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Recap: ‘Masters of Sex’ Season 2, Episode 2: ‘Kyrie Eleison’

Recap: 'Masters of Sex' Season 2, Episode 2: 'Kyrie Eleison'

Let’s just dive right in and talk first about the hot button topic of this episode — abortion — which was handled so delicately and wonderfully because why wouldn’t it be? Here’s a show that has always been smart about female sexuality, and it proves itself once again here.

Rose, a teenaged girl, gets rushed into Memorial Hospital with a torn uterus from a botched abortion. Turns out this is the girl’s second abortion, and the parents are aware of her first. The mother demands Bill give her daughter a hysterectomy to not let this happen again. An appalling demand, to say the least. Even more appalling, though, is just as Bill is explaining to the mother that such a medical procedure should be up to Rose, his boss Douglas Greathouse refutes saying they must respect the parent’s wishes.

And even more appalling, still, is what Bill discovers when he speaks with Rose directly. She wants the procedure and has a serious case of self slut-shaming. “It’s like this dark thing inside me,” she tells Bill about her sleeping with boys. Meanwhile, Greathouse is still going off about Rose being a whore, a sexual deviant. Bill rebuttals with an argument on how everyone’s sexual behavior is unique then goes behind his back to provide Rose with contraception.

Enter Betty, who knows a thing or two about being called a whore. At the episode’s end, she gives Rose sound advice on standing up for herself. And to think women are still forced to defend their vaginas to this day.

Speaking of inappropriate slut-shaming, Vivian, Barton’s daughter, confronts Virginia about dumping Ethan. She apparently feels responsible for the status of his heart since they’re exes. “You’ll do anything to get what you want,” she tells Virginia. “You may get away with this now, but people will catch on, and all you’ll be is old and ugly and alone.” Can’t keep up with Virginia’s modernity? Get out of the kitchen. Or something.

Vivian also has a broken arm, and we know from what. And so does Bill. The “something about stress” excuse for why Margaret and Barton have fled to Venice for a leave of absence doesn’t cut it. And for us as viewers, this also unfortunately sounds like a case of scheduling conflict. Beau Bridges and Allison Janney were likely too busy shooting their respective sit-com duties over at CBS’ “The Millers” and “Mom.”

With the study going underway over at Memorial Hospital, Virginia still can’t find a way to squeeze herself in. She can’t even go under the guise of Bill’s secretary because that position has already been mandated to — drum roll, please — “Breaking Bad”‘s Betsy Brandt! We knew she was signed on to the second season, but who knew she would play such a delightfully adorable and frazzled secretary named Barbara who uses words like “swell.” 

So, while Virginia gets shut out, she continues to help Lillian who’s filming a medical informational video about pap smears. During shooting, she begins slurring and confusing her words, and after Virginia basically forces her to get a check-up, they discover it’s metastasis, and her cervical cancer has apparently spread to her brain. Julianne Nicholson’s Lillian has replaced Allison Janney’s Margaret Scully as the show’s most tragic character.

And then there’s Libby. With Bill back at work, she has hired a nanny to help with the baby. This has transformed into a largely thankless role for Caitlin FitzGerald who certainly does what she can within the confines of Libby’s limited behavior. After her painful struggle trying to have a baby and then finally succeeding, it’s dawning on her that Bill still does not care. He’s a man afraid of his own child, as she notes to the nanny. How much longer must she go on like this until she finally takes action? She’s also under the delusion that she’s taking control of her home life by hiring a nanny. Not the case. Instead, she enters an immediate power struggle with her, who seems better fit for mothering than even Libby. Now she can’t even have that, so it’s understandable for Libby to be frustrated, but having her condescend to the nanny the way she does feels like a betrayal to the character.

One last note: remember when Dr. Ditmer expressed interest in learning more about Ulysses (yes, that glass dildo) from Virginia, and it seemed perfectly innocent? Well, it wasn’t. In a bizarre scene, Virginia explains the effect of Ulysses to Ditmer, a conversation that is gets intercut between one Bill is having with Greathouse about the sex study in general. It’s playful and humorous; that is, until the mention of “vaginal sweating” gets Ditmer so aroused he literally…finishes right there before Virginia. Cut to Greathouse smoking a cigarette. Get it?!

After no update all episode-long on the status of Bill and Virginia, we watch as Bill leaves Libby for some late night work while Virginia has the babysitter stay just a little bit longer. They retreat together to that hotel 30 minutes outside of town as the Holdens, once again. The question remains. Affair or work?

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