It's been a few weeks since Masters tried to pay Virginia off, sending her back into Ethan's orbit. Their relationship is strained -- both in the day office and Room Five -- but possibly survivable, until the events of a day-long civil defense drill throughout the hospital pushes everybody over the edge into Crazytown.
When Ethan's fellowship isn't extended, he blames his sudden lack of employment on the breakup with Vivian. While Scully isn't exactly happy with Ethan, he assures him it's actually the performance review from doctors on the floor that pushed him out. Specifically, Ethan realizes, Bill Masters. At first he thinks it's because he's taken up with Virginia, but of course Masters is more interested in punching him over Libby's mysterious pregnancy. So he does!
And he is not done throwing down. A former one-time participant (Chrissy Seaver) shows up three months pregnant, after her single session with Austin Langham. While Masters is committed to maintaining their anonymity, and blind to the differing liabilities for men and women when it comes to sexual consequences, Virginia tries giving Austin the option of pursuing the matter further, which only angers Bill more since he is in the mode of thinking of pregnancy as a horrible thing that happens to men.
In the end, Virginia gives the girl a check for two grand out of the study fund, explains to Bill that his attempt to pay her off proves his guilt, which in turn proves they were having an affair the whole time... And leaves Masters's employ altogether.
Austin, making his way through the delightedly "wounded" participants in the drill, has something like a panic attack and ends up back with Margaret Scully, floating in a swimming pool and talking about space debris. Margaret's had quite a day too, between discussing her husband's proclivities with the first hooker she can find, and then metabolizing the obvious truth of her husband's homosexuality, so she's glad for the company.
Lillian DePaul's pap smear program is approved, but funded at 5% of what she needs. Virginia tries to teach her how to act like a person, but that just ends up in a horror situation where the Chancellor thinks she's trying to hit on him. She's mortally offended -- and still pressed for time, given her illness -- but impressed enough that when an unemployed Mrs. Johnson shows up at the end of the day, she can't even argue Virginia's ever-so-Virginia decision that she'll be working for Dr. DePaul from now on.
One of the sillier outings, with its overbearing symbolism and modernist dialogues, but the chilly relationships and ugly moments give the whole thing a much subtler feel than perhaps the script would offer, simply on the page. A sequence of two conversations between Lester and Jane (who ROCKS as the floor's Hall Marshall throughout the drill) is particularly moving, if a bit on the nose.
All in all, it's weird to see fetuses constantly compared to atom bombs, but the circumstances of these two fairly unwanted pregnancies almost earn it. And of course, the only thing more powerful than Virginia's intense willpower is her quiet dignity, and we get a heaping helping of that this week. With the time jump and everyone's relationships and situations in flux, the hour's note of resigned doom certainly inspires hope for the rest of this last act of the season.
Next Week: Libby tries to help Bill with a presentation, but he gets a wild hair up his ass and decides to blow some minds. Lillian takes Virginia to a medical convention and finally opens up about her cancer, while deadbeat dad George gets jealous about Ethan's relationship with the kids. Sounds like a barnstormer, actually. I can't wait to see what Libby's brain does with all this information -- or how inspired George will get when he finds somebody else inhabiting the life he neglects. And how long do you give Masters before he's begging Gini to come back? I give it until the end of this paragraph.
Ethan and Virginia hooked back up after breaking off their respective romantic arrangements with Vivian and Bill, Libby spilled the beans about her pregnancy and how she got that way, Margaret has asked for a divorce after finding out half of the truth about her husband, and Lillian DePaul is ever-so-slowly succumbing to Virginia's charm -- while Masters paid off Johnson like a whore even after she explained carefully to him that that's what he was doing. Welcome to the doghouse, Scientists!
It is very awkward for Virginia, coming in to work the Study after Bill's disastrous move last week. It is awkward for Bill, but that is a consequence of being Bill. Most of all, it is awkward for the male and female subjects tonight, who have no idea what they have walked into. The female one is played by Anne Dudek, the greatest actress in the entire world.
Virginia: "Why are you two in here together? We usually do it separately. I guess we're not doing that today because Dr. Masters is a fuckface who thinks we are whores."
Masters: "We are doing it different because F-26-184 over here is multiorgasmic and I want her to have a million orgasms."
Virginia: "We have lots of people coming in here later so she'll have to get 'er done real quick."
Masters: "Guess so. Unlike you, coming in so late to our real job this morning."
Virginia: "You make me sick. Your face makes me want you to be destroyed."
Masters: "I'm taking us all down with me when I do."
Subjects: "This sex study is making us uncomfortable in a very different way from how we thought a sex study would make us uncomfortable."
F26: "I don't know that I even can have a million orgasms today. It is because of your bad energy."
DUCK & COVER
The old "Duck & Cover" cartoon is playing when Virginia gets home, to an empty den. Where are the babies? In bed. Who put them there? Ethan, who is now that kind of boyfriend. I guess it has been another few weeks.
Ethan: "Since I took over your life while you were at work, can I sleep here?"
Virginia: "We'll see. If I fall asleep you can. Our first subject tonight lost consciousness after her orgasm(s) and I felt responsible for her death. Murder by watching somebody bone is a victimless and very strange crime."