A quick review of tonight’s “Masters of Sex” coming up just as soon as I put on a suit of armor to attack a plate of whipped cream…
Depending on how long Showtime and Michelle Ashford intend to have “Masters of Sex” run, this show is going to have to cover a whole lot of story at a much faster pace than normal. As the introduction to the pilot noted, we began the series a decade before the release of Masters and Johnson’s famous study, and certain other major landmarks for the partnership happened even later than that. So I imagine it would be easy for the show’s creative team to feel like they’re in a mad sprint to cover as much material as possible as quickly as possible. But despite having a title like “Race to Space” (borrowed from Henry’s comic book), our second episode takes its time, letting the important story and character beats land properly rather than going pell-mell through them all.
So the episode lets the impact of Masters’ request from the end of the pilot linger, as both Bill and Virginia imagine possible answers, and how majorly things might change if she says yes or no. And it takes its time showing the impact of having to move the study from the hospital to the cathouse, and on showing both how Betty the hooker can manipulate Masters (arranging for a job at the hospital, and a reversal of her tubal ligation for the benefit of her boyfriend the Pretzel King) and how Virginia is much better at the interpersonal side of the study than Bill is. We get to see that Dr. Langham has genuinely fallen for study partner Jane, while Jane’s only comfortable having sex with a married man under the umbrella of science, and we see Dr. Haas trying various methods – including sleeping with the most sexually adventurous woman he can find at the hospital – to get over his break-up with Virginia.
Relationships are established, or etched in more detail – like Libby Masters’ frustration and confusion at Bill not wanting her to be a part of the study because “I love you too much,” or the continued pressure Virginia is under between those who want her to be a homemaker and the boss who likes to remind her how much control he has over her – and it feels like the stories do move along, even with that care. It’s a very impressive second episode, all told.
What did everybody else think?