A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 9: “Night and Day”

After a trip to Topeka, Bill and Virginia find themselves closer than they’ve been for most of this season.  Try as he might, Bill hasn’t been able to fight off this addiction called Virginia Johnson.  Meanwhile, Libby has a convenient and trippy encounter while Art and Nancy continue to plan their exit strategy.  This is “Night and Day.”

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The episode begins with a dream, but we quickly cut to the clinic, where Virginia presents Art and Nancy with the notes she and Bill gathered over their trip.  A cease and desist letter has been sent to the Toplin couple for copyright or patent infringement.

Nancy asks if this means that any clinic whose work inspired by Masters and Johnson is a crime, but inspiration differs from theft.  The Toplin nearly copied the protocol, word for word, instead of changing some of the wording.  However, some of the instructions are not in Bill and Virginia’s book, so the clinic needs stricter screening for potential patients.

Virginia hands everyone a nondisclosure agreement, as it would be unfortunate if someone came to work at the clinic, left with the work, and started a rival business.

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Later, Virginia tells Bill that her parents are coming to visit.  But Bill isn’t interested in news.  He goes straight in to kiss Virginia and admonishes her for not waking him up.  Bill isn’t even ready for this morning’s meeting yet.  Also, Virginia isn’t afraid of hiding that she’s sleeping with Bill.

Hey, neither Bill nor Virginia are married, so they don’t need to keep secrets anymore.  But Bill still believes that things are moving too fast, so Virginia tells him to take all the time he needs.

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Bill gets a surprise when he stops by the Thursday A.A. meeting and finds someone besides Louise chairing the meeting.  Turns out that Louise hasn’t shown up for any meetings this week.  The new chair is unaware of what happened to her, though, but even if she did, she couldn’t disclose it.

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While Art and Nancy observe Bob and Cherlyn, they discuss their situation and how to deal with the nondisclosure forms.  Nancy feels that Monday morning will give them enough time to review the paperwork, but they’ll need to shift things around.  For example, Art’s conversation with Bob Drag in regards to his treatment plan will be today, but Art has concerns of this plan, such as Bill and Virginia might object to the follow-up appointments.

Really, Art and Nancy are talking about how they may end up taking some of Bill and Virginia’s work if they start their own clinic, but Nancy’s argument is that they did all of the work.  On the other side of the glass, meanwhile, Bob and Cherlyn successfully make love.

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Back at the A.A. meeting, Bill tells the group that he’s done everything possible to resist Virginia and put up many defenses, but they all collapsed in an instant.  He’s fallen off of the wagon, but he’s asking for help.  The chair tells Bill that the people at the meeting are alcoholics, but not relationship therapists.  Bill argues that it’s an addiction nonetheless.

He’s heard everyone else’s problems and self-pitying, and even starts calling out people who drank to numb the pain.  The cycle continues because it’s not the drinking that people are addicted to anymore that Bill is addicted to Virginia.  What the people crave is the feeling bad part- the blaming, guilt, and pain makes you feel like yourself.  We only know who we are when we feel worthless.

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Harry pops by the clinic to tell Virginia that, after seeing her at the seminar, the answer to fixing his marriage is coming to the clinic where his daughter works.  And someone else can oversee the case.  Now Edna doesn’t know any of this, as Harry feels she wouldn’t have come if she did.  In fact, he hoped that Virginia would talk her mother into sex therapy.

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Bob tells Art that he wouldn’t have achieved the same results he did if he was with Bill and Virginia.  Since Art came on board, he’s blown the entire thing wide open.  Before Bob leaves, Art tells Bob that he has a proposal on a book since they’ve started the homosexuality study.  Bob is surprised to learn that Bill and Virginia aren’t involved and wants to know if they know about this idea.

And if Bob believed Art, he sells books.  And in his mind, Art and Nancy aren’t as marketable as Masters and Johnson.  So that gets Art to admit that he and Nancy are opening their own practice in New York City.

They have office space secured, too.  Bob tells Art that there’s space in his building if they need a place to live.  He’s confident that the two sides can make an arrangement.  In the meantime, Art wants Bob to keep this quiet.

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Virginia tells Bill about their potential new clients and their dwindling sex lives- she’s moved them to the front of line because that’s what a daughter does for their parents.  Edna is apparently not interested in sex anymore.  Bill doesn’t want Virginia to get in the middle of her parents’ marriage.

More than that, he’s not interested in taking the case, but Virginia doesn’t want to just stand by and watch her parents’ marriage fall apart.  Virginia will find a moment tonight to tell Edna tonight.  Bill won’t be visiting Virginia tonight because he needs to check in on Louise.  Bill admits that the A.A. meetings have indeed helped him understand what’s wrong.

