A Look at “The Walking Dead” #130: “There Were Whispers and I Was Afraid”

The Walking Dead #130- Cover

Much like the previous issues that we’ve seen since the time-skip, issue #130, “There Were Whispers and I Was Afraid,” re-establishes us to the world, sets up new dilemmas for the characters and has a cliffhanger at the end.

Again, things are slower than before the time-skip, but they need to be in order to re-introduce us to these characters. Now that Negan’s reign has ended, people can slowly settle into their lives, both in Alexandria and, as we see here, the Hilltop.

The Walking Dead #130- Magna doesn't buy Negan's story

I didn’t expect the follow-up between Negan and Magna’s crew to pop up right at the beginning of the issue, but it was a welcome surprise and well written. And not too surprising that Negan would revert to his old ways after Magna didn’t buy his story. I’m very curious as to what Kirkman will do with Negan. Having Rick keep him alive, to me at least, makes it seem like there’s still plenty for him to do, despite being imprisoned. He’s too interesting of a villain and proved a formidable foe for the people of Alexandria, so I’m glad he’s at least still interacting with the people, however brief.

The Walking Dead #130- Carl learns that he won't be the first apprentice

And poor Carl. He had such high hopes for wanting to become an apprentice, and in no time at all, the opportunity is taken away from him. Maybe this is from not seizing the opportunity sooner or maybe the job market is still competitive during the zombie apocalypse, but this definitely puts a halt to his plans.

The Walking Dead #130- Maggie meets up with Rick

I was very pleased to see how well Maggie has developed into a leader ever since she arrived at the Hilltop. Maggie has been very proactive as a character even before the group arrived at Alexandria, but here, she’s assumed a leadership role and helped turn the Hilltop from a community that lived in fear to one that thrives in rebuilding itself. And unlike the other people at the Hilltop, she’s grateful to Rick for what he’s done, but she feels no need to leap continuous praise on him. She knows him well enough to not do that.

The Walking Dead #130- Rick as a hero

I’m not sure how or why Rick has this sudden hero status in the eyes of the Hilltop citizens. Sure, he helped take down Negan, but it wasn’t just him, so I don’t get why he’s seen as some sort of overnight celebrity. He gave people hope, rallied them together and helped them take down one of their greatest threats yet. But Rick doesn’t do these things because he wants praise or fame- he does it because it’s right and there are few people who had the backbone to face Negan, even when they hadn’t seen him yet.

The Walking Dead #130- Rick and Maggie talk about babies sleeping

His conversation with Maggie while watching her child sleep spoke to the normalcy that the characters find odd. What we see as ordinary and normal: watching children sleep or talking about packing for long trips that don’t deal with roamers, these are the simple things that have eluded the characters for so long. It’s eerie for them to slowly settle back into some semblance of a normal life, but it just shows how far removed from their normal world they are and the difficulty in reclaiming that habitual way of life.

The Walking Dead #130- The Dead Speak

Then we have the end reveal that the dead speak: I’m unsure of where to go with this right now. Is this something that developed over time? Are the roamers evolving? Or do they still have some of their humanity just buried underneath all of the death? It’s an interesting thing to think about and while it’s not some huge, mind-blowing game-changer, it is one that has me wondering how this came about.

A Look at the 2014 Phi Sigma Pi National Convention

Full disclosure, for those who normally read my blog, assuming I have what you call ‘readers.’ I’m a member of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity and we recently held our annual National Convention. This post is about that.  Probably not that big of a deal, but I just wanted to clear that up in the event you happened to scroll through posts about films, television shows or comics and randomly came across this.

What do you get when you take an honors fraternity, put them under the same roof as a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and stick them on one of the world’s most convoluted hotel elevators? You get the 2014 Phi Sigma Pi National Convention, based this year in Atlanta, Georgia.

Roundtables

Once again, Brothers from across the country convene in one location to meet or reunite with friends, swap ideas, contacts, explore the city and take part in the fellowship that unites us. However, this year proved to be a larger one than most- not just because of another round of proposed amendments to our National Constitution or electing a new National Council, but the debates over other issues we tackled.  Also, this picture? Not taken by me- taken by Kyle Williams.

To start, below is the new National Council for the next two years:

President: Matt Nicoletta

Senior Vice President: Erik (Duff) Walschburger

Secretary: Natalie Mikkelson

Vice President of Finance: Sarah Cantwell

Vice President of Membership Development: Chris McCoy

Vice President of Chapter Development: Brian Bunton

Vice President of Alumni Development: Ryan Alexander

Vice President of Philanthropy: Patrick Herron

Council

This photo? Also not taken by me…actually, I don’t know who took this photo.  Just needed something that had a photo of the new Council and this was the only one I could find.

With this election marks the departure of outgoing National President Jonah Goodman, Vice President of Philanthropy Development Kyle Williams, and Vice President of Chapter Development David Serafini, all who have served the fraternity well. While I can’t speak for every individual member of the fraternity and won’t attempt to, I think I speak for at least some when saying that these three have served the fraternity well and I hope that this is not the last we see or hear of them in regards to Phi Sigma Pi.

In regards to the updates to the National Constitution, some clarified language, such as Mr. Walschburger’s amendment to Section 5 of Article IV: Membership. Others, such as Mr. Goodman’s proposed amendment to Section 5 of Article XXII: Prohibitions, removed outdated language. If we are to stay current, it does help, after all, to get rid of any unnecessary words that are no longer needed.

Not just limited to Collegiate Chapters, however, there were a number of amendments that also impact Alumni and Alumni Chapters, such as Eastern North Carolina Alumni Chapter’s (ENCAC) proposed amendment to Section 2 of Article X: Alumni Organizations. For those unaware of some of the workings of an Alumni Chapter, unlike a Collegiate Chapter, Alumni Chapters are only required to meet twice a year as opposed to at least once every two weeks. With the passage of the amendment in regards to vacancies on an Alumni Executive Board, they can now filled by the Alumni Chapter or by a temporary appointment within the eligible Membership of the Alumni Chapter until the next election.

Additionally, ENCAC’s proposed amendment to Section 3 of Article XVI: National Finances, eliminated the portion in regard to Alumni Chapter Dues, as Alumni Chapters do not pay dues the same way a Collegiate Chapter would. In particular, there is no set due date and they aren’t collected in person. Like Mr. Goodman’s proposed amendment to Section 5, this eliminates the need of language that isn’t entirely applicable based on the current state of the fraternity.

As has been the case with previous National Conventions, some amendments were passed onto the Sanction Appeals Board, which eventually did pass. These included Mr. Goodman’s proposed amendment to Section 6 of Article XIX: Disciplinary Actions of the National Council, which expanded the number of Brothers on the ‘jury’ that would hear appeal cases. It keeps the ratio of members the same, but just increases the overall number.

Also passed through the Sanction Appeals Board was Mr. Goodman’s amendment to Section 6 of Article XIX, intended to reduce challenges with the current selection process of the Sanction Appeal Board pools and eliminates the need for long selections at Grand Chapter. This way, each Chapter in good standing has equal representation in the SAB pool.

Outside of amendments, we as a fraternity had a lengthy discussion regarding our choice of words and language that, some felt, was not inclusive enough to support gender identity, since some do not associate themselves as male or female, which fall within the purview of co-educational. As such, a committee and outside national experts worked with Council to draft a resolution that wound up on the floor of the Grand Chapter. This resolution would define us “gender inclusive” as opposed to “co-educational.” After a lengthy discussion on how to define some terms, the resolution did eventually pass. While this resolution itself is not binding to individual Chapters and is more just updated language, it does reinforce that we are and always have been a fraternity composed of people of many types, views, backgrounds and interests.

What also proved to be a lengthy debate surrounded our relationship with Teach for America as the fraternity’s national philanthropy. Over time, people have expressed concerns with TFA because of their relationship. In addition, Brothers expressed frustration at communication issues when it came to supporting TFA.

After the creation of a philanthropy focus group, it was decided that Phi Sigma Pi will no longer partner with Teach for America as the national philanthropy after the 2014-2015 school near. For the next year, both National Council and Staff will wind down the partnership with TFA, but local Chapters can expand support for education by supporting Brothers who become teachers or work in local schools or classrooms in any capacity. Followed by this, with the help of a committee, the Vice President of Philanthropy Development will report to the 2015 Grand Chapter with options for a new philanthropy. These options include having a fully realized plan of expanding educational support, a different education based philanthropy to partner with, or another non-education based philanthropy. After this is presented, the Grand Chapter will then vote on the fraternity’s direction for its next national philanthropy.

New Website

National Staff also debuted the new design for the Phi Sigma Pi website, which looks a lot more streamlined and easier to navigate than the previous one.

Gamma Pi Surprise

And Saturday night’s banquet provided another evening of enjoyment as Brothers received awards, some giving us great reaction shots that we’ll always remember for years to come.

Alumni Lunch

From a personal perspective, this National Convention as a whole was just as enjoyable as the previous ones. Though debates can be lengthy and, at times, repetitive, they show that Brothers have spent time considering and thinking about the future of our fraternity instead of just going along with change without a thought. These sessions represent the culmination of the work we all put in throughout the year and bring it all together in the name of Brotherhood. If there’s a good thing I can say about debate, it’s that we have it at all. Sometimes it helps to hear more than one perspective on an issue, and I think many Brothers realize that. Sure, we may spend hours at a time discussing few issues, but I enjoy hearing how passionate Brothers are about their organization to really let that bother me.

