. Bill will fight this. Even though Libby doesn’t want her family dragged through the mud, Bill won’t silence trumped up allegations with a check.
However, word of this could get out and the allegations could ruin not just their reputations, but also the clinic. Libby and Virginia both agree that Bill will pay this and see past his bullshit to know this is serious business. Also, Virginia puts her foot down and says that the money will not come from the clinic. She won’t allow her pay to be dirtied or have the clinic put at risk.
Bill follows Virginia into her office. He agrees that the risk is too great and tries to turn the conversation to New York. He didn’t know how to prove the truth about Dan Logan. Virginia doesn’t want to hear any of this. There’s far too much to repair both between them and the clinic. And they’ve endured worse trials.
Then Bill plays his trump card: he plans on removing the M.D. from his name on their new book. This will show that the two are perfect equals in this relationship. Virginia appears touched by this, but doesn’t say as much. What matters now is protecting their work. Just then, Betty enters and tells the two that the Little Brown people have arrived.
Bob Drag is here for a tour of the clinic. He wants Bill and Virginia to take viewers on a journey of their work on human sexuality. Bill introduces Bob to Lester, who has documented the work, and Nora as an example of the surrogacy work that Bill mentioned at the New York meeting.
Nora brings Bill aside for a moment. She’s not ready to work with her surrogacy partner yet. Who is this? We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, Nora can’t focus right now with her landlord kicking her to the curb. She’s behind on rent again and didn’t know who else to ask. Nora’s been unable to spend time looking for a job because she’s spending six days a week at the clinic. She doesn’t want to abandon that, but feels things are strained due to intimacies.
And she would think Bill wants to make things right. So Bill gives her $200 that he just happens to have. Do you walk around with $200 in your wallet? Anyway, Bill says that this needs to be the last time. Nora thanks him, but Bill is unaware of Nora taking her hand off a button on the microphone behind her…
Dan arrives at the office to speak with Virginia, who admits that Dan’s offer is a lot to take in right now. If it matters, Alice is no longer Dan’s wife, which may mean that we won’t be seeing Judy Greer again anytime soon. Mexico is quite accommodating when it comes to matters of the heart. Now that Dan is divorced, he wants to help Virginia do the same with George. Remember him?
Divorce was the easy part. Everything else isn’t, except for one thing: Bill’s hold on Virginia. She’s put everything into this clinic. Dan isn’t asking her to leave it. She’s enjoyed her time with him, but she doesn’t see yet how work and Dan go together. Or how Bill would accept this, though Dan reminds Virginia that this isn’t up to Bill. He can’t make her happy as a man to love. Yes, Dan still wants Virginia as his wife and he won’t make her see what she already knows.
Her hesitation isn’t because of Dan, it’s the work. Dan, though, acknowledges that he’s been stuck in his marriage with Alice for a long time. His love for Virginia gave him the courage to leave. The same should be done for her. But if Virginia does not feel the same, Dan will take his broken heart and go. Oh, give me a break.
Barton arrives at the office and since Betty is apparently the only one available to talk, he fills her in about his dinner plans with Jonathan. And because Betty is an apparent matchmaker and is against Barton having a birthday dinner at home, she plans to make reservations at a fancy restaurant.
Bob setting up some candid shots for Bill is interrupted when Nora’s surrogate partner approaches him and says that he’s not going to continue the treatment. Turns out that this partner is actually an agent: Hugh Barringer, played by Troy Blendell. Virginia spots this and joins Bill, but she’s in trouble as well.
After a bit of time spent in holding cells, the two are brought before Chief Duncan, who explains that the charges brought against them are pandering and promoting prostitution. The department didn’t pay much mind to Sturgis’ accusations of illicit work, but this caught fire due to the complaints of inappropriate behavior with a minor. In addition, a surrogate came forward, but that makes no sense because the surrogates are all unpaid.
