This week, following the loss of Helen, Betty now finds herself in a challenging, upcoming custody case that requires the help of an old friend. While Virginia and Nancy sort of go undercover in the wake of imitation clinics, Bill, while bonding with Art, attempts to rekindle a connection from his past. This is “In to Me You See.” How’s that for an episode title?
The episode begins with Virginia drafting a letter to Bill. The two are at an impasse and Virginia wants to clear the air. She’s done things that have made it hard for Bill to trust him, but he’s hurt her as well. She wants to put those days behind her. Bill can only trust Virginia by being with her.
Excuse me, what kind of shit is that?
Ahem, anyway. Virginia continues: they must put in time together to heal their collective wounds and make their way back to each other. This letter doesn’t go, either.
A panel addresses how Barton dealt with the delivery of Helen’s child, saying that, under the circumstances, he performed impeccably. Though after, Barton tells Bill that Helen was concerned when she arrived at the hospital. He blames himself for not seeing the warning signs, but Bill says there was nothing he could have done.
The two have been in that room before, as Bill thinks back to a time where he failed to save a pregnant patient and her baby. And back then, even though Barton refused to accept Bill’s resignation, Bill still feels guilt, even after being proven innocent. Now, though, Barton doesn’t know how to forgive himself.
At the clinic, Virginia talks with Art in private about their strained relationship and how Art’s lie has created a rift between him and Nancy. Virginia’s solution is that Art and Nancy should be partnered so they can work towards repairing things between them. Art realizes that Virginia would be paired with Nancy, though Virginia has a way to deal with how Bill is working with Virginia.
So Virginia goes back to the beginning by giving Art a chance to partner with his wife. But Art wants the Clavermore couple. That would go a long way to making Nancy feel that her work is valued. Virginia isn’t a fan of the idea, but hey, everybody wins this way.
Following this, Virginia tells Bill that she hasn’t discussed this idea with Art. She says that patients have sensed the tension in the clinic, so Art should be reassigned to work with Nancy. Virginia assures Bill that she has no ulterior motives, despite Bill reminding Virginia that she was adamant that the two of them would not work together. So there’s no way to repair things with Art.
Well, Bill takes it to the logical extreme and suggests that Art be fired. Virginia fears that Nancy would leave too, so Bill presents a more reasonable approach: he will work with Art. Yes, part of the effectiveness of the work is having partners of different sexes, but as Bill reminds Virginia, it also comes from partners of disciplinary backgrounds. Art and Virginia have some psychology in their background, while Bill and Nancy are the doctors.
In addition, pairing Art and Nancy means having the least trained employees would work together. Bill is giving Virginia a chance to take Art off of her hands and hopes that Virginia can work with Nancy. See, Virginia is slowly gaining a reputation for being difficult and paranoid. Whether true or not, the rumor is there. Virginia promises to be collaborative, so she should get along fine with Nancy.
While Barton learns from Guy that Bill and Virginia are treating Bob Drag, Virginia goes over to Nancy that she thought it was a good idea for them to take cases together. Nancy realizes that something has happened, but Virginia tells Nancy that it’s time to learn from her.
Art and Bill observe Bob and Cherlyn, who are taking things slow. Art goes through Bob’s file and sees that there’s a homosexual episode in Bob’s past. While Bob may claim to be entirely heterosexual, Art notes that, according to the Kinsey scale, no one is entirely anything.
This intrigues Bill, as he notes that the Kinsey scale hasn’t been used much in the study. Art says that the scale helps a patient see that sexuality isn’t binary- it’s fluid. No one is just one thing, but many. Intrigued by this, Bill wants Art to conduct his own intake into Bob Drag since his expertise may lead to a different conclusion. His perspective could be useful.
Bill stops by Betty’s place with a pizza, as Betty hasn’t been eating that much. Later, over drinks, Betty tells Bill that she screwed up so many things in her life, but Helen was the one thing she got right. Hell, they got each other right. There was never a doubt that the two loved each other. Sometimes, things are so right that you don’t even think to question them. Bill agrees, but he wouldn’t know.
Betty then asks Bill if he ever had a time when everything was just right in terms of love. Bill talks of a girl, long ago, named Dody Oliver. When Bill met her, he felt that he could be himself around her. Though Bill would prefer to stop talking, Betty insists that he continue, so he does. One day, Dody was at the hospital for appendicitis, Bill left her some roses and a note asking her to marry him.
