A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4 Finale: “The Eyes of God”

Well, here we are.  Life for William Masters and Virginia Johnson has been up, down, and all around in a season that comes to its conclusion with them choosing to tie the knot. Is everything going to end in happiness for everyone?  Let’s find out as we jump into “The Eyes of God.”

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The episode begins with Virginia awakening to the sound of Bill singing while he shaves.  As she joins him in the bathroom, she tells him that the marriage could take place at Hugh Hefner’s mansion.  Brides there have even appeared in puffs of smoke.  Virginia plans to head out before the kids see her.  She then reminds Bill that he has an intake with her parents.

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As Virginia heads out, she spots Libby returning in a hippie van, which she got from a man named Patches.  Libby doesn’t regret a moment from Woodstock.  She’s fine with Virginia and Bill being together, but then Virginia tells her that the two plan to get married, and Libby is the first to know.  Libby is glad, but she’s concerned about the children being confused.  Virginia hoped that the two of them could figure this out together.

Virginia, why can’t you ever handle your own shit?

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At the clinic, Barton and Guy congratulate Bill and Virginia.  Guy asks about the wedding planner, and since the two don’t have one, they select Guy for the responsibility because of course.  Barton is to stand as witness.

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Just then, Edna and Harry arrive for the intake.  Bill walks the two through the questionnaire process and begins with their current sexual activity.  Virginia, briefly interrupted by Lester, listens in on the session from the recording room.

Edna wants to know how revealing of this private information helps.  Once you say the ugly and secret things, they’re out there for good.  Edna admits that she’s done her best to be a good wife and that should be enough.

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If Harry knows Edna well enough, he should know that he’s asking too much.  With that, Edna leaves.  Harry is out, too, if Edna leaves.  He’s done with marriage.  Virginia chases after her father to get him to stay, but Harry is now even more upset that his daughter listened in on their conversation.  Virginia doesn’t want her parents to break up- there are worse things than driving each other crazy, like growing old all by yourself.

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But again, with two failed marriages of her own, Harry asks how Virginia can say that.  Before Virginia can follow her father, Art arrives to discuss an urgent matter.  He tells her and Bill that Nancy plans to open her own clinic using their work and patient names, particularly the wealthy one.  Right now, Nancy is in New York to sign paperwork for office space.  Art was with her, but no longer.

He’s facing hard truths about his marriage.  Art tells the two that they didn’t deserve to have their trust betrayed and hopes that it’s not too late.

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So Bram walks the team through a process of cutting off Nancy’s breach while she’s ahead.  Barton doesn’t believe that Nancy would do this, but Bram counters that it’s often a trusted employee who would do this.  Bill and Virginia need to get to Bob Drag and tell them that any book on homosexuality based on their work, will be from them, not Nancy.  Guy goes back to the important thing: the wedding.  Priorities.

This is news to Lester and Bram, so Bill reveals that, yes, he and Virginia are getting married.  Lester wishes the two the very best and hopes they don’t find it as soul-crushing that he has with Jane.

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Libby gets to work on making phone calls to register for law school when Bram enters, glad to see her after a week.  He missed her a lot.  What does he mean by a lot?

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Fucking in the van.  That’s what he means.  Bram isn’t a fan of Libby’s van, but Libby calls it an awakening.  Me?  I’ll just never get tired of a topless Libby.

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As Guy makes calls and Lester goes to work putting new locks in place, Nancy calls Barton to speak with her.  Nancy, though, is at home when Virginia and an officer arrive to search the premises.  Nancy isn’t intimidated by Virginia’s threats since never signed the nondisclosure agreement.

Nancy believes that the two of them will end up alone, so Virginia brings up that she’s marrying Bill.  She’ll end up happy, while Nancy will not.  Nancy, though, maintains that Virginia won’t find anything- not even her happy ending.

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That evening at House Masters, Libby tells Bill all about her experience at Woodstock and a doctor who inspired her to enroll at law school at Berkeley.  The kids would come with Libby, but Bill still wants to spend time with them.  It’s taken years to find a path forward, and while Libby is happy about that, it’s time for her life to fall into place as well.  Bill maintains that she can do that in St. Louis.

Libby has no intention of fighting for the kids, but Bill is worried if the kids will think that he doesn’t care if he won’t fight for them.  Libby isn’t about to pay for Bill’s selfishness just because he spent years as an absent father.

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Then they hear a noise.  The two rush out to see Johnny driving away in the car, and doing so shitty of a job that Bill is able to catch up to him.  Johnny is tired of the fighting as Bill embraces his son.  Bill apologizes that Johnny had to hear that.

Johnny tells Bill that he doesn’t plan to move- he’ll stay in St. Louis with Bill because it’s the right thing to do.  Bill won’t have friends or his mother, so if Johnny leaves, Bill won’t have anyone.  Not even Bill deserves to be alone.

Bill informs Johnny that he and Virginia are about to get married.  He didn’t want to hurt Libby, but adult lives are complicated and as much as he’s tried, he couldn’t change his feelings for Virginia, no matter how much he tried.  He admits to many mistakes, but there’s still love in it.  He even still loves Libby, but not the way he loves Virginia.  As such, Johnny won’t stay if he doesn’t have to.

Bill tells Johnny that he doesn’t have feel responsible for adults- they have to figure out their problems for themselves.

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Virginia meets with her mother and apologizes, but Edna considers it a relief.  She knows that Virginia won’t understand how she feels, and at least agrees with Harry on how baffled they are at why Virginia wants to keep them together.  So Virginia drops the bombshell that she and Bill are getting married, hopefully, next month.  She hoped that Edna and Harry could walk her down the aisle.

But Edna considers the marriage a mistake.  For years, she attended to her father, but she’s now done with sex.  Hell, she has been for years.  Now she crawl into a bed alone with a book in peace.  Now Virginia does bring up that Edna told her to nail down Bill, but Edna was speaking from fear.  Plus, given Virginia’s age and what she’s endured, Edna wonders if her daughter needs another failed marriage.

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Virginia lays out her woes to Bill and wants to push the wedding back so planning doesn’t feel overwhelmed.  Okay, so Bill wants to have the wedding tomorrow with just the two of them.  After all, they only have to do what they want.  The two have each other, so their marriage should reflect that, but Virginia feels that marriage is bigger than that.  All they’ve believed in has come true and their marriage would be inspiring.

But Bill doesn’t care about people.  That much is true.  They need to separate themselves from Masters and Johnson and push aside their distractions.  They need to make this about them in the eyes of God.  Roll credits.  Bill concedes that Barton can still witness, but just him.

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Nancy awakens and finds Art standing before her because he forgot his high school wrestling trophies, which now mattered to him.  Nancy didn’t believe that Art had betrayal in him.  She’s impressed and sad at the same time.  Art is still upset about Nancy aborting their child.  Even though Nancy may not love Art, he could have found love with a child and Nancy took it from him.

Art will never again swallow everything that he is and feels for the sake of someone else.  However, Nancy admits that Art was wrong about one thing: she does love Art, but couldn’t imagine being with a child.  What kind of mother would she be?  Worse than Virginia?  Art could have loved a child for both of them.  Nancy still tries to convince Art that New York could be a fresh start.

But Art isn’t backing down.  He is a shrink, after all.  And Nancy confessed the one thing she knew would end her marriage.  Sometimes what we want can surprise even us.  And with that, Art and his trophies leave.

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At the clinic, Bill and Virginia talk with Bob Drag about their work and his supposed loyalty to them, based on his deal with Art and Nancy.  Bob maintains that Art put in the work, but he’s not a known entity in the publishing world.  Point is that Masters and Johnson are a household name and, as Virginia says, their book on homosexuality would chronicle the homosexual transition.  As in conversion.  And Bob doesn’t like that.  Neither does Bill.

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Bob tells Bill and Virginia that the book is theirs.  He’s not sure how this mix-up happened now in the first place.  Virginia later tells Bill that she just said what was needed to get the book back.  She then decides to head home to get changed.  Virginia doesn’t want the two to see each other before the small ceremony.

In enters Guy to tell them that Hugh Hefner has offered the mansion for the marriage.  Bill and Virginia want that plan on hold for now.

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Art meets Bob at a bar and learns that Bob plans to do the homosexual book with Virginia and Bill, and Art is fine with that since he’s leaving the work.  Bob is upset by that since Art is a great doctor.  As for Nancy, that’s not difficult for Art anymore.  Bob is sorry about what Art has endured, though he feels the two understand each other very well.

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Then Bob confronts Art in the men’s room and kisses him on the grounds that he’s tipsy.  Oh, it may be more than that, Bob.

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As Libby packs, Bram is upset that she’s moving far away.  He’s proud of her, but also loves her.  Libby doesn’t know how the two will keep in touch.  She’s just being realistic.  If the two find their way to each other, fine, but if not, it wasn’t meant to be.  She’s happy about the wonderful time they’ve had.

Bram won’t allow her to go, but it’s not up to him.  Libby won’t organize her life around a man anymore, but Bram will organize his around hers.  For the time being, Libby can go, but one day, Bram will be there.

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Back at the clinic, Guy informs Virginia of an important phone call: it’s Art, who tells her that Bob Drag kissed him like Rhett kissed Scarlett in Gone with the Wind.  Bit of a random reference, Art.  In his opinion, Bob is an active homosexual, so if Virginia wants a success story of turning homosexual impulses to heterosexual, Bob Drag is not that.  Art’s fear is that this negates the book entirely.  Art maintains that he at least tried his best.

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Virginia promises to give this news to Bill.  As Virginia prepares to leave, Dody arrives.  She and Bill talk in the diner about Dody’s cousin who just moved to Chestefield, so Dody is staying with her.  But Dody tells Bill that seeing him again helped upend her marriage.  It had to happen since she’s been living like a visitor in her life for so long.  Seeing Bill helped clarify another truth: she was always meant to be with Bill.

A stunned Bill reveals that he’s getting married today to Virginia, so Dody says that she would like to properly meet her someday.  It would make Dody happy to see Bill happy, but he tells her that no one actually knows about the marriage except for her and Barton.  Dody wonders what it would be like if the two ended up as friends, but Bill reminds her that they already are.

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In the parking lot, Nancy confronts Barton and says that he’s the last person she wanted to hurt.  She feels that the world of sexual therapy is exploding and Bill and Virginia are holding onto something that’s slipping from their grasp.  Nancy plans to take the work places that Bill and Virginia could only imagine, but she isn’t saying that the two won’t stop what they are doing.

However, Virginia’s ambition is pushing the work into an area that could be their undoing: gay conversion therapy.  Barton doesn’t buy that, so Nancy presents a recording and tells Barton to do his own research.

Wait, how’d she get that?

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Whatever.  Anyway, Virginia arrives at a court building to check in for the wedding, but she can’t do that since both parties aren’t present.  So the court clerk, played by Aloma Wright- hey, it’s Laverne from Scrubs– tells Virginia to have a seat.

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Back at the clinic, Barton tells Bill that he won’t be going to the wedding if it’s true that Bill and Virginia are indeed publishing a book advocating gay conversion.  Bill doesn’t deny that he and Virginia took back their work from Art and Nancy and will publish a book, but Barton reminds Bill that he promised he wasn’t advocating conversion therapy.  Bill admits that yes, Bob Drag redirected his heterosexual impulses.

Barton is stunned by Bill’s clinical take on the situation after everything Barton suffered, not to mention the hell he put Margaret and Vivian through and how he nearly killed himself just trying to get rid of his homosexuality.  Bill doesn’t want to see that again, but he says what he and Virginia are exploring is nothing like the torture that Barton endured.

They’re just taking what they knew about heterosexual couples and redirecting it towards people like Bob Drag.

Bill felt it was his duty to help Bob change, but Barton says that people like him shouldn’t have to change.  And then Barton brings up how Virginia may be pushing Bill towards this conversion work.  Barton is and always has been fond of Virginia, but he feels that she has always had the most to prove, maybe because she doesn’t have credentials.

And that’s where Bill gets aggressive, as he won’t allow Barton to malign Virginia.  Barton won’t abide by this and will say what needs to be said.  Given their relationship of over 30 years, Barton admits that he loves Bill like a son.  But if Bill uses his pulpit to advocate gay conversion, Barton will make it his life’s work to see Bill discredited.

