It’s the 10th episode (of 12) on the first season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex, which means that it’s time for everything to fall apart (before the writers put it back together again in the finale), and they took an appropriate angle with which to steer the narrative descent: The end of the world (this show has been really good at thematically tying all of their subplots together).
It’s the late 50s, during the Cold War, so the action in “Fallout,” mostly takes place in the midst of an elaborate atomic bomb drill, because we were all under the weird misconception that, if we hid under our desks, we could somehow avoid nuclear fallout (this misconception would last the entirety of the Cold War). During all of this, couples came together and fell apart, but mostly fell apart.
Ginny and Ethan — This relationship really doesn’t make any sense, to be honest. Ethan broke up with his fiance, and Masters treated Ginny like sh*t, so Ginny jumped into a sexual relationship with someone she had already rejected. Mere weeks into their relationship and Ethan is already laying it on thick, and there’s already a sense that Ginny — smart, independent, strong-willed Ginny — will come to her senses soon and reject Ethan’s clinginess. For now, however, it seems like a necessary contrivance to keep all the characters in the same orbit.
Ethan and Dr. Masters — It also allows Ethan someone to confide in after Bill essentially fired Ethan from the hospital, not because he’s sleeping with Ginny, it turns out, but because Bill figured out how his wife conceived. Masters was pissed, even going so far as to sucker punch Ethan. To be honest, they both have good points: Ethan shouldn’t have been impregnating Bill’s wife with Bill’s frozen semen without Bill’s permission. On the other hand, Ethan was looking out for Libby, who deserved to be looked out for, since Bill certainly isn’t doing any looking out. I like Ethan, I do: But I think the termination should probably stick. I’m not sure his character will have an appropriate place in the story come next season, and I hate it when shows keep characters around who have exhausted their purpose. (On a side note, excuse my ignorance, but if Bill is shooting blanks, how is it that Ethan can increase the odds of pregnancy by using the same blank-laden semen to impregnate Libby? It seems like the fact that it was frozen would actually reduce the odds).
Margaret and Dr. Langham — Meanwhile, Margaret — after a conversation with a prostitute about the tricks of the trade (GET IT, TRICKS? *groan*) — also figured out why her husband wasn’t interested in her sexually, and I suppose that, in the 50s, women might not have quickly come to a realization that would otherwise seem obvious today. It’s hard to get a good beat on how this is making her feel: She suggested that it was the end of her world, but she also has to feel some sense of relief, in that it really wasn’t her fault that the Provost wasn’t attracted to her. I do hope that she will at least attempt to look at the situation from the Provost’s perspective. In either respect, while Margaret was feeling down about her husband’s sexual orientation, Langham was feeling bummed about the fact that he inadvertently impregnated a woman in the sex study, and guilty for not taking responsibility.
Related: The Provost was super pissed with Ethan for dumping his daughter, but the Provost should know better than to suggest that a guy should follow through on a marriage to someone he doesn’t love.
Masters and Johnson — The reason why Langham was feeling bummed was because Ginny — in one of her few dumb decisions — informed Austin about the fact that he’d impregnated another study subject. It was right of Ginny to try and take some responsibility on behalf of the study, but she should not have involved Langham. Masters was right to take umbrage, but as ever, he displayed absolutely no tact. He really is one of television’s most insensitive pricks.
That is not, however, why Ginny decided to quit. She quit because she finally (finally) came to the realization that Masters had feelings for her, and that the sex study was an excuse for Masters to have an affair with her. For such a smart woman, it certainly took Ginny a long time to arrive at the obvious.
Johnson and Dr. DePaul — Masters’ loss, however, is Dr. DePaul’s gain. Ginny walked from Masters’ office and right into DePaul’s, presumptuously assuming that Dr. DePaul would take her in as her secretary because DePaul doesn’t have an affinity for schmooze, which means she needs Ginny to get her cervical cancer trial going at the hospital. Ginny was right to presume.
Oh, and if it was nagging at you that you recognized Flora (the sex study subject was Austin impregnated), but you couldn’t place it (just like you couldn’t place it when you saw her in The Avengers) that was Ashley Johnson, who played Chrissy in Growing Pains.