Masters of Sex: “Through A Glass, Darkly” Season 3 Episode 10 Review

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Despite some exciting plot advancements, everyone on Masters of Sex seems to be stuck in a rut.

One thing that seems to be lacking from the third season of Masters of Sex is an overall sense of purpose. Season 1 presented the fresh-eyed and excited Masters and Johnson at the early stages of their study. Season 2 worked through the complex emotional relationship that they have, all while exploring Bill’s own sexual inadequacy. Season 3 has…pretty much just coasted by. There have been some interesting plot points for sure, but nothing that has left a lasting impression.

The introduction of an older Tessa Johnson should have made for some intriguing narratives, but the show continually positions her as a contrived antagonist against Gini. What teenager hatches a plot to put a fake necktie in her mother’s laundry so her affair is exposed? It’s more than a little unrealistic.

Furthermore, the examination of Tessa’s sexuality has been thoroughly confusing. Her disturbing initial experience with Matt appeared to be the beginning of a complex dissection of her thoughts on sex, tainted through the lens of her mother’s work. Yet, this week her and Matt seem quite chummy, and he even tells her he loves her.

Later, it’s Tessa who propositions him into finally doing the deed. I suppose, in a way, this is her numbed response to all that has happened to her, but I also just feel like the writers let her previous trauma drop off. It hasn’t been mentioned in any of the “previously on” segments in the beginning of the show, and if you just tuned in now, you’d never even know that it happened. This is especially frustrating, because it could have been an excellent narrative arc for Tessa if it were handled properly. Instead, the show seems to have just dropped it and moved on.

“Through A Glass, Darkly” is also the episode in which Gini discovers that both her daughter and Dan know about her affair with Bill. Such a turning point should be cause for a major revelation, but in lieu of this we’re left with a hollow feeling. Yes, Gini is distraught over the news, and Lizzy Caplan expresses this wonderfully. Still, we haven’t been made to care enough about Tessa for this to cause a real impact. Dan, though incredibly charming, simply tells Gini that he accepts what she’s done so there’s no real conflict. This is the first moment in the series that could have been a huge climax, but it fell completely to the wayside.

Elsewhere, other characters continue to go through the motions on a show that should be far more progressive. Bill once again plays to Gini’s ego to get her to do what he wants, and it’s irritating to watch her continue to fall for this trick. Later, when his encounter with Nora ends terribly, he reveals that he needs Gini in order to fix what’s broken inside him. Seeing as how we’re nearing the end of season 3, this is not new information in the slightest. I don’t see why it had to be brought up yet again.

In the parallel universe where Scully and his lab technician work, Scully is invited out to drinks with his co-worker and repels further back into the closet once he sees how out they all are. It’s a very by-the-numbers plot of a gay man in the 60s, and it’s pretty uninteresting. Betty’s speech at the end is nice, though.

Libby once again gets shunted with a “I can’t live like this anymore!” plotline, only this time in ends in Paul proposing to her. You go, girl! Now get married and leave the show because your narratives are super boring and seem to exist on an entirely separate plane than anything else going on in the series.

The one saving grace of this episode is something that I didn’t expect to be so enticed by. At the end of the hour, we discover Nora is secretly in cahoots with the bible-thumpers who continually harass Bill and Gini on their way into work. It’s such a soapy twist that I thought I would roll my eyes at it, but the more I think about it, it could be exactly what this series needs. A little drama never hurt anybody, and it’s time for this show to bring the sizzle back. Being stuck in a rut is about the least sexy thing you can do. Grade: C

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Dan Logan is becoming a little too perfect to be believable, but Josh Charles is just such a magnetic screen presence that it’s hard to hate him.
  • All the girls apparently want to marry Lester. Who’d have guessed?
  • Did Libby’s kids not think it was weird that their school football coach and neighbor wanted them to put on a show for their mom’s birthday? Also, the fact that they did Rapunzel? Real subtle, you guys.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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