Bill later returned on a high to pick up Dody, but she was ice cold to him and didn’t even mention the proposal. The two sat like strangers. After Bill dropped off Dody, he never heard from her again. As for what went wrong, Bill doesn’t know, so Betty asks why Bill didn’t simply ask why Dody didn’t answer his proposal. Strange to not ask.
With that, Bill begins drafting his own letter to Dody. Thirty years have passed and Bill wants to know where life has taken Dody. He’s writing her for clarity since things ended so abruptly. Bill has been through changes and sees that to move forward, one must look back and look at their choices. And Bill will understand if he doesn’t hear from Dody.
At the clinic, Nancy and Virginia speak with the Fleming couple, with Mr. Fleming taking notes, even though Virginia advises against it. This apparently helps with Mr. Fleming’s anxiety. As Nancy tries to talk about Mrs. Fleming’s pain, Virginia takes control of the conversation, noting how much Mr. Fleming knows about the body, despite his everyday profession.
The two then talk in private, with Virginia seeing that the couple may not be a couple. After all, why would a bank manager know medical terminology as well as Mr. Fleming? Nancy thinks the two may be a desperate couple trying to save their marriage and have read Bill and Virginia’s book. Well, time to find out.
Virginia’s suggests that the couple undergo electroshock therapy. The couple wants to come back another day, but Virginia wants to know who the couple works for right now. The two come clean and say that they want to be sex therapists and open their own clinic. They’re impressed with the work and just doing research to see how other therapists. This clinic is the best, but the two are talking with the others. Others?
Bill arrives and finds Louise waiting for him not about Alcoholics Anonymous, but a broken vertebrae. See, Louise’s husband, James, is paralyzed from the waist down after a long, drunken night at the bar between him and Louise that ended with her waking up with a tube down her throat. This isn’t Bill’s area of expertise, but he does specialize in sexual dysfunction. Sometimes, James can’t get it up, so what gives?
So Bill, looking at the X-ray, sees that the injury is partial, so there’s partial. There’s a neural, haphazard connection, meaning that James’ erections can’t be controlled through thinking sexual thoughts or manual stimulation. As far as touching, Louise hasn’t tried that since the accident. James hasn’t been interested and feels nothing down there. Louise is asking, nay, begging Bill for some kind of hope.
It’s hard to know what kind of sexual response Bill can find, but he can experiment with neural rewiring- a very new area of science. This would mean mapping areas on his skin with corresponding spinal nerves to generate an erotic feeling.
Mapping can help to find arousal in spots other than genitals. But this is highly experimental. Bill hasn’t taken this kind of case before and there’s no promise that this can work, but this case does require openness. Now, though, Louise has never felt more exposed in her life, so she’s on board with this procedure.
Virginia tells Bill about the competing clinics and people posing as patients. She also gives him an invite to a symposium right outside the city. One of the topics at the seminar is sexual dysfunction. Bill isn’t too worried since, hell, he and Virginia didn’t invent sexual dysfunctions. True, but since the two just had legal woes, they don’t need frauds in their field spreading dangerous interpretations of their ideas.
Okay, so Bill suggests that Virginia and Nancy go since he has plans with Art. Virginia calls this negligence since Bill isn’t standing with her and defending their work.
Art, meanwhile, talks with Bob about the Kinsey scale. Dr. Kinsey found that most people found themselves between homosexuality and heterosexuality. As for measurement, it involves a calculation based on the number of homosexual encounters and frequency one continues to think about same-sex partners.
Based on Bob’s encounter and continual, involuntary thoughts, Art calculates him as a three. More than one in 10 had a similar score, based on Dr. Kinsey’s research. Bob then asks if a three ever went on to get married, have kids, and lead a normal life. It has happened, yes. Art asks if Bob has had other encounters with men. With only one other experience, Bob would remain at a three.
He did have another in a movie theater, where he both jacked off and performed oral sex on the other man. But that was the only encounter, and Bob felt disgusted afterward. This was six months ago.
And his impotence began at the same time. That attraction, Art asks how this compares to that of his wife. When Bob and Cherlyn make love, it’s emotional. In the theater, it was just bodies. Art counters that sex isn’t just an emotional exercise. Bodies are important, too. Bob knows the sensate isn’t progressing that fast, but he wonders if Art would consider guiding him through the therapy. Him being there could make a difference.
Across the hall, Guy tells Barton that the clinic is converting Bob from a homosexual to a heterosexual. Barton, though, doesn’t buy that. Guy then tells Bill that he has a call from a woman who would not leave her name.
It turns out to be Dody Oliver herself, played by Kelli O’Hara. She got the letter. The two have a very cordial conversation about their pasts and where they are now. Bill wants to know how and why things ended. Dody is unclear about some things herself. Before Dody can answer, she suddenly hangs up, telling Bill that she will call him back.
