Masters of Sex Season 1 Review “Fallout”

On the latest “Masters of Sex,” we dealt with the inevitable “Fallout” of last episode’s events, in which Masters made Johnson feel like…well, let’s just call it a working girl in the worst of senses. However, the title also referred to the state of mind at the time, when the shadow of a looming nuclear war with the Soviet Union was more than a whim, but a very distinct possibility. While the episode was not without humor, in terms of the way the hospital prepared for the potential of post-nuclear chaos, in reality the scenario was nothing if not emotionally charged, at least behind the scenes, as it were.

I got a kick out of the labels everyone was wearing, with some people sporting various faux “injuries” and others in charge of certain things, including Jane, who treated the exercise as if she were the world’s most diligent school hall monitor. Despite the very real nuclear threat at the time, it was nonetheless treated by the writers with some wicked dark comedy that was pitch perfect- much like everything else on this show.

Meanwhile, tensions ran high amongst our main cast, particularly between Masters & Johnson, who finally reached their breaking point, ultimately leading to Johnson outright quitting, after realizing that his treatment of her wasn’t because he didn’t care, but rather because he cared a little too much. Masters has always played things close to the vest- a little too close, in fact- so it was bound to come back to haunt him, not to mention result in his finally losing control in a way he couldn’t deal with in his highly repressed state.

In this case, it led to his clocking Dr. Haas, after passive-aggressively panning his work in the evaluations last episode, leading to Ethan’s eventual dismissal. Ethan thought it was a vengeful Scully’s doings after he dumped his daughter Vivian, but as it turned out, it was actually largely Masters’ work, and not because of his past- or present, as it also turned out- with Johnson. Instead, it was because Masters realized that Ethan had gone behind his back to help get Libby pregnant, a much more unforgiveable action, given his profession.

I must admit to not being a huge fan of Dr. Haas, after all, he did some hitting of his own a while back, when he smacked Johnson, which I didn’t care for at all. As such, I had mixed feelings about them being together again, but I must admit, he has grown considerably since the season began. I almost cheered when he told Masters that he genuinely liked Libby and would do it all over again even if he knew he would get fired beforehand. That’s pretty cool. I don’t know if it makes up for hitting a woman, but I’ve never liked the character more than I did when he said that.

On the other hand, we have the arguably more despicable Austin- at least in his own way. After all, the guy repeatedly and regularly cheats on his wife, and his reaction to finding out he’d gotten one of the girls from the sex study pregnant wasn’t exactly positive, if admittedly amusing. “I’m not insensitive to the needs of women,” he pleaded to a bewildered Masters, “I mean, I read ‘Jane Eyre’ in college. Or no, Jane Austen.” (Full disclosure: I might have laughed more at this than I normally would have, as I just had to read both of the above for class myself, so I felt his pain somewhat!)

Still, Austin didn’t step up to the plate in the end, opting to hide behind the legal jargon that kept his identity secret and kept him anonymous to the woman in question. Ultimately, so did Johnson, who may not have told the woman his identity, but wasn’t above snagging her some cash from the study’s discretionary fund, damn the consequences. I kind of wanted to cheer that, too, even though I was sad she quit her job. But let’s face it, Masters probably would have fired her, anyway, so she was just saving him the trouble, really. And really, if I’m being honest, she kind of deserved it. What she did was definitely overstepping, and could have got them in a lot of trouble, had Austin opted to sue.

Master is going to regret Johnson’s leaving sooner than later, though, as she is undeniably a key element of the study- the one who makes the study subjects feel at ease, which Masters most decidedly does not. He may be a genius, but he definitely needs work in the bedside manner department- among other areas. There’s no doubt she goes a long way towards humanizing him, but now it would seem she’ll be working her magic on DePaul, who failed miserably in the sucking up department with the chancellor, who thought she was coming on to him!

Speaking of which, poor Margaret looked to a hooker for lessons on how to best come onto her own husband, after some friends gossiping about a fellow older woman’s impending divorce made her rethink things. In no time, the hooker figured out her husband was gay, much to Margaret’s dismay. I loved her initial cluelessness: “It is queer, isn’t it?” Alison Janney is really doing some stellar work here. Not that she doesn’t always, but I’m guessing this is a bit more rewarding acting-wise than her role on the groan-inducing “Mom,” as the titular mother to Ana Faris’ character. I also like that, much like Johnson with…well, most everyone, really- Margaret goes a long way towards humanizing Austin a bit more than he perhaps deserves.

I also liked the semi-love connection between Lester and Jane. I guess if a guy still wants to be with you not only after you’ve insulted him in front of everyone, but let him film you doing the most intimate thing possible in the most intimate way possible…well, guys like that don’t grow on trees, let’s say. Her interaction with him when she apologized was priceless. I loved it when he asked her about a book on photography he read and whether she knew it and she said, straight-faced: “I’m waiting for the movie.” LOL. I’m pulling for these two: they’re kind of adorable together, in a pseudo-pervy way, given the circumstances.

All in all, another great episode, fraught with tension, emotion and the occasional wryly humorous bit of business that makes this show so enjoyable. Honestly, is this show better than “Mad Men” or what? At the very least, it’s much more fun. Pencil me in for the second season, for sure. My only complaint is that we’re almost done with the season already. Big sigh.

What did you think about “Masters of Sex” this week? Sad that Johnson quit, or surprised she didn’t do it sooner? Did Ethan deserve to have his clock cleaned one good time, or was he in the right? What did you think of the Austin business, and I don’t mean Jane? What do you think Margaret will do with this new information on Scully? Will DePaul ever truly loosen up? Or will Johnson’s advice get her into trouble? How will Libby fare as Masters’ substitute secretary, as teased in next week’s preview? Can you wait to see more of Lizzy Caplan’s singing? Sound off below, and please remember: it was only a test.