Masters of Sex recap: 'Giants'

Tensions rise as Bill and Virginia get to work at the new hospital.
Ep. 05 | Aired Aug 10, 2014

LEADING LADY Virginia must decide if she wants to join Bill at the black hospital or stay with Lillian.

Michael Desmond/Showtime

Well, the study would go ond if they could convince any of their patients to continue visiting Bill at the black hospital. His fertility patients are scared to park their cars in "this neighborhood." Bill gets punched in the face trying to break up a fight between a white husband and a black husband sitting in the waiting room, which leads to Dr. Franklin actually segregating the office, directing black patients to sit in one area and whites to sit in another. And Virginia notices someone is stealing—and throwing away—the fliers advertising their study. Oh, and she is confused: Will black participants in their formerly all-white study alter the scientific results? She's swayed by stereotype; Bill says of course they won't, all human physiology is the same, no matter what your skin color.

They're incidents that serve to remind the viewer that this is the dawn of a turbulent, radical time. While the focus has been on the sexual revolution that Bill and Virginia are leading, the civil rights movement has been running parallel to their story in the background. Here, it intersects. When Bill tells Charles, the hospital executive who brought him on board, about the exodus of his patients, his new boss doesn’t want to hear it. "You didn't ease people out of ignorance, you exposed them to the truth," he says of Bill's study. And that's what he plans to do by integrating the hospital. He tells Bill to call every one of his patients and explain exactly why they need to continue seeing him at his new location. That's how Bill moves his practice forward, and that's how the hospital moves forward. And that's how they move history forward.

Bill balks at the idea of contributing to history, and Charles calls him out on that lie: Otherwise, he says, Bill wouldn't be so dedicated to his groundbreaking study. Charles cites a speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave about the potential St. Louis had to make important contributions to the civil rights movement and asks Bill straight out if he will help make integration a priority at Buell Green. Bill says no—but not because he doesn't believe in the cause. He defers to Virginia as the expert on relating to patients—once again giving her credit for the good work she does. Privately, he tells Virginia that civil rights are not their fight—but if they can help with their work, there's nothing wrong with that.

This is the series' feel-good, positive spin on race relations. Bill and Virginia may not be warriors in the civil rights movement, but they're open-minded and doing their part—even if that doesn't actually involve going out of their way to change anything. Remember: Bill only has this position because no other hospital would hire him with his controversial study attached.

Libby, meanwhile, highlights the dark side of the issue. Her frigid relationship with Coral was punctuated by the lice standoff last week. Libby won, forcing Coral to wash her hair with lice shampoo or be fired. Coral, naturally, told her boyfriend Robert about the incident, and so this week he paid a visit to Libby. He was calm as he told Mrs. Masters never to treat Coral like that again, but there was a quiet undertone of a threat.

Libby tries to flip the incident on Coral, telling the nanny that she should stay away from that boy. Coral isn't naïve, and she doesn't bite. She tells Libby that she knows Robert has a temper, but at night, when it's just the two of them, all of that melts away. She gets a little explicit in detailing just how good she has it with Robert—when he kisses her, when he touches her—which of course flusters and embarrasses and infuriates Libby. After all, they're having this conversation in the Masters' bedroom… which includes his and hers twin beds. Coral may not have Libby's money or status, but she does have a man who can please her—and that is something Libby will never have. At least not with Bill.


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