From Bill to Betty, 'Masters of Sex' This Week Sees Everyone Getting Blindsided

For this week's episode on Masters of Sex, "Blackbird," we got to see just about everyone on the show get blindsided. The episode wasn't quite as strong as most of the season has been so far, but it still packed plenty of emotional punch. And as we see, some of the characters react better to sudden twists and unwelcome realizations than others.

Perhaps most crucially, Bill and Virginia are shocked to discover that Dr. Hendricks has forbidden his staff to participate in the sex study and will only allow white subjects to participate. He has good reason, too, given the history of white researchers doing frankly horrific experiments on black people, which he tries to explain to Bill to no avail. Bill thinks that his study could help dispel those harmful sexual myths, but Hendricks disagrees, and since he's in charge he gets to make the rules. And Bill's efforts to force his hand by talking to a reporter definitely doesn't work out the way he wanted it to.

Meanwhile, Virginia continues trying to do everything she can for Lillian as the cancer progresses, but is floored when Lillian decides that she's done fighting and is ready to stop trying to stave off the inevitable. It's a decision so contrary to Virginia's nature that she spends a good amount of time resisting it. Still, given what her current path has in store for her — a slow decline in which she eventually won't even be aware of what's happening — it's understandable Lillian would be eager to avoid such a fate. Towards the end of the episode, she overdoses on sleeping pills, and when Virginia finds her, she makes the decision to respect Lillian's decision rather than calling the ambulance to desperately try to save her. And that's one of many reasons we love Virginia: she's always growing and learning.

Intrepid Betty Moretti also had to learn some hard lessons this week after the love of her life, Helen, shocked her by proposing to Al, Betty's husband's best friend. After her jealous reaction, Betty's husband pieces everything together and it turns out that this might be one bridge too far for our usually extra-understanding Pretzel Man. With luck his furious reaction, while obviously not good for Betty herself, means that Betty will once again rejoin the main plot soon where she would be a welcome addition.

Libby, on the other hand, grows more awful by the day. This week she continues trying to interfere with Coral's relationship with Robert by looking up his arrest record, and then proving she has no understanding of what police brutality and police harassment are, or how often black people have to deal with them (and not just in the 1950s — it's not as though things are super great nowadays). Libby then forbids Robert from picking Coral up, and when Coral disobeys because Libby is clearly being irrational, Libby proves that she is definitely irrational, by following Coral and Robert back to their house, where she is stunned to discover that Robert is actually Coral's brother. So all the sex stuff Coral was throwing in Libby's face and using to make her feel inadequate after the hair-washing incident, that was all made up. Somehow, it just makes me like Coral more, though since Libby fired her, that might be the last we see from her now.

Libby why do you have to be the worst lately?

The biggest blindside of the episode, though, comes when poor unsuspecting Bill rings Virginia's door after deciding to/being required to leave Buell Green, and who should answer, but some person named Shelly Declan. Bill, speaking for viewers everywhere, is basically like "Who???" It turns out Virginia met Shelly while watching the end of the fight in episode three. And now he's her "beau." And neither Bill nor anyone else saw that one coming.

Think there'll be any fall out?

Image: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME