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Tag Archives: 3.12

Masters of Sex 3.12 “Full Ten Count” Review: Save Yourself

28 Sep

The strongest episode of Masters of Sex to date is still “Fight” and this messy third season ends with a nod to this magnificent two-hander offering some semblance of hope despite the many missteps. It is far from a perfect finale and suffers from the weight of storylines that have come before it, but it finally feels like there is some forward momentum instead of entertaining the same back and forth dance we are accustomed to.

Due to other work and travel commitments I haven’t reviewed MoS for a few weeks now and my general view of those episodes is the strong (mostly Betty) moments have been overshadowed by the repetitive nature of Bill and Virginia’s disagreements; it’s not only Virginia that feels like she is suffocating.

Masters of Sex 3.12 BillBill is controlling and single minded and his recent behavior, particularly during the dinner sequence last week has been hard to justify or even tolerate. Virginia’s decision to flee is one that is easy to understand and yet I can’t help but feel the pull of Bill when he lays it all out to her in his last ditch move to get her to stay. His first attempt comes when Bill tells Virginia he is dropping the MD so they will be equals and this gets a brief consideration before the swirl of everything else going on takes center. Not the reaction Bill was expecting, but the drama levels at the clinic are probably far higher than he was anticipating. This idea of telling Virginia how he really feels came from Virginia’s other suitor and this romantic dilemma is part of what has been bugging me this season; Virginia has essentially become the center point of a love triangle and her role in the work has taken a backseat position.

The love story has always been part of Masters of Sex and I am so here for a good romance and yet it feels like Virginia has been reduced to the love prize between a man who is far too good to be true and the man with many flaws. Charming Dan is in part so charming thanks to the person playing him and Josh Charles has been selling the shit out of the perfume man and yet I can’t trust a character that is this good; Dan is the guy who makes bold gestures and then follows through. When he says he will leave his wife (the always amazing Judy Greer) for Virginia he does leave his wife for Virginia.

He can’t quite compromise with her work situation, but luckily for him everything is imploding and this is the ideal time to sweep Virginia off her feet, but how long can this perfect man act keep up? And if it isn’t just an act, how long will Virginia feel complete? I believe her when she tells Bill that happiness outside of the work is her goal, but her constant checking over her shoulder for Bill at the airport is a telling sign that this is still not enough.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Virginia and DanPieces of Virginia’s past have given further insight into her psyche from her contentious relationship with her mother to the impact of her long ago broken heart which was first alluded to in “Fight.” Dan is the chance to do things right while going against her mother’s desire to see her with Bill and if we’re breaking everything down into their base components then both Virginia and Bill’s behavior goes back to their parents. Bill’s father is the person who informs his desire to rail against authority no matter who else gets hurt in the process. As the not so subtle dream sequence shows at the start of this finale, Bill is incapable of staying down because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak. However weakness can be the inability to admit when a situation has spiraled out of control as this one has.

There are times to fight and times to fall and Bill ends up choosing the latter instead of running through the airport and catching Virginia just in time. Masters of Sex has already done the big rom-com ending back in season 1 when Bill showed up on Virginia’s doorstep in the rain and it is Bill’s decision to stop which gives me hope that this show is not a lost cause. If Bill had made it to the airport and won Virginia’s heart with a flowery speech then the cycle would just be repeating, now there is a chance they can build on the ruins Virginia has left behind. Okay so we don’t see Virginia get on the plane, but every time she looks back it acts as a warning sign to Dan that their union might be less than perfect and it wouldn’t be a shocker if she ditched the Mexico plan.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Libby MastersThe status quo has been altered in another much bigger way and the conversation between Libby and Bill is the one which truly excites me because now Bill knows that Libby knows and has known for a very long time. It is scenes like this one which draw me back into MoS and it must be said that for all the bumps and missteps this season, this cast has been doing some incredible things with what they have been given. Caitlin Fitzgerald’s reaction as Bill vomits out his ‘big secret’ is amazing from uncontrollable laughter to her taking no shit as this really is not the time to unburden his soul and feel better in the process. Libby was so close to finding happiness (for a second time) and instead she chose her family (again) and not just because of some ideal image she has cooked up in her mind. Libby is so much more than this and her anger at Bill after he points out how awful this must have been for her and how she deserves something better is justified; “You don’t get to decide.”

