Masters of Sex 1.07 Review: How to Save a Life

11 Nov

Don’t worry this isn’t going to turn into a Fray sing-along (though I am sorry if it’s now stuck in your head, as it is in mine) but there is a lot of talk in this week’s Masters of Sex revolving around the idea of saving someone’s life and they all occur in secret. While certain storylines are bubbling to the surface, there is still much that is not being outwardly discussed. The same could be said for both the study and Virginia and Bill’s relationship; both are progressing and barriers are being broken but there are still lines that are constantly being redefined.

Masters of Sex 1.07 bow tie undoneOne huge development is that Bill and Virginia are now participating in the study with each other and the opening scene showed just how awkward this can be when it is pure science and no passion. Bill is still pretty clueless when it comes to the non-medical aspects of sex and when a couple he is treating mentions the Karma Sutra his world is blown wide open. Things do get better for Bill and Virginia as the episode progresses and there is a relaxed atmosphere in the scene above as Bill lets his bow tie hang loose; he’s becoming slightly less buttoned up.

There’s no need for either of them to wear their white coats now – in the first post sex scene they were both wearing them but now things have progressed beyond that. The dress Virginia is wearing is nothing out of the ordinary for her, but this episode does see the return of both burgundy and red to the wardrobe color palette that was mostly lacking last week. Bill offers to zip up her dress, but Virginia insists that she has got it, maybe to reduce the intimacy of this moment they just shared.

Masters of Sex 1.07 bathrobesThese are the blue robes we are familiar with, but this is the first time we have seen either Bill or Virginia in one and there is something vulnerable about this almost naked state. The build up to this scene has Bill and Virginia answering their questionnaires intercut with them getting undressed separately in a very practical manner, there’s no tearing off clothes here. Their answers are of course very different; Virginia lost her virginity at 15, Bill at 20. Virginia slept with both of her husband’s before they were married, Bill waited until after before he slept with Libby. Virginia thinks that she is different from most women as she can separate sex from love and this is where we hit a stumbling block as while I believe that Virginia thinks this to be the case we need more character depth from Virginia to really get to the bottom of this.

Masters of Sex 1.07 reflectionsThis is where the final scene comes into play and it’s the classic reflection shot as we see Virginia staring intently at the bed that she just shared with Bill. He is off to meet Libby, something that Virginia encouraged earlier in the episode but now she has been left alone. Up until this point it has seemed like the Bill/Virginia attraction has been from one direction, but something has changed thanks a not-so awkward and in fact really pretty hot sexual encounter between Virginia and Bill. Bill is reinvigorated, but Virginia is left contemplating alone. What we need here is to understand more about who Virginia is as everything so far has been pretty much surface level and mostly from observations of others. Lizzy Caplan has been excellent so far so I hope they get to delve deeper as this is the one thing this show really needs. Other than the lab coat this is also the first time that Virginia has worn white and this generally represents purity, it’s an interesting costume choice to come after a scene like this.

Masters of Sex 1.07 Libby and EthanI’ve buried the lede somewhat but Libby asks Ethan for help conceiving because it will help save her life. This is a bold and rather grand statement but Libby believes that if she has a baby with Bill then they will share in loving something together. A shared passion is lacking and this has been obvious from the first episode. Libby performs the function of 1950s housewife because effectively that’s what she is and she thinks a baby will bring her closer to Bill and fill the void in her life. Libby in incredibly glamorous and her Grace Kelly stylings are on show throughout the episode. This is where a comparison could be drawn between Masters of Sex and Mad Men, but it’s hardly surprising that Grace Kelly is a recognizable influence considering her star power at this time, just listen to how the car salesman tries to use Kelly’s look as a selling point.

Masters of Sex 1.07 Libby seduction attemptThe Grace Kelly influence can been seen with both drunk and hungover Libby and Libby’s clothes tend to fall into two camps – Grace Kelly glamour and housewife chic. It’s why I found it so amusing that she mentioned getting dressed to make dinner as she needed to get out of her clothes for the world to see into her home attire. See I do this, but it involves pajama pants or sweats. Not as decadent as what Libby likely has in mind. In the scene above she does the opposite and swaps her regular Household magazine reading wardrobe for something with a flash of fancy.

