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Masters of Sex bounces back in its third episode, finding a great balance of humor and drama for its best episode yet.
Building out the shows world last week was a necessary evil (even if they ignore pretty much everything they focused on last week), but they quickly put that behind them and get back to what works on the show; Masters, Virginia and the study. The episode opens, and is dotted with, a flashback to Bill and Scully in their early years and this was some actual world building that lends itself to the show. We get to see Sheen play another side of Masters, earnest, but more importantly we get a grasp of just how long he has been waiting to take a run on this study. Besides providing background for Bill, the flashbacks also serve as an excellent story contrast for the week as it displays how far he and Scully have fallen by the time Masters blackmails his long time mentor over his homosexual activities. The blackmail also serves as a great example of how far Masters will go for his study as Sheen gets a wide canvas to show off this week.
It’s also exciting to see that Libby might, finally, be able to move along from being all about her pregnancy as Masters’ techniques finally get her pregnant. Everything around this story works really well as it gets joy out of the good news and some excellent tension when Virginia puts her foot down on Libby’s suffering by revealing Bill’s infertility secret to her. Thankfully that reveal is never shared between the couple in lieu of the good news, but it worked well for the episode. I am intrigued to see where the Ethan and Libby relationship goes though; they got to find something for him to do.
I mentioned that the episode found a nice balance between drama and humor and it did so by setting us up with the laughs and slowly turning up story. The testing montage at the whore house was fantastic, actually the show is often at its best the last two weeks in this setting and it is a shame we are going to be moving back to the university. They built up a couple of great characters with the working girls at the house, but the way Masters was talking about his subjects through prostitution it doesn’t seem like we are going to get much more from them. Nothing makes me feel like this is more the case than the sad, yet hopeful exit of Betty from the show’s storyline. Betty has been a spark of fire and energy, often delightfully played against Masters, but it was great to see Bill show how much he cares about his patients when he has to perform surgery and give the bad news to Betty. No episode has given Sheen a chance to show off his skills as an actor like this one and he impresses at every turn.
Virginia seemed a bit under served this week as the show basically pushes her down at every turn as Masters knocks her down a peg in the workplace and they introduce a new female doctor that sees Virginia as nothing more than a secretary. The show has seemed to have a bit of an issue so far balancing out enough to do for each all of its characters from week to week (more of a reason to trim down these ensembles) and this week even the shows second lead couldn’t avoid the awkwardness. I mean, the first scene in the show’s present this week had Mae Whitman as a young, soon-to-be wife, and she is funny and great, and then we never see her again. How do you waste Mae Whitman?
Minor complaints aside, Masters of Sex was very good this week. Bill continues to be a fantastic character for us to study and I don’t mind the deliberate pacing of the story as long as we get great material like this for all of them. Sadly the show fell a bit short of that mark this week, but they seem to be quickly finding their footing and I continue to have high hopes going forward.
-"I bet you taste just like orange sherbet." "I'm not on the menu.
-"Maybe you can count the rings on my hoo-ha?"
-"I take a Midol and watch General Electric theater."
-"No lady doctor's looking up my skirt."
-"It's a necessary evil."
-At least "Daddy" is an appropriate nickname now?