Well, almost. Bill does cop to giving Nora money, but it was for her rent. That is for the courts to decide. Nora may have been committed to the work, but she was also committed to Sturgis and the Committee for Decency. Duncan won’t padlock the office doors. If this stays quiet and out of the press, Duncan can buy time for the two to get legal counsel and sort this out without having to shut down the clinic.
Though Bill must wait for Libby, Virginia’s bail is posted in no time by Dan Logan. When the two reunite, Virginia admits that Dan was right about trying to get her to see what she already knows. Since she was young, Virginia has been waiting for things to fall into place so she can breathe. Now, she wants to breathe with Dan.
Back at the clinic, Betty stalls for time while Bob continues to wait for Bill and Virginia. They’re taking care of a highly sexual emergency.
Now, the following moment is probably one of my favorite exchanges of the series, and obviously my favorite of this episode: a tense confrontation between Bill and Libby that eventually leads into Bill admitting his affair. Let’s go right to it.
After being bailed out by Libby, Bill wants to discuss Nora, but Libby shoots him down. Prostitution charges are very serious. Bill rages, even taking his anger out on a file cabinet. He was kind to Nora and Dennis, but it’s definitely a bad idea to talk to Dennis’ mother as well. Bill thinks that he’s a target because of his work, but Libby disagrees. This all happened because he’s reckless.
To Libby, Bill charges ahead without thinking of the consequences. He’s so interested in control, but when does it stop?
After a long silence, the two sit. Bill comes forward and admits that he’s been having an affair with Virginia for a long time. Virginia laughs. Of course she’s known for years. Bill wants to know why Libby said nothing. How could she live like that? Well, it wasn’t easy for Libby and she hasn’t been well, but she’s done this for the family. But now is not the time to hash this out.
Bill says that he never meant to hurt her. If he’d only known how horrible he made her feel or that she would accept so little of herself. Again, Libby snaps, telling Bill that this will be handled later, but Bill continues, saying this has to be the one honest thing he can do for her in years. She deserves a real marriage.
Libby flips. Bill should not say what he can’t unsay or let things spill out the way he is right now. True as Bill’s words may be, Libby tells him that he can’t decide that this is the end of their marriage. Does Bill envision a future with Virginia? After all, Virginia promised that she would never take Bill from his family. She and Libby made a pact. Bill is, for some reason, upset that they made an agreement, but hey, they just took a page from Bill’s playbook.
This, Libby says, is the one way to make the family safe. But Bill admits that they aren’t safe. No one is. Libby calls Bill a fool, but she must be the second biggest fool of all. Bill can’t even begin to understand how much happiness Libby has given up for the sake of the family. Libby won’t bail Bill out and he can’t come home.
At the office, Virginia packs up some boxes when Nora enters to explain herself. She hopes that Virginia understands why she did what she did. She searched her heart and prayed hard. She was once like Virginia- unhappy and lost, but then Ronald told her of a book written by Dr. Bill Masters, a man she once knew. She realized that it was a sign.
God never wanted the union of a man and woman to be reduced to experiments. Virginia fights back. She and Bill are saving people and giving them hope. People like Nora keep others weak and suffering in the dark. And God probably doesn’t want people to suffer. As Nora tells Virginia to mend her ways, she gets a box to the face from Virginia.
And with that, Dan and Virginia leave just as Bob returns.
At House Masters, Libby cries in the bathroom. Johnny joins her and learns that his father is not just in jail, but he’ll be living somewhere else for some time. Johnny wants to talk to him, thinking that he caused this, but Libby assures him that he isn’t the cause of this. The adult world is messed up and complicated, but this isn’t Johnny’s fault.
Back in jail, Bill hands over his shoelaces and belt- which is actually Lester’s- and waits, all while having brief flashes of his father beating him. When asked who he can call, Bill names Virginia.
Barton and John have dinner at Vincente, but they’re interrupted by Betty, who fills Barton in on Bill’s situation.
Over at House Johnson, Harry gives Dan his blessing to marry Virginia, if it’s what his daughter really wants. It is.