Team Eta

We welcomed Team Eta to the table in their first appearances at Grand Chapter and added to our hopefully never-ending collection of Collegiate Chapters.  Also, not my photo, either. Courtesy of Joshua Tippett.

And, as with previous years, Brothers had the opportunities to swap stories, ideas, items at the Chapter Bazaar, recommendations, and overall just have a great time through idea labs, roundtables, Leadership in Action modules, and ice breakers- events that we take back to our home Chapters to better strengthen them. You wish you had more time or could attend as many as possible, but there’s only so much we can make, and even then, you thirst for more once a session ends.

Brothers during lunch

Would it be great if as many Brothers as possible could attend National Convention? Absolutely. I still think there’s always plenty to learn, share and a ton of potential to unlock for not just Collegiate Brothers, but Alumni and higher up on the Purple and Gold Phi Sigma Pi food chain. I think these National Conventions really do bring out the best of our Brotherhood and I always look forward to the next one.

Capital Alumni

It’s sad when we part ways and have to head back to the world of reality, but until then, that’s why we have regional conferences, inter-chapter events, Chapter Talk, contacts and many ways that keep us connected, even when we’re so spread apart. At the end of the day, after the debates, celebrations, early morning runs, Starbucks’ surges, candy blitzes, photo opportunities, ups, downs, and all-arounds of National Convention, we are still an honors fraternity of scholars, leaders and fellows. And when we’ve gone our separate ways, we still have our Brotherhood, and that’s the tie that bounds us as Brothers for Life.

A Look at “Masters of Sex” Season 2, Episode 7: “Asterion”

In a surprise change of pace, Masters of Sex jumps forward with “Asterion” as we see how Bill and Virginia try to make it on their own, not under the thumb of hospital rules. However, things prove difficult not just for them but, as always, for the people around them.

Asterion- Virginia and Lester talk about Jane

The episode begins five months after “Blackbird” and we revisit Lester Linden as he enters a building in search of the Masters and Johnson clinic. The date is October 15, 1958. He sets up patient Clyde, played by David Lengel, before having some not so nice words to say to Virginia regarding Jane. After the preliminary work is done, Lester prepares the shoot on ejaculation trajectory.

Asterion- Virginia and Bill discuss finances

Bill and Virginia realize that they’re going to need more space for the results, at least 12 more bulletin boards. Though the two may be more than halfway complete with their results, Bill won’t publish the work without at least 100 observations of each individual phenomena, 10,000 observed sex acts in total to ensure the data is ironclad. That could be an issue since Bill and Virginia aren’t in the best shape financially. Only 23 of Bill’s hundreds of fertility cases followed him from Maternity.

Asterion- Betty is late for work

Luckily, Betty’s only half an hour late to fill the position of secretary- something Bill decided upon without telling Virginia, along with the move or lease. Betty’s here to help with the books since she managed her own at her brothel.

Asterion- Bill and Elliot discuss relationships

At the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel, while Bill watches news reports about racial tension in Little Rock, Arkansas, Elliot asks Mr. Holden why his wife is not with him. Holden tells Elliot that he and Mrs. Holden just weren’t compatible anymore. What’s worse is that he should have seen it coming. After taking a vow with a wife, you enter a covenant with her and stand exposed, showing her what no one else ever sees. She isn’t repulsed by what she sees, but one day, Mrs. Holden just up and left. Such a sin cannot be forgiven. Once Bill’s done spewing his venom, he goes home to celebrate Baby John’s birthday.

Asterion- Austin's new lady friend, Holly, played by Nicole Steinwedell

Austin and Virginia watch their significant others dance, though Austin grills Virginia about Shelley and how Bill took the reveal. Virginia responds that Bill has nothing to do with her personal life. Huh. We then meet Austin’s new lady friend, Holly, played by Nicole Steinwedell, who has great assets and wants to go into lingerie modeling. She’d be a perfect fit for Shelley, who sells girders. Also, a modeling agency is going in the building where Virginia works, so she has options.

Asterion- Libby tells Bill that she wants another baby

At House Masters, Libby talks of wanting a garden and how envious she is of Bill having his own clinic. Libby’s goal is to have a family even though, as Bill says, they already have “the boy.” But Libby wants more than one. Bill isn’t enthused about the idea since it could mean more fertility treatments, disappointment and maybe even more heartbreak. However, this is what she needs.

The next day, Betty once again catches up to Bill when he arrives, but she tells him that he won’t regret hiring her. He could, given their history, but Bill acknowledges that Betty has helped him twice before, so a Masters must repay his debt.

Asterion- Bill speaks with Simon about getting a loan

Bill then meets with Simon of Walcohl Bank regarding a loan. Simon tells Bill that he has no credit history, but because of that, he’s a credit risk since he used to draw regular paychecks. That’s changed since Bill became his own man. Simon can approve the loan, but the bank will use all of Bill’s assets- including his house, cars, savings- so that if he does, the bank will eventually get its money back.

Asterion- Virginia and Bill about to argue

After watching a man orgasm in five seconds, Virginia proposes to Bill that the questionnaire be expanded in order to weed out people who would not be suitable. Bill concurs, but focuses on his work. Virginia tells him that she recently drove past the Park Plaza and almost went in, but still, Bill gives her little to no response. That’s it. Virginia tells Bill that this sort of punishment is unreasonable. Bill goes home to Libby every night. Virginia shouldn’t have to keep going home alone. Despite Virginia’s many apologies, Bill has refused to listen to her. Even though Bill is upset about what he saw, he’s more upset about seeing Tessa wrapped around a stranger’s leg- just one of men that she met while he made his way in and out of Virginia’s bed. Bill won’t allow himself to become just another man that parades through her life. The two are work colleagues. Nothing more.

I would think Bill was more upset that Tessa forgot who he was, but whatever.

Asterion- Bill with prostitute Yvette, played by Jo Galloway

Sometime later, Bill has a prostitute named Yvette, played by Jo Galloway, try to suck him off, but nothing happens. Regardless, Bill gives her the money and leaves.

Asterion- Betty shows Libby around

The next day, Betty gives Libby and Baby John a tour of the building. The neighborhood is in transition.

Asterion- Betty shows Libby around again

And through a sort of, but not so clever transition, we cut to a later period as Betty, Libby, Baby John and another child head upstairs. The date is September 2, 1959. Betty has been telling Bill to just rent the space since it would look better for their end of the year report. When did Betty become so much more knowledgeable on the subject? Well, she recently finished her real estate tax class and is close to receiving her accounting degree.

Asterion- Lester tells Virginia about his recent inspiration

At the same time, Lester conducts a background interview with Virginia, who talks about the questionnaire and sexual dysfunctions. She asks why Lester needs to film this, and he tells us: his current inspiration is Windjammer, a real life documentary about a 17,000 nautical mile journey of a Norwegian Sailing Ship. The movie changed his life because it was about risk and danger, similar to the work Bill and Virginia take part in.

Asterion- Libby confronts Bill about Simon reassessing their property

Libby confronts Bill about spotting Simon in their yard, reassessing the property. Yup. Bill never told Libby about the loan that still isn’t paid back yet. He tells Libby that he’s not going to sell the house or uproot the family just to subsidize his work. When Libby heads back home, she gets a phone call.

Asterion- Essie returns and talks with Bill

That evening, Bill receives a surprise visit from Mama Masters. Yes, Ann Dowd has returned and it turns out that Essie has been speaking to Libby for over a year. She’s seen the kids regularly and even though she was told to stay away, she couldn’t. She would have told Libby everything, but after one look, she couldn’t hurt them. So Bill’s secrets are safe. She won’t judge Bill, she just wants another chance. And she wants to help.

Asterion- Libby and Bill argue about Essie

Later on, at House Masters, Libby and Bill argue about a sum of money that Essie wants to give them- all tied to her husband’s estate. Bill’s just incensed that Libby deceived him about seeing his mother in Indiana, but Libby responds that she needed Essie and won’t deprive the kids from seeing their grandmother. Also, deceived is laying it on a bit too thick, isn’t it, Bill? Bill refuses to take the money since Essie can’t be counted on for anything and he already puts a roof over the family’s head, anyway. The matter is closed.

But Libby’s not taking that. She calls Bill out for nursing a wound when everyone in the world suffers at some point. He’s just the only one that she knows of that spreads his torment around to make others suffer.

Asterion- Holly pops out of a birthday cake for Austin

At a birthday celebration for Austin, Holly pops out of a birthday cake, which is just beautiful. She doesn’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, though. He thanks everyone for showing up to celebrate while Bill eyes Virginia and a new man with obvious loathing in his eyes.

Asterion- Virginia introduces Bill to Kenny Hitchens, played by Jeff Schine

By the bar, Virginia introduces Bill to Kenny Hitchens, played by Jeff Schine. Kenny has heard quite a bit about Bill from Virginia, but maybe not everything. Bill is quite blunt in telling Kenny about the work he and Virginia do: you know, watching people have sex, occasionally in a hotel. And even when he offers a demonstration, Bill still promises to pair Kenny with Virginia. Well, that should scare him off.