Bill is shocked not only in finding out that Libby has known for years, but that Virginia has been in on it. This is where Libby gets to twist the knife telling Bill they have a pact conjuring up images of kitchen table plotting of Virginia agreeing to never taking Bill away from his family. It is all too much for Bill to take in and Libby gets to sashay away leaving him stuck in jail without his bond paid. And she does so in a fabulous camel coat and pants which shows how far Lib has come from pastel dress wearing housewife. See also these sunglasses from earlier in the episode which make her look fierce and like she is on a glamorous mission, even though this is far from the case.

Masters of Sex 3.12 LibbyLibby’s reason for breaking things up with Paul last week also go a long way in showing why she is so adamant at keeping her family together; she doesn’t want the cycle of bad father/son relationships to continue forever on but by the end of this finale her usually resolute spirit has been broken. It is like the Virginia secret is the very frayed string that was keeping everything together and she doesn’t even lock the bathroom door to hide her tearful breakdown, which Johnny of course walks in on.

Bill is not a mirror of his father, but he has been so afraid of repeating this pattern that he is not a presence at all; even if they did split up it probably wouldn’t be that different really. I hope next season sticks to this separation because it will allow the show to explore so many more possibilities beyond Poor Libby and this character does deserve more; so does the audience when it comes to seeing this same old storyline on repeat.

Plenty of characters who have hovered on the sidelines are complicit in Bill’s current fate and when Bill threatened Dennis earlier this season he mentioned that everyone trusts doctors, which as it turns out is not always the case. Bill has been backed into a corner by not only Dennis’ mother, but also Nora who is working with religious fanatic and lobby loiter Ronald Sturgis (another person Bill has threatened). Bill has been somewhat naive in both cases and both have come back to destroy his career. He plays the kind card with Libby and instead of telling him what he wants to hear, Libby instead points out that this is indicative of his controlling and reckless behavior.

Early in the episode Ronald tells Virginia to save herself acting as an early warning about what is to come. The only warning Bill gets is rather abstract pointing to the broken nature of things as his suspender snaps and he has to wear Lester’s belt. Bill is very anti-belts which once again goes back to his father and his choice of weapon against him. I don’t know if we needed the beating flashback even if it underscored that it is not a fashion related decision. Virginia gets a sermon from Nora and in return she smacks her with a box. Nora is a character who is clearly deeply troubled, but she definitely deserved that from Virginia and I maybe (okay definitely) cheered.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Barton and JonathanIn happier romance news Barton and Jonathan (Richard from Felicity!) have acted on their feelings and got over their disagreements regarding how they want to present themselves – with a lot of help from magical advice unicorn Betty – and have a romantic birthday meal out. Well it is romantic and then Bill’s in jail predicament briefly interrupts things. When Jonathan mentions he isn’t getting younger it is hard to not picture him in college because he pretty much looks the same as he did almost 15 years ago.

Betty has been a strong presence throughout this season even when she is only there to dish out the advice and it would be remiss if I didn’t mention her conversation with Barton from “Through a Glass, Darkly” when she tells him about her relationship with Helen and how “it makes a difference” to be loved like that. Betty is often used as comic relief, but she is also important when getting to the heart of the emotional moments and I hope there will be far more for her to do next season even if she is very good at running interference. Betty also had another fantastic Twiggy inspired dress and wide tie costume moment this week.