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Because Bill is at the clinic, he’s 13 minutes late for the marriage, so the clerk presents Virginia with a box of tissues.  After all, the court house closes at 5 pm.

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Libby is all packed up and ready to head off in the Hippie Mobile as she and the kids head off to start their new, bright future.

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Virginia sits at the courthouse all by her lonesome and prepares to leave, but Bill and Guy finally arrive, Guy taking the spot of witness.  So indeed, Bill and Virginia take their sacred vows, place their rings, and are pronounced man and wife.

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As the two head out, a cameraman takes a quick picture.  Odd, considering this is not only a private affair, but there’s no telling how he found out about the ceremony.  As the two head out, cameramen and journalists approach from all directions.  With the courthouse locked, Virginia proposes giving the paparazzi just one photo.  Bill doesn’t look so happy about this.

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And as cameramen snap photos of the newly wed Masters and Johnson, the fourth season of Masters of Sex comes to a close.

By season’s end, I sort of see Bill and Virginia standing on a house of cards that appears stable for now, but you can spot an occasional wobble or imbalance that threatens to ruin the entire arrangement.  Despite everything the two have endured, Masters and Johnson are now wed and prepared to spend the rest of their personal and professional lives together.

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This comes at the cost of…not necessarily burning bridges, but hindering most of the relationships with the people around them.  With the exception of Libby, who gets a decent and happy sendoff, we end on mixed notes for Bill and Virginia’s friends and family.

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The door is left open to explore the potential fallout or rebuilding of these relationships in a future season, but as of now, while Bill and Virginia are wed, others are left with their hopes dashed, as if wherever Bill and Virginia go, they leave a path of despair behind them, whether intentional or by accident.  What started as a bright and happy intro with this finale ends with a feeling of uncertainty.

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But we’ll get to that later.  As much as I’ve disliked some of Libby’s decisions and demeanor in past seasons, I have enjoyed her arc this time around.  Free from Bill, in love with Bram, and with law school in her future, Libby has made a major turnaround from the quiet housewife we saw back in the first season.

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She’s independent, outspoken, assertive, and doesn’t back down just because Bill doesn’t like being called out for his shitty parenting.  And that argument not only felt genuine, but I feel they both had a point.  Libby shouldn’t have to and won’t have to fight for the kids and she’s waited long enough to let her life fall into place on her terms, not a man’s.

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More than that, she doesn’t feel obligated to stay in one place because Bram will miss her. That’s great for Bram, but he has advocated that Libby think outside the box and saw a future law career for her.  If he does care for her, he has to be willing to let her go, and he is.  Unlike Bill, Bram is willing to sacrifice the closeness of Libby so she can pursue her dreams.

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And while he doesn’t have a leg to stand on as far as his parenting goes, Bill has made strides to improve his relationship with the kids.  For all his faults and strained bond with Johnny, I did like him assuring his son that he doesn’t need to try and feel responsible for adults.  They’re complicated people and right now, Johnny should just enjoy being a kid.

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That said, given how complicated Johnny’s relationship has been with his father, he’s come a long way since throwing Bill’s work in the water last season.  Then, he hated Bill, but now, he initially refuses to leave St. Louis because not even Bill, as bad as he’s been, deserves to be by himself.  It was a very warm exchange between the two and felt like, by episode’s end, Johnny, though hesitant, was ready to let his father go.

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All that in mind, it is upsetting to see Libby go if this may be the last in which we see her.  I can’t imagine Masters of Sex juggling a storyline in California in addition to St. Louis, and while there wasn’t much subtlety to Libby’s storyline this season, this felt like an appropriate point to end her character arc if we never see her again.  She’s free, has a goal in mind, and is ready to begin the rest of her life.

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The same can’t be said for Dody, who came all the way to visit Bill and tell him that she’s relocating.  I’ll admit, it was sad to see the heartbreak on Dody’s face when she learned that Bill was getting married soon, but at the same time, I’m glad that they have remained friends.  And since she’s making this huge move, optimistic as this sounds, I don’t think this will be the last we see of Dody.

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As I’ve said before, Nancy had every right to be upset at the shitty way Virginia treated her, but her revenge wasn’t well thought out.  Once Art learned about her aborting the child, it was clear that he would try to get back at her and he did.  If Nancy wanted to start her own clinic and get the recognition she felt that she deserved, fine, but don’t do it by taking the work and research of the very people who hired you in the first place.

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It felt so sudden and half-assed that Nancy deserved to end up where she did by episode’s end.  She brought it on herself and she drove Art away in the process. The most she could do is taunt Virginia by claiming that she won’t get her happy ending.

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However, she did manage one win with giving Barton the recording on Bill and Virginia seemingly accepting the idea of gay conversion.  Side-note, how did Nancy get the recording in the first place?  Lester changed the locks, right?  And I’m sure if Nancy entered the clinic, someone, or at least Guy, would have stopped her or alerted the proper channels.

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Anyway, while Nancy didn’t succeed at being able to start a clinic, she is successful at driving a wedge between Bill and Barton.  You would think that these people could be more careful since their entire office is bugged.  But Barton was right: Virginia is ambitious. Even if just to save the book, it was wrong of her to say that the book would chronicle homosexual conversion.

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This goes against what Bill stands for.  He saw back in “Parallax” how society tries to convert homosexuals.  And we saw Barton’s suicide attempt and how much that hurt Margaret and Vivian.  Now that he’s out and proud of who he is, the very idea that Bill or Virginia would advocate or include anything related to conversion in their book is a slap in the face.

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And it’s a shame if this is how Barton’s relationship with Bill and Virginia ends.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be adversaries or be put in a situation where he might have to discredit the two of them, but Virginia has forced his hand.  And as noble as it may be for Bill to defend Virginia, Barton and Nancy are right: Virginia is ambitious, and her current trajectory has driven away one of her biggest allies.

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Virginia’s overconfidence often gets the best of her, and that’s very prevalent here.  She wants to protect the book?  Fine, but that means saying that you’re in favor of conversion. Whether she means it, it’s still recorded.

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And as we’ve seen in previous seasons, she learned here that she can’t save every couple, even if it’s her parents.  While Bill and Virginia are set to tie the knot, Edna and Harry are all too anxious to be rid of one another.  Based on Virginia’s experiences with George, Bill, and Dan, she knows what it’s like to drive away a significant other and end up alone.  She doesn’t want that for her parents, but she’s not a miracle worker.

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The fact that, despite the craziness of the season, she and Bill still get married at the last second is a miracle in and of itself.  But she continues to go by “Masters and Johnson” to the press, even though that’s just their marketable, household name.  And it doesn’t look like she’s told Bill about Bob Drag kissing Art, telegraphed as it was, thus negating the book.

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With Libby gone and him revealing his plans to Dody, Bill is now wed with the woman who truly gets him.  But based on that final moment, I didn’t get the sense of warmth with Bill and Virginia that I got with some of his interactions with Libby and Dody this season.  With Virginia, there looks to be some anxiousness about what the future holds.

That holds for the show as well.  At the time of this posting, unlike Ray DonovanMasters of Sex has yet to be renewed for a fifth season.  And while I hope the show doesn’t go the way of Penny Dreadful when there’s so much to tell, the future is uncertain.

What will become of Bill and Virginia’s marriage?  Will we follow-up on Libby and her law school adventures?  How far will Barton go at discrediting Bill and Virginia?  Is the book in jeopardy now?  And what became of Betty’s custody battle?  With the future unknown as of now, it’s anyone’s guess.  But for the moment, here’s hoping we get a chance to further explore this world in the fifth season of Masters of Sex.

Update: Well, should’ve mentioned this sooner since the news has been out for awhile, but apparently “The Eyes of God” was indeed the swan song for Masters of Sexas Showtime has decided to cancel the drama after four seasons.  While I had my issues with Season Four, it was still enjoyable to watch and I was curious to see what the future held in store for the characters.

But looks like that won’t be the case.  With that said, on the off-chance that anyone is still reading, I do want to thank those who have followed or took any time to read my unnecessarily long recaps and ramblings on this show.  It was the first program I blogged about and it’s been fun getting to know these characters, see their conflicts, and watch them grow as people.

Masters of Sex had its flaws and took some liberties, but even with its flaws, I had fun watching this.  Like Penny Dreadful earlier in 2016, it’s the end of this chapter for Masters and Johnson.  Thank you all for reading and take care.

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.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 8: “Topeka”

So Bill has an old friend who is living in Topeka, which is just where he and Virginia happen to be headed to look up a clinic with a program similar to theirs.  Surely nothing can go wrong here.

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The episode begins with Virginia telling Guy to bill hers and Bill’s appointments, but he didn’t get that far, even though the appointments are in the morning.  Bill, meanwhile, apologizes to Dody for causing her stress because of the letter.  However, because of a last minute business trip, he hopes that he can meet Dody in Topeka.  The husband can come along, too, in order for Bill to put his mind at ease about his intentions.

Virginia tells Bill that the clinics only take married couples, which is why Guy couldn’t get far.  As such, Bill suggests that they just go to Topeka together.  Virginia is surprised, but agrees.

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The next day, Virginia and Bill give Nancy, Art, and Guy some last minute instructions.  In private, Virginia apologizes for crossing the line and talking about Nancy’s marriage, but Nancy is glad to know how Art really feels.

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Once Bill and Virginia leave, Nancy and Art enjoy a breath of fresh air with the others gone.  Art figures that Virginia is going to take advantage of this trip and hopes the Masters and Johnson method will work on them.

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At the diner, Libby tells Bram about her observing a divorce case where she nearly went mad.  She’s surprised to learn that Bram is still married, but only on a paper that remains unsigned.  He has a great lawyer who puts his divorce at the bottom of his list of priorities.  And then Bram breaks a crown due to a walnut shell in his food.  Libby offers to drive him to a doctor.

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On the road, Virginia preps a tape record to tape their conversations as she and Bill go over their cover stories.  English nobility is out of the question, so Bill goes with the name Earl.  Virginia, meanwhile, is Ingrid Swanson.  They bicker about who has the fake sexual problem and use the Clavermore story as their backstory.  Virginia, by the way, isn’t a fan of Bill’s southern accent.

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Austin, now officially Betty’s husband, arrives at the clinic and tells Guy that Betty will be fine when she gets the baby.  Between now and a few weeks when the two file for custody, Austin needs to prove that he’s capable of financially supporting a baby, so he’s here to pick up Betty’s paycheck and present the Virility Vacuum.  Or, as Lester bluntly calls it, a penis pump.

But Austin calls it a cure for impotence and still hard science.  Lester cautions Guy against falling for Austin’s ruse, but even though Austin wants to make his case, neither Bill nor Virginia are at the clinic.  Well, he goes to get some pamphlets and paperwork instead.

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Libby returns to the diner with a dental bill due to Bram being accosted by a stray walnut.  The manager isn’t interested since he hears many of these situations, but Libby says that due to Bram breaking a crown, he lost wages from not being in court.

The manager isn’t interested in hearing Libby’s case, given how she’s been to the diner before because she got an order wrong.  She’s a secretary, not a lawyer, so the manager tells Libby to leave lawsuits to those with the degrees.

Well, that sounds like a Gribble of an idea.

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Back in Topeka, Bill and Virginia sit with their doctors: Marcia and Harvey Toplin, played by actual married couple Rosy Rosemont and Stephen Root.  The Toplins want their clients to see this as a holiday and opportunity to fall in love all over again.

Parts of the process are more productive when there’s division among gender lines.  It’s not standard, though.  Years of working with couples and their intake method- a questionnaire- allows couples to learn things about themselves that they never knew.

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Art and Nancy speak with the Clavermore couple about the incident when Mr. Clavermore first realized that he could not ejaculate.  Just before he could climax, he heard a noise and the door opened.  He saw their daughter in the doorway.

At the same time, Bill and Virginia present their case to Marcia and Harvey.  Bill couldn’t stop.  He had to finish.  Since the male can manipulate himself, it’s time for the female to learn about stimulating the husband.

