Everything comes full circle. The first three seasons of Showtime’s critically acclaimed series Masters of Sex, has been a true reflection of that sentiment. The show’s main characters; Bill Masters, Virginia Johnson, and Libby Masters, are a true reproduction of how, in life, we are essentially the sum of our actions. Through personal examination, each character this season, attempts to reconcile; how they became who they are and if they should continue down their selected paths. These characters have conveniently allowed themselves to believe that they are victims of circumstance especially, when they involve themselves in socially questionable endeavors. However, it’s in this current season, the audience finally sees these protagonists question if they’ve been these morally blurred people all along. Have they been living and loving under the construct of the conditions that life has thrown at them or are they finally recognizing their true selves? Are they the architects of their own dismal situations and not the product of them?
Bill Masters is a high academic, a distant parent, married, and in love with Virginia. His wife Libby has engaged in two affairs and in both cases fell in love. She struggles to keep her family dynamic afloat with Bill’s and her children’s relationship being cold and strained. Virginia is also an accomplished academic, who tirelessly tries to balance motherhood and being a participant in decade long sex study with Bill. She also continually tries to carve out a path of romantic normalcy to no avail. They’ve all felt dejected, ignored, and frustrated with their various situations. They also conversely blame each other for the positions they’ve resolutely find themselves. Ultimately, this trio sentimentally believes their personal unhappiness was result of each other.
This season, the show has done a god job of providing figurative mirrors, through accessory characters. Bill, Libby, and Virginia have seen themselves through the eyes of their children, their lovers, and their co-workers. This kind of introspection, has allowed them to admit some fundamental truths about themselves and the path of their lives. They’re starting to consider; who they were when they engaged in their affairs, why they decided to participate in a sex study, or stay in loveless marriage?
This week the penultimate episode of the season aired. The audience finds Bill in Virginia at dinner with Dan Logan, Virginia’s lover, and his wife. His wife becomes glaringly aware of that Dan and Virginia’s relationship has gone from the profession of perfumes to romantic. Her reaction to this revelation is to profusely drink and to tell the entire table about her husband’s previous affairs. In the background, Dan and Bill either cut the awkward tension or create it with overtures and verbal jabs at each other. Virginia, the object of both men’s romantic claim, tries to subdue the emotions of anger, shock, and guilt. The foursome ends with Virginia jolting from the table, Dan leaving his wife, and Bill overtly confirming to Virginia his love for her. Across town, Libby is having a family dinner with Paul, her lover, and her children. They spend the night trying to figure out how to tell Bill that Libby is leaving him. In the end, Libby relents. She decides that she can’t break her family into fractured pieces and tells Paul goodbye.
The episode was a great study in choices and the things we tell ourselves, to make them. These characters seem intent on punishing, loving, and staying connected to each other until the end. They will tell themselves it’s because of work, or family, or principal and the cycle of discontent will continue. Bill, Libby, and Virginia now realize, given their many opportunities to change, the reality of who they actually are. They live in a world of conflict where their twisted relationship is the only thing sustaining them, which means pain, will continue to master them all.