Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Masters of Sex #205 “Giants”

Masters of Sex Libby and Coral
Masters of Sex Libby and Coral
Relations

by Catherine Giordano

Relations--racial relations, sexual relations, conjugal relations, employer-employee relations – are strained on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, episode 205, titled “Giants” which aired on Sunday, August 10, 2014. Here’s the review and recap of the episode.

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Let’s start with racial relations. The plot arc began in the previous episode as Dr. Bill Masters took a job at the “Negro” hospital, Buell Green, and when Libby Masters, who feels powerless in her relationship with her husband, stated to humiliate and dominate her young black nanny/housekeeper, Coral, played by Keke Palmer.

At the end of episode 204, Bill Masters is seen accepting a new position at a hospital.  Then the camera pans back and we see that he is sitting at a conference table, and every other of the half dozen or so faces at that table is black. As an indication of how times have changed, I didn’t even notice the lack of white faces until the preview of the next episode alerted me to the fact that he doctor was moving to a “Negro” hospital.  The director of Buell Green wants to have an integrated hospital and hiring Bill is supposed to advance that plan.

This is not working out so well. Yes, Bill now has permission and space (albeit quite meager space), to conduct his sex research and Virginia Johnson has been hired as is assistant, but resentments are building up. Bill’s patients are leaving him--they don’t want to go to the “Negro” hospital and/or don’t want to go to the “bad neighborhood” in which it is located. The director of the hospital is not happy with the fact that Bill is losing patients and the hospital is not becoming integrated. So the director is secretly sabotaging the sex study. The waiting room has been segregated, not by race, but by putting  Dr. Masters patients and patients of other doctors on separate sides of the room—de factor racial segregation—because a fight broke out when the white and black patients shared the same space. Even Virginia is concerned that they may have only “colored” subjects for their study. She thinks this will alter the results.

Libby is frustrated in her marriage and is taking it out on Coral. She humiliates her and dominates her in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. She criticizes Coral’s pronunciation of ‘ask”. Libby wears nothing but her foundation garments in front of Coral as she decides what dress to wear for a get-together with the wives of the other doctors. And, when one of Libby’s guests asks Coral how she learned how to be so good with a baby, Libby tells Coral, right in front of the guests, that her reply should have been very brief no one was really interested.

When Libby’s infant son, John, is discovered with head lice, everyone in the house has to use the medicated shampoo. Coral says that her brother checked her hair and she does not have lice, and Dr. Masters says that Negro’s seldom have lice because their hair is not a suitable habitat for them. Libby gets angry at Coral for appealing to Dr. Masters (as she always refers to her husband in front of Coral). She wants it to be clear that she, Libby, is her boss.

Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer
The next day Libby tells Coral that since she would not use the medicated shampoo on her own, she, Libby, will wash her hair herself.  Coral needs her job and is forced to submit.  It is a odd scene—washing someone’s hair is an intimate act and the roles are reversed—it’s the “boss” washing the “servant’s” hair and not vice versa. Then because Coral protested that she could not afford to have her hair done twice in one week, Libby hands her the money for her hair treatment. Coral takes the money and this adds to her humiliation. 

Coral may be only 18, but she knows how to retaliate. When Libby interferes in Coral’s personal life telling her she should drop her boyfriend, Coral sees her chance for revenge. Coral tells Libby that she is right. Coral says that she knows she should drop her boyfriend, but she then says she just can’t do it because he is such a sweet and tender lover. Coral can see that her employer is not getting ‘sweet loving” from her husband.  

Libby was indeed stung by Coral’s description of her attentive lover. She ever so sweetly asks Bill to join her in her bed –they have twin beds—to enhance their marriage. Bill obliges, but we, and Libby, know that his heart is not in it. She tells Bill that she has had an orgasm, a quiet one so as not to wake the baby, just to get him to end it. When the Masters and Johnson research is complete se won’t be able to lie about orgasm—he will know the physical signs of orgasm that cannot be faked.   
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Virginia and Bill are having some stress in their employer-employee relations as well as in their sexual relations. Virginia suggests that their having-sex-with-each-other “work” should stop. Bill tells her it is a condition of her employment. The next time they meet at the hotel, Virginia becomes dominant. She refuses to undress and sits in a chair with her pen and clipboard. She insists that Bill stand naked before her and “touch himself.”  (Role-reversal from a previous session, except Virginia was masturbating of her own volition.)  Bill then acts in a very subservient way, kneeling naked before the clothed Virginia to pleasure her orally.   

Betty has some work to do to repair her own conjugal relationship. Her husband Gene was okay with her lying about her past as a prostitute, but he can’t forgive her lying about her inability to bear children. Betty is doing everything she can think of to cajole Gene off the couch (where he now sleeps) and back into the martial bed. I think she has come to love Gene; he has become more to her than just a ticket to “the good life.”  Gene eventually relents, and their marriage is once again a happy one.

But not for long. When Betty was “in the life," she had a lesbian lover, Helen. It was true love for both of them. Betty broke it off with Helen when she married, but now Helen, played by Sarah Silverman, is back and she wants Betty back. Helen wins over Gene, who thinks Helen is nothing more than a psychic palm reader whom Betty used to consult. Gene decides that he should introduce his friend Jim to Helen and they should all go on a double date. Betty does everything she can to disrupt this plan telling Gene that Helen is a drunk, an obsessive gambler, and a gold-digger. It turns out Jim likes drunks and obsessive gamblers and is unfazed by gold-digging.  At the restaurant, Helen and Jim hit it off. 

Masters of Sex Betty and Helen Kiss
Helen and Betty Kiss
Helen’s charms are also proving to be irresistible for Betty. When Betty tries to escape to the ladies room, Helen follows her. Betty begs her to leave, but instead Helen kisses her.  

It looks like Helen and Betty will resume their affair. Will they be able to get away with it?
 
Relations, like relationships, are complicated.
 
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