Hi! Welcome to my recap of the much anticipated Masters of Sex season two premiere! Since I don’t know if you’re up on the show, this first recap of the season has character breakdowns, a recap of season one and major plot points of the premiere episode, titled “Parallax.” If you don’t have Showtime, go make better friends! Or for a limited time, watch it for free at their official site!
Setting: Late 1950’s at Washington University Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri.
Character Breakdown of Season One:
Dr. William “Bill” Masters (Michael Sheen)
This poker-faced “alpha dog of coochy medicine” has spent decades building a perfect career so that one day he can science it up with sex. By season 1’s end, he’s alienated his assistant and been fired for his scandalous research.
Virginia “Ginny” Johnson (Lizzy Caplan)
Bill’s former assistant and “lab partner,” Ginny is an ambitious divorcee career woman ahead of her time with 2 kids and no college degree. And she is marvelous.
Libby Masters (Caitlin FitzGerald)
I waver on whether sweet and supportive Libby is naive, slow or just coping beautifully being married to the cold Dr. Masters. Filled with baby fever, she secretly goes to Dr. Ethan Haas for fertility treatments with Bill’s impossible sperm. Just when Bill & Ginny’s work starts heating up, boom, Libby is bafflingly preggers and finally gives birth by season’s end.
Dr. Ethan Haas (Nicholas D’Agosto)
One part pouty child, another part dazzling eligible bachelor, Ethan has wanted Ginny from the beginning. Cue casual sex and boom, he’s in love. Eye roll. By end of season, he has proposed, but not before taking the virginity of his boss, Barton Scully’s daughter. Dr.
Austin Langham (Teddy Sears)
PUT YOUR DICK BACK IN YOUR PANTS! Married with 3 kids, the blond womanizer is the first man to sign up for the coupled portion of the Masters & Johnson’s sex study. He really liked being paired up with Jane Martin. Later, in a fit of soul searching, he has hot car sex with fellow soul-searcher, Vivian Scully, his boss’s wife.
Jane Martin (Helene Yorke)
Vivacious Jane is the first to brave the sex study. The seemingly-ditzy budding feminist is a multi-orgasmic secretary at the hospital, a supporter of Masters & Johnson’s work and a general delight.
Barton Scully (Beau Bridges)
Long time colleague and friend to Bill Masters, Barton is provost(Dictionary: Senior Administrator)at the hospital. Also, a super secret homosexual. After getting shanked in a back alley while waiting for a male sex worker/lover last season, things have amped up and he now seeking any treatment necessary to rid him of the gay.
Vivian Scully (Rose McIver)
Cat’s out of the bag. Vivian has finally been clued into the fact that her husband, Barton is gay and that explains all the bad sex in her life and why Dr. Langham’s car ride was so much better.
Margaret Scully (Allison Janney)
Daughter to Vivian and Barton, ex-girlfriend to Dr. Ethan Haas, she’s a bright eyed sweet college age girl who tried hard to be the perfect wife to Ethan.
Dr. Lillian DePaul (Julianne Nicholson)
A woman doctor! Unheard of! Fighting every stereotype of womanhood, the stoic, freckled, deadpanning doctor gets no respect from the men in her field. Her sub-plot and boss relationship with Virginia is my favorite.
Estabrook Masters (Ann Dowd)
Not the worst mother ever, but it feels like she was. Currently a supportive grandmother and caretaker to Libby and Bills infant, she’s trying to keep her abusive, dead husband in the past, but Bill won’t forget those memories so easily.
Betty DiMello (Annaleigh Ashford)
Sex worker helps Masters during various times in his sex study with access to a brothel full of interview subjects… in exchange for a job at the hospital to pretend she was never a sex worker to begin with. Why? Read on…
Recap of Showtime’s Recap of Season One:
Dr. William “Bill” Masters wants to study sex! Virginia “Ginny” Johnson wants to help! Barton wants to keep him from being labeled a pervert!
We’re reminded about the sassy hooker lady who can’t have kids marrying the rich guy with pretzels and baby fever (Why is this featured so prominently?).
