Four weeks into its first-season run, Masters of Sex is still loaded with T&A: tension and anxiety. Of course, there’s still the skin that any cable series with the word ‘sex’ in the title is obligated to deliver. Regardless, the driving force of this series continues to be Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, who still have obvious admiration and a simmering desire for each other, yet neither of them are in a situation to let that passion out.
This week, the episode fast-forwards, as Libby is now expecting her baby in four months and Bill is anxious about its arrival. He has started sleepwalking again and his mother is now around, too (she is played by Ann Dowd, best known for her stellar turn in 2012’s indie drama Compliance). Bill must now segue from his smugness and condescension into a doctor with patience (excuse the pun) who can tolerate little tykes making a mess and fussing around with things at his office. His many frosty encounters with kids this episode should foreshadow some major daddy issues to come in later seasons.
Meanwhile, Virginia is barely keeping a roof over her family’s head but has to deal with a smirking slouch of an ex-husband, George, who is out of money and comes to crash at her place. He makes her even more uncomfortable showing up to the hospital to partake in her sex study. When she measures her husband’s erect penis and announces it to Masters in centimeters, he coyly responds, “What’s that in inches?”
In this week’s episode, slyly titled Thank You For Coming, their research starts securing more participants. Away from the brothel, they now have permission to conduct experiments at the hospital. A mid-episode montage of the various test subjects disrobing, attaching them to levers and censors, and masturbating is edited as breathlessly as some of the participants become. The soundtrack to the scene is shallow breaths and a crescendo of strings. In addition, the editing is more fragmented as the pacing quickens to an, ahem, climax. In one of the show’s funniest moments so far, Ginny stops one man’s ascent to the orgasm, and the pacing dies at her command.
The two doctors, meanwhile, are slowly becoming perfect for each other. Like how Bill is with Libby, she is short with her ex-husband. She glowers at him that she is growing up and can capably raise her family on her own. “That little study is keeping a roof over your kids’ head, George,” she tells him. “That’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for their father.”