Masters of Sex 3.12 BettyAnd this look also works when hiding out smoking in a dark office.Masters of Sex 3.12 Betty smokingTroubled teen plots were absent from this finale and Tessa has been one of the many issues this season and I have gone from a position of defending this story to rolling my eyes at how they have made the teen an irritating obstacle. I don’t think they need to be done with Tessa necessarily, but there has to be a way of exploring Virginia’s relationship with her daughter without this many teen cliches particularly when dealing with the work Virginia does.

Masters of Sex works best when it is Masters and Johnson; this is not to say there shouldn’t be conflict but the writers do need to go beyond the same push/pull we have seen for three seasons and hopefully the actions of Bill, Virginia and Libby in this finale will lead a revitalized show that leads to a return to form.

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Hannibal 3.12 “The Number of the Beast is 666” Review: Teacher’s Pet

21 Aug

Curiosity killed the cat or in the case of Will Graham curiosity results in events that are in part expected and are also highly unfortunate for one Dr Fredrick Chilton. Chilton has become something of a Kenny like figure and unlike his South Park counterpart he just can’t be killed. But he can definitely be maimed and now to go along with his missing organs and already messed up face, he is now missing his lips and covered in burns. That is going to take a lot of makeup and skin grafts to cover up. The fate of Chilton and who is to blame for this new trauma is spread across many players from the man who actually did this to him to those who conspired in this plan. The only certain thing is Hannibal’s correct ‘we don’t get to chose our own endings’ assertion.

Hannibal stands behind bars (or rather Plexiglas) but still has agency in the world having orchestrated the attack on Will’s family. When it comes to what happened to Chilton he is perhaps the least at fault even if there are those who blame him. Those strings are being pulled and he is far from innocent in any of this; after all the Great Red Dragon is still seeking his approval through the gifts he sends him in the post.

Hannibal 3.12 Chilton and WillWill is a lamb, Chilton is a slug and Dolarhyde is the Great Red Dragon. It is a metaphor city on Hannibal this week as Will also employs his favorite fishing terminology to show his disdain toward Jack Crawford for the second episode in a row suggesting Jack has made him the bait and he wants him to reel in a “bigger fish.” The last time they plotted to catch a serial killer they were actually fishing and things were a lot more cordial between the pair. A lot has happened between the Hannibal trap and this one; learning from their mistakes is one thing that has passed them by.

Alana is quick to point out the flaws in this plan and how they believed they were in control last time. Oh yes last time when they all nearly died from various horrific wounds. The bait plan is flawed because it reads like a trap and they need to legitimize the provocative nature of their proposed article with a professional. When Will asks Alana if she is volunteering herself she might as well have said “fuck no” instead she goes for a more eloquent “No. I’d have to be a fool.” Instead she has another more fame hungry name in mind and Hannibal is right when he tells Alana that she pretty much set him up for this fall. Alana might be the moral compass of the show, but this doesn’t mean she is above pulling some sketchy moves to get herself out of danger and it is easier for her to lay the blame at Hannibal’s feet on every occasion.

Hannibal 3.12 AlanaWhen she approaches Chilton she might as well be leaning up against an imaginary locker saying “Hey stud.” Instead of a barrage of expected “I-told-you-so’s” regarding Hannibal discrediting his book – Hannibal’s essay is “quantifiably bitchy!” – she is here to offer up an exciting proposition; playing up to his narcissism. And this is why Alana is far from innocent in this set up as she not only came up with the second half of the plan, but she also delivered the person to play the role. So when Hannibal tells her it could have been her lips he was tasting (again) she looks so angry because he is right (and probably because she has just seen him eat said lip – the funniest cutaway this show has ever done).

Hannibal 3.12 sad AlanaWhen watching the Chilton video she is a picture of teary eyed guilt. Costuming sidenote – this is another excellent lady suit week for Dr Alana Bloom with the Hannibal- esque plaid and pinstripes. Both of which are more toned down versions of some the ensembles she has been wearing this season and it is interesting that she has ditched the red attire except for her crimson lipstick.

