Masters of Sex: All Together Now Review

Bill and Virginia finally consumate an amusingly unsexy relationship that serves as the upper to an otherwise melancholy affair.

Leave it to Masters of Sex to make its lead characters’ dramatic consummation just so…loveless. How perfect. Following the cliffhanger in last week’s Masters of Sex, “All Together Now” cuts right to it and focuses on a decidedly unromantic coupling between Bill and Virginia…for science. Of course. Virginia is determined to teach Bill the importance of clitoral stimulation and their romance creates an amusing conceit. Repeatedly, Bill must ask Virginia about her relationship to sex as part of their research in a questionnaire. Bill, in so many words, is obligated to ask if she finds a connection between romance and sex. In a throwback to the pilot, Virginia admits that she is removed from women (of her time period) and does not correlate the two. However, it is very obvious that Bill immediately does. After their first copulation goes uneventful (for her) with eight minutes in the missionary, Bill must stagger home before even doing the proper data gathering with Virginia. However, after discussing the Kamasutra with some new potential recruits into the widening world of science, Bill is able to impress Virginia with a variety of new positions, including the crouching lotus. It is an amusing set-up, as even when things are going “well” for Bill in the lovemaking, we rarely see anything but the awkwardness of two human beings forced to be intimate while wearing probes, wires and various assortments of tubing. Neither looks very comfortable, nor does the viewer who had previously grown accustomed to the show’s subversively un-sexy nudity time. Now, when the leads finally get in on the scientific exploration, that one very used-up joke from the previous six episodes is hilarious again. What is not hilarious in the least to Virginia is how Bill has become the traditionally “woman” cliché of confusing sex with love, despite her protestations. The show even used that device earlier this season when Ethan found himself unwittingly walking into the TV trope of “clinginess” with Vivian Scully. To be fair in that case, she is a 19-year-old student who convinced her childhood crush to seduce her. Whoops. Still, Virginia finds herself being invited for a little dinner afterwards to alleviate the awkwardness, but instead pushes Bill back to the arms of a very cold Libby, which may inadvertently be a terrible idea. Libby is convinced that the only way she can prevent herself from losing Bill to either Virginia or a likeminded woman is if they have a child. Because deciding to have kids in hopes of saving a marriage is a MARVELOUS idea. But true to her 1950s nightmare conventions, Libby forces Ethan to secretly begin the process of inseminating her once more. And in an uncharacteristically selfless act by Ethan (who has also spent this episode trying to subtly woo Virginia by helping her purchase a car), he agrees—if she begins copulating with Bill again. Otherwise, Bill will figure out that Ethan helped Libby with her problem behind his back, and there will be the Masters of Hell to pay. It is all both sad and interesting. I have intentionally avoided researching the real history of any of the people involved on this show, but it feels to me that the writers are pushing Ethan and Libby together while they’re melding a concoction for Bill and Virginia. But somehow, things absolutely have to get worse. For example, Ethan being able to convince Virginia to let him co-sign for her car is terrifying. Not only because it shows a remarkable amount of sexism even in business transactions for the 1950s, as a single woman cannot sign a lease without a man’s co-signing signature. But also, it undoubtedly sets up a very bad future when Ethan turns on Virginia and uses that against her. This man PUNCHED her. It will happen. The seeds are already sown as he stumbled upon Virginia and Bill coming out of research in a state of undress. Does anyone think Ethan or Libby will believe it is entirely professional between these two? Eventually, Virginia is able to ignite a flame under Bill and Libby’s love life by stating she will not continue “researching” with Bill until he fixes the frosty nightlife between himself and his wife. In a lick and a split, Bill is literally starting a fire and trying to play Rock Hudson to his wife’s Doris Day. I imagine that his Kamastura advice is helping their marriage far more than just any old ultimatum from the assistant. However, I also imagine he has Virginia on the brain too. After he and Libby discovered life beyond the missionary (providing her with an excuse to start work with Ethan), Bill returns to his standoffish self with Virginia, but that too shall pass. Seven episodes in, they’re already on the research table. In another five, they will be able to do it without the wires.  However, it was not all fun and research tonight. Indeed, the B-storyline, which turned out to be the much more poignant, is the sexless marriage between the Scullys. I say sexless, because they obviously do love each other, but it will never be in an intimate way. There isn’t even a pretense when Barton comes home early to discover that his wife has a man over in her separate bedroom. He bats not an eye and asks no questions in the morning, which is by far the most infuriating aspect to Margaret. If he were her husband, he’d be outraged, but men in glass houses…when she even suggests that, he pleads that he is not slept with any other women, but the agony is that in his mind, he somehow thinks that excuses it. The reason Barton came home early was because he was stabbed and beaten for being gay by some hoodlums on the wrong side of town. And to hide his reputation, he calls neither the cops nor goes to the ER, but has Bill perform surgery on him in secret. Bill knows what Barton’s persuasion precludes and demands that if Barton wishes to protect his marriage and reputation—not to mention career—that he must stop. It is a disgusting demand that in 1956 could entirely be seen as friendly advice. It is almost gratifying that Barton’s solution is to switch up the affairs in a car for a hotel room. Oh the small little victories. But it’s not a victory. Not when the best scene of the night is Beau Bridges and Allison Janney laying it all out in the most painful of relationships between a closet case and his beard. She doesn’t even know. Somehow, considering she did not have an orgasm until her late in life affair started last week, I imagine she’d be even somewhat more understanding if she knew the truth. I suppose we will find out soon enough. At least by the end of the night, Bill and Virginia are having a good time. In its own introverted way, Masters of Sex is almost swooning in its newfound rocking chair. Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


4 out of 5