Monday, October 21, 2013

Masters of Sex Review: "Thank You for Coming" - Bad Men

Michael Sheen brings the creepy in "Masters of Sex"

I feel like I’m about to be very negative about “Thank You for Coming,” the fourth episode of Masters of Sex’s freshman season.  So let me preface this review by saying that this was not a bad episode of television.  I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  My problem is that I hate all of the men in this show.  And I get that I’m kind of supposed to.  But it can make the show a bit difficult to watch especially when, as in tonight’s episode, the story and action are largely moving pieces into place for something bigger yet to come.

It’s tough to single out the worst man behaving badly this week but I’d have to start with Bill.  Masters of Sex is largely a show about desire and watching people try to discover, pursue, or subvert their desires.  Masters is pretty obviously in the “discovery” phase.  He has no idea what he wants or who he wants.  Absent any understanding of his own desires, he’s spent his life giving other people what they want.  There’s no real indication that he wants to have kids, but his wife certainly does and he apparently thinks he might find some measure of happiness by giving them to her.  Now that she’s pregnant, however, he’s forced to revisit his own childhood and realize just how little the prospect of fatherhood intrigues him.  But now, with a new temptation placed in front him (in the form of the lurid account of Virginia’s sexual experience given to him by her ex-husband), he’s finally found a desire he wants to explore, though he goes about it in the absolutely, positively creepiest way possible.

Speaking of Virginia’s ex-husband George, I hope he sticks around for a while.  Virginia is normally such a put-together person that it’s nice to finally see somebody enter the picture who is capable of throwing her off her game.  I also appreciate that he’s an extremely well-written and well-developed character.  I can see how lounge-singer Virginia would fall for him and his charm.  I can also see how mother and scientist Virginia would be appalled by his boorishness and careless attitude but still attracted to him physically.  I don’t know that I’d consider George to be a complex character but Virginia certainly is, and watching him bring out that complexity is fascinating to watch.

Lastly, Dr. Haas, still hung up on his desire for Johnson, has apparently made his way through all of the nurses at the hospital and now has his eyes set on the Provost’s daughter.  I know Ethan is supposed to be a detestable character, but we’re now six months out from his brief dalliance with Johnson.  Dude needs to get over it.  He’s not going to find solace by banging all the nurses, though I wouldn’t mind a few more scenes of scorned women knocking him down a peg.

Ultimately, this felt like a piece-moving episode.  It brings in Bill’s mom and Virginia’s ex-husband to shake things up a bit, but nothing fundamental has changed.  Again, that’s not to say it was a bad episode, because it really wasn’t.  Rather, it just makes me want to see what comes next.

A couple of spare thoughts –
Ann Dowd is great as Bill’s mother and seems like she’ll be around for the time being.  She’s also gives us reason to flashback to Bill’s childhood which, while not particularly surprising or illuminating, at least provides a bit of insight into the character.

I really hope the show doesn’t fall into the trap of having a weekly patient whose life reflects that of one of the characters.  It’s an easy trope and one that can seem lazy, even when it works well, which it really doesn’t here.

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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