One person who reacts to the video of Chilton’s message and lip biting off attack in a much more visceral manner is Will as he drops to the ground covering his ears.

Hannibal 3.12 WillBy putting his hand on Chilton’s shoulder in the Tattle Crime photo it pointed towards trust and an emotional context; this is something Chilton understands too and blames Will through his distorted speech for touching him like a pet. A variety of animals beyond the stag are symbolic this season and particularly this episode with Will also noting they are pets and not pilgrims. Art, literature and religion are also important to Will and Bedelia’s discussions switching between theology and Dante. He is far more pragmatic when talking to her about recent events, a far cry from his ear covered cowering and instead he uses flowery language to make excuses for Chilton’s ‘punishment.’

Here comes Will’s curiosity and the ability to transfer Dolarhyde’s rage from Will to Chilton; in this scenario Chilton becomes the vulnerable bird and Will has chosen to crush it. Bedelia sure looks pleased with this current version of “You play, you pay” and this is where she notes that Hannibal’s agency in the world is through Will. A lot of cause and effect is going on and pretty much everyone has a reason to feel guilty. Hannibal taught Bedelia the difference between participation and observation in the premiere. This lesson is passed onto Will as she suggests he struck the match that set the Chilton chain in motion.

Will’s choice of a psychiatrist is tied up in Hannibal and Bedelia would not be my first port of call for therapy. A combative element is present as Will is angry his family has been taken away from him while Bedelia has felt no repercussions from her time as Hannibal’s companion. Hannibal does not have the same interest in her other than he would like to eat her (as she points out she is safe from this threat at the moment) and there is something stronger at work here. Ah yes the notion of love and is Bedelia a Hannigram shipper? Will does not answer her question regarding his feelings for Hannibal and ‘it’s complicated’ would be the best relationship status descriptor.

Hannibal 3.12 Hannibal and JackSo while Will and Bedelia chat about Hannibal, Hannibal yucks it up with Jack about religion and their current predicament with the roles of God, the devil and the lamb getting dished out (Jack, Hannibal and Will respectfully).

Jack is pretty dismissive of Dolarhyde instead focusing on Hannibal as the real dragon and their back and forth about having a clear conscience reiterates just how close Jack and Hannibal can be at times. The cycle is repeating as the battle for Will’s soul swirls in the background.

Hannibal 3.12 JackThe levels of sass Hannibal has been delivering while imprisoned is impressive and he real outdoes himself this week as he notes “the tragedy of what’s happened to Frederick has put me in an excellent humor.” He congratulates them for successfully enraging Dolarhyde and he is having a fantastic time even without the comforts he is used.

The mention of the fake Freddie burning is said with such glee that the inevitable was going to happen to Chilton and Hannibal continues to take the original material and twist it in new and interesting ways. They suggest it was Hannibal who gave Dolarhyde the burning in a wheelchair idea and this could be the case as Chilton’s fears he has been burned when he wakes up; Dolarhyde repeats “burned” three times with a certain hint of ‘oh this is what I should do to him’ memory recognition.

Hannibal 3.12 Chilton and DolarhydeLast season they took what happened to Freddy Lounds in Red Dragon as a way to make the audience believe Will had killed her, which meant it would be hard to repeat this method to actually kill Freddie in the show. Instead they switched Freddie out for Chilton, which in this context makes so much sense. Chilton is a character who is often the comedic relief because he is so pompous and full of himself, but in “The Number of the Beast is 666” it is hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for him. Yes he has fallen foul because of his hubris, but he does not deserve what befalls him. Even if he is wearing his best Hannibal imitation paisley tie.

Hannibal 3.12 ChiltonRaul Esparza’s performance is terrific throughout and he totally sells just how scared Chilton is. This is a position he has unfortunately been in before and this desperation takes on a new petrified tone this time as he begs Dolarhyde not to show his face. He tries a variety of methods to get on the right side of his captor, but his fate was sealed when he agreed to be in that photo with Will Graham. The real kicker is every time Will offered up a more ludicrous take on why the Tooth Fairy has committed his crimes; Chilton gave a concerned look at how far Will was taking it. Little did he know that Will’s words were going to cost him so much.