So Barton manages to bail out Bill. Virginia arrives soon after, and though Bill wants to talk, she says that there’s nothing left to be decided or said between them. Bill comes right out and admits that he loves Virginia. He’s always loved her for the longest time, but couldn’t make sense of it. He should have admitted it from the start, and despite their struggles, Bill thinks that Virginia loves him, too.
But then he spots the engagement ring. Virginia tells Bill that she’s leaving. First Mexico, then Las Vegas. She admits that Bill was right as far as how she feels about her work, but wrong that she wants those things in place of happiness. That joy is much more important than work. She can’t be a whole person without that. Bill doesn’t want to let her go, but if he loves her, he should put her first.
Betty, having the worst day, watches the event play out at the office with no sign of Bill and Virginia. Bob confronts her, saying that his job is as much on the line with this conference. In addition, Bob spoke with a friend who happens to work in the St. Louis Police Department. How convenient. But Bob knows what’s been happening. And if Bill and Virginia don’t materialize in their lab coats to announce their work, Bob will announce that Bill prefers spending time with young boys. Make some calls, Betty.
Indeed, Betty calls the police station to let Bill know that he’s got 30 minutes to get to the clinic. Though Bill is convinced that Virginia wouldn’t let that happen, Bill, after getting his papers, rushes out and hails a taxi.
At the same time, Dan and Virginia prepare to board at an airport. Virginia keeps looking behind her, as if expecting someone else to arrive…
Eventually, Bill concedes and has the taxi driver pull over. Bill pays the man, refusing a ride back into town. The season comes to a close as Bill, deciding to stay down for once, abandons his chase after Virginia.
Well, that was a third season.
While “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” ended on an optimistic note last year, Season Three’s “Full Ten Count” ends on more of a down note. Kind of like what Dante said on Clerks, “That’s what life is: a series of down endings.” There’s nothing wrong with a more serious conclusion to the season, but it would be a bit more enjoyable if the season ride was enjoyable and if the finale was satisfying.
This finale does not accomplish either of those. In fact, a lot was left unaccomplished with this season and certainly the finale, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
From the start of the season until now, we’ve watched Bill and Virginia fight to maintain the integrity of their work, whether from their skeptical relatives, friends, authorities, and even the occasional religious zealot. Despite going through the Sexual Revolution, the two still have to contend with people who don’t understand or refuse to see the importance of their work. And that’s led to strained relations not just with clients, but Bill and Virginia’s personal lives have been affected for the worst.
And even though they’ve been at the risk of losing everything, neither of them gave up doing the work that’s important to them and that can and has helped others.
But there comes a time a moment where opposition is too great to overcome and you’re on the verge of losing the match. Sure, it may be admirable to fight until your last breath, but less so when you’re about to lose it all. Would some think you a coward for bowing out and maintaining your integrity? That’s possible, but you get to walk away with your life instead of blowing it all because of pride.
And that’s where Bill ends up come season’s end. He’s spent so much time trying to keep Virginia under his thumb, said so many things to manipulate her into staying, and convincing her that it was all for the greater good because he assumes that she values work over everything else. To an extent, he’s right, Virginia does love the difference she’s making in people’s lives and this could be her calling.
But a woman with nothing to look forward to but work isn’t who Virginia is. As much as Virginia has taken her work seriously, even refusing to allow a cent of her money to be used to help Bill’s case, she sees a life and future beyond human sexuality. Bill has known from the start that Virginia was more intellectual than most women around him, but with this season, he’s spent time trying to craft Virginia’s end game for her.
The future she ended up choosing rests with Dan Logan. I’m of two minds on how to feel about this. First off, I’m glad she’s making a choice after spending so much time being indecisive. Since Dan arrived on the scene, Virginia has been torn between him and Dan because both has something that the other lacks. Here, she’s setting aside the importance of work and Bill’s feelings for her to have a shot at a happiness.