It’s a nice juxtaposition, I will admit.  Anyway, a man may feel too shame, which is a powerful inhibitor.  Bill is asked when he previously experienced shame.  To that Bill says he never experienced that feeling before.  Marcia and Harvey don’t buy that, so they press Bill to give an actual answer.

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Virginia jumps in, telling Marcia and Harvey that she’s had a very satisfying sex life with her husband.  The two have been open with their desires and willing to express themselves.  As such, nothing is off limits between the two, even things like roleplay and toys.  Marcia and Harvey ask if either Bill or Virginia were involved with other people when they met.  There’s a long pause, but Bill admits that he was married.

Perhaps the disapproval from Bill’s son is really what he feels from his former life had she walked in and witnessed Bill having sex with Virginia.  Or maybe Bill is just condemning himself and feels that he can’t have a happily ever after, undeserving of finishing what he started.  The boy watching at the door could be Bill.

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The Clavermore couple tells Art and Nancy that they’d prefer to experiment in the privacy of their hotel room, though before leaving, Charles would like to see the rest of the clinic.  As Nancy shows Charles around, Nina tells Art that Charles isn’t interested in the treatment.

He’s falling in love with other businesses.  The asbestos business belongs to his father’s, but to Charles, it’s a path to other businesses.  Hmm.  For example, Charles once bought an ice cream parlor.  He’s even interested in the clinic.

Nancy tells the couple that Bill and Virginia are in Topeka to investigate copycat clinics, but Nancy wants to open her own clinic since she and Art have been trained.  Charles is in favor of them going ahead with that plan.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Art and Nancy charming the Clavermore couple earns them a double dinner date with them.  Now that’s business.

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Back to Bill and Virginia, who are reviewing the clinic’s information.  It’s far too similar to theirs, but Bill believes that Marcia and Harvey aren’t 100 percent quacks.  The undeserving notion is at least interesting, but Virginia is against it altogether.  As Virginia reviews how the two will speak tomorrow, hunger gets the best of her.  She’s interested in going out, but Bill is ready to call it a night.

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Libby hopes that she and Bram will win their court case against the diner.  Bram doesn’t see it as negligence, though.  And Libby can’t prove what happened was the court’s fault.  Libby goes back to Bram’s divorce, and it’s here that she learns that Bram’s wife doesn’t want to negotiate.

This is a black-and-white case, even though it’s just over a pair of jade earrings.  It’s about principle, but at least Bram has the law on his side.  Less so for the diner case.

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Later that evening, Bill receives a visit from Dody and just her.  Nathan isn’t coming, as he felt it would be awkward.  Apparently, Bill asking him to attend made him feel a bit more comfortable.  Bill finds that, even after 30 years, Dody still looks beautiful.  I would agree.

As Bill searches for a tie, Dody suggests that they go to a friend chicken spot across the street, but since that’s where Virginia is right now, Bill suggests they talk in the hotel room to get some things out of the way.  For starters, Bill brings up what Nathan said about Bill breaking Dody’s heart.  He asks if Dody thought the note was a joke, but it turns out that there weren’t any roses or note.

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Bill is certain, as he left the flowers and note with a nurse.  Dody, though, never received it.  And she never understood what Bill had done or why he pulled away.  Bill was just waiting for Dody to say anything.  He thought Dody said something with his silence, but Dody tells Bill that she loved him.  Bill admits that he had a hard time believing that a girl like Dody would see anything worthwhile in him.

Dody asks what the note said, as she might have had an entirely different life had she known what the note said.  Had she seen it, she admits that she would have said yes.

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Outside, Virginia has trouble getting the ice box open when she gets help from, of all people, Dody’s husband, Nathan.  He tells Virginia that he’s here to see his wife, who doesn’t know that he’s here.  She said she was going one place, but Nathan saw her try on two different dresses.  Not very typical, especially if the supposed book drive takes place in room 211.

This gets Virginia’s attention.  Nathan continues, telling Dody that her supposed boyfriend is the love of her life.  Nathan is upset.  He tried his best, but now his wife is off meeting this doctor.  Virginia is livid and tells Nathan that he should storm in and cause some trouble.  Well, that’s not gonna be good for business.  That’s not gonna be good for anybody.

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On the drive home, Art gives Nancy some silent treatment until he pulls over the car and tells her that by agreeing to dinner with the Clavermore couple, she overstepped her boundaries.  More than that, she talked about how the clinic could be better managed.  Art calls it indecent and shameful, though Nancy feels that the two had to agree to dinner.  Saying no would have been unprofessional.

Art accuses Nancy of trying to impress Charles and talks about their past ski trip during med school when Nancy was about to be evicted.  She ended up with a two year lease due to taking a lift with a nice couple that needed a house sitter.

Nancy calls this mutually beneficial, as is this.  Nancy is tired of the bullshit.  She and Art have been treated terribly at the clinic and they’ve been overlooked.  Nancy wants her and Art’s names to stand on their own.  But despite the idea of running their own clinic, Art doesn’t see himself as a liar or thieve.  He’s not ready to leave the clinic yet since they’ve barely begun their tenure.

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Back in Topeka, Dody asks Bill if he’s had a happy life.  To be honest, Bill doesn’t know how to be happy, but he’s trying to learn.  One thing is clear: he needs to stop falling in love with women who don’t love him back.  That’s not the story of his marriage, though.  There was someone else who Bill thought didn’t love him, but maybe the problem is Bill thought how could she possibly love him?

Dody takes Bill’s hand and offers to make it up to him, but Bill didn’t come here for that.  Dody, now embarrassed, apologizes and prepares to take her leave.  She wishes Bill good luck and hopes that Bill will be brave enough to let the next woman love him.  With that, Dody leaves.

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The next day, as Bill goes over the script, Virginia asks Bill if he stayed in all night and acknowledges that he wasn’t alone.  Bill doesn’t deny it, but he doesn’t think much of it.  Virginia sticks to Dody, though, and asks if Dody and Bill were lovers.  They were, a long time ago.  Nothing happened last night, but Virginia doesn’t believe it, even though that’s the truth.

Virginia is livid that Bill kept this from her and asks if Dody is the reason that the two came to Topeka.  She demands to know if Bill has feelings for her, but she realizes that this is what it’s like to be petty and jealous.  She asks Bill how many times she made him feel this way, but it’s far too many to count.  Virginia apologizes for that at least.

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Libby is a very proactive woman indeed, as we that she went to Bram’s wife, pretending to be his lawyer.  Libby thinks that Bram’s strategy is to punish his wife, and she knows about that all too well.  Knowing that you were right is the worst argument to have in an argument, which is why you hire an attorney.  Libby advised that the wife give up the Cadillac and jade earrings.  So Libby has negotiation skills.

And Libby has now fantasized being in a court room after seeing wives get taken in their court rooms.  It’s intoxicating.  Next step is for Libby to start looking into classes.

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Austin stops by the clinic again and learns that Lester has thrown out his earlier batch of pamphlets.  He feels that a penis pump is just a temporary solution.  Lester doesn’t believe that Bill and Virginia would agree with Austin, but Austin reminds Lester that he was part of the study before Lester entered the picture, so he has an idea of how Bill and Virginia think.

Guy has been thinking of volunteering, in fact, so Austin tells Guy that he won’t regret it.  It’s about meeting and connecting with someone.  To Austin, it was the best sex of his life, especially with his first blonde partner.  Austin, you might want to stop talking about Jane with Lester a few feet away from you.  But too late, as Lester gives him a slug across the face.  It’s not even a very good punch.

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As Art reviews the data on homosexuals, Nancy pops in to tell him that she’s leaving early to meet Charles Clavermore.  The recording equipment is off in the room, as the two could be fired if Bill and Virginia learned of this.  Charles has found a building for Art and Nancy and he’s brought his lawyer to talk about terms in regards to a partnership.

Nancy knows that Art doesn’t want to leave since he feels valued, and she wants him to be happy.  However, Nancy still wants to take this opportunity.  Maybe it’s time that they let each other go.  As is, Nancy isn’t happy and hasn’t been for a long time.  She’s tired of pretending that she can continue to stomach their arrangement.  She insisted on this setup, but she wants to be monogamous.

Art insists that he loves Nancy and is willing to give up being with other women.  Nancy insists that this deal could be perfect for them.  The two can go to a place where no one knows them and they aren’t judged as being swingers.  They can make a fresh start at their own clinic in New York.

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We return to Bill and Virginia, nay, Earl and Ingrid, talking to Marcia and Harvey about their improvement and how they feel encouraged about moving forward.  The doctors would like to observe Bill and Virginia having intercourse.  Bill isn’t ready to take this next step, but Marcia and Harvey insists that he is.  This is how they’ve yielded results in a short amount of time.

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Marcia and Harvey won’t force Bill and Virginia into this, but they do ask why the two came in the first place if they aren’t open to their methods?  When the two have a moment to themselves, Bill tells Virginia that these doctors shouldn’t have couples engaging in intercourse so soon.  Virginia reminds him that they aren’t here to critique, but Bill wants to walk away right now.

But then Virginia wonders why the two came here, if not to protect their legacy?  It’s just sex, after all.

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Nancy, meanwhile, meets up with a neighbor for some swinger action.  Of course.

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Back at the clinic, Lester gloats about his so-called punch to Guy.  He hopes that Guy doesn’t volunteer for the study.  Having seen so many couples have sex, Lester knows what comes next for many of the people.  Austin, for example, lost his wife and kids.  Guy, though, isn’t married, but it’s more than that- since Jane was in the study, she treats sex like a performance.  Lester, though, is the audience to Jane’s affairs.

Lester believes in the science, but he tells Guy that he doesn’t know what’s real and what a performance is when someone is watching.  Doing it behind the glass changes you.

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Bill and Virginia, meanwhile, connect behind said glass while Marcia and Harvey instruct them.  As Virginia moves into female superior, she begins to stimulate Bill even further.  The coupling intensifies and the episode come to a close with Virginia whispering to Bill that she loves him.

You know, as we approach the season finale, something about this episode struck me: for all of Bill and Virginia’s smarts and ability to help people, the environment in which they work isn’t very welcoming.  Whether at Washington Hospital or their own clinic, their base of operation is very cold and sterile with very little heart.

And while the two have every reason to investigate potential copycat clinics, I think part of them should be flattered that someone wants to emulate their work.  As Bill told Virginia in the previous episode, the two didn’t invent sexual dysfunctions, and I would wager that most doctors don’t make sure that any diagnosis or recommendation they make hasn’t been said by someone else.

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Sometimes there are going to be similarities with how doctors approach their patients, and the study of sex is no exception.  If anything, Bill and Virginia could stand to be a bit more inviting in dealing with patients.   That’s part of why Virginia comes off as more approachable than Bill, but even combined, the two don’t come off with the same openness as Marcia and Harvey.  There’s always room to learn from others.

So while it’s good for Bill and Virginia to see if their work is being plagiarized, what’s their end game?  They may be the most recognizable, but like Bram cautioning Libby against taking on the diner, I’m not sure how far Bill and Virginia can take this.  More so because they just overcame one legal ordeal and I doubt they want to go through another.

Same goes with where we end up as the episode closes.  Though undercover, Bill and Virginia are still discussing their sexual history.  Given what they’ve done through their own study, wouldn’t it make sense that Marcia and Harvey would want to observe them as well?

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I get that Bill is trying to wean himself off of Virginia, but he’s in a hard place between fending off Virginia and his meeting with Dody.  Unfortunate that the two ended up left in the dark, as it seems like, based off of their respective marriages, the two would have been happy together.  But crossing that line into sex was never Bill’s intention, even though it may have been Dody’s.

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If this is the last time the two see each other for awhile, it’s unfortunate that it ends on a down note, but it’s a sign of what kind of life Bill and Dody could have had if they were more open with each other.  But miscommunication kept them both without an answer for 30 years.

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Virginia, meanwhile, finds herself in Bill’s shoes when she becomes so infuriated with the thought of Bill being with another woman, which is a huge splash of cold water when she realizes that this is what Bill has often thought of her all along.  He used to be the jealous, accusatory type, but when the script flips, Virginia realizes how horrible it is to obsess over what your partner may be doing.