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On the road to Albany, Bram advises Libby on which law classes to take.  Bram doesn’t care about his upcoming case tomorrow since it’s a test case: his client intentionally set fire to the American flag to challenge the statute.  If the court doesn’t overturn the statute, it’s just three to five years in prison.  Libby wonders who would volunteer to break the law, get arrested, and hope it works out.  She’s not that bold.

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Bill stops by Louise’s home, where James tells her that Louise normally keeps things tidy, but that hasn’t been the case as of recent.  She stumbles in late at night and sleeps off her hangover.  James is upset that Bill gave Louise hope that things would get better, and though James tried, only Louise got pleasure from their sex.  And though Bill would have spoken to the two, James is done with this whole ordeal.

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Back at the clinic, Art and Nancy go over potential clients at their future clinic.  Nancy then drops a major bombshell: she’s pregnant, but she doesn’t know who the father is.  Nancy will ask Barton about a doctor who can perform an abortion, but Art wants to keep it.  He’s willing to live with that chance, even if he’s not the father.  If this is their chance to start over, this pregnancy is the last thread that ties them to their old lives.

Someday, Art and Nancy can have their own child and all of this work will have been worth it.  Art seems disappointed.

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So Bill does indeed stop by Virginia at the best moment possible: Edna and Harry are home as well.  So the four sit down with Bill telling everyone about Jenny winning a prize in a science fair.  Harry found the picture of the astronauts planting the flag on the moon to be the saddest thing he’s ever seen.  All around the astronauts was nothing but an empty black void, as if they were lost.

While Virginia has Edna help her with the dishes, Harry tells Bill that he’s been down in the dumps about his marriage.  He doesn’t know if it hurts more to stick together or quit.

Later, Virginia tells Bill that she tried to speak with Edna about the situation, but Edna felt that Virginia was being dramatic.  No more talk about parents, though.  Bill does want to talk about him and Virginia, though, and whatever the hell this is between them.  Not Virginia, as she needs this, so the passion begins.

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After a quick scene of Art overseeing Nancy talking to Barton, we cut to Bram and Libby running into the middle of Hippie Central.  Traffic is at a standstill because of a concert filled with three days of peace, love, and music.  Yeah, it’s Woodstock.  Because why not?  The two return to their car to find it now occupied by a sleeping girl who is cradling the keys.

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Bill explores another bar and finds a drunken Louise talking to some bar patrons who are in town for a sales convention.  They’re apparently time travelers.  Louise is ready for a scolding, but Bill isn’t here for that.  Instead, he tells her that she’s not the only one who has fallen off of the wagon.  He has as well, two nights in a row.  Since the both have fallen, Louise offers Bill a drink.

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Nancy tells Art that Guy has cleared her appointments for the afternoon so she can visit a doctor who can see her right away.  Art hates this, though.  He at least wants to come with Nancy, but she tells him that this is her responsibility, not his.  That much is true, yes.

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Downstairs at the diner, Virginia tells Edna that she’s worried about both her and Harry, given that he came to her to talk about the marriage and the missing spark.  Edna balks at the idea of treatment, but Virginia asks her mother if she’s finding herself sexually satisfied as of recent.  If this doesn’t change, the marriage is on the line.

At least Harry is admitting that there’s a problem.  But then Edna asks if Harry brought up Colleen.  See, she and her husband ran a dry cleaners.  Edna found one of Colleen’s notes.  Harry didn’t deny it.  After that, he didn’t hide what was happening.  He saw her for six more years.  Edna wasn’t able to leave him while she had a baby.  The two got past it and had happy years after that.

This is why Edna didn’t want to talk to her daughter about this subject.  But Virginia is sorry that her mother had to go through a painful experience.  She feels that she can separate personal feelings from her work since she’s heard many similar stories.  Those couples have come in for treatment, and Virginia feels that she can fix this as well.

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A now sloshed Bill knocks back another shot.  Louise isn’t going to chair another meeting since the day is gone, but she does say she’ll go back tomorrow.  She then overhears a song that she and James danced to at their wedding all night long.  With that, Bill beckons Louise for a dance.  Bill tries to apologize for encouraging Louise to work with James, but she’s the one who believed that her marriage could change.

Louise knows what her marriage is because she made it that way.  If James had the keys that night, things might have changed.  Bill says that what Louise and James have feels like punishment instead of love.

If she stays, things will get worse, so Bill wants her to leave, but Louise feels guilt for putting James in a wheelchair in the first place.  She’d be trading one form of punishment for another, and she doesn’t know if things would be any worse than her current situation.  But at some point, you gotta make a choice, and she’s choosing to stay with James.

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Back at Woodstock, the trapped girl convinces herself that she’s dying.  Libby tries her luck and asks the girl if she can come into the car to talk.  The dying girl, who finally introduces herself as Allison, played by Chelsea Maidhof, welcomes Libby into the car.  Libby tells Allison a secret: sometimes she feels like she’s dying because a sensible person she knew is fading away.  So Allison asks Libby to guide her.

Okay, so Allison asks Libby to guide her.  Sure.  Allison sees nothing but darkness.  Libby wants Allison to take a step forward and let go of everything she’s holding onto that’s weighing her down- all of the people who have hurt her, the disappointments, betrayals, leave it all behind.  It’s of no use to her anymore.  The hardest part is letting go of yourself.  After counting to three, Allison does it.  She died.  She had to die so she could be reborn.

Well, that was fucking weird.

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We return to the clinic, where Virginia tells Harry that she’ll be overseeing the case, including two separate intake cases.  So Virginia goes into clinical mode, even not wanting Harry and Edna to be referred to as her parents.  Harry tells Virginia that they haven’t had good sex in a long time.  Sex was last most satisfying in the beginning.

Virginia asks if Harry has ever been unfaithful in the marriage, and Harry’s answer is no.  Not ever.  And this gets Virginia to ask about Colleen and Edna confronting Harry about it.  Virginia is just trying to figure out of this affair is why Harry is having these issues.  Harry counters that he and Edna never had issues with sex back then.  He kept having sex with Edna during the affair.

When asked how he could do such a thing, Harry admits that this wasn’t a good idea.  He thought this was supposed to be about Virginia listening to him without judgment, but Virginia just wants to know how Harry could do this to his wife.  Oh, but then Harry flips it, as he knows that Virginia had affairs with two married men.  Harry isn’t judging his daughter, though.  Maybe Virginia wanted out before the passion did.

Or before she found herself bored by her marriage, as is the case with Edna and Harry.  Virginia says that the only one thing more boring than a one night stand is a string of them.  Under the surface, they’re all the same.

Small talk, a few frantic moments of pleasure ending with phone numbers exchanged only to be discarded.  But Edna and Harry know each other and built a real life together.  And that’s the point: they are at least together.  But Harry asks why Virginia doesn’t have that if it’s indeed what she wants.

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At home, Nancy tells Art that it’s all over.  He nods without a word and joins his wife.

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We return to Woodstock, where Bram tells Libby that he’s phoned into his firm, which is willing to pick up the two via helicopter.  But Libby wants to stay, as she’ll be joining Allison and her friends.  Libby has made some life-changing decisions.

She’s registered for night classes, in six years she’ll be a lawyer, and she can keep her job with Herb.  Her dreams aren’t reasonable, but outlandish and dangerous, like burning a flag.  Bram, though, won’t be joining Libby.  With one more kiss, Libby continues on the road to Woodstock.  She doesn’t even take her shit with her.  Apparently she has everything that she needs.

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Okay, so back at the clinic, Guy tells Virginia that Bill isn’t present, which isn’t strange for a Friday since he attends A.A. meetings at a nearby Baptist church.

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On the elevator up, Art tells Barton about Nancy’s condition.  She’ll be fine, but Barton does apologize to Art.  Upstairs, Art enters the private closet and listens to the conversation between Nancy and Barton.  Seriously, for keeping all of these recordings, Bill, Virginia, and Lester didn’t exactly do a good job safeguarding them.

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We flash back to this conversation, where Barton gives Nancy a referral for the appointment.  Barton understands why Nancy is hesitant to raise a child when the parentage is in question, but it isn’t- the child belongs to Art.

A few weeks ago, Nancy realized that she hadn’t worn her diaphragm with Art the night before.  Even though Art was keen to start a family, Nancy’s reason for not keeping the child is that she never wanted to get married.

Art did, but Nancy just agreed.  The wedding ring can be taken off at any time and doesn’t mean anything.  She doesn’t want to leave Art, but needs to know that she can and that there’s a door leading out, even if she never leaves.  A baby closes that door forever and means that Nancy can never leave.  That’s a bitch move, Nancy.

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Virginia arrives at the aforementioned A.A. meeting, but Bill and the others have already ended for the evening.  So Virginia sticks around and asks what happens at the meetings.  He walks her through the process, but Bill admits to Virginia that he’s not an alcoholic.  For a long time, he thought he was addicted to Virginia.  He knows now that she isn’t an addiction.

Bill has lived in a dark place for a long time now, but he doesn’t want to live there anymore.  And he doesn’t know if Virginia is the way out or if she’s another way for him to stay in it.  But Virginia is just as afraid of this as Bill is.

Could it be so bad that they’re scared together?  They’ve leapt into the unknown and tried many new things before except just being, like waking up together and having breakfast.  You know, normal couple stuff.

But that means going all in to have a life together, for better or worse, in good times or bad, sickness and health, you know how this goes.  Bill offers Virginia his hand as the episode comes to a close.