At two points in the episode, Virginia talks waiting for things to click into place so she can realize how her life should be. Personally, I think Virginia has shown that she has enough fortitude to craft her future on her own instead of waiting for things to happen, so I’m not sure I fully buy that she’d just wait for the stars to align so she can be happy. But her life has been so hectic that she hasn’t had much time to breathe. Dan Logan may not be perfect, but for Virginia, he’s as close to true happiness a she’s going to get for now.
Sure, we’ve had plenty of episodes for Dan and Virginia to establish a rapport, but I’m not sure I completely buy that their feelings for one another are genuine. Virginia is choosing Dan because she wants to be happy, even though she has her hesitation. She even said that she doesn’t see how Dan and work go together. She didn’t mind that Dan had so many affairs or had been unfaithful to his wife, which is twisted in and of itself.
And Alice told Virginia that Dan has been down this road before with telling a woman that he’ll show up and declare his love for her. Why would Virginia think herself any different? And as confident as Dan has been on his feelings- given how he’s more in touch with his emotions than Bill- it’s a tad pathetic to see him say things like he’ll take his broken heart and leave if Virginia didn’t accept him.
Between himself and Bill, Dan has been very suave, but this is a step backwards because he’s all but begging Virginia to choose him over Bill. And given Bill’s actions, that doesn’t take much persuasion.
So Virginia stops fighting between two men and picks the safer of two options. Right now, it looks like she’s headed for a happy life, but given her glances at the airport, she’s still expecting Bill to make a last ditch effort to be there for her.
But Virginia’s family was all but forgotten here. Whether it’s Virginia’s newborn, Tessa’s relationship with Matt, Henry enlisting, or just George in general, a lot of Virginia’s personal life was lost in the shuffle of the season as focus went to Dan. And that’s a problem because George and Virginia’s marriage in name only was left unresolved.
Hell, we haven’t seen him for so long, I’m surprised that the show had the audacity to hitch Virginia to Dan without having even a single scene with George, who is left to a mere mention. It’s disappointing, considering how incensed George was about the fake marriage.
But almost everyone’s disappointed in this episode in some way. Libby is disappointed in Bill for having the audacity to try and clear the air between them, despite his actions. I’ve ragged on Libby for going through the motions with her rants, but Caitlin Fitzgerald shined in this finale with Libby unleashing on Bill.
She has always had every right to be angry and part of me wonders whether she held back a bit. When she laughs in response to Bill admitting his affair, it’s a laugh of disbelief. Not of Bill’s admission, but as if that’s supposed to be some huge revelation for her, and it’s not. Libby, like Virginia, is tired of putting up with Bill’s nonsense.
Libby also makes a decision on how to deal with Bill. For so long, she’s endured his infidelity and given up so much happiness, so instead of taking another beating at her life, but she puts her foot down this time. She fights back when she asks Bill when this all ends? Bill just charges forward without thinking how others are affected, Libby most of all. I’m glad that Libby got to unload her anger on Bill, even taking a page from his playbook and making arrangements behind his back.
The problem is that Libby’s shot at happiness seems to be gone with Paul out of the picture. So once again, Libby finds herself in a loveless marriage, but she appears to be ready to make a change. If she separates from Bill come Season Four, it can’t come fast enough, given her sacrifices.
And Bill is a man who realizes that what he can’t do is take blow after blow. His father’s words echo through his head the entire episode about a man knowing when he’s beat. And as Libby told him, Bill charges forward with such recklessness that he doesn’t realize the damage caused to himself and everyone around him until it’s too late. Granted, I don’t think the use of the fight imagery was as well-executed as in…well, “Fight,” but having Bill as the victim really highlighted the abuse he suffered because of his own actions.
Sheen’s best performances from Bill, I feel, come when the character is at a low point, and that is very evident here. Whether when he punches a cabinet in anger or the despair on his face and in his voice during the scene with Libby, Sheen does a great job showcasing a wide range of emotions.
