Sunday, August 31, 2014

REVIEW: 'Masters of Sex' - Bill Receives a Visit by Someone From His Past as Virginia Treats Barbara by Herself in 'Mirror, Mirror'

Showtime's Masters of Sex - Episode 2.08 "Mirror, Mirror"

Masters privately treats a couple for infertility without revealing his relationship to them. Johnson realizes her work can be used to help people suffering from sexual dysfunction but quickly gets in over her head when attempting to treat Barbara on her own. Libby is unnerved after witnessing a hate crime that is then whitewashed by the police.

Bill and Virginia are making a change to their goals for the sex study. Previously, they were content with observing and collecting data. They were understanding what normal sex looks like so they then could go out and inform the public. That is still very much a prime focus for them. They still have yet to publish any of their findings and Bill was adamant that they wouldn't do that until they had documented 100 specific sexual acts. But now, things are changing because they have their own clinic. They have to worry about bringing in infidelity cases to pay the bills as well as forming a board of trustees in order to become exempt from taxes. They have to become more creative now in order for the sex study to not only be their chief focus but their chief source of livelihood. That means expanding the scope of their research to helping people with sexual dysfunctions. They have a solid understanding of what normal sexual acts are. Now, they can recognize what's off and help the person in question try to overcome or correct their issues. It's very much a natural progression of events that needed to happen as the study evolved.

And Bill and Virginia are tasked with three cases over the course of "Mirror, Mirror" in which they need to help. The first of which is with Dr. Frank "Mason" and his wife Pauline. They've been married for a year and have been trying to conceive all that time. They approach Bill because Frank is very old friends with him. A fact that doesn't and shouldn't go unnoticed by the people he works with. He diagnoses their problem - Frank has low sperm count - and is eager to send them on their merry way. The twist, however, is that Frank is actually Bill's younger brother. We didn't even know Bill had a younger brother. His family life is something Bill just doesn't like to talk about - even though he seems to have a better standing with his mother now. And we aren't let in on the brother reveal until the very last scene where Frank of course cries out that he "just wants his brother back." A bit cliche but it does make for more insightful viewing the second time around. I'm eager to see where this story progresses as Frank and Pauline will be sticking around for a bit.

Then, there's Lester who has been struggling with impotency even since another man started wooing Jane. His entire life he's been behind the camera documenting everything. That same quality transfers to his personal life as he always seems like the second fiddle to someone else. He and Bill actually have a bit in common. They were both so transfixed by one woman - Jane and Virginia respectively - that they struggle rising to the occasion ever since they broke it off. Bringing Lester in front of the camera to talk about his role in this whole operation is the start of his journey of recovery. It was a nice gesture on Bill's part.

Lastly, there's the most emotional story of the night as Virginia sets out to start treating Barbara and her vajinismus by herself. She quickly gets in way over her head as Barbara comes over to her home late at night to reveal a painful and very traumatic experience. That character has always been a little bit off. And now, we know a small part of the initial event that made her that way. It's a fantastic moment for Betsy Brandt as she shares that story. I initially thought it was a little weird how frequent director Michael Apted cut to Virginia and her reaction in that scene. And then, it became much more clear that that moment was just as important for Virginia as it was for Barbara. She's the one who goes to the appointment with the psychiatrist when Barbara refuses and shares the tale. This situation can only end tragically. But I'm quite enthralled to see it slowly spiral out of control.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Mirror, Mirror" was written by Steven Levenson and directed by Michael Apted.
  • Did Bill ever tell Virginia that he would serve as on-call doctor whenever they stayed at the hotel? It's left pretty ambiguous as he leaves to go check on the dead fat guy.
  • Frank and Pauline worry that Frank's past alcoholism could be causing their failure to conceive. Bill and Virginia are trying to change the perception of sex. But thoughts like this still exist in the 1960s. 
  • Libby is also helping Bill and Virginia woo chief of police Sam Duncan to be on the clinic's board. They are really playing up that triangle. How else would you explain that very minor and quick mix-up of someone thinking Virginia was Mrs. Masters.
  • But Libby clearly doesn't fit in with this world. She's felt more connected to the main plot during these last two episodes. However, it looks like she'll be breaking away soon to do stuff with Robert again.
  • Much like Libby, Austin feels directionless. He's following the rules but he's not excited by anything. The Cal-O-Metric lady presents him with an opportunity and he likely just takes the gig because it's something new for his life. I really want him to either become a better part of the show or just be cut out completely.
  • Between Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson and Betsy Brandt, Masters of Sex could - and should - dominate in the Guest Drama Actress category at next year's Emmys.