Masters of Sex 2.04 “Dirty Jobs” Review: “Is It Worth It?”

4 Aug

Dr. Austin Langham spent so long lying to cover up his rampant philandering that he has since become the Masters of Sex truthsayer after his wife so very publicly dumped him in the season premiere. Now Austin is experiencing the bachelor lifestyle without the burden of his lies – it’s not all good as he’s on a diet of chips for dinner and he misses his kids – and he’s got pearls of wisdom to share; impacting the various other characters who are withholding or spinning a yarn that is further from the truth than they would like to believe. If the truth can set you free, why not return the favor?

Masters of Sex 2.04 AustinTruth and trust are intrinsically linked; the conflict at the heart of “Dirty Jobs” and the show in general is down to the walls these characters have erected to protect themselves. Instead it just leads to more heartbreak. Last week’s incredible episode “Fight” saw Virginia and Bill slowly let their guard down with each other sharing pieces of them that were previously off limits and yet they still left the hotel room playing the same roles and insisting that it’s about “the work” and nothing more. Until they can both accept that this relationship runs deeper than that to not only themselves, but each other they are going to continue to struggle. Austin can see through Virginia’s very well told story detailing why she was in the hotel with Bill and her reasons for quitting the study the previous year because even though she talks a good talk, certain intimate actions Austin has witnessed like fixing Bill’s bow tie have betrayed her.

One person Austin can’t detect is lying is Lillian as he’s so excited to find someone to share his Virginia/Bill news with that he doesn’t detect that moment where Lillian’s disappoint betrays her lack of knowledge about this relationship. Virginia has been Lillian’s confidant since they bonded on a bus trip last season and Lillian disclosed her cancer secret; now it feels like Lillian has shared everything and has got nothing in return. Lillian gives Virginia the opportunity to open up about what she keeps closest to her heart and when Virginia claims there is nothing to confess this feels like an ultimate betrayal; Lillian even disclosed an academic cheating story and nope Virginia’s all “I’m not that interesting.” It’s not surprising Virginia says nothing as she can’t even admit it to herself, except in her dreams where she is haunted by the title of mistress despite the white coat and the very real research they are doing.

Masters of Sex 2.04 presenting the workLillian reacts to this in an extreme way and showing just how deeply this has cut her; she gives away her research that she worked so hard on to the man she named the test after and she won’t even get her own name on the study. For Virginia getting credit for the work she has done is important and part of this is because she has earned it, the other reason is so people can see that she is more than just a ‘mistress.’ When Lillian and Virginia present the work they are dressed alike, down to the high collar and similar shades of blue. The glaring difference is that one of them is in a white coat and the more subtle visual cue is that Virginia’s blouse is prettier and more feminine with bow and pleat detail. Lillian is all about unfussy clothing so that her gender doesn’t come into play in a field dominated by men. In Virginia’s dream she is wearing a white coat, plus her hair is pulled back a la Lillian and yet there is still this nagging voice that calls her mistress.

Masters of Sex 2.04 VirginiaIn Virginia’s working and personal relationships with Bill and Lillian there is a power struggle as Virginia’s influence has made both doctors open up more than they have ever done before, but she is reticent to do the same. Her heart is still locked in that box. They in turn have all the power when it comes to their research so Lillian is well within her rights to give away the work without consulting Virginia, no matter how much she has contributed. Bill can carry on working on the sex study in a hospital without Virginia because he’s the one with the MD and his boss can’t entertain the notion that she is legitimately important to the study. Greathouse thinks that Bill and Virginia’s relationship is like his and Barbs, however Virginia can do the work, whereas Barbs is struggling. Bill even loses a participant because there is no female partner and there are certain things like warming Ulysses that Bill forgets to do.

Instead now he is surrounded by frat boy mentality and when his ploys to get Greathouse to stay away fail – warning him that there might be transference in the observation room (the actual excuse Bill and Virginia used with each other when they first felt something) and pretending there will be “old men masturbating” as the test subjects – he can’t keep his composure shoving Chinese food into one doctor’s mouth forcefully and landing two blows to Dr Greathouse showing the boxing prowess Bill hinted at last week. And he’s fired all over again.