Asterion- Libby and Virginia talk about Bill

In the powder room, Virginia smokes as Libby enters. None for Libby, though. She quit. Both agree that Bill’s lost his ever-loving mind. However, Bill wouldn’t apologize for his actions because it would make him look weak. What’s worse, Bill and Libby haven’t had sex in over a year. He says that he’s too wiped by work. Virginia concurs that he is under pressure. Libby talks about a time when, in California, she was thrown from her bed due to moving plates that pushed against each other until they broke away with a jolt.

Asterion- Bill toys with Virginia

Virginia later spots Bill and will wait for an apology, but he tells her to look down at the partygoers. They exist in their world while the two of them exist in their own. Bill toys around with Virginia’s lady parts for a bit before she leaves in a huff.

Asterion- Bill with prostitute Sandra, played by Autumn Withers

Bill tries his luck with another prostitute, this one named Sandra, played by Autumn Withers. Again, nothing’s happening, but Sandra refuses to take Bill’s money because he’s not getting anything out of it. How nice of her. I mean that, really.

Asterion- Betty collects from Flo

And now we get a series of introductions. Betty first enters the building with Don, played by Nick Smoke, and shows him around the various offices, including the new C.O.R.E. office. We then jump forward to the next person: foot doctor Stan, and finally, Flo. Oh, and Betty aced her CPA exams. You go, Ms. DiMello!

Asterion- Lester records Betty and Bill while they talk about money

The date is October 11, 1960. Lester is recording B-roll footage while Betty and Bill discuss how Flo must start paying with a check. Well, Lester stops recording, anyway, as Bill doesn’t want him getting footage when they’re talking about money. There’s good news from Betty, though: the fertility patient numbers are up. She raised the fees by 20 percent, which led to an increase in revenue from last month.

Downstairs, Virginia runs into Shelley, who is still a girdle salesman and none too happy that he didn’t land Ms. Johnson.

Asterion- Virginia tells Bill about their connection

After a brief look at some of the footage Lester cataloged from Maternity, Virginia gives Bill a key for Room 412 at the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel. She will wait for him. Outside of Henry and Tessa, much of what Virginia has is tied to the work and, by extension, Bill. She sometimes felt sick at the unfairness of Bill going home to his wife, while she went home alone. True, she can’t remember any of their names. Bill has more of Virginia than he realizes, but he focuses on the fact that she spent time with other men. At least Bill had Libby. But, Bill counters, just because you go home to someone doesn’t mean you’re not alone. Does this mean that the two are fellow sufferers? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the two cannot undo what has happened. What they have comes first, but Bill must allow Virginia to have someone else in her life. That’s not asking too much.

Asterion- Lester and Austin head to bachelor party

Lester’s not too keen on filming a bachelor party for Austin’s friend, Hank, played by Mark Parrish. Heck, Lester and Austin don’t even have that much in common…except for Jane, as Austin easily points out. Sort of a dick thing to say, Austin.

Asterion- Bill tells Virginia how he intends to pleasure

At the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel, Bill and Virginia discuss how to go about having sex. They won’t take their clothes off. Bill needs to get reacquainted with her body, so he’ll kiss her and basically use his mouth all over her until she climaxes.

Asterion- Bill and Virginia's work resumes

Once they’ve finished, it’s official that the work has resumed. According to Virginia, Betty believes that there’s a janitor who has been stealing from petty cash. Oh, and since the finances aren’t that good, Bill and Virginia will need to find a cheaper place, or even free.

Back at the bachelor party, the boys watch some smut and its all fun and games until Lester tells Austin that one of the women in the film is Holly. Whoops.

Asterion- Austin talks to Elise about getting back together

So Austin turns to someone who will hear him out: Elise. For a moment, he just wants her to hear him out. He wants the two to reunite. The bachelor life is hollow and now Austin is adrift without an anchor. It helps that Elise knows him so well, but he also still loves their kids. Elise isn’t convinced. She knows that if they get back together, it’s only a matter of time before he screws up again. They can’t go back to the way things were. She’s moved on. It’s time for him to do the same.

Asterion- Bill talks with Elliot about wanting to fill the on-call doctor position

Mr. Holden speaks with Elliot, who is now a night manager. He’s glad that the Holdens are back together, but Mr. Holden is in need of a favor. The hotel has an on-call doctor in case of medical emergencies and Elliot is responsible for scheduling them. Holden asks if he could do it in exchange for the room charge being waived. It sounds enticing, but Elliot has to inform the visitors of who is examining them, and they probably wouldn’t be comfortable being seen by a radiologist. What would be preferable is a general practitioner, a surgeon or obstetrician. For example, Elliot’s sister recently had her baby delivered by a Dr. Masters. If he met a man like that, he’d have a hard time saying no.

Asterion- Virginia interviews Barbara for the study

The next day, Betty informs Virginia that Barbara is in for a visit. She wants to participate in the study since she knows that Bill is a good doctor. She also wanted to learn about the body since hers doesn’t work too well. Nothing has been able to penetrate her vaginal opening since it’s closed. However, because the study requires normal sexual procedures, Barbara unfortunately does not qualify for the study.

Asterion- Virginia and Bill discuss turning away potential clients

At House Masters during a party, Virginia tells Bill about having to turn Barbara away. It’s a shame because that’s another sexual history gone, which is true of every rejection. It’s possible, however, that people look at the study less for the sex and more for Bill to help them.

Libby sends Bill out so she can talk to Virginia about a lake house she’s been offered. It’s enticing, but she’d also like to go to Paris one day. It’d be better if Virginia could come, too, since she feels Bill is more pleasant when she’s around.

Asterion- Essie arrives to the party

While Bill works on the grill, Libby is surprised to see Essie with gifts. He invited her because it meant a lot to Libby, but he brings up the supposed increase in revenue that Betty spoke of. He doesn’t know how Essie, Libby and Betty made that money land in his pocket without him knowing. He won’t make a fuss out of it because then they’d be back at square one. Plus, it just leaves him tired. That’s the first step. Essie admits that she had to help. She’s proud of all that Bill has managed to do on his own.

After last week’s episode filled with fractured bonds, we see characters trying to strengthen their relationships as the series jumps forward in time. “Asteroin” still had serious themes and messages, no doubt, but overall, this episode felt more light-hearted and cheerier than the previous one. Here, characters once again found themselves in troubling dilemmas when making decisions without consulting others. But they also realize that while some sins can be forgiven, others are too big to forget. You can let go of your grudge, hold it over someone until they break or just accept it and move on with your life. We see all three take place here.

Asterion- Bill talks to Elliot about trust

Trust was once again a prevalent message of the episode, particularly with one special person. Whether it’s a parent, friend, spouse, lover and so on, you have one unique bond with a person to the point where you can share anything with them since, obviously, we don’t go blabbing all of our personal secrets and information to everyone. The special bond doesn’t have to be emotional, but close enough to the point where they see all of your attributes and vulnerabilities without thinking less of you. When that covenant is broken, we feel hollow and incomplete because we bore our soul to someone who lost interest for any particular reason. In those instances, we can try and go back to the way things were or rise above it and keep forward.

It’s true what Libby said about suffering: we all do and grieve in our own ways. But we have the choice of keeping it to ourselves or dragging people down with our unhappiness. How much we suffer doesn’t make us special and we don’t get extra points for prolonged torment. Rather, we prove our worth by rising above our problems. Spreading torment just poisons others around you, unless you happen to find someone who is also suffering, as Bill and Virginia are when they aren’t together. They find solace in one another while slowly distancing themselves from their families.

And as Virginia once said that the only person you can depend on is yourself, we see what happens when people try to take matters in their own hands. Ultimately, we do need help from the people in our lives, but making choices on our own helps us shape our own destinies. We want people to grow, but this should not be done by pushing people away, especially if the decisions made will have a negative impact, like Bill’s financial decisions.

Asterion- Lester the transition

As far as the direction goes, I enjoyed Michael Dinner’s use of transitions from one period of time to another. While, at times, it seemed like things moved a bit too fast, particularly when we were with Betty and various clients, I enjoyed the switches. Similar to how the Bombeck baby was used as a transition between each round of Bill versus Virginia during “Fight,” Lester’s filming helped indicate where exactly where we were. Betty’s line about the neighborhood in transition applied to the world around them.

Asterion- Betty

Actually, sticking with Betty, I’m surprised by the giant turnaround that she’s done, given where we know she ended up. She’s been so dependent on Gene, but now she’s doing for herself and has come a long way. I can see Bill bringing her along as a secretary, but from a practical point of view, it makes sense given her work on numbers when she ran a brothel. In conjunction with working on her education, we know that Betty is able to manage money in ways that Bill and Virginia cannot. Betty is essentially taking on the role of Jane: she’s witty, smarter than men would give her credit for and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. However, I’d say that Betty has a bit more of a commanding presence than Betty, as she’s dealt with sleazy men in her life and knows how to work her way around them by any means. Here, she’s more essential to the study.

Asterion- Lester

The same can be said for Lester. I am glad he’s back and this also makes sense: he knows about the study and has worked with Bill and Virginia before. His talk about movies that inspire him build on his talk of the auteur theory from Season One, so it doesn’t seem like he’s just been given movie talk for the sake of making him a token nerd. In addition, Bill and Virginia would want to preserve their work now that they’re on their own, so I can understand why they would recruit Lester. That said, what in the hell happened with him and Jane? Bitch Town? Last I checked, they were doing pretty well, so I do hope this is explained.

