Masters of Sex: Catherine Review
It may have been the best Masters of Sex yet if only because Bill learns what little of a master he is in life. And it is a painful lesson.
Bill has a heart. This shocking revelation was only surpassed by the sound of it breaking in the same exact closing moment. In what is likely the best episode of Masters of Sex yet, Bill’s past and present collide to horrifying results—the kind with the emotional residue that aren’t quantified or recorded as empirical data. On the science side of Masters of Sex, it was mostly business as usual tonight inside the lab. Bored that after watching 200 different masturbations in their facilities, Bill and Virginia rather easily begin couples testing, a prospect that not too long ago caused all sorts of controversy. Yet, the biggest issue they had this week was getting Dr. Austin Langham to control his mojo in the controlled setting. First, they blindside him with a couple’s “test” that isn’t Jane, and he can’t get it up. Then they do it again WITH Jane and it’s still not working. It appears for such a reputed horndog that he does have feelings….at least for Jane. Maybe, if the problem continues, they should contact his wife for a roll on the surgical table? At the very least, the inability to perform is still worth studying as well. For all of the humor found in the day-to-day ins-and-outs of sexual study, the real focus of the episode remained on the personal relationships of the major characters. After all, it was Bill blackmailing Scully on his “standard deviations” that allowed the leverage for these experiments to be held in the first place. That relationship has obviously remained frosty, as Scully is raising Ethan Haas up as his new posterboy. It doesn’t hurt that he thinks Ethan is respectfully courting his 19-year-old daughter. I am not sure what is creepier: Being okay with an adult employee dating your teenage daughter or thinking that Ethan Haas is a gentleman. Oh, you wild and crazy 1950s! Ethan again provides most of the comic relief in the traditional relationships this week, as he is roped into having a “casual” relationship with a girl who admits to having had a crush on him since her sixteenth birthday. He is then shocked to learn that she was a virgin when he deflowered her. And if Scully ever finds out… But the bigger issue at hand is what happens around Scully, namely his wedding anniversary. While providing more contours as a closet case, and moments for Ethan to avoid the clinginess of his new “girlfriend,” the party is ultimately about Bill and Libby’s storyline reaching a critical turn without a trace of irony. For the last several episodes, Bill has been sleepwalking—recalling his troubled childhood, which is only exacerbated by the recurring presence of his poor excuse of a mother. Bill will not even stop to discuss names for their baby who is six months along. It is only at the party where Bill decrees what the baby’s girl name would be (Libby already has conceded it would be named William if it is a boy). “Catherine,” he almost whispers. When Bill says anything, it is a command, not a suggestion. But this unsettling bit of adorable caring is cut short when Bill later realizes that there is blood on Libby’s dress. She has had a miscarriage. The rest of the episode is the immediate fallout about them coping with what this means. Bill goes through the motions of a methodical doctor to Libby’s needs, but there is an unnatural level of coldness and “professionalism” there, even for him. He cannot accept the reality of the situation. When he finally confides in Libby that they have lost the baby, he does so with all the passion of reading the weather…from across the room…and without saying her name. He doesn’t go to embrace his own wife as she cries for their unborn child. He doesn’t even react at the undoubtedly soon-to-be-controversial moment of him removing the stillborn during surgery. It was a girl. Bill, a man who earlier in the episode hilariously compared himself favorably to God when a naïve Christian couple came into his office, cannot seem to comprehend how the undesirable happened to him. It becomes clearer when he confronts his mother after the tragedy to say that things are not going to be alright and that he realized, if only in his own mind, that he would a chip off his father’s abusive block. Yet ultimately, it’s crystallized with Virginia herself. Virginia had a subplot about her bratty son being bratty, but really her moment of the night is a simple one: When Bill is in his office, he can finally confide his emotional frailty to her—after she prods him by refusing to go back to her desk. Without being commanded, she dares to touch his hand and earns his real confession: He had second thoughts about having a baby. This is not a surprise considering his sleepwalking was always packing the baby’s stuff up, as if it were an already unwelcomed guest ready to depart. He had also since told Libby he will not “put her” through this ordeal again. The reality is that he is afraid of being a terrible father and wished that there was no baby. Now, that the girl, Catherine, was gone, he blames his own thoughts on her demise. Virginia must tell him that he is not God, and he really does not have power over all the cosmos, yet Bill proves to have control over at least one thing: Everyone around him. He forcibly closes Virginia’s eyes with his hand before letting out a wailing cry that shook the entire episode and probably whatever was playing on Showtime 2. It is a powerful, perverse moment where she must hold his hand in silence and with her eyes closed while he cries for the daughter that never was. It is shocking, somewhat disturbing and ultimately moving. It speaks for itself. Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars