“The key is, it takes both of you to make a leap of faith, of trust, working together.”
A high level of trust is needed to be intimate with someone, to bare all like so many people do in this finale. The highest level of trust–the deepest bond–that we see is between our two central figures, Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters, and the interesting thing about this relationship is that the more they trust each other, the harder they fall. By putting faith in each other, by trusting each other, by working together, they wind up losing the other people in their lives.
However, this finale asks a major question of all its characters: Who do you want to be? Society sets a status quo–husband or wife+kids–but if you don’t follow that script, do you see yourself as breaking unspoken rules? Do you view yourself as liberated? Each character seems to be in a gray area throughout the entire season, and it isn’t until now that certain people truly let themselves go. The seeds were planted a while back, and the plant has poked its head through the ground. For example, it’s revealed in the episode that Libby knew about the affair all along; it certainly helps to explain her actions throughout the season, even if it doesn’t necessarily make her storyline any better. Here’s a woman who feels trapped in her own house, who’s been living with a lie for years, and she’s now pursuing a relationship with Robert and taking the initiative for once.
She even influences Virginia to arrange the new custody deal and, in effect, essentially give up her kids for her work. Libby’s point is that if the work is everything for Virginia, then why sacrifice it for months of court battles? Why not follow your heart’s desire, even if it may come at great cost? “What if you just let go of everything you thought your life would be?” is the question Libby poses while on that park bench, and the key word here is ‘thought’. Sometimes, where you end up is not where society dictates or where you believed you had to go; sometimes, life takes you in unexpected places, and if you place your trust in someone or something, you might end up in a place very different than where you thought you’d end up.
Of course, there’s no way to fulfill this philosophy if you don’t make some sort of sacrifice. Virginia decides to give George the kids, and when she does so, the episode becomes Lizzy Caplan’s. From her telling Bill about the offer made to George, eyes and voice betraying her uncertainty even as she tries to convince herself that it’ll all turn out find in the end, to her realizing her kids are completely fine with the new arrangement, to her starting to break down as she’s answering the phone, and finally, to her scene in the office after she finds out that CBS pulled their video, Caplan is simply masterful. We can see just how much this all tears her apart, how difficult it is to weather this storm, and it’s heartbreaking to watch.
Ultimately, though, as humans, we need to put our trust into something in order to function; Bill remarks that sex is as basic as eating or drinking, and as sex is an act of trust, most of us want and need it. At the end of the episode, Lester and Barb decide to put their trust in the study, something both Bill and Virginia have already done, and they decide that they want to work together to cure their impotence. Progress seems to be made in the way of curing an impediment to sex–to happiness? I don’t agree, but that was the mindset at the time because, after all, sex=family–but at the same time, people are still in precarious situations after enduring what they’ve endured.
We’ll probably see those problems result at some point, but as of right now, there’s a sense of optimism to the end of the season, a sense of a new beginning for these characters that coincides with JFK’s election. There’s hope in the unknown, hope within the trust, and every character is changing in some way. There’s no guaranteeing what will happen; rather, there’s only the guarantee that you can make it happen.
SEASON GRADE: B+
-When Virginia breaks down in Bill’s office, in a role reversal, Bill’s the one who holds her (which, by the way, is a form of non-sexual touching). However, the situation’s also soured by the fact that Bill sabotaged the CBS film. I wonder if the truth will ever come out about that.
-Hi, Barton. It’s nice to see him again and get an update on him and Margaret, but I really missed Beau Bridges and Allison Janney this year.
-So, the Betty storyline kind of sputtered out, didn’t it? We need more of her next year, and less of Austin and Flo.
-Certainly an ominous JFK dream sequence for Bill there.
-I like the Lester-Barb relationship a lot, and the differing opinions on the movies they watch nicely illustrates the mindsets of each character. In reality, they need aspects from both films to truly make it work.
-That does it for season 2 of Masters of Sex. It’s been a very scattered season, the high point probably being “Fight”, but it’s still a very enjoyable, well-acted drama. Here’s to season 3.
Photo credit: Masters of Sex, Showtime