Now that everyone has masturbated and there is no more masturbation for people to do, it's time to start the couples phase again. Langham is pissed as hell when his sexual partner turns out to be somebody other than Jane (and he can't get it up), but then can't seem to get aroused with Jane either. Masters and Johnson spend their clinic time debating the place of attraction and chemistry in the physiology of sex, but because he is Bill Masters he cannot comprehend this obvious, basic thing.
After a chat with the Provost about his daughter's Vivian intense crush on him -- and the Scully family's unfortunate and near-constant use of "the pussy's whiskers" as a compliment for a fellow -- Ethan decides to throw her one. It's fairly disastrous, especially when he learns she was a virgin and therefore has decided to entrap him or some such Ethan nonsense. Jane bitches him out and he pulls himself together, deciding that dating his boss's awesome daughter is probably going to be more fun than constantly volunteering for Gini's less-than-admiring treatment.
During the Scully wedding anniversary party (Allison Janney finally appears, but does little else besides be a glamorously low-key Allison Janney character who is married to a gay dude) Libby starts bleeding -- and once Gini is summoned to carry the Masters on her back like always, her increasingly obnoxious son decides to run away to his deadbeat dad's house. Ethan recovers Henry, saving the day and leading to a possible détente.
Between Ethan's new place as Scully's quasi-son, his mother's aggressively sunny denial, his worrisome sleepwalking and the accelerated cracks in his relationship with Libby in light of her miscarriage, Bill has a tough night of it. On the upside, he gets the chance to scream at his mom about his childhood, which is probably helpful -- as is a brief apology to Scully for blackmailing him about the gay stuff -- and the next day, Gini takes another chance with his boundaries, providing no small amount of comfort against his protests, as he eventually physically closes her eyes for her so she won't see him abjectly sobbing like a maniac.
For an episode so full of meaty moments and hard-won climaxes the script was pretty dodgy, but the cast commits as heartily as usual. Ethan's wide-eyed terror at getting treated the exact same way he's been treating Virginia for the better part of a year is funny and satisfying, and hopefully a learning experience. Masters's breakdowns with his mother and eventually Gini are all the more touching for the fact that it takes everything he's got just to show his fantastic wife, like, basic compassion.
On balance, it was probably a little subpar overall, but the show's set a high bar for itself -- and definitely put the effort in the right places: Libby is, of course, a portrait of poise and grief that never loses sight of Bill's own complex emotional situation; his mother too continues to shine, as much through the wise, harsh things she refuses to say as the meaningless but kind things she does. And while Gini's portrayal of a single mom at the edge of sanity was smart and subtle, it will be nice to get back, hopefully, to the sharp subjectivity that made her such a fresh protagonist in the first place.
Next week: The season's midpoint finds Libby and Bill on a post-traumatic vacation to Miami, where Bill learns about swingers and presumably does their marriage even more accidental damage. Alone in the office, Gini and Jane do some experimenting of their own, while -- fascinatingly enough -- Austin's eye is drawn to no less an august personage than Mrs. Barton Scully herself.
Between Libby ending her second trimester, his mother's renaissance, and memories of his own awful childhood, Bill's just about hit his limit. And while Bill's star is falling -- in part due to his reckless blackmail of his boss and mentor, Provost Scully -- Ethan's is rising, especially now that he's being courted pretty aggressively by the boss's daughter, Vivian. The "couples" subjects are rankling to get back into the lab to have more scientific sex, while Gini's ex-husband George is still wreaking chaos everywhere he goes.
Gini: "What a lovely bath! I sure am glad George is stepping up..."
Tessa: "And we're back."
Gini: "Whoa! Mommy's having Mommy Time!"
Henry: "That is over. Also, Dad wants to move back in. Also, why are you so withholding? Also, I am a little kid being deployed as a weapon."
Gini: "In order: That's not happening, it's complicated, and I'm sorry your Dad's a jerkoff."
Henry: "Okay but on the strictest level, I am confused by him sleeping over sometimes."
Gini: "One time, but I feel you. Give me one second and we can discuss your Daddy day, and its abrupt end."
Henry: "When I think about Daddy it's on the level of an eight-year-old boy, which works out because that's what he is. So we're both agreed that you are kind of mean to him."
Gini: "You have just answered your own damn question, frankly. But I am not mean. If I were actually mean to your Daddy, he would go the hell away and I would respect myself a lot more."
Henry: "In summation, one weekend with Dad is better than a million days here with you."
Gini: "There are times I would also prefer that. But it's not happening, and I can't tell you why, because why is, George doesn't give a shit about you."
Ethan: "Size of a cantaloupe."
Libby: "Last time was a navel orange and before that it was a grape. I got a farmer's market down there."
Ethan: "Are you enjoying the second trimester? Listen to the heartbeat."
Libby: "Sounds like I got a submarine down there! My body is a wonderland."
DUMB CHRISTIAN COUPLE
Boy: "We've been trying for six months! Ever since the wedding night."
Masters: "That's a long time for no results. Maybe you have a dud wife. What's going on with your menses?"