And with her telling Bill that she loves him, we’ll have to see whether she’ll continue her advances or if Bill will push her away in order to prove that he’s over her.

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Back at the clinic, Nancy is in the right and wrong.  Yes, she’s been treated terribly at the clinic, but that’s come more from Virginia than Bill.  And maybe she and Art are capable of standing their own, but they haven’t been at the clinic for long and it’s too soon to jump ship and start your own business.  Ambitious, yes, but risky.

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But given how much Nancy loves the swinger lifestyle, of course she’d want to stick with taking risks.  And it’s unfortunate that she’s roping Art into this because not only is he unhappy with this arrangement, but Bill has seen promise in him with getting the homosexuality study started.  He has potential at the clinic, but not Nancy.

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I’m sure that Nancy would have left the clinic anyway, but Virginia’s shitty attitude only hastened her desire to leave.  And hey, she’s overstepping her boundaries and being unprofessional, but she made connections and established a solid rapport with Mr. Clavermore.  That’s gotta count for something at least.

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As for Lester, I get his frustration about Jane’s behavior, but like their issues last season, he should just sit down and talk with her.  That and it’d be nice to get Jane’s perspective on things, since Lester has been so fed up with her behavior for most of the season.

Yes, participating in the study changes you, but Lester was willing to participate just to get back at Jane.  He’s just as susceptible to change as anyone else involved.  I don’t see why he needs to try and dissuade Guy from taking part.

Brand New World- Jane tells Austin that the problem isn't in his pants, it's in his head

Oh, and given how much Austin pined for Jane in the first season, I’m surprised that he didn’t remember her name, but that’s minor.

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I’m glad that Libby’s relationship with Bram is moving along at a good pace and how ambitious she is with wanting to study law.  Again, since being on her own, she’s become a much more daring and outgoing individual.  And given her relationship with Bill and seeing how wives are swindled during their marriages, her studying law is a way to help other women avoid the trials that she endured.

“Topeka” leaves us in a complicated spot.  Art and Nancy look to be on their way out, which will be a nasty surprise for Bill and Virginia once they return.  Bill wants to be over Virginia, who still loves him and holds out hope that he loves her back.  And while they spent the bulk of the episode learning how others are copying them, it’s clear that there’s still much they can stand to learn about their own work.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 7: “In to Me You See”

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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At a convenience store, Louise shops and, before leaving, also picks up a bottle of alcohol.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

High Anxiety- Betty, Austin, and Helen

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 6: “Family Only”

For a show that’s mostly about human sexual response, Masters of Sex makes sure to remind us about the importance of bonds between partners, coworkers, friends, lovers, and so on.  With “Family Only,” those bonds are tested as characters grapple with seeking what they truly want and rejecting what they shouldn’t want because it will just bring them trouble.  Let’s dive right in.

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The episode begins with Virginia paying Bill an unexpected visit, as she has good news and wine.  Good news is that Arnold Ketterman wants to move ahead with publishing, so maybe Virginia’s trip to New York made all the difference.  As for the drinks, it’s lost its appeal for Bill after Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, he’s headed to a meeting. Sobriety, Bill says, is a journey, not a destination.

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And yet, Bill has a drink at House Masters, where Libby did not expect him to arrive.  He just wants to watch The Tonight Show, which the two haven’t done since before the two filed for divorce.  Bill’s claim for leaving his home is that he felt claustrophobic, or rather, he feels alone. Bill plans to ask Barton to return to the clinic since he’s like family.

But Libby suggests that Bill start dating. After all, she’s dating Bram Keller after asking him out. It’s a healthy next step for Libby, and she feels it will for Bill.

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So Virginia shares her drinks and company with Art instead. She’s glad that Art apparently cleared things up with Nancy, but Art switches gears to Bill instead, calling him inscrutable.  Virginia always understood him up until now.  Divorce doesn’t excuse the behavior.

But even unfulfilling marriages can provide stability.  Art has found that women can establish new routines, but men are used to having certain things done for them.  In Virginia’s mind, she was Bill’s work wife.  That was the true marriage.  Nancy’s dinner date friend, Bruce, by the way, apparently wants Nancy to be involved with him.

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Bill finds an intoxicated Bob Drag waiting for him at his apartment.  He wants to talk about Bill’s court house speech, as he wants to use it for the forward of the book.  Bob tells Bill that he’s lost.  At almost 40 years old, he’s about to lose his one good shot at a family if his fiance leaves him.  She’s the reason he is here and Bob needs Bill to see both him and his fiance.

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The next day, Betty and Helen talk about their upcoming baby. Helen dreamt that her family came to visit, but it wasn’t a sad visit. No one cried, though. The family still rejected her, but when they left, Helen waved goodbye and her parents blew her a kiss. After that, she wasn’t sad because she turned around and saw Betty with their kid. And that makes Helen happy. Oh, and the baby is on the way very soon.

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Art asks Nancy about Bruce, who made tenure.  That was most of their conversation. He even got Art the perfect gift: a tie.  He wants to take Art and Nancy out to dinner so they can catch up.

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While Virginia receives some case files from Guy, Nancy informs Barton that she and Art feel out.  Barton knows that the sessions have been taped, but not that conversations are being recorded.  Nancy feels that something strange has been going on between Bill and Virginia.  Even still, Barton wants Nancy to give it some time.  Just then, Guy alerts Barton that Betty and Helen are on their way to the hospital.

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Bram Keller pays Libby a visit and needs to reschedule, as he has a last second work dinner.  Luckily, Libby is familiar with last second work dinner.  This case in particular involves a client and his wife, who both happen to be nudists.

Like most people, Bram wants a first date to go well, so he doesn’t want it to be potentially ruined by nudists.  Not that Libby is a prude.  In fact, she’s in.  Though if she’s never spent time around nudists, Bram suggests that she bring smelling salts.

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Virginia asks Guy why the initial interview for the Clavermore couple has already been completed by Art and Nancy.  But hey, it was Nancy’s idea, so Virginia wants to find out if Nancy has snatched up any other dates.

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But Nancy is in the middle of a session with Bill, as the two talk with Bob Drag and his fiance, Cherlyn Green, played by Joanna Canton.  Virginia spots this, thinking that it’s a book meeting.  Bob Drag does most of the talking, but Cherlyn says that the two hadn’t made love in months due to Bob’s impotence. But luckily, Bob knows experts in this field. This renewed Bram’s commitment.

Bill is glad that Bob is more hopeful than their last encounter, prompting Cherlyn to wonder where Bob was if he wasn’t at a Little Brown function, as she believed.  Yup.  That’s what happened.

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Barton, meanwhile, is the doctor for Helen and Betty.  The baby is still breach, so there’s a 50/50 chance that doctors will need to perform a C-section.  Routine surgery, but Helen would undergo a longer recovery period.  Betty refuses to leave Helen’s side, but it’s hospital policy, as not even husbands can remain with their wives.  Helen assures Betty that she and the baby have everything under control.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that Helen is going to die giving birth.

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Back at the clinic, Virginia speaks with Bill and Nancy about why she wasn’t present in the meeting with Bob Drag, who Virginia thinks is here because of her New York trip. Rumors are flying in New York that Bob is a homosexual, though Nancy didn’t sense any indication.  Virginia says that’s because Nancy is still learning how to pay attention to details, but that’s what the intake process is all about.

And while Virginia would prefer to do that with Bill, he assures her that Nancy is perfectly capable of running an intake, prompting Virginia to bring up Art and Nancy taking on the Clavermore couple.  But all Bill says in regard to this is that Nancy should have consulted him and Virginia.  Bill needs to think about how to handle the Clavermore couple going forward.

When Nancy leaves, Virginia tells Bill that she wants to double team Bob Drag, but Bill doesn’t want her yanking Nancy off of cases.  After all, she and Art are here to help.  Bob Drag, though, was open with both Bill and Virginia, and she feels that together, the two can coax the truth out of him. Bill agrees, but it’s clear that she disagrees.

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Following this, Nancy has a private conversation with Virginia in the most appropriate location: the ladies’ room.  She wants to know her role if Virginia is going to reassign her. Virginia asks if Nancy ever run her business, but then, there are some technicalities, as Bill is the one who secured the clinic’s current space, not him and Virginia.  But hey, semantics.

Then Nancy plays the gender card: Virginia feels that Nancy is competition.  It’s not an unfair assumption.  Nancy respects Virginia for what she’s done, but apparently, she only stands wherever Bill and Virginia tell her.

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So indeed, Bill and Virginia speak with Bob on their own about when the impotence first began.  It was only in the last few weeks, maybe due to stress.  Never with previous partners, all five of the women. Virginia asks how many men, though, he’s had sexual encounters with in his past.  Boys, even, but when he was a boy as well.  It helps to clarify.

Bob takes offense to this and has nothing to hide, but that one boy was when Bob was 16 at boarding school.  It wasn’t a sexual encounter, just games.  But Bob didn’t have feelings.  He was 16, after all.  Virginia presses the issue, asking if Bob still thinks about this one boy and if doing so helps him achieve an erection.

It does, but Bob finds it nauseating and shameful.  The two recommend that Bob speaks to a psychiatrist. Bob insists that he’s not gay. Impotence is due to many reasons, as per Bill and Virginia’s book.  But homosexuality is wrong and Bob wants the thoughts out of his head.  He asks the two if they’ve ever wanted to stop wanting what they want because they know it will cause them misery.

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Meanwhile, Bram and Libby arrive at Shangri-Lawn, which is full of naked people galore. Full frontal and all.  Well, for all you people who felt that Game of Thrones didn’t have enough full frontal male nudity, here you go.

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Back at the clinic, Nancy tells Art about Virginia learning of the two taking on the Clavermore couple.  She figures that the interview was on tape, and since one’s heard it or the two would be fired, she wants Art to retrieve and destroy the tape, which is in Lester’s office.  Nancy wants to leave the clinic on her terms, not Bill or Virginia’s.

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Meanwhile, Betty worries about Helen’s 50/50 chances of this C-section.  It’s supposedly the best outcome for mother and child, but Betty is still worried and needs to see Helen again.  She ends up instead calling Bill, who tells her that C-sections are routine.

But a fearful Betty frets that nothing is going the way it should for Helen, though.  Despite Bill’s assurance that this is normal, Betty is still worried.  Bill offers to come down, but Betty tells him that she’s fine.  She plans to call Helen’s parents.

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Art listens to and pockets the Clavermore interview when Lester enters the room.  As Art tries to leave, he knocks over some of Lester’s new pictures: this time of Jane in order to prove evidence of an affair.

Lester asks Art how he lets Nancy be with other men and that not eat away at him. Though that’s a private matter, Art tells Lester that it’s an agreed-upon arrangement.  But then Art calls Lester a watcher, as he’s spent 18 months watching Jane. True enough.

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Virginia and Bill discuss whether to take on Bob Drag’s case.  Bill isn’t certain that Bob is a homosexual.  Hell, Bill went to boarding school and knows that it’s common for boys to sexually experiment with other boys.  Most of the boys go on to be normal, heterosexual men.

Virginia doesn’t want to broach the subject of conversion therapy, but Bill fixates on the word desire. Desire means that it brings satisfaction, but in Bob’s case, this has just brought him suffering.

When Nancy finds the door to the ladies’ room locked- because that’s a thing- she interrupts Bill and Virginia’s conversation to apologize for damn near everything, including Art picking Virginia’s coat.  Because ever since the two apparently had sex, Virginia has turned on Nancy.  Rather than own up to anything, Virginia has Nancy fetch Art.  Bill, to put it kindly, is livid.

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Okay, so Art enters and explains that the two went to bed together, but there was no sex or physical contact.  When the two leave, Bill goes to inform Bob of his decision.  He isn’t angry at Virginia since she may have enough guilt on her head right now, but the problem is that she spent the night in a coworker’s bed, regardless of whether anything happened.

She put both her and the clinic’s reputation at risk.  Virginia knows this, and she admits to making some questionable choices.  She lied about Dan not to keep Bill at bay, but because she was just ashamed and had gotten distracted by Dan.  This proved her inability to choose the right thing, even when it’s staring her in the face.

What happened with Art was clarity- the one man who has seen all of her and still loves her despite her flaws is Bill. Bill leaves, still needing to talk with Bob.