Meanwhile, Louise tells James, played by Corey Reynolds, all about Bill and his work. He doesn’t want people knowing their personal business, but Louise misses being with him in an intimate way. Based on Louise’s words, Bill’s work has restored patients to normal sexual activity. James asks about the success rate- not an unfair question to ask- but Louise says that the clinic doesn’t give numbers. Even still, Bill is hopeful.
The two go down memory lane to a time when James, against all odds, talked to Louise. Not long after, they were married. James took a gamble and it paid off.
Back at the clinic, Betty and Austin- oh, hey, Teddy Sears- learn from Herb that, in the eyes of the law, Betty has no legal right to the child. Helen was an unmarried woman, so her child would go to the next of kin- her parents, who have been given temporary custody. Unless something goes wrong, temporary custody becomes permanent.
But then Betty brings up the fact that Austin is the biological father, but he’s not in any position to take care of an infant. This is merely part one of Betty’s plan. The second part involves Betty and Austin getting married, she will adopt the baby so she is legally hers, and the two will get divorced. And since Austin is unfit, the baby will stay with her. Kind of a dick move, Betty, but I get it.
Austin finds this insane and Herb cautions the two against lying in court in the first place. Presenting a fake union is against the law. Betty knows that she’s asking Austin for a lot, but she’s asking anyway because she loved Helen. She wants to honor her child and raise it as Helen would have wanted.
So Virginia and Nancy attend the symposium, which looks like it could double as a hippie circle. The leader asks the audience to define partner. One man, Burt, says that it’s someone you can count on, and that’s true in a healthy partnership. Nancy says that a partner is someone with whom there’s a mutual understanding and admiration- someone open, honest, and you’d feel safe around in their attempted intimacy.
Okay, if Virginia and Nancy are at this seminar just for reconnaissance, why are they using their real names?
Whatever. Virginia reminds Nancy that they’re doing research, but Nancy realizes that she’s sad. She wanted Virginia to be her mentor, but instead, Virginia just doesn’t like her. Well, Virginia at least likes Art as a colleague and friend. She sees how he’s suffering since Nancy’s lifestyle is unfulfilling to Art. He doesn’t say so for fear that Nancy would leave him. Big surprise to Nancy.
But then Virginia spots, of all people, her father. Harry is here for pleasure and Edna has no idea. She thinks that he’s on a fishing trip. Harry tells Virginia that, after reading her book, he’s trying to learn about his body. In addition to this seminar, he attended another one where it was said that swinging helps couples realign their desires and bring focus back to each other.
Virginia says there’s no such thing as a science of swinging. She and Bill advocate protocols that keep people together. Harry, though, believes that the book has led to a symposium just like this. Now Virginia is worried, but Harry feels alive. He’ll take what he learns back to Edna so they can maybe look at a second honeymoon.
Back at the clinic, Bill walks Louise and James through the neural process, with the two later going through sensate therapy. The key here is patience, for they are entering uncharted waters.
At the same time, Dody calls Bill to tell him that the two should get together. Bill agrees. He offers to come to her, but Dody shoots that down, saying that Bill shouldn’t have to drive all the way to Topeka when the two can just meet halfway.
Now Dody didn’t have to indicate it, but she mentioned that she’s in Topeka. Keep that in mind.
Barton, meanwhile, walks in on Art observing and walking Bob and Cherlyn through sensate therapy. As Barton observes, Bob finds that the therapy is working.
Bill sits and waits at a restaurant for Dody, but he ends up meeting the husband, who talked her out of coming, instead. He found Bill’s letter and Dody eventually admitted her plan to see Bill. However, Bill has no designs on Dody.
Turns out the first 10 years of this 30 year separation were devastating for Dody after Bill broke her heart. And the husband picked up the pieces. Bill just had one question, but Dody apparently won’t be able to answer it anytime soon.
Nancy presents Virginia with some literature on sex therapy and clinics with protocol similar to what Virginia and Bill do. Virginia then admits that she gave Nancy the Clavermore case since Art fought for it.
So now Barton and Art are arguing, Barton saying that Art tried to convert Bob into a heterosexual. Barton counters that if he’s had sex with a man, then he’s a homosexual. Art contends that Bob is at least ambisexual, but Barton, based on personal experience, says that there’s no such thing. Bill calls it all a supposition.