Masters of Sex 2.04 Bill and LibbyStruggles come in all different forms this week and Libby’s attempts to give reason to Bill’s behavior around baby Johnny involves magazine articles that point to disruption as being the heart of the issue. Bill is incredibly calm and reasonable putting on his best doctor voice when Libby freaks out about the lice that might be in the house – they’re “just a few harmless insects” – and he also uses this tone when pointing out that Coral is right about it being unlikely that the lice came from her. When he’s just with Libby this is fine and she talks about their strength as team, with Coral it’s like an affront and as if they are ganging up on her. This is not Libby’s best self and her patronizing tone when she corrects Coral’s pronunciation is superseded in its awfulness by the way she addresses her employee using the lice treatment shampoo. Coral clearly can’t afford to lose this job and so in the end she succumbs to the hair washing humiliation and because Libby claims she can’t trust her to do it herself she insists on doing it in their bathroom right now. Libby gives Coral extra money to get her hair done in a move to make her feel like she hasn’t done anything wrong, but these scenes make for uncomfortable viewing as the power disparity is apparent and Libby’s ‘helpful’ actions often come after Coral has shown how good she is with the baby; it’s a way for Libby to assert her dominance.

Libby flips out when she finds out from someone else that Bill has lost another job as a result of the study – when Libby is asked for juicy sex study secrets she calls it ‘boring’ because she’s never really been on the inner circle even when she did help out – and she’s concerned that he’s so blinded by this that he is neglecting his role as father and husband. This provokes an unexpected emotional response that surprises Libby to the point that her rage subsides immediately as she never gets to see Bill in a vulnerable state.

To his credit Bill does go out and get a new hospital job immediately; Austin’s visit must have had an impact. Austin asks Bill if his relationship with Virginia is worth risking what he has (Libby is framed in the window behind them throughout their conversation) and while Virginia is so intrinsically linked to the work and so therefore she is, I also think that Bill cares a great deal for his family. Even if he is terrified of his son (and the kind of father he will be). Does Austin overstep boundaries in “Dirty Jobs?” Perhaps, but he doesn’t have an ulterior motive or personal agenda beyond stopping someone else from making his mistake and Teddy Sears really does have amazing chemistry with every character he comes into contact with. I also think he was highly motivated by a good home cooked dinner that he knew he would get if he dropped by at this hour.

Masters of Sex 2.04 BettyOne ongoing lie this season has been Betty’s ‘fertility treatments’ with Bill being the most reluctant participant in this charade. It could only go on for so long really and Betty’s big secret came tumbling out after she asked for one lie too many. It wasn’t Bill entirely who revealed the truth, but he definitely pushed for it after Betty asked him to tell Gene that he is the sterile one. Of course Bill has lied about this in the past to protect himself when he told Libby that it was her with the fertility issue. Double standards Bill.

Betty talks at the dinner table about Betty Crocker being a phony and a concept cooked up to sell products – Gene mentions that it was the invention of a woman – opening herself up to scorn from Gene about her own deception. Gene has his own secret and as part of this own love lie he sticks with the meeting Betty at church story, when really he met her at the brothel. Talk about Madonna/whore complex even if Gene was not under the illusion that Betty is a “good Christian girl.” Can this relationship survive full disclosure? In fact it is one sided full disclosure as there is still the matter of Helen, the real love of Betty’s life.

Masters of Sex 2.04 Lillian and VirginiaCircling back to Virginia (wearing an incredible sweater) and the notion of doing things alone after failures in her relationships with Lillian and Bill; both Bill and Lillian have let Virginia down and so much so that she tells her kids that “Everything that is worth doing you have to do on your own.” It’s a pretty pessimistic lesson and it looks like Virginia just bought a bigger padlock for the box that is housing her heart. Virginia receives some unsolicited advice from her Cal-O-Metric boss after Virginia has emphatically stated “I already have a career” and she is told in a rather sarcastic tone “maybe you’re special” when it comes to her dreams. This is enough to put a dampener on everything and coupled with her actual dream that opens “Dirty Jobs” Virginia ends the episode is a less optimistic place. By selling the diet pills to women she’s also spreading some of this misery by targeting people she met a year ago on the street outside their homes and even if she isn’t sticking to the script she’s still making people feel bad about how they look.

If you’re going to set the truth free, then it has to be the whole truth as otherwise you might end up miserable and wanting to go at it alone.

One Response to “Masters of Sex 2.04 “Dirty Jobs” Review: “Is It Worth It?””


  1. Masters of Sex 2.05 “Giants” Review: Taking the Plunge | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 11, 2014

    […] new lows of patronizing after she receives a visit from Coral’s boyfriend Robert regarding the degrading shampoo incident. Libby can’t understand that what she did was completely inappropriate until Bill points out […]

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