Masters of Sex 1.07 Household magazineI just got stuck in a black hole of cover archive photos of Household magazine and it’s mesmerizing. Who knew there are so many ways to improve your house on the cheap?! Unlike today’s magazines bylines don’t clutter the cover image – I’m somewhat of a magazine enthusiast so I find this kind of thing fascinating.

Masters of Sex 1.07 Lord HarryThe ad that catches Libby’s eye is for Lord Harry gin, which as far as my internet research can tell me is a made up brand and therefore this is a fabricated ad – excellent work from the prop department because this looks all kinds of real. If you google Lord Harry and alcohol you will find Harry Potter suggested cocktails instead.

Masters of Sex hungove LibbyLibby comes to see Virginia looking amazing despite her hangover – giant sunglasses are perfect for this kind of occasion – and she wants to discuss her sex life with Virginia. Ethan has already dropped a giant foreshadowing anvil saying that Bill and Virginia would never end up together and while they’re doing what they’re doing for science (at the moment) it’s clear that Virginia feels guilty about the impact on Libby. Libby and Bill haven’t been hot and heavy in the entire time we have seen them, but this doesn’t mean that Virginia won’t draw the line and stop their participation until Bill has tended to matters at home.

Masters of Sex 1.07 got woodBill sets about this task like gangbusters and this is the most intimate and passionate that we have seen this couple; it feels incredibly spontaneous even though we are fully aware of why Masters is taking the lead. When Libby puts her jacket around Bill it’s a sweet and tender moment, but both Libby and Bill are lying to each other. Libby needs to have sex with Bill so it doesn’t look like she has immaculately conceived and Bill just wants to sleep with Virginia again. Even though it’s sex through deception I’m glad we finally got to see some intimacy between this pair.

Masters of Sex 1.07 Margaret and AustinTalking of intimacy Margaret Scully is back in red after her experience with Austin last week and she feels truly alive; she compares what she has with him to giving birth and getting married. It’s that much of a life changing experience and she’s another person who credits someone with saving her life this week. For Austin this is a big ‘holy shit what have I got myself into’ moment as he used this original encounter with Margaret to get over his own performance problem.

Masters of Sex

Austin is still going to therapy and still thinks it’s all bullshit even though his therapist nails it when he says that Austin talks about women as being types rather than people. Austin’s metaphor about Margaret being like the high striker is all over the place and the therapist uses this as another way to show that Austin basically equates women with being objects. When Austin is at Margaret’s house he plays dress up in Barton’s glasses and sits in his chair which feels somewhat childlike. Later Margaret gives him milk which he claims hasn’t happened to him since he was 10. There is so much Freudian stuff going on in these scenes.

Masters of Sex 1.07 awkward breakfastWhat Margaret really wants is a reaction from her husband and to understand why Barton doesn’t want her physically. Barton of course all but spells it out to Margaret by overtly stipulating that he hasn’t been with another woman. Margaret thinks it’s something to do with her and it’s a heartbreaking scene that underlines how hard it was being gay in this period. By denying who Barton is, he is also hurting his wife. As with Bill and Virginia’s bathrobe scene there is vulnerability here, but in this case it’s matched by a daily routine that becomes too much for Margaret as she demands the truth. Barton is the one character this week whose life really was in danger and he is saved by Dale after he is set upon for waiting in a cruising spot. This is all kept hush hush with only Bill knowing the truth about why Barton didn’t want to go to hospital.

Masters of Sex 1.07 JANE

As I suggested last week, Jane would be the perfect secretary for Bill and this is a conclusion that Virginia comes to after Bill fires the previous two candidates. One of his complaints is that they couldn’t spell ‘anesthesia’ which is obviously a ridiculous stipulation and it’s hilarious that Virginia has prepped Jane to show off this spelling skill. In a show as serious as this I am glad that there are characters like Jane who provide moments of levity and once again she is wearing the bold yellow that has become her signature color. Jane is a good secretary and while Masters thinks she’s only adequate, I think she is pretty exceptional as she is one of the only open and honest people on Masters of Sex. Granted we still only know a little bit about her, but she doesn’t possess the same buttoned up quality as the majority of these characters.

One Response to “Masters of Sex 1.07 Review: How to Save a Life”


  1. Masters of Sex 3.07 “Monkey Business” Review: Apeman | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 24, 2015

    […] showing the Isabella Ricci Newsweek article (and accompanying fake Lord Harry ad which made an appearance in season 1 – would a company really use the same copy work for 10 […]

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