Masters of Sex Season 2, Episode 12: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Written by Michelle Ashford
Directed by Adam Arkin
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on Showtime
As I predicted elsewhere last week (shameless plug alert (but seriously, listen to Podcasters of Sex — it’s great)), the title of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” forebodes that the news story on the Masters/Johnson study doesn’t make it to air. But, while it was never beyond expectations that Bill would be the cause of the story’s failure, one wouldn’t have guessed that he would stop the segment by outright sabotaging it. And it’s doubtful that anyone guessed that rival sex researcher Dr. Kaufman’s assistant would be none other than our old friend Ethan (unless Nicholas D’Agosto was in the cast listing ahead of time, for those who check such things).
There’s one other surprise reappearance in the season finale: Scully, who’s now back to practicing normal medicine and was Bill’s instrument of getting a story about Kaufman and Ethan to preempt his own. Scully’s return isn’t just fanservice for everyone who’s spent all season worried about him — he gives Bill a much-needed calling out over his shifty behavior. While he might be on his way to overcoming his intimacy issues, Bill still can’t trust, defaulting to underhanded tactics when, as Scully points out, he could be solving problems openly.
And we see firsthand the destruction wreaked by a lack of openness. In a gambit to both protect the study and keep her kids, Gini hands over custody to her ex-husband, counting on the news story to put her work in a positive light so that he can’t paint her as unfit. But then the story crashes and, in the emotional peak of the episode, the realization of what’s happened hits both Gini and Bill like a train. The story being first set up and then aborted could have been a narrative dead end, but already it’s had tremendous consequences in the show. Ultimately, it provides the final push for Bill and Gini to make the shift into research to not just observe sex, but to try treating sexual dysfunction.
Alongside this, other subplots from this season wrap themselves up. Libby finally confirms what some have been able to guess since at least “Asterion”: she knows about Bill and Gini — has known for a while, in fact. After some trepidation on Robert’s end, he and she are now officially an item. The revelation casts Libby’s relationship with Gini in a new light — she’s remained Gini’s friend through it all, in spite of what she knows Gini’s done to her. And the last conversation they have in the episode (“Live the life you have, not the life you thought you would have” Libby tells Gini) seems to explain it: Libby’s accepted things as they are. She’s just trying to make the best of it. Which is a far cry from where she was at the beginning of the season, still trying to chase some old-fashioned ideal of marriage and family and a perfect life.
There’s also some stuff about Austen and Flo, but really, does anyone care about that? What really rankles about these two is that they could have been cut from these past few episodes entirely, and nothing would seem amiss (besides shorter runtimes, perhaps). The fact that they get up to their tiresome back-and-forth while Betty is given nothing to do is even worse. At least Lester and Barb get a solid, cute plotline of their own. Like Libby, they’re trying to make the best of what they have, of who they are, and not trying to be what they’re not. Though, as the episode and season ends, the pair meet with Bill and Gini, about to become their first treatment patients. They’re going to try to make things better, too.
References to newly-elected President Kennedy abound in the episode. Besides Flo attending the inauguration and several radios and TVs in the background, there’s Bill’s dream, in which he and Gini are John and Jackie. There’s an underpinning of menace to it, especially once their ticker-tape parade is halted by Libby’s appearance in the road (also, is Bill a prophet? Because he’s foreseeing that riding around in an open-top limo might not be the best idea for Kennedy). Kennedy’s election brought the country a lot of hope, which is expressed by several characters (Libby, Lester and Barb) in this episode. But those hopes all came crashing down a few years later. We’ll have to wait until next year to see how hopes pan out for the cast of Masters of Sex.