Taking the tension levels from last week’s cabin break in and somehow shredding my nerves further; I pretty much sat through most of these Chilton/Dolarhyde scenes pulling a Home Alone face. Because Bryan Fuller has gone off book while incorporating major elements it adds to the intense nature as the lip biting – oh hey Standards and Practices – and body burning take place in Red Dragon with Freddy on the receiving end of both.

As I have previously mentioned this is the only Thomas Harris book I have read and it is fun to see where they are utilizing the source material. For instance Will does pose for a photo wearing a bathrobe behind his desk (I’m so sad this Will Graham said no to that idea) and a lot of what is said about the Tooth Fairy comes from Alan Bloom (“child of a nightmare”) in the book. Alana has very little to do with the Tooth Fairy side of things in this version (plotting aside), instead focusing on the Hannibal incarceration elements. She does momentarily appear to Will as a victim of the Dragon as they discuss the bait plan.

Hannibal 3.12 Alana mirror eyes Hannibal 3.12 MollyIt is an incredibly disturbing image as is the one of Molly at the start of the episode (with his face reflected in those shards) and he does his fearful twitch that no one else ever seems to notice. Is Will concerned for the women in his life? He does not picture either Bedelia or Freddie like this and that might be down to the antagonistic relationship he has with both of them. Or it could be as a symptom of spending too much time contemplating murder as he sees Alana like this as she questions whether he is in control. 

Everything has been tainted by Hannibal and the “abstract curiosity” Dolarhyde has with Will is covered in Hannibal’s in a twist on the classic ‘if I can’t have him then no one else will.’ Dolarhyde is simply the instrument Hannibal chooses to wield his power over Will. The only reason he went after Will’s family was at the behest of his mentor and while Hannibal didn’t lay the trap that got Chilton caught he definitely has a hand in everything which has taken place since those first two families were murdered.

Hannibal 3.12 bathrobeDolarhyde is isolated from his sympathetic ear and he’s gone rogue as the lip gift is as much for the ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ moniker as it is for the Tooth Fairy lies; the card which came with it reads “With these he offended me” as he did to Hannibal with all the lies he wrote. Lies which helped save his life and yet a thank you note is not in the post. The one person he did not want to hurt is now tied up and trembling. Reba visited while Chilton was being held captive and because she cannot see Dolarhyde did not have to change out of his murder attire (on this occasion he switched out his leather for a silk kimono) nor did he hide his prisoner. Chilton has seen Reba and because they heard her name on the Hannibal call it gives them a big clue in finding out who the Red Dragon is.

With just one episode left – maybe in the series finale *sob* – there is plenty to resolve before the end; will this season end in a bloodbath as last year’s did or is Will Graham going to get some semblance of a happy ending?

A couple of sidenote observations and my continued obsession with how well they use the space in which Hannibal inhabits.

Hannibal 3.12 Hannibal Hannibal 3.12 Jack, Hannibal, WillDragon tattoo scares.

Hannibal 3.12 tattooThe cover of Tattle Crime and the offending headline – “Tooth Fairy ‘Ugly Impotent Product of Incest.'”

Hannibal 3.12 Tattle CrimeAnd finally a Freddie Lounds costume which almost rivals THE hat in how incredible it is with a mixture of plaid and sheer all while holding the drawing Will is meant to moon over in his bathrobe.

HANNIBAL -- "The Number of the Beast is 666" Episode 312 -- Pictured: (l-r) Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Lara Jean Chorostecki as Freddie Lounds -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Plaid for all! If you are lucky Freddie will get you a “Tooth Fairy is a One-Night Stand” tee, maybe in medium but most likely a small.

Julie Hammerle

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