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

But Libby tries to have something with Bill by making a sad attempt at explaining why they should have make-up sex. And so we see Bill on top of Libby in her tiny twin bed. The sex is mechanical, emotionless. There is no pleasure, only obligation. Speaking of obligation…

When Libby tells Bill that Robert threatened her, he dutifully responds that had he been home, he would have protected and defended his wife. But then Libby lets the details of the lice incident slip, and Bill softens. He can't believe she didn't apologize for doing such a terrible thing to Coral. He can't believe she got off so easily.

Later, Libby catches Robert outside when he arrives to take Coral home. Libby attempts to apologize, but he says she needs to apologize to Coral. She refuses, saying Coral deserved that treatment because she disobeyed her. And then Coral walks over. Robert tells her to listen, that Libby is giving a lesson in white people's inability to take responsibility for their actions. Libby is horrified someone would use race as a derogatory term toward her. "Did you say 'white people'?" she yells. "My husband works at the negro hospital!" Which, in the '50s, appears to be the equivalent of the modern-day "But I have friends who are black!"

Another prejudice was examined tonight, too—homophobia. Sarah Silverman made her debut as Helen, a former friend of Betty. But they weren't simply friends; they were lovers. We learn that Betty jilted Helen when the Pretzel King came along. Betty saw her meal ticket and went full steam ahead into a heterosexual marriage to turn her back on an extremely difficult, traumatic past and a no-future lesbian relationship. That led to the breakup with Helen, which was devastating on both sides.

And that's why Helen looked up Betty and is trying to worm her way back into her life. Pretzel King adores this fun-loving, palm-reading pal, and arranges a double date with his friend, Al. The scenes between Helen and Betty are filled with hidden meaning and masked heartache—truly wonderful work by Silverman and Annaleigh Ashford as they simultaneously play the charming date/wife to two unwitting rich men. The women kiss in the bathroom; "You can't do that," Betty says. "I just did," Helen replies. Is this another lie Betty will continue to hide, or will she finally reveal the whole truth to her husband?

And on the topic of reconciliation, it was nice to see Lillian and Virginia make up by episode's end. It was touching to see Virginia so committed to bringing Lillian to her cancer treatments, even though the two didn't speak to one another the whole time. It took a health scare on Lillian's part—a dangerous fall that has her considering leaving Maternity as a doctor for good—for the women to realize the bond that they've created isn't worth breaking over poor decisions and a sex doctor.

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