Bill has burned so many bridges, not out of ill intent, but because he doesn’t stop and take time to think about the consequences of his actions. He’s quick to try and form a plan B when cornered, but just so he can have a plan, not necessarily a good plan. It’s madness, but just shows how out of touch Bill can be with reality. Everything that happens to him must be because of his work and he’s a target, not because he makes bad decisions.
So at the end of the day, Bill is without a home to go to, his relationship with his family is still in shambles, his work and reputation are in jeopardy, and he’s lost Virginia after coming forth with admitting his love for her. If he can’t make anything else right, he wants to make sure he’s smoothed things over with Virginia. But not so.
Bill has been despicable to her throughout this season that for him to think that Virginia would just fall head over heels for him because of his feelings is laughable. He’s manipulated her feelings to keep her around. Of course she’s not going to stick with you, Bill.
Finally, after his last attempt to keep Virginia in his life, Bill decides that, as his father suggested, he should stay down. The realization that he can’t keep Virginia in his life washes across his face and it’s a well-done moment when Bill abandons his quest. And the clinic is in jeopardy as well, so right now, Bill is at the lowest point we’ve seen him at in a long time.
There are some story points that don’t work as well for me in this finale. Again, Virginia’s family was tossed to the wayside, but some storylines didn’t carry any weight. Lester and Jane are both working at the clinic at the same time, so it looks like they might be talking again? They don’t have a scene together, so there’s no follow-up on how Lester’s participation in the surrogacy program affected his marriage. Again, happy to see Heléne Yorke back, but I wish she’d had more to do this season.
Same goes with Barton, who is just here to remind us that yes, he and Jonathan are a thing. So it looks like Betty and Helen won’t have to look for another doctor after all, assuming there’s follow-up to the pregnancy plot. And whatever makes Barton and Betty close enough to talk about their personal lives is another thing since Barton has been all but invisible this season since he returned to work with Bill. Aside from the scenes with Margaret, his return, though nice, had no impact on any of the characters.
And it’s unfortunate that Nora ended up being in cahoots with Ronald because that, to me, makes her less interesting than when she was just a blast from Bill’s past. In fact, why give her that backstory? Sure, it gives her some parallels to Bill’s childhood, but Nora easily could have just been a random woman looking to volunteer for the surrogacy program, but we learn later that she had been playing Bill the entire time.
We get that here, but the reveal of her true intentions took away from the connection she had and rekindled with Bill. I also have to wonder how a bunch of religious zealots convinced an agent to take part in an undercover investigation, yet weren’t taken seriously at all by the St. Louis Police Department. And how did Nora even get this guy into the clinic and lab without anyone noticing?
Side-note, Virginia clocked Nora in full view of everyone at the office and Nora’s feet are still in view when Virginia exits the office. No one notices? What the hell, Masters of Sex? What hell?
Anyway, how convenient is it that Bob, who happened to be a pain in the ass this episode, would have friends in the police department? As much crap that Betty had to endure this season, she’s been willing to fight back when threatened. But not so much here when Bob threatens to expose why Bill is in jail. Sure, it would have been a giant bombshell, but rarely does Betty just take shit from a man without putting up a fight. Here, she just calls Bill after Bob’s threat without even so much as a rebuke or sharp tongued response.
If I could think of a word to describe this season, it would be uncertainty. Bill and Virginia made their way through treacherous territory as they tried to market their work, keep each other and their families happy, starve off zealots, and still, at the end of the day, make a difference in the lives of people struggling to understand human sexuality.
Unfortunately, certain storylines brought up weren’t addressed with as much detail they could have received due to the focus being brought back to Bill and Virginia. Whether it’s Tessa’s immaturity, Johnny’s troubles at school, Margaret’s insecurities, Austin and his family, or Lester and Jane’s home situations, some plots seemed to serve as distractions. And we never got an answer on what happened to Barbara, either.
“Full Ten Count” isn’t a bad episode by any means since it still contains some very powerful performances and one of the best episodes of the series, but it’s not as great as it could have been. With Virginia out of the picture and Bill still in trouble, where will we go from here? Who knows? See you next year for Season Four.