It’s all a gray area with no data. It’s about more than one patient and this should be a study. Bill wants to study homosexuals the same ways as heterosexuals. Otherwise, they’re just standing in the dark. Barton finds that interesting. And this isn’t conversion therapy.
Bill then asks Art to lay the groundwork to turn this into the study. Barton is at least relieved that Bill isn’t involved with conversion. Bill is now curious if there are times when it’s better not to know and if some doors shouldn’t be opened. This might be about the study. In Barton’s experience, the truth can come at a high price, as you can lose people you love and pieces of yourself. In the end, it’s worth it.
At home, Louise finds a tickle in James’ shoulder that gets him worked up, but all of a sudden, James wants to stop. If Louise wants to get herself off with this, fine, but James accepts that he’ll never be the same as he was before. He can’t walk or fuck, but now James is left watching his wife’s face as she climaxes. To him, that’s cruel.
Betty receives a visit from Edith, who says that she and her husband have learned of a petition filed by the biological father, who is a doctor and runs a strip club. Austin is versatile. When asked if she knows Langham, Betty admits that Helen wasn’t impregnated by a traveling salesman passing through the town. She only said that so she wouldn’t upset her parents with the truth.
Too late for that, so Betty admits that she knows Austin through work. Betty and Helen decided that Austin would be the father of their baby. Edith counters that Helen, based on her life, was someone that Edith barely knew. Betty disagrees, saying that Helen loving Betty doesn’t change how much she loved her parents. They may disagree on this, but now there’s a baby involved.
They should come together for the love of the baby, but Edith won’t allow that. She cautions Betty to stay away from the child, calling her unfit to be a mother due to her aberrant lifestyle that she lives by herself. For once, Betty should stop thinking of herself and do what’s best for the baby. Ouch.
At a convenience store, Louise shops and, before leaving, also picks up a bottle of alcohol.
We then cut to a frazzled Virginia paying Bill a visit to discuss the competition. Three clinics use their exact protocol, down to the letter. The bigger problem is that there are thousands of suffering patients, innocent people being fed lies and misinformation. Real marriages are on the line. Bad information can harm these marriages. Bill assures Virginia that, as leaders in the field, they can find a way to regulate oversight.
For now, Virginia wants to investigate these businesses for stealing their work. The two should go in as patients to document what’s happening at other clinics. However, Virginia wants the two of them to investigate separately. There are three nearby clinics: one in Chicago, Louisville, and Topeka. Oh, look at that. Bill, seeing that Topeka is close, decides on that as his pick. Sure, why not?
If there’s one thing I appreciate about this current season, it’s that Masters of Sex is devoting a good amount of time to side characters and their respective storylines, even when they don’t factor into the main plot.
Not one to just give up a fight, it’s good that Betty is fighting for custody, even though it’s an uphill and potentially losing battle. Despite being an out and proud lesbian, we’re still in the 1960s and her being outed in a court of law could lead to serious ramifications from the public. Maybe less so at work since Bill has known about Betty being a lesbian since the beginning.
Though I wonder if Edith had a point: is Betty doing this out of the goodness of her heart or is it a selfish decision? I would think that Betty is capable of raising a child, though I don’t have anything to base that off compared to someone like Libby, Elise, or even Virginia. Betty wants a family and having lost her girlfriend, she’s in danger of losing her baby.
I’m glad that the show is continuing with this storyline and giving her time to grieve, as it would be strange to have Betty return to work, even if she did so and was solemn the entire time. It makes sense that she’s allowed to mourn Helen’s loss, and even though she’s hurting, she hasn’t lost her fighting spirit. And she’s prepared to give it her all, even lie in court, because she wants this baby.
But who is to say that Helen’s parents aren’t capable of raising the baby? Sure, they may disagree with Helen’s lifestyle, but to the public eye, they present more of a functional family than Betty does, even if she has Austin by her side. It would be easy for the two factions to put aside their differences for the baby’s sake, but it doesn’t look like Helen’s parents would acquiesce. And right now, they have no reason to bend.
Side-note, I was very pleased to see Austin return, even if brief. I thought that Teddy Sears appearing on The Flash would keep him away from Masters of Sex after Season 3, even though Austin has had an increasingly reduced role, but I liked his appearance.
More than that, him being here does follow up on his role in impregnating Helen and addresses that, due to all he’s been through with Elise, he’s not fit to be a parent. And even with Helen and Betty taking in Austin last season, good on Austin to stick by Betty, despite the odds being against them.
In addition to dealing with Betty reacting to Helen’s death, we also see how the loss has impacted Barton. He blames himself for her demise, even though he may not have been able to prevent it. I like the slight role reversal between Barton and Bill, as Barton has been the one to advise and mentor Bill when he’s been at a low point.
