Masters of Sex: “Dirty Jobs” Season 2 Episode 4 Review

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When trust issues come into play, everyone is forced to do things they don’t want to do.

As we learned from last week’s fantastic bottle episode, Masters and Virginia have strong feelings for each other, but are far from ready to admit them. “Dirty Jobs” serves as an expansion of this idea, seeing how each of them operates outside the walls of their hotel bedroom. Unfortunately, the real world is a much bleaker place. If only they could remain Mr. and Mrs. Holden forever.

For Gini, her reasons for keeping her walls up are two-fold. It’s not just that she was burned by a lover before, but also because she’s fought so hard to get where she is. In an era when most women were subjugated to the role of housewives or secretaries, Gini has managed to create somewhat of a career for herself. Though her circumstances have changed—she’s been forced to sell awful diet pills in order to supplement her income—she’s still been an important player behind some real scientific work. She worries that no one would be able to distinguish between her professional successes and her personal endeavors, so she remains silent on her non-affair with Masters. It’s all about the study, after all.

Of course, withholding this information also proves to be her downfall. After Austin sees Gini leave the hotel with Masters, he’s eager to get the two of them to admit their attraction to each other. When both deny anything romantic is happening, he confides in Dr. DePaul. Lillian is the closest thing Gini has to a mentor; another woman who had to work extremely hard to get to where she is. Yet, Gini’s also seen her at her weakest, lying on an examination table and succumbing to the effects of her tumor. When Lillian finally gives Gini an opening to confess, she falters. Lizzy Caplan wonderfully conveys a brief inner struggle, as she wonders whether or not to trust a woman who’s recently been trusting her with her life.

She decides not to trust her, and it’s a terrible mistake. Lillian ends up handing her pap smear research off to another hospital, and although I suspect it partly has to do with the spread of her cancer, it seems to most directly impact Gini. After all, she was supposed to be the one to take over after Lillian’s disease got the better of her. Now, since she can’t be trusted, the work is out of both of their hands.

Masters, meanwhile, seems intent on distancing himself from the notion of being in love with Virginia so he can pretend to lead a normal life. As a character whose emotions are constantly bottled up, this makes perfect sense, but his guarded nature also seems to work against him. Masters decides not to trust Dr. Greathouse, and rightly so. Greathouse won’t let him hire Virginia as a research assistant, and seems to only be interested in his study due to its erotic nature. When he and his colleagues invade one of Masters sessions, all hell breaks loose. The fight that ensues is particularly dramatic against a mostly subdued episode, but it works to show just when Masters has reached his limit. Again, this isn’t someone who knows how to effectively express his feelings.

What Masters really needs to worry about, however, is Libby and his baby. Libby has a disturbing trust struggle of her own when she fears Coral has given her newborn son head lice. She hasn’t, but it quickly becomes clear that her problems with her nanny are really a front for the lack of honest communication she has with her husband. It’s a shame, really, because Coral bears the brunt of her anger. Keke Palmer is incredibly endearing, and the scene in which Libby forcibly washes Coral’s hair is quietly devastating.

It’s interesting, though, that when Libby finally does confront Masters after learning he’s been fired, she’s the one in control. It seems her husband can’t bear to have both his work and his home life be in disarray, and so when things get too heated he has a panic attack. Here Libby jumps to the rescue, almost immediately calming him down. In this moment she’s able to gain some power, and she grabs onto it as fast as she can.

Amongst all this, we have Betty, who perhaps has the most tragic trust issues in the entire hour. After her husband discovers the truth about her infertility, he’s naturally upset. Over a heartbreaking dinner conversation, he reveals that he knows about her prostitute past. “I knew you weren’t a good Christian girl,” he says. “I just thought you were the love of my life.” As far as subplots go, this one is very resonant with the central action at hand. It’s unfortunate to see Betty, someone who’s always tried to make the best of her situation, realize she never needed to be anything but herself. Neither of them seemed to trust one another, so perhaps now that everything is out in the open they can begin anew.

While not as awe-inspiring as last week’s episode, “Dirty Jobs” is another solid entry in Masters of Sex‘s second season. With a decidedly more psychological focus on its characters, this show is becoming something truly extraordinary. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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