Masters of Sex Season 1 Review “Race to Space”

On the latest episode of “Masters of Sex,” we got our first look at the title sequence, and boy, was it a doozy. A hilarious montage of overtly sexual imagery and motifs, plus Dick & Jane heavy petting and enjoying a smoke afterwards, it was pretty hilarious. Though decidedly post-modern in tone, it nonetheless perfectly sets up the tone of the overall show thus far, which is equal parts retro and forward-thinking nostalgia. Top that, “Mad Men”!

In “Race to Space,” Masters opted to take the show on the road, after a mysterious complaint caused him to lose the provost’s support. The obvious culprit was Haas, given the ugliness of what went down between him and Johnson last week, but he insists he didn’t nark on the titillating twosome, and she seems to believe him. So do I, but you have to wonder who did.

A savvy Betty, perhaps? She always seems two steps ahead of everyone else, and look at how she leveraged herself into a legit job, not to mention a potential hubby and possible baby daddy, assuming she can also talk Masters into reversing her tube procedure. It clearly wasn’t Dr. Austin, who’s heartbroken over losing his playtime with Jane.

Whatever the case, Masters is now officially working his study out of a cathouse, which is one way to go about a sex study, I suppose. You have to wonder how Masters and Betty even met in the first place, though. I don’t think they’ve covered that yet. Masters doesn’t exactly seem like the type that would know where to find a prostitute. Either way, he might just have more than he can handle in that one, given her penchant for extortion at the drop of a hat.

Johnson tried to take a page out of Betty’s book via her shenanigans with the secretary pool, after Masters gave her advance word that she was fired, hoping to re-secure her job, but to no avail as of yet, unfortunately. We know from history that the two eventually did become an official team and eventually a couple, but it’s not yet clear how that came to pass as of yet.

With the preview indicating that things are going to get worse before they get better, what with Johnson appearing to let the cat out of the bag about Masters’ low sperm count thing, it will be interesting to see how they get around to working out their differences in the end. For now, though, things are nothing if not frosty between the two.

Still, it’s clear that Masters needs all the help he can get in his approach, which lacks tact, to say the least. One of the great joys of this show thus far is seeing how clueless men really are about the opposite sex at the time. I loved the guys’ reaction to Jane’s quoting of Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex,” for instance. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around that at all, could they?

Also a reliable source of amusement is Haas’ constantly perplexed state about women in general. (His reaction to Bernadette’s offer of anal sex was priceless.) It’s insane to think that there was a time when people knew nothing of the likes of foreplay and oral and anal sex and so forth, but it’s kind of oddly charming as well. In an age in which one can see all manners of depravity online for free at any given moment of the day, it’s hard to believe people could have ever been so naïve, but “Masters of Sex” shows that it was indeed the case way back when.

It’s almost enough to make one nostalgic in a way that I can actually understand, unlike “Mad Men,” where the rampant sexism, racism, and non-stop drinking and smoking can be a bit much sometimes. I mean, I get that it was like that back then, but does it have to be so boringly handled as well? “Masters of Sex,” on the other hand, is nothing if not fascinating and sexy, if in an admittedly oddball way. For instance, that scene with Masters and his wife, where she offered to “let him watch” her pleasure herself. It was sexy at first, then awkward, then a little sad. That’s a lot of emotions for a scene that only lasted a few minutes. Color me impressed.

Honestly, though, what I love most about the show may actually be Betty (Annaleigh Ashford). What a rich, colorful character she is! And that dialogue! That bit where Johnson first goes to the brothel and is surprised to see that’s it’s just a normal house and Betty is like: “Normally, we got naked cootchies lined up along the sink, but it’s slow.” Priceless. Ditto her assessment of Masters, after he sneaks into the brothel in the back of the house: “A back door man. I’m not surprised.” LOL.

Ashford also handled the surprise twist of her wanting to marry a rich guy and leave Helen for a “normal” life beautifully. It was pretty heartbreaking to see what gay women had to contend with back in the day, the compromises they had to make in order to fit in. I’m curious to see whether Masters’ study will go on to feature homosexual clients as well, and how he will handle that if it does.

So, another intriguing and involving episode overall. I really like the way “Masters of Sex” is developing, and the pacing of the show is really well done. Things move along at a nice clip without rushing it too much. The show seems to have a good idea of what scenes should be brief and which should go on a bit longer than others. That’s a positive sign that the show has a handle on its overall story arc, and that bodes well for its future, assuming they keep up the good work.

What did you think of the episode? Did you like it as much as the premiere? Who’s your favorite character so far? How about your least favorite? Sound off on this and anything else that strikes your fancy down below in the comments section, and see you next week!