[This is a review of the Masters of Sex season 2 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Masters of Sex season 2 finale, entitled 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', tells a haunting story of both progress and regression. With a new era in the American Civil Rights Movement beginning with the election of President John F. Kennedy, our ensemble should be on that same upward swing, yet as the credits role it becomes clear that they are in more danger of becoming obsolete than they realize.
Creator Michelle Ashford has proven herself to be a prolific storyteller, weaving in and out of multiple plot-lines with the greatest of ease. There were times during this stellar season that she was perhaps juggling too many characters at once, hence the two-year time jump mid-season. The episode was executed brilliantly, but it also came at a cost. What happened to all of those brilliant guest stars?
Beau Bridges' (Bart Scully) return in the finale, as a kind of Yoda-like figure, was a striking reminder of the talent that Ashford and her crew had at their disposal. Let's not forget Bart's wife Margaret, played by the exquisite Allison Janney whose success with the CBS sitcom Mom pulled her away from being a series regular. While it's nice to see Janney getting a leading role she deserves, her presence was greatly missed.
Other newcomers like Dr. Douglas Greathouse (Danny Houston) and Dr. Charles Hendricks (Courtney B. Vance) were talents that came and went too quickly. Bill's scene with Hendricks at the end of his tenure with the primarily all African-American hospital was one of the best moments from this season. Hendricks' question to Bill about "having the guts to be born again" is what catapulted Masters on his new journey with Virginia and their new practice. Another encounter with these two men would have been a welcomed sight. It begs the question if Ashford is in a hurry to get to "the meat" of the story? Hopefully she will take her time when season three premieres in 2015.
Masters of Sex at its core is all about Bill and Virginia, much like AMC's critically acclaimed Mad Men series is about Donald Draper (Jon Hamm). If there is one weakness in this otherwise outstanding drama, it's Ashford's inability to keep her ensemble together. Surely there are aspects of making a show like this that are beyond her control, such as contract disputes and other such formalities that go along with the Hollywood machine. There is no denying that Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are fantastic together, but like Mad Men, the show is only as good as its supporting characters. If we're speaking in just those terms, the first half of this season was stronger than this last string of episodes.
With all that being said, even a weaker patch of stories in this wonderful universe that Ashford has created is better than most television currently running. With season two in the books and a third season on its way, what were your favorite moments from this solid sophomore outing? Dr. Masters story is already set in the history books, but this is television, where anything is possible. Libby Masters is slowly slipping away from her husband's already weakened grasp, while Virginia is crushed by the thought of losing her children. All of these men and women have sacrificed so much, but at what cost?
The only ray of sunshine, besides Kennedy's speech, is the relationship between Lester and Barbara. Even though both individuals have their troubled pasts, they are perhaps the only couple in the series willing to admit their shortcomings and fight on despite them. Do they stand a chance under the tutelage of Bill and Virginia? Only time will tell. Keep waiting patiently for season three.
Masters of Sex will continue in the fall of 2015.