Masters of Sex recap: 'Asterion'

The new Masters and Johnson Clinic struggles while Bill has difficulty accepting that Virginia wants to continue seeing other men.
Ep. 07 | Aired Aug 24, 2014

MASTER OF HIS DOMAIN Bill grapples with running his own practice—and Virginia's personal choices.

Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Libby finally comes to visit the new office. Betty greets her, and in the time it takes them to walk through the lobby and up the stairs, the episode flashes forward one year. Kudos to the writers and creative team for the slick transition in clothing, hairstyles, and music to subtly mark the passing of time. Of course, not so subtle is the fact that Libby is now carrying two babies—John is older, and there's a little one in pink on her hip. It's Sept. 2, 1959, we learn—courtesy of Lester's clapboard once again. Inspired by the documentary Windjammer, Lester is now filming Virginia and Bill's work outside of the exam room. The study is like the film, he says—it's real life. It's kind of a dopey metaphor, but okay, we get it.

Meanwhile in Bill's office, Libby confronts her husband about putting their house up for collateral without her knowledge. (She found out when a man from the bank was snooping around to reassess the property.) Bill insists everything is fine; Libby demands that if sacrifices must be made, they need to be made at work, not in their home life. But hasn't their entire relationship been one giant sacrifice of emotional fulfillment to feed some misguided idea of a "good" marriage. "Why would I do my best to make you happy then turn around and undo it all?" Bill asks her, simultaneously lying and summing up his screwed up relationship with all women.

Libby takes matters into her own hands and phones Bill's mom, whom Bill pretty much banished from their lives earlier this season. Behind his back, mommy dearest has been visiting Libby and the grandkids on a regular basis, which infuriates him—probably because he told her all of his "secrets" when he unceremoniously sent her back to Ohio. But she comes asking for forgiveness, and she promises that his secrets are safe. Oh, also: She wants to give him a chunk of money and bail out his failing new practice.

So yeah, none of that goes over well when he's back home with Libby. They fight an epic fight over his mom, Libby lying about seeing her, and the money. Choice moments include Bill screaming, "I PROVIDE THE ROOF" and Libby calling him out for acting like he's the only person scarred from his past and insisting that he spread his torment around and make everyone else suffer along with him.

But it's time to go to a party… Langham's birthday party. His girlfriend is now into burlesque—thanks to that ever-evolving, kind of shady modeling agency—and pops out of his cake. Bill and Libby are barely speaking; Bill's too busy trying to sabotage Virginia's relationship with her new man, both of whom are in attendance as well. Bill is once again vicious in his words, going into explicit details about the study when he's introduced to the new boyfriend, Kevin. Virginia finds relief in a cigarette in the bathroom; Libby comes in looking for respite of her own, and passes on the offer of a smoke. (She quit during fertility treatments.) The women bond over the damaged man they both love—or Virginia loves, unbeknownst to Libby, and Libby tolerates because he's her husband—with Libby talking about how he "fears so many things" and thinks an apology "would make him weak." They haven't had sex in over a year, she admits. And then another obvious metaphor: She likens herself and Bill to two tectonic plates that will inevitably crash and break apart with a violent jolt.

Later Virginia finds Bill on a balcony, where he drunkenly tries to apologize and feel her up at the same time. "That is one world he says," referring to the party guests below, "this is the other." He crosses the line when he once again brings up the "strangers" that frequent Virginia's life and "apologizes" for his "faithless, fickle heart." She pushes him away and runs. Virginia has always caved when he opened himself up emotionally, but this time he's just saying what he thinks she wants to hear—and she's not buying it.

NEXT: Let's do the time warp again


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