Monday, July 14, 2014

Masters of Sex #201 "Parallax"


by Catherine Giordano

Everyone is getting a little reckless in the Season 2 premiere of Showtime's Masters of Sex, entitled "Parallax" which aired on July 13, 2014.  Let's look at the recklessness of some of our favorite characters in this review and recap.

First and foremost, Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson have become very reckless. They are behaving very badly while deceiving themselves about their behavior.  They have hurt/will  hurt a lot of the people who love them.

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As I predicted in my final review of Season 1, "You Don't Know Me", Virginia chose Bill over Ethan. The scene which shows Bill arriving at Virginia's house late at night is replayed several times throughout the episode and each time we see more of what happened that night. Bill and Virginia have sex with unbounded passion and intensity. As they later say, "Something was different without the wires." I say, something was different because they had stopped lying to themselves about how the sex was just about "the work." Except, they are still lying with their words if not their bodies.  

Bill and Virginia: Reckless Love
Bill tells Virginia that he is a happily married man, but he will continue having sex with her because he wants to explore her idea that attachment changes sex. Virginia says an affair would be so tawdry, she would never have an affair, but this is about "the work." And thus they begin regular liaisons at a hotel checking in as Dr. and Mrs. Holden.

They are both being reckless. Virginia breaks it off with Ethan that very night on the telephone as Bill lies in her bed listening in. Virginia had broken it off with Ethan once before when he misinterpreted her "friends-with-benefits" attitude and wanted to marry her. After Virginia quit working for and with Bill, she resumed sex with Ethan. This time she allowed Ethan to think that she loved him. Once again, he asked her to marry him. But with or without the return of Bill, she was probably not going to marry Ethan. He was too "white-bread" for her. She craves the danger and excitement that Bill represents. Look at this picture of Virginia and Bill in bed together. She is cradling him. Bill is like a wounded predator and she must soothe the savage beast.

Bill is definitely a wounded predator. His father beat him and mistreated him when he was a child, and now he is wholeheartedly embracing his anger. He states that he is turning into his father, not with regret, but with pride. His mother tries to help and he demands that she return to Ohio--she is never to enter his house again. Then he summarily tells his wife, who has become quite fond of her mother-in-law, that she needs to hire a nanny immediately.  His fierce coldness is frightening.

Bill refuses to have anything to do with his child. Perhaps if he were to love his child, it would bring back the painful memories of being an unloved child. I think being a father to his child would heal his pain, but he won't even try to love his child.

Bill has been offered a new job at Memorial Hospital and his research will once again be funded. The funding is coming from "The Pretzel King," a wealthy man who married the former prostitute who had participated in in Bill's sex research at the beginning. She later bullied Bill into giving her a job as a secretary at the hospital so she could go legit.  However, Bill's research is also being funded because the director of Memorial Hospital has a licentious interest in the research. Reckless, but Bill needs the money.

Dr. Barton Scully is a wreck.
Barton Scully does a very reckless thing. He tries to hang himself. He undergoes his first electroshock treatment, and this, along with his desire to stop being gay, has reduced him to a wretched wreck. He tries to make love to his wife (after first secretly looking at gay porn), but Margaret can't go through with it. She knows it is a sham and it is demeaning to her. This failure leads to his attempt to hang himself. Fortunately, Margaret and his daughter, Vivian, discover him in time and cut him down. 

Even the very proper Dr. Lillian DePaul may be engaging in recklessness. She shows up at work with a black eye. Virginia is very curious about this because, as she tells Lillian, "You are never reckless." The black eye goes unexplained, for now. Dr. DePaul has always been interested in only one thing--establishing pap smears as part of the routine care for women. She has stage four cancer herself (cervical cancer, initially cured, but now metastasized.) Does Lillian have a secret life?  

Recklessness has consequences. For instance, Virginia is being ostracized by the women and hounded by the men at the hospital because everyone thinks it was her naked body in the presentation, and she now has a reputation as "easy." Dr. Austin Landsman, who is a reckless womanizer, has been publically humiliated by his wife for his sexual escapades. Jane lives in fear that people will discover that it actually was her body shown in the presentation. 

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Jane may escape the consequences of her reckless participation in the sex study. Lester, who fell in love with her while filming her sex acts for the study, has received a job offer from Hollywood, and she is going with him. She plans to become a movie star, so perhaps her reckless days are not over.

Will the recklessness end? I doubt it. Will it have ever more serious consequences?  I am sure of it. Tune in next week.

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See my review of Season 1 "You Don't Know Me."

The book that changed every thing

The bio on which the show is based