Asterion- Austin shot down by Elise

Austin is almost going through a retread of his pep talk with Bill about the bachelor life. We already know that he’s sick of the bachelor life, even if he wants to pretend that he enjoys it. Even though he wants to go back to the way things were, Elise made it pretty clear that it’s time to move on. Langham may love his kids, but they shouldn’t be used as a crutch.

Asterion- Libby is pleasant

With Coral gone and two kids in her home, Libby seems to have softened back to her Season One persona. Her problems have shifted back to her relationship with Bill, however. She got what she wanted with a second child: the family she yearned for. Even though she has her home life back, her relationship is still fractured.

Asterion- Libby challenges Bill

If there’s one thing I like about Libby this season compared to the previous one, it’s how much more willing she is to challenge Bill. Fitzgerald showed real anger during the argument scene   Libby won’t just sit back and let Bill say that a matter is closed: she’s endured so much and won’t have Bill yell her down. And she’s right: everyone suffers. That doesn’t make Bill any more special just because he’s holding onto so much anger. After all Libby has endured, she still has to fight against her husband and they haven’t grown any closer. Plus, they still sleep in separate beds. Her line about plates pressing against one another and breaking apart is a great representation of her marriage, really.

Asterion- Bill arguing with Libby

Bill’s in no position to judge Libby for ‘deceiving’ her, given all he’s done. He acts as if nothing is ever his fault. He has to realize that other people have problems. Most, if not all, of the time, he acts self-centered, as if everything hinges on his decision and no one else’s. After starting his own business, maybe he feels everything does depend on him. After all, he’s been booted from three hospitals and concluded that he wanted to do everything on his own, but he’s realizing how hard that is without a steady cash flow.

And he’s still bitter over Virginia finding a man that isn’t him. And he didn’t want to have another child. Honestly, Bill just needs to suck it up sometimes. He knew what he was getting into. It’s not easy to just start your own business. Ultimately, he got what he wanted, but now must work to keep it, and he does, given by the fact that he must put up all of his assets as collateral.

Asterion- Bill is very clear how he'll please Virginia

Sheen was in top form this episode, with his two best performances coming during the argument with Libby and his description to Virginia on how he’ll make her climax. Much of Sheen’s performance on the show is very subdued, but when he turns on the rage, whether silent or apparent, he turns in a great performance. Bill also must learn that his word is not law. He can’t always be the breadwinner, even if he’d like to be. And I liked that he’s slowly softening to Essie, even if there’s still conflict between them.

Patti- The Leftovers

Oh, and I loved the absolutely ridiculous reason for Essie’s sudden return. It would be easy to accept that Essie chose to return at this exact moment if we didn’t know that Ann Dowd is no longer on The Leftovers, so she’s able to come back to Masters of Sex.

Asterion- Virginia not standing for Bill's crap

Then we have Virginia, who finds herself in a giant grudge match with Bill. Virginia wants to do for herself, but she acknowledges that he essentially completes her. She has every right to be with someone just as Bill does, but the problem is that none of those other men are as memorable as Bill, even if they turn out to be nicer. Like Libby, Virginia endures a lot of verbal abuse from Bill and I was surprised she didn’t have a stronger response to Bill’s patronizing comment about him taking the higher road and not being another man on Virginia’s list of lovers.

Asterion- Work has resumed between Bill and Virginia

Even if she doesn’t want to admit it, Virginia’s progress is linked to Bill because of what they have, which made it strange for her to say that Bill shouldn’t be a factor on her personal life. I am glad that, like Libby, she’s willing to fight against his crap. We’ve seen her take control of a situation before and no doubt she can do it again. It is unfortunate that she doesn’t have a lasting bond with any of the other men since they seemed to be genuinely interested in her. Luckily, she did seem to be excited at resuming her work with Bill.

“Asterion” took a chance by leaping forward in time, but I think it worked for the best. It advanced the character’s storylines in an ever-transforming world. The stakes feel bigger than before as Bill and Virginia set out to do the work without the boundaries of a hospital’s rules. With this episode came a lot of questions that I hope are addressed in future episodes: Will Barbara return for another shot at the study? What really happened with Jane and Lester? Is Coral completely out of the picture? Is Betty still pursuing Helen? When did Bill’s impotence issue start? How come Dr. DePaul’s death isn’t addressed at all? So there’s a lot to ponder, but overall, a great episode.

A Look at “True Blood” Series Finale: “Thank You”

And so it’s come to this, the ending of True Blood. After such an underwhelming season, the series finale, “Thank You,” wraps up the show in a nice little bow, while still leaving so much unanswered and unaccounted for in the pile that was True Blood’s seventh and final season.

Thank You- Bill talks with Sookie about his death wish

The episode begins with Sookie letting Bill into the room where he first summoned her. Sookie cuts Bill’s trip down memory lane short by letting him know that nostalgia and suicide don’t mix. I tend to agree. Sookie just wants to see Bill live, but Bill asks her to imagine a life without him. The two know they’ve been down this road before: Sookie will leave Bill for a moment, but find her way back to him. This virus has made Bill feel more human than when he was, but his grave is still a lie. He should be in the ground with his family.

Bill believes that, by existing, he’d be denying Sookie the best part of life. He’s seen the way Sookie acts around kids and hopes that she’ll, one day, have some of her own. Sookie says that it should be easy for Bill to just swear her off, but he can’t because he loves her too much. Isn’t that precious? And just a bit stupid? Bill wants Sookie to grant him the ultimate kindness by using her fairy light to kill him. If not, other vampires will come after her. By doing this, she’ll rid Bill from her life and be normal at the same time. Sookie needs to think this over.

Thank You- Eric about to release Sarah

At Fangtasia, Eric unchains Sarah, but glamours her into taking some of Pam’s blood so the two will always be able to track her. Eric reveals his ultimate plan to Pam: kill Mr. Gus, get rid of the Yakuza and steal New Blood for themselves. As Sarah leaves, she’s instructed to wait for Pam to find her.

When Mr. Gus and the Yakuza arrive, they’re dispatched of…fairly quickly, actually. Huh.

Eric deals with the remaining Yakuza before Sookie can spot them from her home.

Thank You- Pam finds Sarah at the carousel where Eric turned Willa

Sarah makes her way to a carousel and feasts on food from the garbage. Goodness, woman, you haven’t fallen that far yet. Pam finds her in no time. The carousel, as Sarah notes, is the same location where Eric turned Willa. She read about it in Bill’s book, which Pam only skimmed to find the parts that mentioned her. She would do that. Sarah admits that she’s a horrible person, but to solve that, she should be made into a kickass lesbian vampire! And Sarah’s dead serious. Pam, however, won’t turn her. She’s also not a fan of Sarah bringing up Tara. Instead, she feeds on her.

Thank You- Bill asks Hoyt if he'd ever marry Jessica

Jessica and Hoyt come by Bill’s, as Jessica has a few words for her maker: she doesn’t want him to die, but she’ll be fine regardless. She still doesn’t understand why he’s doing this, and frankly, I don’t think anyone else does, but she will eventually accept it. That’s all Bill needed to hear right now. He asks if Hoyt would ever ask Jessica to marry him, and after an awkward moment, Hoyt tells Bill that he would eventually ask.

Thank You- Jessica and Bill talk about marriage and Jessica's future

This prompts Jessica to talk with Bill in private. Having marriage thrust upon her isn’t what she wanted. After all, Hoyt’s memory of her only goes back by a day. Bill wants to make sure Jessica was spoken for after he dies, as he was turned before he had a chance to see his daughter, Sarah, wed. Well, Jessica asks, if Hoyt did want to marry her, could it be today? Somehow, I don’t think marriage works like that.

Thank You- Grandma talks to Sookie and Tara in flashback

Now it’s raining. Sookie has a flashback to when Grandma gave her and Tara hot chocolate. Young Sookie reads Young Tara’s thoughts and learns that she likes Jason. Sookie, however, doesn’t like anyone, particularly boys because they’re weird. Plus, she has no intentions of getting married. Grandma, however, tells Sookie that she can have any life that she wants to have because she’s entitled to it! Remember that, Sookie Stackhouse.

Thank You- Jason tells Sookie that he's no good for advice

All right. Sookie heads to Jason’s, but finds Brigette instead. Sookie wakes up Jason to tell him about Bill’s request to be put out of his misery. Jason, rightly so, tells his sister that he has no advice for her, but he’ll love her anyway. Moments later, Jason and Sookie receive calls from Hoyt and Jessica, respectively, about an upcoming wedding.

Thank You- Bill offers his home to Andy to give to Jessica and Hoyt

Andy, Holly and Arlene arrive for the big wedding. Inside, Bill speaks with Andy in private. He acknowledges the difficult history between them, but Andy is still ill’s eldest remaining heir. When he dies, the house will be passed to Andy, and he’d like to rent it to Hoyt and Jessica for the sum of a dollar a month! Sounds affordable.

