Masters of Sex 1.05 “Catherine” Review: What You Can’t See

28 Oct

Throughout “Catherine” there are multiple discussions about what you can and can’t influence; how some things can’t be measured by science no matter how hard you try. This starts off in a jovial manner as Bill informs a couple that lying together to get pregnant includes something a little bit extra. It turns into something devastating in the second half of the episode as science and faith don’t provide an easy answer as to why bad things happen. This is probably the strongest Masters of Sex episode so far and we get further insight into what drives Masters (and to a lesser extent Virginia).

Masters of Sex 1.05 Bill and VirginiaThe study has progressed to couples once again and Virginia and Bill have very different ideas of what they need from participants; Virginia believes that attraction despite not being a quantifiable factor needs to be taken into account. In the study there is more equal footing between Virginia and Bill and it’s not just the lab coat as Master’s condescension is limited. Dr Langham proves both of them right when he fails to get an erection for either the woman that he is attracted to or the complete stranger who he rejects. This is one of example of something going wrong for a reason that can’t clearly be defined as Dr Langham claims that this has never happened before (of course) and then he screams at the heavens “Why won’t my dick work?”

Masters of Sex 1.05 Study is back onAs things are going to get substantially heavier I thought we might need this fun shot of Virginia and Bill visiting Dr Langham to tell him the study is back on. Virginia looks thrilled, whereas Masters has his standard professional face on.

Masters of Sex 1.05 JaneAs the study is back on this means the return of Jane (!) and once again she is wearing yellow. This color is all about joy and Dr. Langham is particularly glad that he gets to spend time with her again though random biological (non) movements impact this excitement.

MAsters of Sex 1.05 Jane and EthanJane also gets to point out what an idiot Ethan is being with his treatment of Vivian as she tells him to think about how Vivian feels (this is a novel approach for Ethan when it comes to women). Jane also knows what different color roses means and she helps him because he is clearly clueless and I think that Jane might have dated a lot of Ethan types in the past so she knows how to see through his BS. It’s not quite the J pin she wore a few weeks ago but Jane is wearing yet another fetching broach to brighten up her work wear.

Masters of Sex 1.05 dress shoppingIt’s hard to talk about pregnant Libby shopping for maternity evening gowns with what follows but this scene is important as it shows just how strong the thread of denial is with Master’s mother Essie. It mirrors their conversation from last week when Libby asked Essie about Bill’s father and adds to this notion of self-delusion that Bill brings up later. Libby wonders whether Bill is sleep walking because he is anxious about becoming a father and she wants to know why he slept walked as a child. Essie’s response is rather telling as she recounts that “it was always something darling.” This is clearly not what Bill thinks about his childhood sleep walking adventures. Maternity clothes like the ones that are being modeled for them in this department store is a new concept as Essie describes how when she was pregnant you went away at month five and came back at month ten.

Masters of Sex 1.05 Bill confronts his motherBill has his chance to confront his mother but only after he has completed the hardest surgery of his life – removing his dead child from his wife – and it’s not surprising to see him looking this disheveled with his bow time hanging around his neck. It is a confrontation that has been brewing his whole life as he talks about their combined self delusion and wishful thinking, referring to it as “our sickness.” Bill is normally all about the facts and figures but the sickness he mentions “infects everything, everyone” and isn’t something that science can prove (though therapy could be a real big help). This is probably why Bill has such a strong desire to control everything around him and when he loses this he really doesn’t have the capacity to respond.

We also know that Bill is a man of science and so God doesn’t factor into his process and it’s interesting to hear his mother say “If God wasn’t invented for time like this, then why invent him at all.”

Masters of Sex 1.05 the day afterBill tells Libby they won’t be trying for another baby because they can’t go through this again, but he is also denying Libby any say in the matter. Libby brushes him off and over the last few weeks Libby has become a solid character whose main fault is trying to be the perfect wife and mother. Caitlin Fitzgerald gives a stunning performance as she conveys the heartbreak at losing their baby and she looks so utterly drained the following day as she wraps the coat that is now too big for her around herself. She almost blends into the hospital walls as her pale color costuming palette that is normally a point of light is now a source of sorrow.

