Oooh! A Theme Song — The second episode introduced us to the show’s opening credit sequence (which I do not remember from the pilot episode, though I may have missed it). It’s jaunty and playful, which wasn’t exactly the tone I took away from the premiere episode, but it does appear to be more in line with the second episode’s ambitions. I like it, but I hope they don’t go too overboard: I like the flirtatious aspects of the series, and the ballsy attitude, but I do hope they keep the comedy dark.
Wet Dreams — The dream sequences that open the episode are the first suggestion that Masters of Sex plans to be a little more playful. Typically, I’m not a fan of daydream sequences, but they work here to allow us into Virginia’s mind without resorting to voice-over narration. She doesn’t want to bang Dr. Masters even FOR SCIENCE. We also get our first glimpse of Ginny’s kids, who were completely missing from the pilot. I like that they’re both young, so we we don’t have to worry about any annoying teenage drama infecting the show for at least a few seasons.
Someone Shoved a Corn Cob Up the Asshole — Dr. Masters is his usual peachy self. After the provost discovered that the sex study had extended to couples, the hospital pulled its support. Dr. Masters, in turn, shit-canned Virginia, although it is unclear if it’s because Ginny didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity to scientifically copulate with Dr. Masters, if it’s because he’s jealous because she slept with Ethan, of if it is really is because she thinks that Ethan, via Ginny, was the source of the leak. Either way, Masters put on a masterful display of assholery.
Copulation’s Most Annoying Side Effect — Elsewhere, there’s child-care trouble brewing at home for Ginny, and I’m glad that this was addressed early. A single-mother in the 1950s is probably going to have one hell of a time balancing home and work, and that’s certainly the case for Ginny, whose judgmental Nanny abandons her because Ginny doesn’t spend enough time at home with her kids. Ginny later finds a new nanny from the secretary reject pile, although that poses its own issues, specifically one with which many a working mom still grapples: Missing out on those sweet parenting moments. Of course, viewers may also ask, from a practical standpoint, how the hell does Virginia pay for the mortgage and afford 14 hours of childcare a day on an assistant’s salary?
A Backdoor Man — Dr. Masters continues to patronize, looking down his nose at Betty, even while he asks her for a favor. Betty plays the game, though, allowing Dr. Masters the use of her brothel only in exchange for a job at the hospital and, later, a procedure to reverse her tubal ligation. Turns out, Betty found a rich man who wants to put babies in her, and she turns Dr. Masters smarmy pretention against him.
Strictly for Masturbation — Masters, meanwhile, pays the prostitutes twice their going rate, and agrees to provide them free medical care in exchange for allowing him to watch them self-pleasure. They’re not too keen on the idea, but Ginny smooths things over with them, appeals to their egos, and in doing so, reclaims her position with Dr. Masters, at least for the moment. Bill is clearly a dick and still wants to manipulate the situation in such a way so that he can f*ck Ginny, and his ego has clearly been bruised by her presumed rejection.
Do You Like to Watch?: Things are still not going so well at home for Masters, either. He dismisses Ethan as his wife’s doctor, but she later insists on keeping Ethan because she doesn’t want to fail Masters both as a wife and a patent. When Libby finds out about the sex study, however, Libby attempts to enliven up the bedroom with a little self-pleasure of her own. Masters rejects Libby’s erotic overtures, because he “loves her too much,” which is Masters way of saying, “I want Madonna at home, and I’ll take the whore on the side.” For all his good intentions, Masters really is a condescending, sexist, patriarchal pig.
The Second Sex — Jane also reveals herself to be a fantastic feminist, and may end up being one of the show’s best characters. She really is in the study for science, and not just to have sex with a doctor, much to the doctor’s chagrin. “One day it will be possible for a woman to love from her strength, and not her weakness,” Jane reads from The Second Sex. “Not to escape from herself, but to find herself, not out of resignation, but to affirm herself. Only then will love become for a woman what it is for a man: A source of life, instead of a mortal danger.” That actually reminds me of a Louis C.K. routine: “There is no greater threat to women than men.”
Do You Like It In the Rear? — Nicholas D’Agostino’s character, Ethan Haas, has a lot to overcome after the premiere episode, in which he slapped the shit out of Ginny for refusing, basically, to marry him. He seems kind of written into a corner, although he equates himself OK in this episode, in part because the writers seem to want to lay a rug over that development. In this episode, he mostly spends his time trying to replace the sexually adventurous Ginny, but he either undershoots — when he finds a woman that is too uncomfortable to go down on him — or he overshoots, when he finds a woman that is too comfortable, both with blow jobs and with anal sex.
It’s a tricky balance.