Thank You- Jason helps Hoyt get ready

Upstairs, Jason helps Hoyt get ready. He tells Hoyt that Brigette will be heading back to Alaska tonight and that it’s probably a bad idea to call her. Hoyt apologizes for the punch, but Jason tells him that he deserved that and a lot more if it meant Hoyt returning into his life. Hoyt tells Jason that he feels like Harrison Ford did in Regarding Henry, where he had to relearn everything he ever acquired. Jason comforts him with a single question: if the world ended tomorrow, who would he want to be by his side? Jessica, clearly.

Thank You- Andy marries Jessica and Hoyt

The moment arrives with Andy officiating the ceremony with no Bible, no rings, and no official vows. They aren’t even in a bloody church! But this is True Blood. This would be considered normal for these people. During the ceremony, Sookie, surprisingly, reads Bill’s thoughts of how much he loves her and wishes that she could have this kind of happiness right now. He’s also in excruciating pain.

Thank You- Sookie approves of Jason sleeping with Brigette

After this mock wedding, Sookie tells Jason about how surprising it was that she could read Bill’s thoughts and thinks back to what Bill said about feeling more human than ever. Oh, and she sort of suggests that Jason sleep with Brigette since she isn’t Hoyt’s girlfriend anymore. I’ll get to this later.

Thank You- Sookie talks with Reverend Daniels

Sookie then pays Reverend Daniels a visit for some advice: was she a mistake if God supposedly made everyone in his image? The Reverend tells Sookie that people in Bon Temps are saying that they wouldn’t be around right now if it wasn’t for Sookie Stackhouse. Huh. Guess we missed those conversations. He then tells her that God doesn’t lead our lives- rather, we make our own decisions. So says Sookie Stackhouse, help is on the way. She calls Bill to tell him to meet her at sundown for the arrangements.

Thank You- Meeting at Bill's grave

That evening, Bill meets her at Bill’s grave. A coffin is already inside because some soldiers never returned home during the war. The coffin was meant to be palatable for the families. He looks inside the coffin and finds a photo of him and his daughter in a small case. Bill prepares himself and the two vow to never forget one another. Sookie prepares her magical fairy ball, but stops short of using it. This is who she is- it’s part of her. Bill will always be a part of her, too, but she can’t do this for him. She cuts off her energy and, instead, breaks the shovel in two.

Thank You- Sookie kills Bill

Taking the pointy end, Sookie kisses Bill Compton one final time before driving the wood into his body. Sookie cries as Compton’s blood covers her body, but she composes herself, begins covering the grave and leaves the cemetery.

Thank You- Eric and Pam behind New Blood

One year later, New Blood President and CEO Eric Northman and the ever lovely Pam De Beaufort discuss their new product and the origin of it. The two never did catch Sarah Newlin, but they found traces of her blood and managed to synthesize it.

Thank You- Pam and Eric at New York Stock Exchange

Three years after this, Eric and Pam are at the New York Stock Exchange.

Thank You- Happy Ending

And then we cut to Thanksgiving, as the remaining survivors in Bon Temps- plus Sam, Nicole and their daughter, for some reason- sit down and have themselves a merry little Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank You- Sarah Newlin isn't thankful for anything

Oh, and Sarah Newlin’s not dead. She’s chained in the bottom of Fangtasia while Pam has vampires feed on her. What’s she thankful for? Not a damn thing.

Well, that was a series.

From the premiere, this final season of True Blood has been lukewarm. Let me be clear: True Blood has never been what I’d call stellar or groundbreaking television. It can be entertaining even when it’s bad because of good humor, but this season didn’t have that. There were more misses than hits and it’s made worse because this is the final season. There’s no strict code or formula that television shows need to follow for their final episode, but you want it to at least be a satisfying ending. You don’t want something that feels underwhelming or incomplete. That’s why people still have gripes with the endings to such series as Seinfeld, The Sopranos, and, recently, Dexter.

Thank You- Sookie and Bill hug before it's time

If anything, the episode tried to focus on characters accepting who they are and making their own decisions for themselves, but even that didn’t entirely feel genuine. Sookie chose to kill Bill on her own terms, but only after not killing Bill the way that he wanted her to. Jessica had dreamt of weddings, and despite how sudden it was, she still chose to marry Hoyt in no time at all, despite how short their relationship has been.

The show seemed to know how worn out and tired the formula had become when Sookie and Bill talked about how often they’ve been down this break-up road before. Other shows would try to be clever with that sort of meta humor, but True Blood doesn’t have that sort of spark. At least, not this season. More than that, we got more flashbacks of Sookie basically receiving encouragement from other people. Encouragement that, at this point, she shouldn’t even need. Like the flashback to Tara’s childhood with Lettie Mae, we already know these things about the characters and shouldn’t have to be spoon fed this again just because it’s the final episode.

Even if True Blood wanted to take a nostalgia trip on its final episode, it’s done more than enough with so many flashbacks, and we never did get much of a payoff to Bill’s. We know Sookie would eventually make her own decision. We knew that Hoyt and Jessica would probably end up happily ever after, even if it did feel convoluted, and forced.

Thank You- Sarah with Pam

My point is that nothing in this episode or even this season felt particularly memorable. There were some interesting places to go with Sarah Newlin being the cure or the Hep-V vampires, but subplots were rushed over so quickly to get to the next one that the writers just seemed to lose interest in the show altogether.

Thank You- Sookie seriously considers killing Bill

Let’s just get the characters done and over with. Sookie decides to keep her ability and kill Bill her way. Fine. We did not need to drag this out for so long with Sookie acting like she needed so much time to make up her mind. She accepts who and what she is, even if she’s not a fan of being fae, but this should have made her final decision all the easier, especially given how insulted she was at Bill’s request for her to kill him. That said, the shot of her covered in blood was a nice image.

So who is the lucky guy that knocked Sookie up? Who knows? People divide themselves into the Sookie and Bill or Sookie and Eric camps often, from what I’ve read from fans of the series. Me personally? I couldn’t care either way because that doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the show.

Thank You- Jason doesn't want to sleep with Brigette

Jason. Oh, Jason. What happened? You were doing so well last episode by not bedding Brigette and you looked like you would stick to that. But flash forward a few years and he’s not only bedded Brigette, he’s got kids! He did say he wanted kids, yes, but he took one step forward and two steps back! If Jason was so committed to changing his act, let Brigette go and live her life. Don’t put the two together for the sake of convenience and to give them a happy ending. Wasn’t he supposed to be growing up? And it’s even worse that Sookie was the one tempting Jason to sleep with Brigette by giving her approval. Oh, by the way, now that Jason and Brigette are officially an item, this makes the scene where Jason gets her a flight to Alaska completely pointless!

Thank You- Hoyt and Jessica kiss

Again, I’m fine with Hoyt and Jessica getting married, but like getting them together or hooking Brigette up with Jason, I’m not a fan of the execution at all. It’s hard for me to feel anything when this decision feels so rushed. In fact, I’m surprised there wasn’t a double wedding. Hell, they already acknowledged that the marriage wouldn’t be recognized by the state, there were no rings, no vows or even a bouquet of flowers to throw. It was about as unconventional of a wedding as there could be. Why not go all out and have Jason and Brigette get married, too?

And what happened with Andy wanting to make an honest woman out of Holly? That never did get brought up again, did it?

Thank You- Eric and Pam plot to steal New Blood and kill Mr. Gus

I’m sounding like a broken record, but Eric and Pam commanded this season from start to finish. It helped that they had an actual arc that built upon the relationship they’ve forged for years. They had the best chemistry, dialogue, and motivation to go after Sarah Newlin. Like the Hep-V vampires, I think they dispatched of Mr. Gus and the Yakuza a bit too quickly, essentially proving them to be ineffective as adversaries. They made this season worth watching and it felt like their characters had the more interesting storyline than whatever everyone else did.

This season has felt uneven from start to finish. If it wasn’t rushing through one plot to get to the next, it slowed to a crawl and wanted us to reminisce about things we already knew. The season had no regard for slowing down and letting audiences absorb what they’d witnessed and characters had to practically spell out what we were meant to feel. For my money, any attempt at real tension or drama fell flat under poor writing, ill thought out character motivations and rushed storytelling.

Again, I’m not asking True Blood to be some revolutionary television show, because it isn’t. What I’m asking for is a satisfying conclusion to a show that’s almost six years old. What we got instead was a very forced, sappy ending from a show that felt obliged to tie up loose ends while still not offering a rewarding experience. And still so much remains unanswered. If the Hep-V vampires had a constant need to feed, why didn’t Bill ever have that urge? Who fights for vampires in Bon Temps now that Eric and Pam are living the rich life?

Thank You- Sookie cries

It has to be said, this is the most disappointing ending to a disappointing season. There was never any real sense of urgency or threat. Characters waited for things to happen instead of relying upon the instinct that’s gotten them this far. While Eric and Pam were entertaining, they alone can’t make up for what was a sad attempt to force a happy ending upon viewers that stuck around with the show for this long. I’m no professional at all and my word isn’t law, but I cannot recommend this final season of True Blood except to those who are very curious. It’s almost insulting that the show has been reduced to this after being so entertaining. Watching this season became a chore just to find any little moment that made an otherwise dull episode worthwhile. Are there good things within this mess of a season? Yes. But you’ll have to do a lot of waiting to get there as HBO’s vampire drama finally drags itself across the finish line to accept the True Death.