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We return to the nudist colony in all its birthday suit glory, with Bram and Libby being the only clothed people.  Bram explains that he’s helping Richard and Kitty due to neighbors bringing suit, claiming a violation of zoning laws based on the sale of food and wine.  Or it’s a case against obscenity due to outdated community standards.  Standard First Amendment case.

But Libby wonders what kind of statement is being made by not wearing clothes. Kitty counters that people are defined by clothing, whereas communal nudity is a declaration of self-respect. Libby brings up her experiences working with CORE and how Negro nightclubs got around being shut down with by implementing a voucher system.

It’s crazy enough idea to work and if the colony institutes such a policy, Bram can get a judgment in the group’s favor.  In return, Richard and Kitty insist that Bram and Libby stay the night.

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Nancy has finally arrived at home, as she disappeared after the meeting at the office.  She tells Art that she had dinner plans with Bruce. Well, they skipped dinner and went straight to Bruce’s hotel room.  Art apologizes, but Nancy is being honest and says that an open marriage can’t work if the two can’t be open with each other.  Nancy wants the truth from Art about Virginia.

So Art tells the truth: the two had sex and Virginia is denying it in front of Bill to save her own ass.  After all, you don’t go to a coat party just to sleep on a bed. Nancy, then, wants to know what happened.  Art tells Nancy that Virginia was uncomfortable at first, so Art got her relaxed by saying that Virginia was the boss.  She then took control and didn’t even let Art touch her.  She was just interested in pleasure.

And so Nancy begins to take control, mimicking everything that Virginia apparently did, even going as far as going down on Art.

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Back at the nudist colony, Libby sees a similarity between Bram and Bill’s pajamas.  Well, he doesn’t have another pair, but there’s a solution.  Libby begins to undress him, but Bram wants to slow down.  He likes her and doesn’t wan to rush this, but Libby doesn’t want to wait until their wedding night to see if the sex between them will be any good.  However, now Libby doesn’t want to have sex. Ha!

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She later awakens and, like anyone would do at a nudist colony, strips down and walks the grounds in nothing but her birthday suit.  And she’s loving every minute of it.  As am I. She later returns from her stroll, with Bram telling her that she always finds a way to surprise him.

Libby doesn’t know what she’s looking for, but she does want it to be passionate and for there to be real sexual chemistry. So Bram strips down and the fun begins.

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Bill tells Virginia that he’s cancelled the rest of the day’s appointments, as he’s about to go check on Betty and Helen.  He opens Virginia’s surprise letter, which contains a key to their old room at the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel.  She hoped that Bill would meet her there, as it was at a time when they were at their best. But Bill can’t because he doesn’t believe that Virginia loves him.

She just wants him today. Maybe because it’s easier with Bill or he’s the only option right now, but what happens tomorrow when Virginia wakes up and wants someone else? Virginia assures Bill that this won’t happen, but Bill doesn’t trust her.  And he doesn’t know if he ever will again.

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Bill joins Betty at the hospital.  She senses that something is off with Bill, but she then tells him that the last update from Barton was an hour ago.  She called Helen’s parents, who think that Betty lured Helen into a life of sin and debauchery.  Betty is willing to take the blame, but Helen shouldn’t take any blame.  Bill says that it’s hard for people to see what Betty and Helen have done by making a family together.

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In the operating room, Helen has given birth to a baby girl.  Barton tells Helen that the baby will be taken to the nursery, and Betty can go there, but Helen wants, nay, pleads that Betty be there to sit with her in the room first.

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Soon, Betty indeed joins Helen, but the joyous moment is replaced with fear when Barton tells the doctors to increase the sedation.  Helen’s pressure is dropping.  Barton instructs Bill to scrub up, as he’s to help with the procedure.  Betty continues to talk with Helen and assures her that nothing is wrong, though Helen worries that she is sick.  Helen’s final words to Betty are a call for her mother.

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With the procedure over, a doctor tells Betty that it’s time to take away Helen’s body. Virginia soon arrives as a somber Bill tells her of D.I.C., which means that the blood would not clot.  They went through 16 bags. No matter how much they transfused, Helen kept bleeding until there was no more blood.

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And just to pour salt in the wound, before Betty can enter the nursery, a nurse informs her that Helen’s parents, who have arrived, only want family inside the nursery.  The episode comes to a close as Betty watches from a distance Helen’s parents embrace her daughter.  Oh, that’s just unfair.

“Family Only” focuses a lot on the importance of stable relationships, more so within the family, whether by blood or close relations.  By episode’s end, we end up with mixed results for some of the pairs, but let’s start with the tragedy of the hour.

Helen’s presence helped show how important it is for Betty to raise a family because, them being a lesbian couple, few, if any people in the 1960s would see them as a legitimate pair.  But despite that, they vowed to make this work not just for themselves, but for their baby.

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Character deaths can provide for great drama when handled well, and while it’s a somber moment for Betty to lose her partner, I don’t think that Helen’s death was handled with the same grace as Libby’s miscarriage in Season One or Lillian DePaul’s death in Season Two.

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Helen’s happy dream about her parents and new family with Betty was one thing, but the moment that Barton mentioned the possibility of performing a C-section, it was clear that Helen was not going to survive this episode.  The longing looks she and Betty share in their final moment and Helen insisting that she’s okay were fine, but didn’t feel as strong as I feel they could have been.

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Part of it is because it’s all so telegraphed, so the moment loses some of its tragedy because we as an audience can gather how this will all end.  That doesn’t make it bad, mind you, as I feel this is one of Annaleigh Ashford’s best performances of the series. There’s nothing but sorrow and loss in Betty’s eyes from her final moments with Helen to watching Helen’s parents hold her daughter.

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So Betty doesn’t get to have that stable family that she’s always wanted, and it’s upsetting because she’s wanted this since the first season.  I’m guessing she’ll fight for custody next, if the system in the 1960s would even allow a single, homosexual woman that right.

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For Betty to call Bill for advice had to be out of desperation, since he’s not the most warming person and the two have had friction in the past.  But we’ve seen Betty reach out to him before when she’s been desperate, and each time, despite his hesitation, Bill has been there for Betty.

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For him to be there at a low moment for Betty showed the lasting strength of their bond, but also the lengths Bill will go, professional or personal, to be there for his friends or coworkers, especially when Barton requires him to suit up and help operate on Helen.

It helps that Bill’s mind is clearer this week that it has been in a long time.  He knows that he and Libby can never be- though I’m glad that they’re at least just friends and on speaking terms- and he’s trying to put Virginia behind him.

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Good for him to point out that Virginia may just want him now, though it’s hypocritical to accuse her of jeopardizing the clinic’s reputation by going to a coat and key party when he’s already hindered the clinic’s name.  Hell, did we not just go through a trial on this? Seems unfair for Bill to take the moral high ground on Virginia when he’s made just as many errors.

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And I wasn’t a fan of Bob Drag spelling out the notion of wanting to stop desiring what you want because we already know that Bill is trying to wean himself off of Virginia.

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As for Virginia, who now has clarity and wants some stability through Bill, some of her decisions still rub me the wrong way.  Yes, she has been in this business much longer than Art and Nancy, but she does come off as if Nancy is competition instead of a coworker.  And as Bill mentioned, Art and Nancy are here to help, so Virginia shouldn’t try to stand in Nancy’s way just because she’s decided that she wants to be with Bill.

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Plus, only when pressured by Bill does she own up to her faults, but rather than just tell Bill that she didn’t sleep with Art, she has Art do it for her, thus putting him on the spot. She calls herself Bill’s work wife when he’s pushing her away, and rather than work with or advise Nancy, she comes off as condescending.

It’s telling that we don’t see much of Virginia’s home life, as she’s poured everything into her work.  We at least see Bill conversing with Libby, but Virginia is trying to guide Bill into every facet of her life, including work.  But that’s hard to do when she’s making moves that call her character into question.

I wouldn’t hold going to the coat party against her because she was invited, but at least just be honest.  She has to know by now, given Bill knowing about Dan, that hiding the truth will just make it worse when it finally comes out.  And trying to be involved in every aspect of Bill’s life is futile when he’s trying to move past her.

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Plus, there are parts of Bill’s life where Virginia just would not fit.  Remember that we haven’t seen Virginia perform on patients.  She’s an observer during the sex sessions and is great at evaluations, but Bill is a practiced doctor.  Virginia isn’t.  Had she been called to help with Helen, I doubt she would be of much good since she doesn’t have the on-hands experience that Bill and Barton have.

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I’m not sure what’s going on with Art and Nancy.  Is Art really trying to save face in front of his wife?  Seems like it, when he shifts the blame to Virginia, but only once he’s at home and not facing Bill and Virginia.

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And if he didn’t sleep with Virginia, is he just creating that scenario for Nancy to mimic in retaliation for her sleeping around with other men?  It’s possible, given how we’ve seen that the arrangements of this open marriage do bother him at times.

I think Nancy might have overplayed her hand when she told off Virginia about possibly sleeping with Art.  It put her in hot water and while she’s got every right to be angry at Virginia cutting into her work, bringing up the coat and key party just adds more drama to an already tense relationship.  I’m curious why the two haven’t told Bill and Virginia that they know about the recordings, though, but maybe they’re saving that card for later.

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I’m glad Libby remains as outgoing and open as possible, and in a nice nod to her past employment, her work at the CORE office proved useful to the nudist colony and helped bring her closer to Bram.  Their relationship is inching at a slow pace now, and I’m fine with that because they’re still getting to know each other and neither of them seems 100 percent sure on what they want.

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Right now, I just appreciate that Libby is with someone who appreciates her on a physical level and that Bram isn’t just going in headfirst with this relationship.  He likes Libby, but he won’t jeopardize things by going all out when they’re still feeling out one another.  And feeling out one another, too.  And side-note, I can do without the swelling music accompanying Libby’s nude walk.  We get the point of the scene without that.

With so much focus on the importance of family and bonds, “Family Only” ended on a tragic note with Helen’s death and Betty having her family ripped away from her.  I would wager that this isn’t the last we will see her clash with Helen’s parents, though.  Tensions are high not just there, but at work between Bill, Virginia, Art, and Nancy.  Virginia knows that she wants Bill, but he’s put her behind him.  The question, though, is for how long?

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 5: “Outliers”

What is it that people say?  Honesty is the best policy?  Well, not all of the time, but even when it may get you into trouble, whether at work, at home, or with your partner, does it help to be honest?  Let’s find out in “Outliers.”

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The episode begins with Virginia listening to recorded footage of Art and Nancy talking about her, with Nancy wanting to learn a thing or two.  She heads right to Art’s office and, without mentioning the recording equipment, asks why Nancy thinks that Virginia is an attentive lover, based on Nancy seeing Virginia and Art go into a room together.  Nancy just assumed, but apparently Art confirmed it, though Nancy would think no less of her.

So Virginia tells Art to deal with this problem, but then Art turns it and asks if this has anything to do with Bill, based on the intimate truths Virginia shared.  Something happened with Bill and Virginia.  But Virginia just calls them assumptions, and she doesn’t want to tell the facts that she does know about Art to Nancy.  Virginia, could you be any more of an asshole right now?  Anyway, Virginia goes back to her office and cuts the footage.

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We revisit Alcoholics Anonymous, where Jerry finishes sharing.  Louise then announces that tonight is Bill’s final meeting, as he’s completed 90 meetings in 90 days- no small feat.  Traditionally, before someone leaves, a person shares something that they’ve learned or would like to share.  Bill merely bids the group good luck.  Beautifully said, Bill.

After the meeting, Bill tells Louise that he never really belonged in the group anyway.  He has bigger problems, like his trial that starts tomorrow.  He’s fighting to preserve his reputation and clinic, that way he can start fresh with his life.  Louise gets to signing his form.

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Next day at the trial, Bram Keller asks a potential juror if she and her husband ever received any sort of counseling.  All the juror knows is that Bill and Virginia have written a smutty book.  In fact, both the prosecution and defense burn through jurors, but most settle on a hypothetical guilty verdict.

