The hope for Masters of Sex was that it would have a second season renaissance that would collate the best parts of its first season, and leave the rest in the dust. Masters had a good first season, but none of it came together as beautifully as it did in just its second season premiere. Since then, only “Fight” has really been exceptional, and instead of taking flight, Masters‘ second season has gotten stalled out in some tedium (like the fact that an episode that spanned three years only covered, essentially, one conversation, then ended up back where things started). “Mirror, Mirror” had some great moments (mostly thanks to Flo), but still felt like more of the same. Hit the jump if you’ve been a very naughty orthopedist.
Despite some moments of catharsis this season, Bill still hasn’t changed much. He denies knowing his brother Frank to anyone in the office, much less even acknowledging he is his brother (and why have we never heard of him before, even through his mother?) Their connection is given so much more weight and interest around the office because Bill is trying to hide him. And like most things with Bill, the more he tries to repress something, the more it haunts him, and ends up out in the open.
This manifested in a couple of ways, like when Frank showed up with the same low sperm count as Bill (which Bill almost admitted to, but of course why would he?). Bill’s impotence is a new twist in things — kinda — but the fact that it’s happening with Ginny as well as with random prostitutes also shows the problem is more than just Bill’s selfish anger at Ginny. Lester’s impotence problems — which seem particularly linked to Jane — actually brings out paternal feelings in Bill, but don’t seem to lead him to any better understanding of himself.
All of this sexual dysfunction fed into Ginny’s interest in it. Ginny, collector of wounded birds (DePaul, Bill, and many others), can’t wait to start helping those with sexual dysfunctions who come into the study; so much so that she wants to become a psychologist. But, since that’s going to take her about 7 years, in the meantime, she sets up an appointment for Barbara, who is unwilling to go (shades of DePaul). Where things took a very strange turn, though, was when Ginny parroted the information Barbara gave her to a psychologist. Her shallow knowledge and information might have been enough for a letter asking for advice, but how could she possibly answer any other deeper questions? And what could would the advice to her fictional responses to do help Barbara?
The other odd turn in “Mirror, Mirror” was the threesome that has become Libby’s marriage to Bill; Ginny is just essentially a full part of it, now. Libby seems to have some understanding of the fact that Ginny near Bill makes him more tolerable, and since she doesn’t seem interested in leaving the marriage, she keeps Ginny around. But at home, Libby gives almost no fucks about Bill anymore — she’s no longer running around trying to please him (because it never worked, anyway), and he almost takes notice. When he praises her briefly on her natural salesmanship, she takes it all in stride. Her fascination with black people has also returned in a slightly healthier way than it did before (if that is possible), and she ends up taking the right stand when it came to witnessing the man thrown from the car. If nothing else in the last three years, at least Libby has grown some.
Where “Mirror, Mirror,” and indeed most of Masters of Sex, has really excelled on the whole, is with its minor characters. The comic relief thanks to Flo and Langham were very much needed, especially since Bill is back to taking himself far too seriously, and Barbara’s revelations were so horrifying. Lester, too, is the character probably deserving of the most pathos, and Bill’s paternal actions towards him were a nice way for him to be acknowledged (even if Bill acknowledges nothing else in his life).
“Mirror, Mirror,” like “Asterion,” was an entertaining hour. At its most basic, that’s what a good TV show needs to provide (weekly entertainment, that is). But looking at the larger picture, where is Masters of Sex going? It should be providing a better sense of itself and its trajectory. If there’s no character growth or change with the leads, and no real movement aside from office space after three years, what exactly are we watching? Masters is about changing history. So why does it often feel so stagnant?
Episode Rating: B
— Ginny going to the psychiatrist in lieu of Barbara is one of the battier things the show has ever done. Unless he is in on it. But it doesn’t seem like it …
— Interesting note about plastic surgery’s origins in the cosmetic market in this episode.
— “And you were the biggest pain the ass … Some things don’t change!” – Frank, speaking truths.
— Bill having a brother he’s never mentioned suddenly arrive was another Mad Men moment … the inspiration for a lot of this show is not hard to spot.
— Didn’t Betty look super modern in this episode? (Her hair and clothing).
— “Mostly I was babysitting incontinent bulldogs …” – Lester, on his time in L.A.
— I loved Ginny’s bathrobe, but I swear it’s the same one I’ve seen used on so many period TV shows (I’ve actually tried to look it up). I think they are sharing wardrobe. Also, my grandma definitely had the same crochet quilt that was on Ginny’s couch.
— Poor Lester, having to write his father’s eulogy on the fly, and worry about taking time off to go to the funeral!
— “I’m leaking cash like an old bladder” – Flo.
— Langham’s confession about the consequences of his “Don Juan” behavior was a long time coming. Him becoming the new spokesman of Cal-O-Metric was hysterical.
— Third weird thing in this episode: the man who ate himself to death. No real point to showing that, either.
— “$5 for prime rib, highway robbery!” – Libby
— “I don’t know why rich people paid big money to look at a man dress up in a white hood. You could drive a few hours south and see that for free” – Robert. Racial tensions have been running high for a long time in St. Louis (and surrounding areas), it seems …