Masters of Sex‘s “Dirty Jobs” had a lot to live up to after “Fight,” one of the best episodes of the series (and possibly of the year). It was an episode that focused on trust, a theme very relevant to all that is Masters of Sex. The hospitals have to trust Bill with his study, the patients have to trust that they are not being exploited, and of course there is the trust present in the personal relationship between Libby and Bill, Bill and Ginny, and even characters like Betty and her husband Gene. But in “Dirty Jobs,” many of these connections were broken, with only some hope of repair. Hit the jump if you know that you sleep with your mouth open, just like a tiny baby bird.
There have been many things in Masters of Sex that have been teetering on the edge of truth and consequence, and in “Dirty Jobs,” many of those came to a head. Despite all of the role playing that happened in “Fight,” Bill and Ginny’s relationship was never quite defined. Ginny therefore wakes up to start the episode in a panic that her current occupation is “mistress.” She and Bill could pretend what they want about what happened in that hotel so long as no one else knows about it, but of course, that all came crashing to a halt when Langham glimpsed them by the elevators.
And thus began a crumbling that spread throughout the episode. Langham spilling the beans to DePaul lead her to questioning Ginny as best she could about the affair, without getting anything back in return. DePaul is often a taciturn figure, but her relationship with Ginny has been one that has helped her both personally and professionally. To hear from Langham that Ginny is sleeping with Masters shatters the foundation of who DePaul believed Ginny to be — in fact, she felt she could not believe anything else she said. In a bold move, she gives the entirety of her study to the visiting Dr. Papanikolaou (a real historical figure, more on that below), not trusting Ginny to continue her work in the way she originally hoped she could.
Ginny’s response to this was to lower her personal standards, and continue hocking the diet pills not only to overweight women, but to any woman whose confidence she could tear down (the antithesis of what Ginny has always stood for). She tells her children that one can only rely on oneself, but as Langham tells Bill, that’s not true. He misses his family, and wishes he hadn’t kept messing up. Just as Bill seems poised to fly the coop from Libby, her meltdown over his latest firing triggers something in him about family that he’s not willing to just throw away. And Libby, for her part, continues both antagonizing and clinging to her housekeeper Coral, who she also believes broke her trust, by telling her, “you and I need to stick together, Dr. Masters is not part of this.”
Elsewhere, Bill is dissatisfied with Greyhouse’s prurient interest in his study, and does what he can to deter him (telling Barbara to put “old men masturbating” on the schedule, and later telling Greyhouse they he might develop homosexual feelings towards Bill and other men by watching the study). But Greyhouse counters Bill’s every move with a dogged pursuit, even inviting in other doctors to watch young women masturbate. In Bill’s greatest moment yet, this was one breach of trust he could not stand for. He punches Greyhouse, covers up the girl, and leaves the hospital.
Like many things in Masters of Sex, “Dirty Jobs'” main point was best illustrated by Betty. She lied to her husband and colluded with Bill to cover up her sterilization, and even wanted to blame her husband as infertile so that he wouldn’t be upset with her. But ultimately, the truth came out (after a great few scenes with Bill denying having anything to do with anything), and Gene discovered Betty’s lies. What she did not anticipate, though, was that Gene was no fool — he knew she had been a prostitute, because she had once serviced him. Her presumption that he wouldn’t love her because of her past was erroneous, and in fact, was the basis of them getting together in the first place.
Thus, the time for change is now, and nothing could be more of a change for Bill at this point than taking his work to a black hospital, and calling Ginny his partner. Masters of Sex can often be obvious in its progression, but here it has a real chance to do something different. It’s another excellent step in the right direction for this reinvigorated second season.
Episode Rating: A-
— As my friend Sara commented to me after “Fight,” Masters can be very heavy-handed with its themes. It’s singularity of vision, but dedication to explaining it so obviously, is what makes the show entertaining, but not exceptional.
— “So I’m not qualified to be a researcher, but I can play secretary in my free time?” – Ginny.
— Greyhouse is so gross, but I loved Bill’s talk with him about transference. “You mean like in wrestling?” Hilarious!
— “Follow you dreams … It’s a great slogan for people who can’t afford to live it; but sure, go ahead, maybe you’re special” – diet pill lady.
— Langham is such a mess, but he meant well by the advice he gave to Bill about his affair.
— Bill is finally beginning his turnaround: he was kind to Libby in her mania over the course of this hour, stood up for Ginny, and most importantly of all, stood up for that poor girl in his study who was being ogled by those doctors.
— Coral vs. Libby … I hate it because of what it does to Libby’s character, but it has provided some great moments. For one, when Libby cuts her off in front of the other ladies, and Coral looks at her and pointedly says, “she AXED me.” Two, when Libby (seeming 100% crazy) forcibly washed Coral’s hair (though did pay for her to get it fixed), it was like from a horror film: “it’s just you and me … just us … no one else … come here, let me wash your hair … that’s it … just us …”
— Libby is losing her mind, and Caitlin Fitzgerald is doing a great job portraying her desperation.
— Poor Dr. DePaul … that radiation on her brain was almost a B-movie kind of horror.
— So, Dr. Papanikolaou was a real person, who is credited with developing and popularizing the pap smear. There was another scientist credited with also doing a lot of the leg work, but Papanikolaou didn’t properly recognize him at the time (his name, however, was Aurel Babes and not Lilian DePaul).
— “I didn’t go into medicine to see my name in a study, Virginia” – Lilian DePaul.