A Look at “Masters of Sex” Season 2, Episode 6: “Blackbird”

Whether for better or worse, “Blackbird” had characters making decisions for themselves, no matter how unpopular or painful. The episode continued the more serious themes of self-destruction and tragedy that Masters of Sex has brought since the second season premiered. At the end of the day, very few people came out as winners.

Blackbird- Bill and Virginia have sex

The episode begins during a session between Bill and Virginia. And unlike Libby, Bill at least looks Virginia in the eye.

Blackbird- Lillian undergoes radiation through Gibb, played by Doug Tompos

Lillian meets with a radiologist, Gibb, played by Doug Tompos, and tells him all about her troubles: the radiation burns, she’s encountered nausea, has reduced cognitive functions and is losing weight, just to name a few. Gibb, however, pays her no mind and focuses on the work.

Blackbird- Virginia speaks with Priscilla, played by Jessica Randle, about appointment times

In the waiting room, Virginia speaks with Priscilla, played by Jessica Randle, about moving a conflicting afternoon appointment, as it’s easier for Virginia to bring Lillian in the morning. Priscilla refuses to budge, but out comes Mariel, who is down two sizes since Virginia last saw her. Even though most times are all booked, Mariel may be able to work something out.

Blackbird- Althea talks with Virginia about the sex study

At Buell Green, Virginia shows a Negro orderly named Althea the Q&A that she and Bill used with their White patients. Althea is interested in whether different positions will help her and her husband be more intimate. Even though Althea would like to join, however, Virginia learns that Dr. Hendricks has forbidden staff from taking part in the study. Is that so?

So Bill and Virginia confront Hendricks not just about his promise, but also for taking down their fliers. Hendricks assumed that Masters and Johnson would be bringing their own White subjects only. Bill is against this and follows Hendricks into the men’s room to vent.

Blackbird- Charles talks to Bill about medical research in the Negro community

Hendricks holds firm and tells Bill about the history of medical research in the Negro community. Negroes have been forced to undergo risky experimental surgeries where they’ve been dosed with radiation or cut open to find brain abnormalities that would explain their propensity to violence. You know, completely standard and acceptable procedures. Some Blacks even thought they required a near lethal dose of X-Rays to penetrate their skins. Watching them copulate is pushing it. Bill counters that his subjects know beforehand what’s expected of them. Bill, however, has never seen a lynching. Hendricks has. Negroes were routinely castrated before being strung up, partially due to fear based on stereotypes. This study will help dispel that.

Bill already has enough of a headache without trying to change history on two fronts. There’s a journalist from a local Negro newspaper coming to verify a rumor about the hospital exploring Negro sexuality, even though that’s still moving history forward. Hendricks is all for moving history forward, just not by having his hospital burned to the ground. Hey, the riots broken out yet, pal!

Blackbird- Betty speaks to Chef Philippe, played by Matt Crabtree, while Gene eats

Betty speaks to Chef Philippe, played by Matt Crabtree, about scrumptious servings before speaking with Gene, who thinks Betty is killing herself over this stuff. But Betty has good reason to be anxious: Gene’s pretzels are going to every food fair in the country. That’s a pretty big deal. Gene, however, has been thinking: Betty not being able to have kids was hard on him, and he tried to get used to the adoption idea, but he can’t. He wanted their children to be a part of Betty, and Betty in them. Even if Betty frustrates the hell out of Gene, he’s happy with just her.

Blackbird- Libby watches Coral and Robert

While folding laundry, Libby watches Robert and Coral like they’re about to commit a crime. She asks Bill about his talk with Hendricks regarding Negro participants. Bill still believes that Hendricks is wrong. Taboos only feel dangerous until they’re broken. He plans to find the journalist and convince them of the value of the work. Libby, not paying Bill any mind, wonders aloud of Robert and Coral just put on an act when she’s present. Bill isn’t fond of Libby watching the two like a voyeur, but she just doesn’t feel safe with Robert present. Bill tells her to put a stop to it or he will.

Blackbird- Virginia meets Morgan Hogue, played by Renee Elise Goldsberry, of the St. Louis Chronicle

Back at Buell Green, Virginia meets Morgan Hogue, played by Renee Elise Goldsberry, who writes for the St. Louis Chronicle.

Blackbird- Helen and Betty kiss

Oh, and Sarah Silverman has just gone down on Betty. When Helen comes up for air, she gets ready for work. Betty wants some more play time, but a Mrs. Mendel is coming by, and she’s none too happy now that her husband, Harry, has started stepping out on her with someone else. Betty suggests getting an apartment for Helen so the two can see each other more often. Helen figures correctly that she’d just be Betty’s mistress, a piece on the side. Betty acknowledges that the two were never going to have the white picket fence life, so the best they can do is have a good unconventional life. Helen continues to get ready.

Blackbird- Morgan Hogue talks to Bill and Virginia about the sex study and Negro stereotypes

Bill and Virginia talk to Morgan about Hendricks’ decision about Negroes participating in the study. Bill admits that Negroes should have been admitted from the start and the new direction could dispel stereotypes on Negro Sexuality, but he’s committed. He and Virginia aren’t doing this to forward an agenda, however. They just go where the research takes them. This means that they aren’t, as Morgan would have hoped, trying to eliminate the stereotypes of the Mandingo and Jezebel- oversexed Negro men and women. For Bill, the facts will speak for themselves.

Lillian asks Gibb what will happen to her, and she wants him to be straight, since he would talk to her like a general physician and wouldn’t think of her as a person. In short, the radiation will slow the cancer, but not eliminate it. He lists some of the symptoms Lillian will suffer, including increased difficulty in expressing thoughts, loss of her functions and deeper sleep. The pain will vary. She could take morphine, but it’s not readily available. Eventually, Lillian will slip into unconsciousness, but her loved ones will see that she’s comfortable.

Blackbird- Lillian and Virginia talk after Lillian hears how her condition will worsen

With that, Lillian leaves without a word, Virginia hot on her tail. Outside, Lillian tells Virginia that she’s done with the treatment. She’s just not a fan of the radiation. Virginia says she understands how Lillian feels, even though she can’t, but says that Lillian shouldn’t give up, even if the odds are 100 to 1. A new trial could be right around the corner. Lillian’s tired of fighting a battle she knows that she’ll lose and is ready to give up hope altogether. She can’t win. She leaves Virginia to her thoughts while she takes a taxi home.

Blackbird- Helen and Al make a surprise visit to Betty and Gene

Helen and Al make an unexpected drop on Betty and Gene, much to Betty’s annoyance. And much to everyone’s surprise, she wants to elope. This is groundbreaking stuff. Since when have you ever heard of a woman proposing to a man? All goes relatively well until Helen and Al kiss, which sets Betty off in a rage.

Blackbird- Bill comforts Virginia

Bill comforts Virginia while she talks about how pigheaded and rigid Lillian is. For the longest time, Virginia has been able to keep a wall up around herself, but, as Bill says, Lillian snuck in and did so because she’s a woman. Virginia thinks the world of Lillian and continues to admire her ferocity, but she must admit that Lillian DePaul does not have many friends. Bill knows Virginia, though, and without any sex attached, the two share a deep and thoughtful kiss.

Blackbird- Libby discusses Robert's criminal record with Coral

And because we got a very warm scene, it must now be followed up by an awkward scene. Libby talks with Coral about Robert. She had a friend from high up in the police department look into Robert’s background. Not only does he have a record, he’s been arrested three times, even though in one instance, police officers assaulted him first. Libby, ever the loving protector, feels that Robert has intoxicated Coral’s mind. And in the name of protecting her family, Libby can’t have anyone around her house that has a criminal record, so someone else will have to pick her up. She asks Coral if whatever she has with Robert is worth all this tumult. Coral eventually relents and says that her aunt will pick her up from now on.

For this scene to work, it essentially had to turn Libby into more of a villain that she’s already becoming, and I don’t like that because she’s doing further damage to the bond she’s been trying to forge with Coral. And I’m not done with this scene yet.

Blackbird- Gene talks to Betty about her outburst

Gene tells Betty about when he and Al were boys and went out on double dates. Al always scored in the back seat, while Gene’s lady friend would just sit awkwardly. He thinks that Betty may now have a thing for Al, but to Betty, but no. Betty was just disgusted by the vulgar display of Helen and Al kissing her. Says it sickened her and she’s only put up with Al because he’s friends with Gene. She doesn’t want to see him, but she especially doesn’t want to see Helen, either.

Blackbird- Morgan asks Bill a few more questions

Morgan returns to check a few facts on Bill’s story, specifically points related to the sickness that hospitalized him as a child: the rare blood infection known as septicemia. She wonders how someone like Bill wound up in medicine, to which Bill replies that he was focused. Bill doesn’t see where this is all going, but Morgan believes that Bill’s story is one of overcoming adverse circumstances. He’s doing work for the greater good, even if that means burning bridges along the way, as he did with Doug Greathouse. Bill reminds Morgan that the focus is on the positive effect of the study and to let the facts speak for themselves, but he certainly isn’t ostracized from the White community. A few out of context comments make their way into Morgan’s notes. Whoops.

Blackbird- Al tells Gene about the time he saw Betty and Helen kiss

Gene speaks with Al about what Betty said. Al, for the life of him, can’t understand why Betty wouldn’t like Helen, especially after how tight they’ve been, and how they locked lips at the restaurant. Color Gene surprised. Al’s seen people kiss, but Helen and Betty were like Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. Let the record show that this is the second time Masters of Sex has referenced To Catch a Thief.

