Sunday, September 21, 2014

REVIEW: 'Masters of Sex' - Bill & Virginia Film an Interview While Libby Propositions Robert in 'One for the Money, Two for the Show'

Showtime's Masters of Sex - Episode 2.11 "One for the Money, Two for the Show"

A television camera crew arrives at the clinic to document Bill and Virginia's work treating sexual dysfunction. Bill considers this publicity premature. Virginia deals with the consequences of having prioritized her work over her parenting. Libby feels replaced as Bill's partner by Virginia. Austin realizes there's no way out of his sexual contract with Flo.

"One for the Money, Two for the Show" effectively returns the focus of the show to the study. But more importantly, it does so by redefining identity. A documentary crew for CBS descends upon Bill and Virginia's clinic to help ensure that the two come in first place when it comes to opening up the sexual conversation across America. It's fascinating watching Bill, Virginia and Lester try to preserve the identity of the work while dealing with the people and the censors that could significantly increase their public awareness.

And that sends Bill spiraling into his own identity crisis. He's not the idealist fighting for his beliefs like Lester wants him to be. He's not personable like the interviewer wants him to be. But more importantly, he no longer sees himself as desirable. He doesn't have that twinkle in his eye. He doesn't understand how Virginia would be willing to stay with him when he can't even perform sexually for her. She is ignoring her children just to be with him. And he no longer sees himself as worthy. That is so painful to see. He feels like he is loosing a strong grasp on who he is. Everyone else is willing to exploit his work to make for a better story. And he just can't support making claims and promises when he can't even solve his own problems in the bedroom.

Not only is Bill starting to question his own identity but Virginia and Libby are as well. Virginia has been so focused on the work lately as well as beginning her regular meetings with Bill in the hotel again. Her children haven't even been seen since the show did it's major time jump halfway through the year. In fact, they have been in the background not pulling any real focus all year long. And yet, they return to showcase just how her priorities have shifted lately. Her ex-husband was a sleazy character last season. But now, he's settled down and is looking to be a bigger fixture in his children's lives. Lately he's been there for his kids in a way that is surprising to Virginia. She still sees him as the guy who doesn't follow through from her marriage. But because she's been distracted by work, she hasn't seen that he has changed - or that she is missing a huge part of her children's lives even though they technically live with her. Bill is the only person she really connects with anymore. That's why she's still there for him. And yet, it comes with this strong moment of clarity that she has been missing out in other aspects of her life lately. And now, she's all alone for the next six weeks. But she's not really alone because she continues to have the work and Bill. It's just one big question of whether or not it is all worth it.

And then with Libby, her joining the CORE offices has always been about her trying to find something that is completely her own thing. She thought having children would be that calling for her. That's the good thing she was suppose to do in life. She has always been the good girl and rule follower. She is sticking to normal conventions of societal life in the early 1960s while her husband is trying to break down the taboo discussions of sex. She has always taken the conventional road in life. And that really hasn't gotten her anywhere. She's with a man who is livelier when around another woman. She's lost. So, she bares her soul to Robert and the two of them connect sexually. In that moment, it's the exact kind of rebellion she needed. She will likely be a changed woman because of it. And that prospect is fascinating. I haven't been that on board with the totality of this subplot. But right now, it's coming together in a way that could be quite combustive to the natural foundation of the series.

Some more thoughts:
  • "One for the Money, Two for the Show" was written by Amy Lippman and directed by Adam Bernstein.
  • I really am at the point where I just wanna fast forward every single time Austin and Flo appear on the screen. It's just so utterly pointless. Yes, they are a part of the episode's discussion of identity as well. It's just nowhere near as interesting, exciting or engaging.
  • I love that Adam Arkin is sticking around - at least for this episode - as the PR guy and I enjoy the addition of Marc Evan Jackson as a new tenant in the building who makes keys.
  • Lester really is passionate about the study now. That's great to see - especially since he was just awkwardly talking about Bill and Virginia's findings a week ago.
  • It's a tad surprising that next week is the season finale already. Why do I have that feeling?