Following this, Virginia asks Bram why they aren’t talking about settling, since that makes the most sense, but that would mean pleading guilty to sexual deviance.  The prosecution will stop nothing short of that, and this could scare away potential clients.  A loss would only be a temporary setback, followed by an appeal to a higher court, even to the national stage where the team could defend the cause of scientific inquiry.

This isn’t about some indiscretion, but the right of scientists to pursue knowledge.  Bill wants to review Bram’s opening statement to at least get the precise nature of Bill and Virginia’s work.  He then heads off to speak with Libby.  Virginia learns from Bram that apparently Bill and Libby have put their divorce on hold, as there’s been a thaw.

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Art tells Nancy that he feels someone is listening in on their conversations, since some things Art said behind closed doors have been repeated by Virginia.  They should be aware of what’s going on, but Nancy wants to get to the bottom of this.

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A very pregnant Helen hurries her parents along and out of the home, but then Betty arrives at an all-too convenient moment.  Helen tells her folks that Betty lives down the hall.  This awkward encounter ends when Betty excuses herself out.  Can’t Helen just have Austin pretend that he’s her husband?

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Back at the clinic, apparently Guy got a new job, as he’s answering Betty’s calls.  He hands Virginia some massages and files, but then tells her that, based on his experience reading Bill and Virginia’s book, there’s a revolution afoot.  The problems that Bill and Virginia treat without mocking or judgment is admirable.  Guy could not be prouder to work here, even though he just got there, but whatever.  He’s good at his job.

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Virginia asks Betty if she’s done a background check on Guy, even though all of his references gave good remarks on him.  She wants Betty to do more digging.  In the meantime, Betty gives Virginia an update from Little Brown: they’ve passed on publishing.  Virginia wants an appointment made for her, Bill, and Bob Drag in New York today.

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She then updates Bill on Little Brown passing on the book, though Bill doesn’t seem too worried.  Virginia is more interested in recapturing their interest before waiting for the trial verdict, especially if it’s unfavorable.  Bill agrees, though he’s thrown when Virginia mentions that she wants both of them to make a case to Bob Drag.

Bill can’t go, though- he has to review this statement.  A win will mean a fresh start, though Virginia feels that Bill is backsliding.  Bill goes a step further and confirms that he and Libby are considering reconciling.

Virginia wants to know why, but Bill just says that they’re going to work to make things different.  In a callback to her attempt at getting back together with George, Virginia asks why anyone would want to make the same mistake twice.

She then cautions Bill against falling into old patterns and insists that he come to New York, where they can reinvest in what’s given them the most satisfaction: the work.  Instead, Bill puts his focus on the court case, but he does agree that they should also put their efforts in the book as well.  And he’s confident that Virginia can handle that without him.

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Over food, Libby tells Bram Keller that she won’t testify or say anything that would put Bill in jail and jeopardize the reconciliation.  The press may accost Libby on the courthouse steps, but Libby has no intention of running.

Fine, so hypothetical scenario: let’s say a reporter asks Libby about the pandering and prostitution charges.  What does Libby say?  Libby will respond that the charge was trumped up by an overzealous prosecution bent on destroying Bill’s years of work.  Libby shoots down Bram’s offer for drinks.

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Back upstairs, Nancy tells Art that she suspects Lester of being the spy, given that he took the photo of them kissing, but Lester isn’t in his office.  And then the two stumble upon the recording room, where they hear Guy speaking on the phone to a client, even though they’re nowhere near him.  Nancy is beyond livid and wants to leave, but Art wonders how it will look if they jump ship not only two months into the job.

Art, trying to imagine things from Bill and Virginia’s point of view, wants to play this out, but if things don’t get better, they will leave.

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In New York, Virginia meets with Bob Drag, who maintains that he had no intention of meeting with her.  Drag tries every way to get out of this impromptu meeting, but Virginia will not let him leave without getting in her say.

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At House Masters, Bill finds Libby smoking a joint, which a woman in her group gives away in exchange for frozen casseroles.  Okay, this is officially the coolest women’s group ever.  Bill also learns that Libby has been doing some housework around the home- she’s not as helpless as one would think.

As for the two of them, Bill asks if there are any more wishes Libby has.  Neither of them knows how a separation works- they’re just in uncharted waters.

Bill asks if what happened the other night could happen again, but Libby would prefer to experiment.  She figures there’s a way the two of them could do that to each other at the same time.  Libby believes that there’s even a number for it.  I have the giddiest smile on my face right now.

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So Bob takes Virginia as his guest to a party, with Virginia telling him about the trial’s progress.  Bob introduces Virginia to Arnold Ketterman- the man who runs things around these parts.  As Bob gets handy with Virginia, he tells Arnold that he goes way back with Virginia.

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We then cut to the aftermath of the 69-ing, with an exhausted and satisfied Bill and Libby turning the conversation to the trial.  Libby begins reciting legal code while getting high, which is just astounding.  Libby asks Bill to stop being a narc and take a hit.  He does, and like any rookie, he messes up, but he is a fan of the new bed that Libby bought.  It’s bouncy.

Libby then tells Bill that she wishes the two of them had friends, dinner parties, and maybe even played charades.  So Bill then gives her three words: he hates charades.  He does admit that he should have tried harder to meet new people.  He’s always afraid that people won’t like him because people don’t like men.

Libby just wanted more fun and travel.  Maybe even take the kids to Disneyland.  The two settle under the covers when Howie, now played by Caiden Milick, interrupts the fun.

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Back at the party, Virginia tells Bob that she won’t sleep with him the book published, but he has no intention of sleeping with her.  Virginia wanted to talk about sexual inadequacies, but Bob tells her that Arnold doesn’t think a man like Bob can pass muster.

He’s been demoted.  It’s no coincidence that this happened after his fiancé called off their wedding.  Bob knows what the others think of him, but it’s not true.  Virginia just doesn’t want Bob groping him.  Quid pro quo.  Virginia needs to take this book deal back to Bill, and a lot depends on it.  That’s the quid, so what’s the quo?

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Helen watches Betty eat, as she’s having contractions and doesn’t want to have any food.  This worries Betty, but Helen got confirmation from both her mother and Barton that this is nothing to worry about.  Helen would’ve told Betty, but she’s never around.  Helen’s parents have helped out around the house, but Helen hasn’t found the way to ask them to leave before the baby arrives.  Helen just wants them to stay until the baby comes home.

She wants Betty to understand, but Betty will not allow herself to be shuffled on the sidelines.  But Helen can’t tell her parents that she’s in love with a woman.  Betty doesn’t get why, since Helen’s parents seem like nice people, but Helen knows how this story ends: with her never seeing her parents anymore, and Betty can’t ask Helen to never see her parents again.

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Virginia speaks with Arnold about her situation with Bob Drag and how Hugh Hefner has come on board, but this isn’t a sales pitch.  Virginia feels that Bob may have poisoned the well, but Arnold thinks that Bill and Virginia did that to themselves due to the lawsuit.  Virginia counters that the suit will have no negative impact on the suit, and with Bram Keller’s help, this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Arnold tells Virginia that Bob is barely hanging on and wouldn’t tank a potential winner on purpose, but Virginia thinks otherwise.  She tells Arnold that Bob participated in the first round of sexual research- a huge conflict of interest, but Bob was eager and couldn’t say no.  His data couldn’t be included because his sexual stamina is off the charts.  Bob Drag has a long, large erection.  Libby’s words.

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Over at House Masters, it doesn’t look like Howie saw Bill, who thinks that the kids will be happy if Bill and Libby are back together.  Back to uncharted waters, Libby for years has been afraid to tell Bill about the thinks that she’s known because she feared Bill leaving her.  But she’s not afraid anymore.  Bill has left and she’s fine on her own.

While Bill is glad that Libby has made it on her own, she doesn’t necessarily have to be on her own.  True, but there are other reasons why they shouldn’t be together- reasons Libby isn’t afraid to say anymore.

Libby goes back to the first spring when Bill was in medical school.  Libby made flash cards for his exam, something a wife would do.  Bill apparently asked Libby’s roommate for her ring size, but then Bill left for the summer to be with another girl.

And Libby has seen the photographs of Bill with that woman, who later broke his heart.  Bill came back because, in Libby’s mind, Libby wouldn’t hurt him like that.  Bill maintains that he loved Libby, but not in the way that makes you want to take off on a plan with that person.  Not in the same way that Bill loved Virginia.  Bill and Virginia hurt each other, but they also made each other happy.

Libby asks why she and Bill have endured this pain if not for the two of them to end up together.  She feels that Bill belong with Virginia and Libby belongs with someone who makes her feel that way.

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Next day at the clinic, Bill finds Guy making the bed, as he’s been living at the clinic for awhile.  Bill reminds Guy that the clinic is a place of business and he can’t stay there, as they’ve had this problem in the past.  So Bill fires him, just like that.  Guy won’t find this kind of work anywhere else.  Guy asks if this is about the background check, but Bill is unfamiliar with that.  So Guy figured that Bill knew what happened in Vietnam.

After four months of great service, Guy was dishonorably discharged six weeks ago for giving another private a blowjob, but Bill tells Guy that homosexuality is not a dysfunction.  Guy’s father isn’t on board with Guy being gay.  Bill changes his mind: he won’t let Guy live at the clinic, but instead ask Betty to advance some money from his first paycheck so he can find a place to live.

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Later, Bill runs into Bram Keller to tell him that the prosecution has found a surprise witness in Elliot Laskin, who works at the Shawnee Country Club.  Nothing relevant, except that he used to be a bellhop at the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel.  Yup, that Elliot.  And this gets Bill’s attention, but he says that Elliot has nothing to do with the case.  He thinks the prosecution is attacking Bill’s personal life and credibility.

Bill then admits to Bram that he and Virginia had been meeting at the Park Plaza Hotel.  Adultery is on the law, but who would prosecute for that?  This will be worse for Virginia, as adultery sticks more to a woman than a man.  No one would blame him, but this could taint the name Masters and Johnson.  They’ll be seen as cheaters and could tarnish their reputations.

While Bill can’t to distance himself from Virginia on a professional level, the partnership has yielded good work, but the affair was a mistake.  He can’t allow that evidence to surface and follow him the rest of the life.  As such, Bill wants to take the plea, but Bram reminds Bill that a plea leads to certain defeat.  Even if Bram did do this, he doesn’t think Virginia would be on board, given how she’s now for staying the course.

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Nancy overhears Guy speaking with the Clavermore couple, played by Lisa Barnes and Charles Shaughnessy.  Mr. Clavermore runs the largest asbestos manufacturing plant in North America.  Luckily, Nancy can take the couple’s intake.

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Betty arrives at home to find Helen in tears.  She told her parents the truth, and the parents said nothing in response.  They just packed their things and left.  Helen has been calling since, but got no response.  Helen’s been thinking about a dollhouse that her father made for her when she was 10.

She knew she would never live in a home like this one with a mother, father, and child.  Now, Helen has no family except for Betty and this baby.  But Betty promises that she’ll care for Helen.

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Time for the trial.  Virginia arrives and tells Bill that Bob Drag is back on board with the book, but Bill has no time for that.  He tells the judge that he’s willing to discuss a plea if the prosecution is willing to drop the charges against Virginia.

Outside, Bill tells Virginia about Elliot is going to testify, which could have damaging effects for Virginia.  Does Virginia want her work to be thrown into question?  After all, the surrogacy program was Bill’s idea, and now he will make it right.

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In the judge’s chambers, the prosecution agrees to dismiss Virginia’s charges if Bill pleads guilty to sexual deviance and pay a $500 fine.  The judge points out that if Bill accepts this plea, he will have to admit to the court and public that he’s a sexual deviant.  Bill counters that he’s a scientist.  How can something deviate when there is no norm?  No two humans do the same thing, so why should two humans express their sexuality in the same way?

There’s no shape for sexual response.  It’s as particular as a kiss.  Far too much variety.  Bill will plead guilty to sexual deviance because he and everyone around him is a sexual deviant.  Bram tells Bill that if he says that, they can still win in the court of public opinion.

However, before Bill can make his case to the court, the judge cuts off his oration.  After a long pause, Bill pleads guilty to sexual deviance.

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After the trial, Bram tells Libby that the plea was Bill’s idea, which goes against Bill’s nature to fight.  True, but Bram reveals that a witness would have revealed damaging things that would have been embarrassing for Libby.  Well, Libby does want to put this behind her, so does Bill, Libby’s now ex-husband.

Then Libby switches gears and asks Bram his position on marijuana.  He’s all for legalization of the plant.  Same for oral sex.  As for marriage, after three attempts, Bram has no intention of standing at the altar again.  As for dinner?  Yes, Bram agrees to that.

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Virginia thanks Bill for his sacrifice, but Bill didn’t do this for her, Libby, or anyone else except himself.  He does apologize if this hurts the book, and while Virginia cares about the book, she cares about Bill more.  After all, Bill has sacrificed his reputation so Virginia wouldn’t get any of the blame.  They’ve been through a lot, but now, finally, they are back where they belong- together.

She takes Bill’s hand and says that she wants to be with him.  The two head out to speak with the press.

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Bill then returns to Alcoholics Anonymous and admits that while he’s not an alcoholic, he is an addict of sorts.  For him, it’s not a neon sign for cocktails that gets his attention, but something like an odor or perfume, Virginia’s hand in his, or a passing glance.  After that, he’s willing to give up everything, including his self-respect.  He’s here to ask for the group’s help.

Pretty sure that’s not why you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, but sure.  That’s an ending.

“Outliers” is another good episode full of good, dramatic moments and revelations with our characters, while still advancing them to a promising place by episode’s end.  The road to get there, though, proved tricky, as the characters dealt with being honest to themselves and each other.

I think about what Betty has been saying to Virginia all this time about being honest.  It can make things better, but it has the potential to damage a relationship as well, based on the reveal.  Is honesty always the best policy?  I would think so, and as this show has proven, massaging or bending the truth can lead to a problem down the line when the two parties aren’t honest with one another.

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And sticking with Betty, I get why she wants Helen to be honest about them being in a relationship.  For as long as Helen’s parents are in town, Betty is just on the sidelines, watching from a distance while Helen lives out a lie  Not the best option, given where Helen is by episode’s end, but it helped her maintain the image of having a perfect family.

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But, of course, no family is perfect, and while Betty and Helen may not what someone in the 1960s thinks of when they imagine a couple, they both know that they’re all each other needs in order to raise a child.  And it sucks that Helen’s parents leave her, but at least she’s not hiding from the truth anymore.

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Same with Libby, who I can’t love enough this season.  I appreciate that, unlike Bill, Libby is looking at the big picture and knows that she and Bill can never get back together.  It would be unhealthy for both of them and Virginia is still what keeps Bill from fully loving Libby, based on Bill’s history with other women who later left him.

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At the very least, I do hope that Bill and Libby remain friends or casual acquaintances, because their scenes together are warm, feel earned, and represent just how far they’ve come since the start.  Back in Season One, they were just the typical, dull husband and wife.  Now, while they’re separated, they’re enjoying each other’s company, having casual sex, and even smoking marijuana together.

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This is the sort of free, unburdened life that Libby has wanted all along.  Now that she’s on her own, she can do things like have friends, host parties, or find a man who loves her the way that Bill loves Virginia.  And I like that unlike Bill, Libby isn’t trying to force a full reconciliation.  The two still have still hurt each other and shouldn’t endure any more pain from another attempt.

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And even if Libby wants to reconcile, she’s found a new potential partner in Bram, and I like how this friendship has changed as well.  While starting off as antagonistic, given Bram’s role in Bill’s case, the two developed good chemistry and it’s clear by episode’s end that Bram can fill that void in Libby’s left by Bill.

Not that Libby needs that void filled because, as she said, she can handle herself, but if she had to pursue another man, I think Bram is a good choice and can’t wait to see how this relationship develops.

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Bill goes through an interesting arc this episode.  He starts off by telling Louise that he’s not like the people at Alcoholics Anonymous.  But by episode’s end, after Libby turns him down and he learns of Elliot’s potential involvement, Bill accepts his addiction to Virginia.

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Sure, it’s a selfless move on his part to sacrifice his integrity and reputation to save Virginia’s and I liked his speech to the judge, but would he have done this if Elliot wasn’t going to testify?  This move looks to have driven Virginia back into Bill’s arms, so Bill does end up with the partner he’s truly desired.  But I don’t know if Bill would have done this, had both his and Virginia’s secret affair not almost been exposed.

After all, Bill was ready to fight this and Virginia accepted the idea of this battle going to the Supreme Court, so while selfless, I see a bit of self-preservation as well, because why have both himself and the woman he loves go down?  Bill has already been ostracized by society since the first season.  He can take a bit of criticism.  I’m sure Virginia could as well, but right now, he wants to shield her from that.

So while Bill isn’t tempted by alcohol, he admits that he’s powerless when it comes to Virginia.  It’s an interesting way to try and rid himself of his addiction by going to an A.A. meeting, so I’m curious to see what becomes of this.

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And, on a side-note, I do appreciate that Bill decides against firing Guy.  Both know what it’s like to be an outlier, and I’m glad that Bill sympathizes with Guy, rather than throw him out to prevent another scandal involving someone sleeping at the clinic.

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Meanwhile, Virginia’s actions are a bit iffy this time around.  She’s moved by the ambition of the case going all the way to the Supreme Court, even if it could open up her private and professional life to other people.  She focuses her efforts on getting Little Brown back behind the book, which she does by fabricating a tale about Bob Drag’s sexual prowess.

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I get it- it’s for the good of the study, but some of Virginia’s decisions make me question her motivation.  If she saw that Bill and Libby were reconciling their differences, would Bill sacrificing himself be enough to win her heart?  After all, she’s been down this path before and even brings up a past instance of Bill making a bold move on her behalf.  Why should this be any different?

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After all, she reminded Bill about the dangers of making the same mistake.  Isn’t getting back together the same thing?  Virginia seems confident that she’s making the right move this time, and even though she and Bill are embracing their love for another, things won’t just be business as usual for them.

“Outliers” showed the ugly side of telling the truth, but helped advance the characters and bring them to relatively good places by the end.  Libby may find happiness with Bram, Betty and Helen will do their best with their relationship, and Bill and Virginia have found each other again, but now that Art and Nancy have learned about the recordings, life at the clinic isn’t going to get easier anytime soon.  The trials and tribulations are far from over.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4, Episode 4: “Coats or Keys”

By one definition, a key party involves the men putting their car keys into either a bag or bowl at a party.  Then, the women select a set of keys at random and then go home with one of those men for some indiscriminate fucking.  Swingers really knew how to entertain, didn’t they?

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The episode begins with Lester awakening in a car with his pants down and the windows fogged.  Someone wants him to call.  Who?  We don’t know yet.  Then Virginia attempts to call a cab, but her bed mate had the keys all along.  As she heads out, she grabs a coat.  Bill, meanwhile, didn’t see the night ending like this.  He hopes that his companion can change their ways or this arrangement won’t last.

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We then cut to 24 hours earlier.  Art and Nancy are in the middle of preparation for a gathering, though Nancy is more worried about Bill’s potential arrival.  Art assures her that Virginia says Bill doesn’t show up unless he’s being honored for something.  Virginia is also bringing someone with her, but no idea that person is.

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At the clinic, Virginia informs Bill about the aforementioned party, though Bill had no intention of going.  Besides, he has to take care of the kids.  Virginia invites Lester, as Dan is apparently stuck in Florida.  Virginia wants Lester to bring Jane, but she’s too busy courting her male lover.  Jane has a male lover.  I can see it.

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Bill, as we soon learn from Libby, bought the kids a dog, Baxter, and that’s a problem because this dog got into a bit of mischief, including shitting in Barbie’s dream house.  Well, maybe Barbie shouldn’t have a dream house!  Bill tells Libby that the dog is the kids’ responsibility.  Libby chews out Bill for not being in the trenches with the kids like she is, so he’ll talk to the kids soon.

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To my surprise, we return to the misadventures of Gary and Fran.  Things have not been going well since the last session.  They barely speak.  Fran wanted Gary to act like a man, and tells Virginia that wives should be more demure, even though she wanted to be dominated.  Virginia asks if there’s anything in Fran’s background that would make her think this way.

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Gary, meanwhile, tells Bill about his father, who could find fault in anything and even gave Mom a black eye.  It never occurred to Gary that a woman would want to be treated like that.  Fran’s heart skipped a beat once when Gary asked to order food for her.

Electrifying stuff, this couple.  Fran’s parents are a different case.  Her father wasn’t the demanding type.  Gary just wanted a traditional relationship and to show Fran the love his father never did.  Fran, meanwhile, just didn’t want to be her mother.

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Later, Bill and Virginia discuss the couple, Bill thinking that Fran and Gary couldn’t be more wrong for each other.  Each one wants something that the other can’t provide.  Or they couldn’t drop their guard.  It takes time to develop that kind of insight.  Virginia asks what it took for Bill, and he says that it just took a while, and not her asking the right questions so he could reveal his secrets and feel safe.

Sensate therapy would be too traumatic for Gary, so are he and Fran capable of change?  Can they let go and forgive each other for the hurt and disappointment that’s brought them to this point?  Who knows?

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That evening, Lester and Betty booze up as they arrive at the party, though Lester reminds Betty all about Jane’s boyfriend.  Lyle and Kyle, played respectively by Yan Feldman and Rafael Feldman, greet the two.  One is circumcised.  That’s how you tell the difference.  They had to say that, didn’t they?

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While Art and Nancy decide on coats instead of keys, Virginia and Libby arrive at the party, with Libby ready to flirt with any single men.  Virginia introduces Nancy to Libby, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that Nancy guessed Libby and Virginia were an item instead of just friends.

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Either way, she introduces the two to Michael, who knows Virginia because the two of them, along with Dan Logan, are supposed to have dinner in New York soon.  Oh, how about that?  Almost caught in a hard place, Virginia wanders off to distract herself.

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Nancy tells Art how Michael knows Virginia.  Good thing, because Art and Nancy would love to meet Dan.  As the two leave, Betty asks what Virginia plans to do when others find out that Virginia isn’t married.

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While Lester tries to chat up a woman about Jane because he hasn’t told enough people, Libby makes small talk with Michael about rebounding after divorce.  He and his wife renewed their vows, but only to love each other as best friends.

There was even a ceremony.  Libby claims to be close with her ex-husband, since they just need to talk about how much they love each other.  Everything after is easy.  And then Bram Keller arrives.

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Nancy and an attendee sort the coats, with the attendee saying that he likes Nancy.  Based on statistics, he thinks that he has a shot with her.

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Bram Keller is surprised to see Libby and apologizes for misjudging her.  Inside, Libby is a roaring cauldron of rage.  Bram goes on about representing Libby’s ex-husband and how Libby would love to throw Bill to the wolves instead of helping.  This manages to scare off Michael and allows Bran to explain to Libby just what kind of party she’s attending, as she has no idea.

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Back to Virginia and Betty, who doesn’t see any shame in things falling apart between Virginia and Dan.  There’s an honor, she says, in seeing that a marriage is ending, but remember that Virginia never got married in the first place.  See, Betty thinks people should just tell the truth, like Helen ought to do with her parents in regards to Betty.  Virginia will come clean.  Tomorrow.

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Bill arrives at the party, where Libby tells him that the kids are with their friends, even though he’s supposed to have time with them tonight.  Yeah, Bill is inconvenienced without any regard.  Sound familiar?

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Nancy and Art halt the festivities and bring the coats so they can explain the rules of the key and coat party: tonight it’s gentleman’s choice.  If Kyle and Lyle pick you, be careful because they do everything together.  As host’s choice, Art picks first and ends up with Virginia’s coat.  Well, this should be fun.

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A coat-less and intoxicated Libby makes her way to her coat, so Bill opts to drive instead.  No dice, Libby says, but she doesn’t have much of a say right now.

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Lester picks out a coat that belongs to a Miss Adele Davenport, played by Eileen O’Connell, the woman that he spoke to before and who wants to pass.  Well, that’s unfortunate.  Betty talks with piano player Guy, played by Nick Clifford, who isn’t here to participate in the festivities.  Betty isn’t interested in sexual roulette, she just wants moral support from the only other homosexual in the room.  Well, he is the piano player.