Now Bill gets to return the favor and remind Barton that, from personal experience, even when feeling guilty after being exonerated, he can’t let that eat away at him- he did the best that he could.
It’s also nice to see him and Bill interact at the clinic when discussing homosexuality, conversion therapy, and the novel idea of bringing gays into the study. It’s a far cry from Season 1’s “Standard Deviation” when Bill felt that homosexuals in the study would skew the data and make it inaccurate, not to mention using Barton’s homosexuality as blackmail so the study could return to the hospital.
And as progressive as the study has been, it still hasn’t really broached the topic of homosexuality to great detail. And for obvious reasons, since there are so many homosexuals still hiding in the shadows. However, I would think that, even after watching Art, Barton knew Bill well enough to know that he wouldn’t approve of something like conversion therapy, even though that apparently differs from the real life William Masters.
Also, I’m curious why Guy would complain to Barton in the first place? Sure, Betty isn’t at the office now and maybe Guy doesn’t want to directly confront Bill and Virginia, but why go through Barton? Does he sense that Barton is gay or just need an outlet?
Either way, this conversation, coupled with Bill seeing promise in him based on his prior work, helped push Art into more of a leadership role. His knowledge of the Kinsey scale offers a fresh perspective on homosexuality and ambisexuality, which society will later come to know as bisexuality. This is the sort of knowledge that Bill couldn’t get from working with Virginia, despite her being in the study longer than Art.
It’s nice to see a somewhat warmer Bill this week compared to the clinical version we’ve become accustomed to over the years. He lets Art evaluate Bob and Cherlyn on his own, he’s open and comforting when it comes to talking with Betty, and despite the risks, he takes on Louise and James’ situation through neural wiring, even though this is new scientific territory.
Like Bill scrubbing up to help Barton during Helen’s surgery, I find Bill to be at his best when he’s being a doctor because that’s his strength. But I wonder if Libby’s talks about finding another partner have had an effect on him. Coupled with Betty asking him about having things just right in terms of love, he opens up about Dody. Though I’m wondering if Dody would have come up at all had Betty not asked Bill about love.
Either way, it was nice to see Bill have a casual chat with Dody over the phone. They reminisced like old friends and this felt like something that Bill has wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t have the desire to until now.
Though with Bill having met the husband and still going to Topeka, there are many questions I hope that are addressed. For starters, I have to ask why Bill thought it was a good idea to ask someone to marry him as they were still in the hospital. Second, if Dody indeed didn’t address Bill’s letter, why was that the case? Third, was Bill really the architect of Dody’s heartbreak or are we missing something?
And briefly on Louise and James, while it seems like she has good intentions in wanting to help her husband, James saying that she just wants to get herself off seem valid. After all, he wasn’t into the sex at home and has accepted the fact that he’ll never be the man he was before. Just as Barton said that the truth comes at a high price, I’m wondering if, based on Louise’s last scene, James being blunt with her could lead to a relapse.
Then we’ve got Virginia and Nancy. You know, Virginia’s decisions still rub me the wrong way. She wants to work with Bill based on the tension between her and Art and Nancy, but given her letter, you can’t help but wonder if she just wants to be next to him. But Bill, still wary of trusting Virginia, just distances himself from her.
So Virginia finds herself paired with Nancy and not only undercuts her while speaking to the fake couple, but starts giving marriage advice to both Art and Nancy, which is hilarious, given how poorly she’s managed her own marriages, real or fake. And for Virginia to mention that Art told her instead of Nancy how the open relationship hurts him could drive a wedge between Art and Nancy.
That’s unfortunate because Nancy did appear to have some level of respect and admiration for Virginia, but since coming to the clinic, the two haven’t gotten along. Or, at least, Virginia isn’t giving Nancy a chance in the same way that Bill is forging a bond with Art. She wants to build bridges and make everyone happy, but I get the sense that she’s doing it out of reluctance.
I get Virginia’s frustration with the copycat clinics and doctors attempting to imitate Bill and Virginia’s work, but I also feel that her frustration is amplified by her father being there and receiving what she feels is misinformation. That would make sense. Virginia wants couples to get the most accurate information possible, but it hits close to home when her own father learns something that she feels could harm Edna and Harry’s marriage.
Going forward, though, I can’t wait to see how Bill and Virginia handle going undercover, with Bill’s ulterior motive being to reunite with Dody. Will that all go according to plan? Knowing this show and looking at some of Bill’s past decisions, I smell a disaster on the horizon.