Boring Dr. Ethan screams “She must be mine!” after sex with Virginia and for the rest of the season and maybe forever.
Barton the Provost is still gay. He assures Wife Vivian he’s going to get cured. Oh this is going to turn out great!
Bill wants to do science, penetration style, with Virginia. She’s in.
Enter Dr. Lillian DePaul… a woman doctor! Ambitious Virginia likes this. Plot twist: Dr. DePaul is dying of what she strives to prevent with this new fangled pap smear.
Dear Bill, remember your wife, Libby, whom you don’t actually love? Yeah, she’s pregnant with your impossible sperm. Good luck with that.
Mother Masters compares Bill to his father. “Don’t you dare compare me to my father!” he foreshadows. (Trigger Warning: His mother blasted music to drown out what sounded like his father’s severe beatings growing up.)
Virginia opens an envelope of delicious cash. Bill explains it’s for all her “science.” She quits.
SMUT! Dr. Masters reveals his beloved sex study to a packed house of shocked doctors. Commence pitchforks. Bill gets sacked.
Failed at life, Bill’s all like, “screw it.” Shows up on Ginny’s doorstep confessing big love feelings with rock bottom eyes. Ginny and her fantastic eyebrows heavily take it in.
Cue: The best opening credits since Dexter.
Enter: Season 2.
This Week on Masters of Sex!
Let’s dive in:
#1. New Jobs: Pretzel King gets Fertility Specialist Bill a job with an annoying, greedy, mildly-racist hospital head. Remember, Mr. Pretzel is the new husband to secretly-lesbian-&-infertile-former-sex-worker Betty DiMello (triple secret!). Oh, that’s why she was featured earlier!
Ginny can’t survive on DePaul’s salary and attempts to sell sad diet pills to the insecure. Thank goodness after an alarming amount of sexual harassment from the sex study, the last kind doctor at the hospital sees her value and offers her a job.
#2. Bill is a Monster: We witness his unleashing as a cruel, cold, traumatized man abandoning his baby and terrorizing his mother all the way back to Ohio. Circle of violence! The wanna-be-therapist in me wants to lovingly slap him on the mouth.
#3. Hang the Gay Away: Barton’s electroshock therapy is more horrifying and damaging than I had braced for. So does it work?
Through his heroically genius porno hiding place, the answer is OF COURSE NOT. He goes to show his boner to his wife, but she calls foul when he flips her over, Brokeback Mountain style.
I get sad later in the ep when a scream is heard and Wife Vivian finds her hubby hanging by a noose, held up by their daughter. They get him down and breathing. Gruesome sub-plot. More, please.
#4. Virginia’s Lie: Post-coitus, Virginia tells William she hasn’t said yes to Ethan’s proposal, but with a quick shift in storytelling perspective, we learn later she lied. The story structure of this reveal nods to the episode title, “Parallax.” Great wikipedia opportunity there.
Either way, it’s over between her and Ethan. Her lie is only interesting to me in that it means she doesn’t want Bill to know she did a totes 180.
#5. The affair is ON: Ginny and Bill’s frenzied sex is entirely different from last season’s sterile lab work. Their coming together is savage, trembling and awake for the first time. I feel them both discovering something new about themselves. Also, some surprising light BDSM from Dr. Masters’ corner. Raaar! This isn’t Game o’ Thrones level thrusting. This is some nuanced, character-driven boner material, friends!
#6. The Worst Guy: Blond Doctor practically army crawls into Ginny’s office to hide from his very pissed Mrs. Mere scenes after he tells Ginny he’s newly devoted to his saint of a wife, she gang busts into the hospital, hands off her screaming infant and intercoms,
“Attention all hospital staff. Dr. Austin Langham, known here as your resident philander and insufferable cad, has spent the last 2 months fornicating with his sister-in-law. That is correct. My baby sister Rosemary, because apparently little Rosie is the last woman in all of St. Louis that Dr. Langham hadn’t skewered like a pig!”
That boy has problems. Join me next week as I break down the drama, character by twisted, broken character. Yay!