We’re winding down the fourth season of Masters of Sex and there’s a lot at play in this episode as the characters here make very big, sometimes risky decisions that will have a major impact on their lives.  There’s no guarantee that their choice will have them land on their feet, but that fear of the unknown is what makes us feel alive.  Despite the risk, it can feel invigorating to take a blind leap of faith.

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That works both ways, as Louise tells Bill that she’s not willing to take the risk of leaving James just to have a chance at a better life.  Not only is she unsure how her life would turn out, but she feels that remaining with James is her penance for what she’s done- not just in the accident, but for taking advantage of him when he’s unable to enjoy any pleasure from sex.

It’s nice of her to accept her share of responsibility in this and not, as James did, put the blame all on Bill.  She wanted satisfaction, but James wouldn’t be able to provide that any longer.  A selfish decision, but one she accepts.  And given Bill’s talk with her, I hope that she manages to bounce back and quit the bottle.  If not for herself, then for the people in the A.A. meetings that she leads.

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I like that Bill is still able to relate with Louise in regards to relapsing since he’s falling back into loving Virginia.  What he’s resisted for so long has sucked him back in and while Louise can always put down the drink, Bill may be all too willing to give into his feelings for Virginia.

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Is this a true catharsis or some kind of guilt?  After all, he says that the guilt and pain make you feel like yourself.  And for all the harm that Bill and Virginia have caused each other and the people around them, their guilt and turmoil binds them and they have a relationship they couldn’t get with their former spouses.

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So what choice is there for the two other than getting married?  They have a chance to leap into the unknown and be that couple that Edna and Harry are no longer.  Given that the two are coworkers and have just left one legal scandal, many would find this unconventional, but they’re making a conscious effort to hold onto the passion they already have and go further with their love for each other.

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Virginia seems to want this much more in order to avoid becoming her parents, who have lost all passion in their marriage.  I’m glad that she addresses how awkward it would be to accept her parents as clients and not just blindly accept them to play favorites.  Edna and Harry are a couple in trouble like anyone else, but this still strikes a nerve with Virginia when she learns about Harry’s infidelity.

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And though she has every right to be angry at her father, who rightly calls her out on her bullshit, she’s in no position to take the high ground, given her flings with Bill, Dan Logan, and countless one night stands.  But she got nothing from them compared to what she got with Dan and especially Bill.  Given how much she’s still pining over him, and what became of these two in real life, them wanting to get married was only a matter of time.

When they’ll have time to do this before the season ends, I don’t know, given how Virginia is so focused on the copyright infringement from copycat clinics.  And while this is a storyline I hope continues, I see it being pushed to the side in favor of Bill and Virginia pursuing their marriage.

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Speaking of pursuing, since that’s the best transition I have, I’m still enjoying Libby’s transformation this season, though her and Bram conveniently and randomly arriving at Woodstock was too on the nose for my liking.  I get how this is helping her recognize the life-changing decisions she’s made, but did the two have to walk right into Woodstock of all things?

It’s minor and we aren’t even there very long since the scenes are here to help Libby change her mind on making bold decisions.  Burning a flag just to challenge a statute when there’s no guarantee that you’ll win, that’s risky and, some would argue, stupid. But the perpetrator made that choice because they chose to be a risk-taker.  For the longest time, Libby hasn’t been that sort of person.

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But now that she’s on her own and becoming more immersed with the world around her, she’s daring herself to leap into the unknown.  Like Allison, she has to let go of her past self in order to be reborn.

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Oh, Nancy.  Whenever I like her, the show has her do something that makes me dislike her.  Again, she’s right about Virginia treating her like shit.  Her drive is admirable for wanting to start her own clinic based on taking some of Bill and Virginia’s clients and protocol, but the problem is what impact this has on her relationship with Art.

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Not necessarily because of the abortion because that’s her decision, but lying to Art about it and acting as if being with Art would be a burden due to a baby.  If Nancy knows that she can leave at any time, what’s stopping her?  If she’s still swinging, she’s already got one foot out the door, but saying that the baby means her way out is sealed forever is petty.

She’s doing well for herself, so not like she’s unprepared for motherhood, but that will still lock her to Art.

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I’m not saying Art has to be involved in the decision of what to do with the baby, but at least be honest about the child’s parentage and how she wants the option to leave Art. Holding that from him is just a cruel way to leave him in the dark.  If anything, Art should be the one to leave, but he’s too deep into this plan to open a clinic with Nancy. And he’s told Bob Drag about the proposed clinic, so someone else already knows about it.

With the season finale upon us, the show has put the characters into some very interesting positions.  Libby, set on becoming a lawyer, finds herself in Hippie Town with the new man of her life, Art and Nancy still have plans to start anew despite their lingering issues, while Bill and Virginia are set to tie the knot.  We’ll see how it all plays out in the season four finale of Masters of Sex.

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