After an emotional premiere, Masters of Sex slowed things way down in “Kyrie Eleison” (meaning “Lord Have Mercy”). But, it maintained its focus on place (as in, position). Each of its characters is adrift, longing for something they have lost or cannot achieve. “Kyrie Eleison” also separated Bill and Ginny again, but as with all things Masters, the study must go on, and their connection to it drives them back together. It also is the only place the two feel at home. Hit the jump for more.
Some of “Kyrie Eleison’s” tales of displacement were literal. Langham has (finally) been kicked out of his home by his wife, but doesn’t let it get him down (why would he?) He throws a party at his office, where he tells Ginny that they will never be together, because they are both lone wolves looking for their next prey, cast out from the pack for not conforming. For a moment, Ginny seems to agree, and then she quickly rejects the notion. Her focus is always on the work, no matter what.
The Scullys, minus Vivian, have also left their home, though willingly. She confides to Bill about her father’s suicide attempt, and how her parents went on an impromptu vacation so that he could begin to rebuild. Barton isn’t at home even when he is at home, though, because he isn’t comfortable with who he is. The same is true for the Patient of the Week, Rose, who agrees with her mother than she should be sterilized so as to quell her sexual desires. But Bill counsels her that she’s not a whore, just someone with a different kind of sexuality, and therefore, it needs to be managed differently (starting with an IUD).
Betty is, of course, the example case for Rose, as someone whose choices didn’t prepare her for a future she couldn’t have imagined at the time. Her husband is obsessed with the notion of her pregnancy, but because of her voluntary sterilization from years before, when she was working as a prostitute, Bill was unable to reverse it and provide any hope for a child. Rose still has a chance.
The irony with Bill though is that while he does everything he can to allow for babies to be brought into the world, he couldn’t be colder or more afraid (in Libby’s words) of his own son. Libby, desperate for a partner, hires a young black nurse and housekeeper. While things seemed cozy at first (with Libby spilling all of the beans about Bill’s failures as a husband and father), she resented the fact that her new housekeeper could quell her child’s screams (and in front of Bill, no less) better than she. Later, in an attempt at revenge, she purposefully humiliates her over to pronunciation of “ask” as “ax.”
Masters of Sex operates under the difficulty of being based on a real story, and while the show has certainly taken many liberties with the characters and timelines, the fact is, Bill and Ginny aregoing to get together in the end. In the first season, Libby was an atypical hinderance to that. She wasn’t painted as a shrew or as a philanderer; in fact, she loved and tended to Bill more than anyone even rightfully should. Her friendship with Ginny also complicated things morally for Ginny, because Libby’s kindness and generosity as a person made Bill cheating on her all the worse.
And yet, in “Kyrie Eleison,” the show seems ready to abandon Libby as a saint in order to raise Bill up in a redemptive arc. Neither deserve it. Libby began her transformation in “Kyrie Eleison” into Mad Men‘s Betty Draper, a woman whose insecurities and childish behavior rule her, and make her into a difficult and cutting personality. If that’s the way Masters wants to take things, it’s a mistake. Libby doesn’t need to be cut down to pave the way for Bill and Ginny, because it’s always been clear Bill should move on from his marriage, even despite the baby and Libby’s goodness (and perhaps because of it).
After this season’s premiere, many felt that the show was really revamping itself, like The Americans did in its second season. But after “Kyrie Eleison,” the show seems to be back to status quo. Masters of Sex has always excelled in showcasing emotional complexities, just like The Americans, but it also needs something to drive it, too. With the sex study over with (for now),Masters is treading water as a collection of vignettes that don’t seem to be leading anywhere new.
Episode Rating: B-
Musings and Miscellanea:
– Bill actually wasn’t useless in this episode for one minute, when he gave Rose advice. Otherwise, still a turd. I don’t care that he reacted emotionally about Barton’s suicide, that is a normal thing to do.
– Bill and Ginny reuniting at the end of the episode didn’t feel triumphant, it felt like the default at the end of a bad day.
– What a sad non-surprise that the doctor who wanted Ginny’s expertise was really just finding new ways to get off.
– I can’t fault Langham for his honesty, even if he is a cad, although it still makes me sad how things ended between him and Margaret.
– Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) is Bill’s new secretary, Barbara! For now. I would expect her to already be gone, except for the fact that it’s a recognizable actress.
– I wish there was more Jane, even though I suppose she’s off to California. While I appreciate Betty time, I also miss my other straight-talkin’ blonde dame.
– Poor Lillian, although Ginny’s treatment of her as a child is tiresome.
– “You know what’s four floors below us? The morgue. That’s lonely. We’re dancing!” – Langham. I was so happy when Vivian rebuffed his advances. She’s learning!