Blackbird- Lillian gives Virginia her final instructions

Virginia shows up at Lillian’s and offers to run some errands, but Lillian just wants Virginia to hand-deliver some envelopes to her family. There’s a family plot in Weymouth where the DePauls go back to the 1800s. Her parents will most likely want her buried there, but Lillian wants her body to go to science. Maybe, someday, her body will be used to find a cure for ovarian cancer.

Coral leaves for the night, but for some reason, feels it necessary to wake Libby up and let her know that she’s on her way out and that her aunt is outside. You know where this is going.

Of course Coral is lying to Libby. When Robert and Coral walk off, Libby follows them.

Blackbird- Bill speaks with Wilson of the St. Louis Chronicle about Morgan’s article

Bill speaks with Wilson of the St. Louis Chronicle about Morgan’s article. Wilson has read the rough draft and thinks it makes for good copy, but Bill is worried about his scientific findings that gave him pause. Now that he’s had Negro participants, he found a difference in Black and Whites, such as penis size, sexual appetite and higher testosterone. Wilson thinks that Bill is lying to cover the fact that he doesn’t want a story published if it portrays him as unstable or ostracized. Wilson doesn’t back down and will publish the article. Bill counters that he’ll publish his findings, even though they aren’t real, so he plays another card: his 25 years of accolades and sterling reputation. Not to mention, you know, he’s a White man while Wilson is a Negro. Who will the public listen to?

Blackbird- Gene confronts Betty about her feelings for Helen

Gene and Betty get ready to head out, but Gene is up front with Betty: he knows that other mean meant nothing to Betty. But he also knows that he meant nothing to Betty, too, because she’s always loved Helen. Gene feels he’s owed the truth, but he doesn’t even know who Betty is right now. He does know that he’s been fed every lie and half-truth imaginable. Betty can do as she pleases, but Gene won’t sell himself.

Blackbird- Lillian tells Virginia about her childhood while they listen to music

Virginia and Lillian listen to music that Lillian once learned to dance to when she was young. At 13 years old, she was already taller than the tallest boy in the class, earning her the nickname “Giraffe.” Not all too clever, really. Lillian admits that she’s had relations, but no one ever loved her. No one ever lingered and she’s missed out on closeness, the kind of closeness that Bill has with Virginia.

So Virginia tucks Lillian in for the night while telling her the tale of Lilantha the Warrior Princess, a warrior who was so beautiful that she struck men dumb. But the brave warrior knew who she was, and that’s why she burns so brightly.

Blackbird- Libby in the Negro neighborhood

Libby follows Robert and Coral into a Negro neighborhood. Oh, and she brought the baby with her! She enters an apartment and flips through mail until she’s surprised by Robert, who reminds her that it’s a federal offense to tamper with another person’s mail. Libby tells Robert that she’s looking for Coral, but Robert sets the record straight: he is Coral’s brother, not boyfriend, as Libby believed. They just had different fathers. Libby, devastated, gives Coral’s severance pay to Robert and heads back to her car.

Blackbird- Virginia finds Lillian breathing heavily while in bed

Virginia somehow forgot the very important envelope that Lillian told her about, but convenient for her, as she hears labored breathing and finds Lillian in her bed. At her bedside are an empty glass and empty bottle that once held sleeping pills.

Blackbird- Bill and Charles talk

A nervous Bill sits in his office when Charles enters. Bill admits that he’s never misrepresented his work before. He’s not proud of it, but Charles understands that there’s nothing more dangerous than a desperate man. He’s been there. It took him 16 years at Good Samaritan before he realized what he was meant to do. Bill is resigned to the fact that he won’t be able to work in a hospital anymore or be beholden to others’ rules. While this may be Bill’s death, Charles tells Bill that it’s time for him to be reborn. He’s to have his office cleared by morning.

Blackbird- Bill gets a surprise

Bill heads to Virginia’s, but to his surprise, Barry Watson’s Shelley answers the door with Tessa at his side. Shelley tells Bill that he’s Virginia’s beau and that he met her at the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel. He’s been waiting for her all night, but so far, she’s been a no-show. Bill, calling himself one of Ms. Johnson’s colleagues, leaves without giving a message. Oh, and Tessa doesn’t remember Bill. How rude.

Virginia, meanwhile, continues to stay at Lillian’s side. She rests next to her friend as Lillian’s breathing slows until it finally stops.
Blackbird- Bill talks with Libby

Bill returns home and takes Libby’s hand as the episode comes to a close.

I’m continually impressed with the amount of content Masters of Sex is able to fit into an episode without feeling overstuffed. The episode dealt with how quickly life passes us by, but also how we adjust to that, should we choose to. For some, like Lillian, we know that we can’t account for lost time, so we don’t even try. We can’t all progress at the same speed or be as forward thinking as people like Virginia or Charles. Instead, we work at our own pace and don’t try to be someone that we’re not.

Blackbird- Charles talks to Bill about how he ended up where he is

Conventionalism and stereotypes were big themes this week, whether through examining race or relationships. Bill said over and over that the facts would speak for themselves. The problem is that not everyone sees everything through his vision, such as those who have issues with Negroes during this period. They see what they want to see instead of acknowledging what’s in front of them. This narrow point of view secludes us off from an ever changing world. We’re so used to things being one way that any sort of change should automatically be challenged.

And that’s what Morgan brought up when talking about how Bill overcame adverse circumstances. Change is always going to be met with resistance because we become conformed to what we know. Once the established way of life is shaken, it’s only a matter of time before the walls of tradition begin to crumble. What seems like simple acceptance to some is seen as a greater threat to others. Side-note, I do like Morgan, if only because she’s a journalist who will go to every length to get her story.

Blackbird- Bill and Virginia share a tender moment

And, like previous episodes, “Blackbird” addressed how friendships, relationships and many types of bonds are built upon trust. We expect the same level of honesty that we give others, but when we lie or withhold information after building up so much trust, the betrayal feels even greater, whether from those who always trusted, or those who never trusted at all. If we’re not met halfway with the same trust, we feel wronged even though we’re putting our expectations on someone else. We think we know how people will react, and we don’t expect them to keep secrets.

As far as direction and production go, this episode felt similar to “Fight” for me. While there, Bill and Virginia were always locked in battle through their dialogue, here, the dialogue and conversations feel more like the characters are dancing. They’re constantly trying to be careful of what they say and how to say it, because a single misstep can throw off the entire routine. The partners must complement each other without making it seem like a battle.

Blackbird- Lillian's final request

For Lillian DePaul, however, the battle is already lost. Her scenes felt almost as emotionally draining as she was when she realizes that there’s no point in fighting a fight she can’t win. What began as an uphill battle over adversity has slowly ended in tragedy as Lillian succumbs to forces she can’t control. Her hope has faded away altogether. Julianne Nicholson turned in what might be her best performance yet through the range of emotions she shows, but even in what she doesn’t show. When Gibb tells her that the worsening symptoms include longer sleeps, loss of bladder and bowel control, aphasia worsening and eventually slipping into unconsciousness, Lillian doesn’t even flinch. It’s as if she’s already accepted her fate. Most would probably freak out, but she doesn’t react in the slightest. Like Bill, Lillian is used to straight talk.

Blackbird- Lillian hears how her condition will worsen

It’s unfortunate, but she’s accepted that this is a battle she will lose. I appreciate that she’s making this decision herself instead of just going along with what Virginia wants. More than that, it’s smart that she’d want to give her body to science. In effect, her work never ceases and hopefully someone will succeed where she ultimately failed. In death, she can become something useful in the long run and this feels like something Lillian would do.

Her bond with Virginia deepens to her last breath and this really shows how far Lillian has come from just sending Virginia away to get her coffee. Now we’re at the point where Virginia is tucking her into bed. Lillian’s missed out on closeness, but at least she got to spend her final moments with someone who genuinely cares about her and will listen to her talk about her past.

Blackbird- Virginia at Lillian's

Virginia said she understood how Lillian felt and, of course, she really didn’t and couldn’t. She calls Lillian pigheaded, not seeing the irony in how narrow-minded she’s been when discussing her affair with Bill. Both Virginia and Lillian are fighters, but whereas Lillian as more realistic, Virginia is the optimist. She kept holding out hope that Lillian could beat the cancer, but only because she cared for someone who had become one of her mentors. Virginia’s bond had grown strong enough to the point that she would lay next to Lillian as she slowly expired, which was a great, sad scene, by the way.

Blackbird- Virginia rests next to a dying Lillian DePaul

Though Virginia and Lillian have struggled to move up in the world, Virginia has always had support, whether from her kids, Ethan, Jane, Libby and so on. Virginia had friendships and connections, while Lillian did not.

I did like how she admitted to Bill that she put barriers around herself. As much as Virginia wanted to rail against Lillian in that moment, she was still willing to accept her own flaws. Despite the arguments the two have had, they remained friends until the very end.

My only issue with Virginia’s final scene with Lillian, strong as it was, came through how it happened. Virginia forgetting the envelope? Come on, Virginia! Lillian just told you how important it was that you fulfill her final requests. That’s not something you just forget and it seemed like a way for the writers to put Virginia back in Lillian’s home so she could hear her ragged breathing.

