Season 3 of Masters of Sex should be subtitled “Michael Sheen Awkwardly Interacting With Children and Attempting to Influence Grownups.”
The first part refers to the season’s trend of Bill finding himself alone with various younglings, a continuous reminder that while he might help people make babies, he is disastrous at dealing with the living results. He’s not much better on the adult side, even as he reads Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, and buying Virginia a fur might at once be the sweetest and most ridiculous thing he has ever done. Not buying the same thing for his home wife as his work wife? Bad form, Bill.
The fur, in part, is a bribe to get Virginia on the road pumping up their book. As Betty points out, Virginia isn’t ready to pack her bags just yet with a newborn, a troubled teen, and a sick son in Vietnam. Henry’s letter and his possible illness is Virginia’s key distraction, although the mysterious man from last season’s story of heartbreak and abandon turns out to be new investor Dan Logan. How ever long Josh Charles is on the show, he does provide an interesting foil to Bill, able to provide Virginia with the emotional comfort Bill often neglects. And yet his attention seems to lack authenticity, whereas Bill, for all his bumbling, usually comes around to the truth of his feelings. Taking her to dinner to celebrate their success was a nice touch, even if they did set it up to be LOADED WITH MEANING earlier in the episode with Libby’s story.
Oh and Allison Janney is back! And looking so fabulous I can’t stand it. Fashion aside, she is embracing her sexuality and playing house with a new man (and some friends). Unfortunately, this new fella, Graham (Tate Donovan) has his own sexual problems, which Margaret fears might actually be hers.
The Barton/Margaret storyline has always been the most heartbreaking to me and continues on that path as we discover that not only does she still care about him, but she took the blame for their divorce, losing her daughter in the process, in order to protect his secret. Margaret’s protectiveness over Judith in some ways mirrored the brief, but poignant scene between Betty and Tessa–wiser, wearier women looking out for the interests of those still clinging to the last strands of innocence. That Tessa finally realizes the truth about Bill makes those strands even more fragile.
And poor, Joy. One week, she’s looking at apartments and begging Libby to run away with her. An aneurysm later, she is a “turnip,” unable to care for herself. This plotline has two possible points–either to warn Libby off of her thoughts of escape, or to push her out the door. Hopefully the choice is the latter, as punishing a woman for showing independence would be an unfortunate and cliched choice.
Final thought: Perhaps it was just a throwaway line, but Bill’s reference to the Shirelles felt more intentional. Their greatest hit, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”, is often cited as an early feminist anthem, what with the girls questioning what happens after the sex and the moonlight fade away. While that is certainly relevant for Tessa this season, it is applicable to so many of our characters who exist at once in the passionate night, fearing the morning sun and the truth it brings.
Until next week . . .
Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TMN (in Canada) and Showtime (in the States).