[This is a review of Masters of Sex season 2, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
It’s nothing short of astonishing that Masters of Sex has yet to crush its own characters under the immense emotional weight they are forced to endure on a weekly basis. This week’s episode, entitled ‘Kyrie Eleison’, tightens the metaphorical noose on our already fragile ensemble, as Bill struggles to adjust to his new practice at Memorial Hospital and life with his baby boy at home. None of these circumstances are ideal, but what’s a good hour of drama without a few challenges?
Let’s start on a lighter note by examining the exploits of one Dr. Austin Langham (Teddy Sears). The handsome blonde has lost his family, but that doesn’t stop the flirtatious doctor from trying to seduce poor Vivian Scully (Rose McIver) whilst examining her. Sure, there’s nothing funny about sleeping around with your wife’s sister, but Langham’s boyish charms and lighthearted attitude easily sweep you into a sense that everything will be alright.
Even after Virginia’s taxing week of extremely awkward meetings with Dr. Ditmer (and Ulysses), Austin found a way to comfort her. Their lives may be filled with heartbreak and remorse but hey, it’s better than being four floors down dead in the morgue, right? These two “lone wolves” are caught up in their own chaotic existence that they’ve created for themselves. Each of them had the opportunity for a “better life,” yet they chose to follow a more destructive, and possibly stimulating path. This is not meant to judge or criticize the pair, but it is interesting that Langham seems to know exactly who and what he is, while Virginia continues to swim in circles hoping she doesn’t drown. Does Langham have a point? When life is at its most ruinous, shouldn’t we all just dance?
Across town at Memorial Hospital, Bill Masters is learning a harsh truth about his new job. It appears that Dr. Greathouse (Danny Houston) will have Bill on a short leash when it comes to his regular patient interactions, as well as his coveted sex study. Do you think Greathouse will become Bill’s greatest obstacle this season, or will his own pride and arrogance be his downfall?
In a cast comprised of such prestigious names like Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan and Beau Bridges, it’s difficult for a new actor to standout among the titans, yet the lovely young Ana Valentine Walczak (Teen Wolf) gave a riveting performance. Her portrayal of a troubled young sex addict named Rose Palmateer was one of the better guest appearances this reviewer has seen in some time. Even in our “modern society,” sex addiction is not a topic brought up on a regular basis and in the 1950s, it was even less so. Dr. Masters proves himself to be a compassionate man as he urges Rose to forego the sterilization procedure. So why can’t he translate that loving and caring attitude towards his family?
Michael Sheen’s depiction of Dr. Masters is one of the more complex and sophisticated performances on television, up there with Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). He lives in a constant state of dualism, which makes him unpredictable. This week’s episode provided us two examples of that duality, where Bill is the absent father/husband who is scared of his own child, followed by the man who sticks up for the social outcasts (like Rose Palmateer) when no one else will.
We’re only two episodes in to this already terrific season of Masters of Sex, but where do you see it going from here? How will Bill cope while under the watch of Dr. Greathouse? Keep watching to find out.
Masters of Sex continues with ‘Fight’ next Sunday @10pm on Showtime.