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Virginia isn’t into screwing with Art, even though she’s a guest in his house and was already spotted with a man in a bar.  They’re not coworkers at this hour.  Art tells Virginia, who is instead searching for her keys, that the damage is done, regardless of the two screw.  People will come to their own conclusion.  Virginia hopes that Art disavows that notion, but then she hears Nancy moaning through the wall.

It helps that she’s pretending for a purely sexual experience.  She doesn’t care- she’ll learn something to bring to their bed.  Art closes his eyes and pretends, too- he pretends to enjoy it.

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Libby and Bill arrive at home, with the two arguing about blaming each other.  Bill doesn’t feel that he’s making decisions to deliberately hurt Libby, including the dog, though she feels otherwise.  Taking care of a dog gets easier, but Bill and Libby started easy.  Now, unlike some exes, they aren’t even friends.

So Bill asks Libby what he can fix.  She wants him to promise not to make her the bad guy with the kids or undermine her authority.  Don’t treat her like a piece of business, either.  And third, Libby wants Bill to go down on her.  She wants to know what it feels like and so Bill can do something for the sole purpose of giving Libby pleasure.  As in right now in the living room.

Hey, when a woman wants you to eat her out, you obey.

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The server, Cleo, played by Enuka Okuma, joins Lester outside on the curb as he sits in his sadness.  And because Lester has a big mouth, the server knows all about Lester’s life and advises that he just punches Jane’s lover.

Be better than the people randomly fucking because they matched coats.  The server thinks Lester is better than them, even if no one wanted him.  This sex isn’t an act of rebellion.  Radical, the server says, is marching through the streets.

She hasn’t been arrested, though.  The point is nothing radical was ever catered.  Though Lester isn’t a risk taker and the server isn’t a radical, but they can change this.  Lester can be her worthwhile cause.  Tempting, Lester.

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While the couples fuck, Guy offers to take Betty home after they finish on the piano.  However, Betty needs to be dropped at the office because Helen’s parents are in town.  Guy feels that Helen will tell the truth when she’s ready.

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Back to Art and Virginia, who wonders why Art isn’t a willing participant in this.  Nancy likes Art being with other women, as it makes her feel less guilty that she’s with other men.  Art was the one who wanted to get married- the two give other people their bodies, but keep their feelings for each other.  Separating sex and love.  Interesting.  Virginia has separated the two before, but now she’s taking care of herself.

Virginia knows there are infinite ways that sex can happen without love.  Or you can get laid because it feels good and there’s nothing else on television.  As Nancy’s moans intensify, Art then pleads with Virginia to talk to him about anything.

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At the same time, Bill goes down on Libby, who thanks him for the service.  That’s one thing to check off his list.  And yet Libby is still upset because that felt good, but that never happened over 20 years.  Libby was a virgin and only knew what Bill showed him, which was the most polite sex in the world.

But Libby wasn’t disappointed because she didn’t know enough to be disappointed.  Bill wasn’t, though, because he saw other couples having sex and found someone else to fuck.  As did she.  Libby reveals herself to be a carnal woman.  She wants sex in the shower and wants to be felt up under a table.  Bill would have obliged during their boring dinners.

The only thing Libby saw Bill be passionate about was his work.  Libby didn’t demand passion, she only wanted Bill home for dinner.  It’s not tragic.  Bill believes that he and Libby did their best.  After all, they did produce three kids.  Bill did love Libby, even if not enough or in the right way, but he knows that he loved her.  Libby loved him, too.  The two kiss until it evolves into something more.

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While Lester and Cleo make sweet, interracial love in the car, Virginia notes how quiet it is in the next room.  Apparently, Nancy gets stuffed up when she sleeps to the point that she has a whistle in her nose.  Art knows what he signed up with Nancy and asks Virginia when it’s ever equal between partners.  Why can’t Art love Nancy more than she loves him?

Virginia asks Art if Nancy isn’t all that and maybe she’s just pretending.  Even if that’s the case, Art doesn’t care.  After all, what makes Dan love Virginia?

Maybe it’s not her body or work personality, but the person she is and rarely acknowledges: a fucked-up woman that Dan loves anyway.  Isn’t that true love?  A man who stands by your side when it’s not easy, but when it’s damn near impossible when you don’t think you deserve it?

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Libby and Bill eat up.  Bill’s ready to leave and do some thinking about this evening, but before he does, Libby wants him to take Baxter outside.

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So Virginia and Art are finally in a bed together, but he knew her coat because she wears it to the office every day.  Not because he wanted to go to bed with her, but because he knew she wouldn’t.  After all, she’s his boss and bosses shouldn’t sleep with employers.  Virginia admits that it happens.  Art tries to pry open Virginia’s mind through role play, but Virginia just calls him awkward, nervous, and doesn’t make eye contact.

Virginia waits until she feels a shared passion for the work.  The boss may call the shots, but the boss also wants Virginia to be her equal with the same opportunities and success.  That could be a ruse to keep it going, but the boss believes in Virginia.  He thinks that Virginia is smart and defers to her.  The ugly parts of Virginia don’t scare him away.  She falls in and out of bed with other men, but still, the boss loves her.

So when Virginia goes to find her own happiness, without him, life continues.  The boss is left a broken, afraid, insecure man, but he has shown Virginia these broken places.

So Bill takes Baxter for a walk, Lester is left in his car with a phone number on his window, and Guy takes a message at the clinic.  Virginia, meanwhile, learns that Art had her keys all along.  As she heads out for the day, she grabs a coat.

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Bill, meanwhile, asks Baxter to change his ways or this arrangement can’t last.  He then gets a visit from Virginia, who returns Libby’s coat.  Virginia then admits that she and Dan never got married, but the reasons were complicated.  Bill admits that he’s known for a while and doesn’t know why Virginia would be sorry.  He then tells her that he’ll see her at the office as the episode comes to a close.

Another great episode this was.  And a nice change of pace by having it all unravel after seeing how it ended.  Having the majority of this take place within the context of the key party was a great way, I feel, to develop the characters and progress their stories, even if the dialogue was a tad blatant at times.

At the same time, it makes sense in this episode that the characters are grappling with how to accept the others around them and whether that’s taking them on the surface level or loving them for what’s beneath as well.  This episode asks whether you can take someone at face value or if it’s possible to love them so much that their flaws are immaterial.

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When you’re able to accept that significant other, body, soul, issues and all, you’re showing your devotion to them in every way because you don’t mind being with them at their worst.  Even if they don’t show you that same level of love, as is the case with Art and Nancy, it shouldn’t be a contest of who loves who more.  It’s just about being true to yourself and to them by accepting their true self, not the imitation.

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Take Betty, for example.  She can see right through anyone’s bullshit and isn’t afraid to call others out on it.  She’s already called out the likes of Bill, Barton, and Virginia not because she can, but because she values honesty.  Despite how fucked up Bill and Virginia are, Betty would prefer if they stopped pretending and just put everything out in the open.  Although why Helen hasn’t come clean about her and Betty is something I don’t get.

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But not everyone is as honest or forward as Betty.  At this party, she exists on an island and finds solace in the only other gay person there.  And even though Guy is a homosexual, Betty doesn’t care.  She’s been there.  Hell, she’s still there.  And while society may not be as openly accepting of gays in the 1960s, Betty accepts Guy in spite of society seeing the two of them as pariahs.

Plus, while I enjoy Betty and Lester’s interactions, there’s something a bit more meaningful in seeing Betty befriend someone just like her.  And from the way Betty eyes Guy at the clinic the next morning, I wonder if she’ll try to bring Guy on to be her secretary.  After all, Betty could use the extra hands around the office.

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While most characters keep their truer selves hidden, Lester sees no need to hide who he is.  While he’s not a radical like Cleo, he already made a gutsy life decision by being involved with Bill and Virginia’s research.  But his home life isn’t going well and he’s made a habit of ranting about it.  Since Lester has done this in the past, it doesn’t come out of nowhere or feel like he’s bitter about Jane’s absence.

As we saw back in the first season, Lester loves Jane more than she does, the same way Art does with Nancy, but unlike Art seemingly having no problem with Nancy sleeping with other men, Jane having sex with another man feels like an endurance test for Lester.  It’s almost as if, I think, he just tolerates her behavior rather than accept her flaws.

Two other things: first, if Jane is going to be name-dropped as often as she has, I hope she appears at some point, even if brief or to explain why she’s no longer working at the clinic.  Second, I hope we get some follow-up between Lester and Cleo because it’d be unfortunate if they lost that connection.  And it would give Lester a suitable and likable partner in Jane’s absence.

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Art and Virginia’s conversation, while spelled-out at times, was one of the better scenes of the episode.  While Virginia thinks highly of herself, Art is one of the few people that doesn’t find her desirable because of their work relationship.  Plus, have you seen Nancy?

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But as strange as an open relationship is to some, Art knows who Nancy is, inside and out, and is able to separate sex from love.  That’s hard to do, given the level of Nancy’s moans.  There’s got to be something there beyond sex, even if Art doesn’t want to admit it. And if there is, he still loves Nancy, despite how bothered he looks upon hearing Nancy having sex.  He’s there for her at her lowest moments.  That, I believe, is commitment.

And Art does get Virginia thinking about how much each partner puts into a relationship. He rightly asks when it’s ever equal between partners, and even in this setting, that’s very uncommon.  Whether Art and Nancy, Bill and Libby, Barton and Margaret, or even Bill and Virginia, you don’t have both sides contributing the same amount.  It shouldn’t be a problem if one side puts in more than the other if the relationship is stable.

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That’s how Art sees it, but not Virginia, who believes that there should be equal output in a partnership.  Bill doesn’t see her as a subordinate and she doesn’t carry herself as one. But unlike men who value Virginia for her body, Bill values Virginia for her intellect and willingness to challenge him, whether at work or in the bedroom.

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I wasn’t a fan of how much Virginia spelled out Bill as the man in the hypothetical scenario, but I think it drives home just how much someone like Bill instead of Dan really gets her, even if their personal relationship is over at the moment.  But based on that realization, there’s a good chance that the two of them could recapture what made their bond so strong.

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Before that happens, though, we’d have to see what becomes of Bill’s relationship with Libby.  I’ll say it again: I love single Libby.  She’s brash, confident, and everything you’d want now that she’s on her own.  Of all the things I expected Libby to demand of Bill, I never imagined she would want him to go down on her.  But in this instance, she’s in control.

And this gives Libby an opportunity to live out what she’s been denied for years, but also what she’s seen in other couples.  Michael and his ex-wife are, at the very least, friends, and Nancy gets her rocks off with other men, even though she’s married to Art.  Libby had to get her rocks off through Paul and Robert because, like Gary, Bill didn’t desire Libby- he just respected her.

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Their marriage was about as typical as you’d expect a nuclear family, but that was the problem.  Libby didn’t want typical.  She wanted to be felt up under the table or fucked in the shower.  Certainly any man would accept such a proposal if it came from someone as pretty as Caitlin Fitzgerald.  But Libby’s progression this season has felt very cathartic and this was her chance to have Bill pleased her in ways he never did before.

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Also, the two do end up on good terms by episode’s end when they’re having a casual conversation.  Bill accepts that he’s wronged Libby and denied her satisfaction he would have been able to provide, but he also doesn’t deny that their children are evidence that, for all their faults, their marriage did have its successes.

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But this relationship didn’t have the success that Bill had with Virginia.  With Libby, Bill only saw a wife.  Hell, they slept in separate beds.  He didn’t see the horny housewife who just wanted to get fucked instead of just make dinner and be on display for guests.  The two were never equals the way Bill and Virginia always fought for domination.

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This was as much a good episode for dramatic moments as it was comedic.  Whether the main characters realizing they were at a sex party, Lester bonding with Cleo, or Libby asserting control over Bill, this was a very funny episode that came full circle by the end. After “The Pleasure Protocol,” “Coats or Keys” is a damn good follow-up with great character development in a fun setting.

But what happens now going forward?  Will Lester ever see Cleo again?  Are Bill and Libby back on good terms, despite being separated?  And now that the truth is out on Virginia lying about her not-marriage, where does her relationship with Bill go from here? We’ll see next time.