In the wake of last week's qualified success with the doctors' wives -- and armed with Virginia's information on Bill's sweetheart deal with the University -- Lillian DePaul decides to come at the Chancellor even harder than before. He points out that she has only been able to keep sixteen patients since she makes everybody uncomfortable -- either with her gender or her personality -- and thus will never be a "rainmaker."
While DePaul tries to start shit during Bill's Friday Presentation in order to create buzz, the only forward movement she's actually presented with -- Virginia's idea to create forum for Women's Health and/or be a part of the Sanger cause, this "Pill" everybody's so chatty about -- she greets with doubt and a return to single-focus form. I can't see Gini sticking around for that, if she's unwilling to leave this legacy with anywhere to go: Especially when that place is the future Virginia's so reliably prescient about.
Virginia's other suitor, Ethan Haas, takes the weekend to visit UCLA in the hopes of getting a job offer he can leverage for something close to home. But he falls in love with the scenery, and the "game-changing" opportunity UCLA offers, and eventually asks her to marry him over the phone. The "whatever life you want" concept comes up again, which he thinks is a clutch play every time. And it is, unless that "life" he keeps making her think about doesn't necessarily include him.
The presentation itself goes as you'd think: They love the martinis Libby and Jane hand them, they love the talk about small dicks and other male myths, but once discussion -- and the video component -- turn to the female orgasm and Gini's masturbation video, everybody riots and revolts! ("There are women in the room, Bill!") Nobody is coming to their celebratory dinner! Nobody is returning his calls! No way do ladies masturbate, or have thoughts, or orgasms that don't come from our magical dicks! Gross me out!
Margaret finally confronts her husband about the gay stuff, deciding that being kept in the dark is what's really bugging her: If she turned out to be a secret Martian, she wonderfully explains, she'd want him to at least ask about life on Mars. Scully assures her he's working on a solution to his "problem," but when she does some investigating of her own she realizes that it's a horrible, barbaric, disgusting idea and maybe they should just rethink their marriage and sex lives instead of torturing his actual body. He agrees to follow her wishes on this front, but the stresses are just too great on him and for a while it seems like he's fairly suicidal.
After the prudish Chancellor from last week calls Scully and Masters in for a reaming, Masters pulls his greatest move of all time, turning on Scully in the meeting and making out like all of this was done behind his back. Not only does it reverse the sin of blackmail that started their whole feud, but also saves Scully's career (and possibly his life). After Scully fires him, they meet back up for a drink and Barton tells him drunkenly about the electroshock therapy... And that he's still going to do it, in secret.
As Libby's going into labor with her son -- and delivering in a black hospital in 1957, which isn't exactly played for laughs but beautifully complicates the narrative, since cell phones haven't been invented yet -- Jane falls for Lester Lind and hands off a copy of the study to Virginia. She learns that her name's been on it the whole time, and suddenly her easiest choices turn into the hardest ones.
Does she turn Lillian into her new Masters, firmly shepherding her into excellence? Does she take up Ethan's offer to bloom, and possibly become her own Lillian or Bill? Or does she put the team she chose ahead of those attractive -- and acceptable -- options, and dive into the most anguished and complicated possible future any of them can imagine? (Spoiler alert! These things already happened!)
The backdrop of Project Manhigh (which would make Baby Masters's birthday 20 August), a ballooning precursor to the space race and Henry Johnson's favorite goddamn thing in the universe, puts a nice spin on the events there: Gini starts out resenting Major Simons for getting all the acclaim of the race to space, pointing out to her son that plenty of people got him there, but then reading the study -- with her name on it -- as he makes it safely back to Earth, somewhat pacified.
Of course, right on cue, Bill appears at her door with his own protestations of love. Or at least need. Either way, like his hero Barton Scully, he seems to be done worrying about the various factors contributing to his paralysis, and more than willing to electrocute the entire apparatus in order to get things moving again. And as seems to be their deal, Virginia's coming right back to the center from the other end, realizing I think that she can't be happy with any choice she didn't entirely supply for herself. (And given the show's emphasis on her invisibility lately, and that last chivalrous move with the front-page attribution, that choice now seems clear.)
What will happen next? I don't know. They open Reproductive Biology Research Foundation (later the Masters & Johnson Institute) in like 1964 I think, so that could be what next season is about. And certainly the bigger the time-jumps the more we'll get to know other people in their orbit, which the show does every bit as brilliantly as the central conflict. (Margaret and Barton Scully, Betty DiMello, Dale, Lillian DePaul; even all the cringy-comedic-depressing Austin/Jane/Lester stuff was fairly integral, looking back, to the show's overall tone.) At the least we're promised this complicated, confusing pair will continue to be really good at a lot of things and incredibly bad at others, for as long as the story goes. I hope it goes forever.
Faced with a second pregnancy and slowly coming to grips with the messier aspects of his work, Bill decided on the nuclear option, paying Virginia for her services and sending her straight into the ad hoc offices of Dr. Lillian DePaul. Margaret Scully, through some intrepid research into her husband's confusing sexual narrative, finally figured out he was gay. We've finally arrived at Bill's big Friday presentation, with which he believes he'll shock the world into being less weird about sex. A thing he believes because he is silly.
18 AUGUST 1957, ST LOUIS
Ethan is going to visit LA, in the hopes of garnering a job offer. Virginia's convinced that this is something he'll use for later leverage, because she isn't really considering the fact that he has no other ties to St. Louis and assumes, possibly for no good reason, that she would be just as willing to pick up sticks and go with him.
Tessa: "Anaheim, that's where Disneyland is. Are you going to be the doctor of Disneyland?"
Henry: "Don't act like you know Disneyland, Tessa."
Tessa: "I do know! Pinocchio lives there. And fairies fly through the air."
Virginia and Ethan name the other hospitals that would be impressed by a UCLA offer, and Ethan explains right angles to Henry, impressing Tessa no end.
Ethan: "I am not the smartest person in the world, no. That would be your mother. However, I might be the luckiest, seeing as how I get to tuck you in before my trip."
Tessa: "Who tucks you in?"
He throws Gini the cutest look over the girl's shoulder, and later on they do it. In the morning, it's a big day for everybody. It's Friday.
19 AUGUST 1957, ST LOUIS
Virginia: "Tessie, grab your red coat from under the bed and let's go."
Tessa fixes her doll with a hairy eyeball, and grouchily complains that the red coat needs a better hiding place. I can't remember anything else Tessa has really done, because stand around while Henry was being horrible, so it's particularly fun to see her being weird on her own in the kitchen, just chattin' with dolls and planning ill futures for her wear apparel.
In the living room, Henry is all about Manhigh II, a pre-rocket space-race experiment in which Major David Simons, within an aluminum capsule, rose higher into the sky than anyone ever had in the history of people. Henry is enamored of this, of course, because he is to space what his mother is to sex: A pioneer, eyes caught and commanded by possibility. Today something theoretical becomes concrete: "He's going into space for real, Mom!"