But let’s begin with talking about Bill, because this episode focuses on him and what an honestly big jerk he can be and basically is. In the vein of anti-heroes (how much of an anti-hero do we think Bill is?) like Walter White and Don Draper and Frank Underwood, we have become set in the way of rooting for not really stand-up citizens. And yet somehow they were (for the most part) easy to root for, or at least fun to watch. I’m having a hard time with Bill right now in both respects, and that’s while being compared to characters who literally murdered people. I get it. He’s a complicated man, but when you discover he has basically abandoned his brother, that’s a heavy hit. Frank Mason, who we know Bill has a past with and used to write letters to, wants Bill to help him and his wife with fertility treatments and yet he sends him packing; that is, until Frank literally won’t let go of Bill and begs him for his brother back.
I can’t help but wonder, though: does Libby know about the brother? Does dearest mother Ann Dowd know about the brother? Or has Bill REALLY buttoned this one up and buried it away forever? And if so, HOW?!
During their first meeting, Frank also asks Bill if he thinks being an alcoholic is linked to his impotence. Later, Bill tells Virginia he’s had too many drinks in the hotel lobby and probably can’t perform in bed. Virginia also pushes for their sex study to start helping people with sexual dysfunction and going beyond just observation and into curing. Their biggest case? Male impotence. The link to Bill’s own impotence (and, I guess, assumed alcoholism at this point) is very on-the-nose — why yes, I did have another flashback to “The Fight” episode — and with an episode titled “Mirror, Mirror,” Bill certainly sees himself in the brother he has estranged.
And then there’s Libby. How many more times am I going to have to say that? Why must we keep doing this to Libby? Her casual racism continues with the coincidental return of Coral’s brother. He comes to her, asking to give details of an accident she witnessed, as she would be the only white witness. Petrified, she says she didn’t see anything, even though she most certainly did. She’s also raising money for some creepy ritualistic ball called the Veiled Prophet Ball where there are black servers wearing white masks. Huh? At least at the end of the episode, she returns to Coral’s brother and decides to testify. So that’s a plus.
Virginia continues on her path of furthering her independence from Bill, telling him she wants to go back to school to learn more about patients’ psychological sexual blocks. This includes Betsy Brandt’s secretary Barbara, who we discover had sex with her brother when she was young. The way the “Breaking Bad” alum delivers the scene with equal parts heartbreak and hysteria is so great. After revealing such a traumatic story to Virginia, she’s forced to send Barbara to a male psychiatrist. She, of course, is too nervous and refuses. This sends Virginia going as Barbara’s surrogate, telling her story as if it were her own in order to get a diagnosis to deliver back to Barbara. It’s tricky stuff and ripe for potential.
Betty’s never not great, even in the small moments she’s given in this episode. Meanwhile, Austin Langham is still hanging around and is the new spokesperson for Cal-O-Metric, which also is still hanging around for whatever reason. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes while Bill just continues to infuriate on the front lines. But damn if Virginia doesn’t always get the best stuff, which keeps “Masters” so nicely afloat even while it struggles a bit. Let’s hear it for the girls. Well, except Libby.