Masters of Sex 1.05 Libby and BillIt feels cruel to talk about how radiant Libby looks at the Scully’s party and the color of this gown enhances the horror of the blood that Bill sees when Libby stands up to go to the bathroom. The dress also resembles a wedding cake as it is grand and opulent in design and despite having a life with privilege no amount of money and expertise can prevent something like this from occurring. It’s hard for both Bill and Libby to understand the reasons behind this miscarriage as Bill demands a scientific reason and Libby questions why this has been taken away from them when it was so hard to conceive in the first place.

Masters of Sex 1.05 Vivian and EthanThe shock of blood also features in the Ethan/Vivian relationship as he doesn’t realize that she is a virgin until he sees the blood on the sheets. Ethan plays an interesting role in this episode as he gets himself into as predicament with his bosses daughter (the Provost is encouraging this union). Vivian once again wears pink and this time it has an orange detail to try and show that she isn’t just a young girl. Ethan definitely thought that she was more worldly when it comes to bedroom related matters.

Masters of Sex 1.05 Vivian in pinkAt her parent’s anniversary party she is very much the young girl in her pink dress and pearls.

Masters of Sex 1.05 the ladiesMargaret Scully (Allison Janney!) is in red and as it’s her party it’s her prerogative to stand out and this contrasts with her daughter in youthful pink. In this scene Margaret and Libby are giving Vivian advice with what to do about Ethan, considering the distance that exists between these women and their husbands they might not have all the answers; they tell Vivian that you have to make them love you. Vivian’s declaration to Ethan that they can just have fun seems to work as Ethan tells Virginia later that Vivian is his girlfriend.

Masters of Sex 1.05 Virginia breakdownVirginia’s story is in the background this week as she spends the episode struggling with balancing work and family life; she breaks down in front of Ethan after Henry has almost run away and tells him that her attempts are “not good enough.” Ethan’s motivations with offering to hang out with Henry seem pretty genuine as does his offer of friendship to Virginia, but considering his behavior last week and how obsessed he has been it is hard to fully trust him. I am impressed with how they are developing this character from lovesick jerk to a complex figure that might not be “the worst” as I have said several times on Twitter.

Masters of Sex 1.05 close your eyesWhen you cry like that in front of someone it can be very intimate and Virginia is on the receiving end of an emotionally vulnerable moment as Bill tries not to break down in front of her. This is something that Bill needs to do as he is so tightly wound and he needs to release this emotion. There are still barriers as he makes Virginia close her eyes before he lets out a sound of anguish that is totally devastating as he clutches hold of her hand in his office. Virginia wears dark colors throughout the episode and this red stands out as a sign of her strength and in this moment Masters needs someone to hold onto. Libby tells Virginia about the one time that Bill fell apart (after his father died) and gets to the heart of the matter with Bill wanting to stay in control of everything including how much someone knows him.

This is the second time that Bill infers that it was something non-scientific that made this happen; his negative feelings towards having a child are the thing that caused this. Virginia is the face of reason in this moment as she reminds him that thoughts are not that powerful and sometimes bad things do just happen.

For more Masters of Sex coverage head here.

4 Responses to “Masters of Sex 1.05 “Catherine” Review: What You Can’t See”

  1. omarid513 November 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    “Jane also gets to point out what an idiot Ethan is being with his treatment of Vivian as she tells him to think about how Vivian feels.” When watching- and slowly writing about- this episode, I was quite pleased not just with Jane’s lines, but how involved she was with Haas’ dilemma. I like the writers giving her and Langham something to do and it feels natural since we’ve been introduced to them in the pilot. Hope she continues to be involved. And definitely following anyone who reviews Masters of Sex.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Masters of Sex 1.06 Review: Different Kinds of Therapy | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 10, 2013

    […] has shifted between Virginia and Bill since his breakdown at the end of last week and even though he is surprised to hear that she is ringing from his office – and yes she […]

  2. Masters of Sex 1.10 “Fallout” Costume Review: Floating or Falling? | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 2, 2013

    […] bathing suit and cap. There is also a shot of Margaret in her stunning scarlet dress with Barton at their anniversary party and the use of this color in the pool scene feels like a reference to her freedom in finding out […]

  3. Masters of Sex 3.03 “The Excitement of Release” Review: To Feel Wanted | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 27, 2015

    […] Jane is back much to my delight even if she is far from the optimistic and happy person we last saw back at the start of season 2; gone are the bold yellows and here is the miserable and tired look. She’s still rocking excellent pins. […]

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