Blackbird- Helen and Betty after sex

Betty’s world is falling apart around her as a result of her lies. She’s not entirely unsympathetic, but she’s built this life up around deceit. She wants a conventional life with the unconventional parts still there. She wants Gene despite having feelings for Gene. Betty’s going through a case of mistaken identity where she can’t choose what life she wants. She wanted kids, but until recently, she never told Gene why she couldn’t. Building lie upon lie just worsened the relationship and Betty’s emotional outburst over Helen and Al’s kiss just made her look worse. Even when she wants to be fully honest, she can’t.

Blackbird- Gene learns that Betty loves Helen

And I really feel bad for Gene, who has endured so much of Betty’s deceit just to have a happy life, but his surprise upon learning that Betty had kissed Helen just completely changed his impression of the woman he thought loved him.

Blackbird- Libby talks to Coral

Libby. Dear God, Libby, what is wrong with you? Her paranoia and suspicion are more annoying than anything else. She claims that she wants to help Coral, but it comes off as a hindrance because it doesn’t come from the heart. She’s trying to convince herself and Coral that she’s being kind and wants a connection, but this doesn’t work because she has so many reservations about Coral’s personal life- something she really has no business trying to change.

She barely knows Robert and she already thinks she has him figured out. I do not understand why she fears this Colored man that never brought her harm. Libby choosing to handle this without Bill’s help makes sense since home is her only domain, but also because she thinks she’s fully responsible for Coral’s well-being. Whatever. And following them to their house with Baby John in tow was so over the top that it was laughable. Why would she even take the risk of going into a Black neighborhood just to prove a point? Like when she apologized to Robert as opposed to Coral, Libby giving Coral’s severance pay to Robert shows that she can’t directly confront her problems. And, to be fair, Coral never specifically said that Robert was her boyfriend- just that they lived together. Sure, it’s implied that they have a bond due to how she described how Robert makes her feel in bed, but I would hope these two siblings don’t take their bond that far.

Oh, and how did Libby even manage to acquire Robert’s criminal record? Did I miss something? Robert’s never given her his last name and Libby just found out that Robert and Coral had different fathers, so how in the world could she possibly get someone else to dig into his background without knowing much about him? And if Libby has friends in the police department, why couldn’t she get them to watch the baby while she played detective?

Blackbird- Bill with Charles

Bill just had the worst week ever. He once again finds himself without a job due to his ego. His attempts at maintaining integrity do more harm than good. I sort of see some parallels between Bill here and Libby during “Giants.” There, Libby made a big deal about Bill working in the Negro hospital. Here, Bill tries to use his name recognition as means to stop the publishing of an article that makes him look bad. Neither situation works out for the best.

Sure, Bill always saw the sex study as groundbreaking, but now he’s breaking ground in terms of racial relations by helping eliminate stereotypes on Negroes and their sexual prowess. He’s up for changing the world, but not if it puts his life out in the open.

It’s very unlike Bill to lie about his research and it was clear during his talk with Charles that he felt dirty by what he’d said about having findings. Once again, after such promise, he’s out of another job, but at least now, he’s willing to freelance. This may be better since this means he and Virginia can operate on their own terms. This would also mean some outside source would have to be willing to open their doors to them, but this is what happened with the brothel.

Blackbird- Shelley revealed

The reveal of Shelley was surprising, as I did not think we’d get any sort of follow-up to Virginia’s run-in with the man. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out, given how Shelley says that he’s Virginia’s beau and Bill now feels that his heart has been ripped out.

This was a very drama filled episode. We said goodbye to a character who, like Bill and Virginia, worked for the greater good. The fruits of Lillian DePaul’s labor will blossom long after she’s gone and she no longer has to be in pain. With the fallout between Libby and Coral, Bill and Buell Green Hospital, Gene and Betty, the episode showed that these characters have plenty of obstacles and adversity to overcome. From here, it’s looking like an uphill battle.

Any questions, comments, concerns, issues or complaints, would love to hear them.

A Look at “True Blood” Season 7, Episode 9: “Love is to Die”

This felt familiar. “Love Is to Die,” like other episodes this season, took us through familiar territory when next up is the series finale. What little good this episode had does not overshadow the mediocre.

Love Is to Die- Bill won't accept Sarah's blood

The episode begins right after Bill’s decision to not take Sarah’s blood. Everyone is understandably pissed, particularly Jessica and Sookie. Bill can’t explain it right now, but he’s accepted his fate and will take the true death. Sookie isn’t having that. She tells Bill that if he refuses the cure, he’s making a choice. Jessica sulks and Sookie smacks him twice when he refuses to explain himself. Before she can smack him three times a lady, Eric stops her. He then tells Bill not to tell anyone about Sarah- who is probably the only happy person among them right now.

Love Is to Die- Jessica tells Bill to release her

Before Bill can leave, Jessica demands that he release her, and she’s not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Bill approaches Jessica and reminds her that he never wanted to turn her into a vampire to begin with. After all, he only turned her because he killed a fellow vampire that tried to kill Sookie. Nevertheless, Bill is still proud of the vampire that Jessica has become. The vampire Jessica eventually became, anyway. He knows she’ll still flourish and, with that, he renounces their ties.

Not long after this, Sookie and Jessica stop by Sam’s, for some reason. They enter to find the home completely empty, save for two letters.

Love Is to Die- Sam and Nicole pack up and leave

As Sookie reads the one marked to her, we flash back to Sam and Nicole packing. Sam gave some serious thought about what Nicole said about Bon Temps being a crazy place to live. Even though Bon Temps is his home, Sam loves Nicole and wants to see his baby girl grow up. Why he’s still into Nicole baffles me, but I’ll get into that later. Sam believes that we have two lives: our own, and the one for our kids. And he won’t be too far- he and Nicole are just moving to Chicago!

Love Is to Die- Andy reads his goodbye letter from Sam

Meanwhile, business sucks at Bellefleur’s, though not like it’s been booming these past few days. Arlene decides to wait it out by having another party. You know, because a party worked so well the last time. Sookie enters and wishes to speak with Andy in private, as Sam’s second letter was addressed to him. She figured that Andy would want the privacy, but all Andy learns is that Sam resigned. That’s about it. Shortest ‘good-bye’ letter ever.

Love Is to Die- Jessica and James reconcile

James and Jessica take a moment to reconcile, though Jessica admits that what Lafayette said about her was spot-on: she doesn’t know much about James because she never took the time to ask. She apologizes for that, but that’s about it. After this, she takes off.

Love Is to Die- Hoyt and Brigette argue

Hoyt and Brigette are not only still around, but they’re bickering again. Brigette wants Hoyt to explain not just why he doesn’t want kids, but why Jessica seemed to be so into him, if he supposedly never met her. Hoyt does own up to seeing Jessica, but only to deliver Bill some of his blood. Brigette quickly apologizes for freaking out-

Love Is to Die- Jessica wants to explain herself to Hoyt

-but she gets her second wind when Jessica arrives. She’s not invited in, though. She tells the two that there’s a reason she remembers him, but not the other way around him. Brigette delivers her ultimatum: if Hoyt steps out the door to hear the rest of what Jessica has to say, they’re through. So as that relationship crumbles, Brigette makes a phone call to Jason. Outside, Jessica spills: Hoyt was the first man she truly loved. When he returned to Bon Temps, she just wanted him again. Selfish as that is, she at least owns up to it.

Love Is to Die- Arlene gives Sookie a pep talk on starting over

Sookie doesn’t join in on the fun, so Arlene plays therapist to Ms. Stackhouse, while also letting her know that she and Keith are taking things slow. Sookie asks Arlene how she’s able to start over so many times. Well, it helps when you get a vision from your dead husband. Sookie admits that she never forgot about Bill when she was with Alcide, but she’ll never do that again. A little late for that, Sookie.

Love Is to Die- Eric and Bill talk about Sookie again

Eric pops by Bill’s and talks about how much he wanted to give up living around the time that Pam found him. The Hep-V virus attacks more than the body; it goes after the spirit. Bill claims that he’s doing this all for Sookie, even if she can eventually love someone else. He then tells Eric about the fever dream he had of Sookie holding a shadow, void baby. She’d given birth to death, which is what vampires are. All Bill wants to do is set her free. However, since Sookie won’t listen to Bill, he wants Eric the Relationship Counselor to play mediator.

Love Is to Die- Hoyt knocks out Jason

Jason shows up and is quickly knocked on his ass by Hoyt. Well, that was a scene.

Love Is to Die- Brigette drives to Jason's place

He wakes up later in his police cruiser with Brigette at the wheel. This isn’t legal, but this is Bon Temps, so not like it really matters. Jason doesn’t need a hospital, either. He was only out for five minutes and no one would be working at the hospitals at this time of night, anyway. He tells Brigette, flat out, that the two are not going to have sex. Even though Brigette is heartbroken and just left Hoyt, Jason just needed to put it out there. Well, I give him this: he gave her fair warning.

Love Is to Die- Pam plans to turn Sarah back into a blonde

Since Pam needs something to do this week, she has the Yakuza bring Sarah upstairs so she can turn Ms. Newlin back into a blonde.

Love Is to Die- Jason helps Brigette with her flight troubles

At Jason’s place, Brigette is unable to secure a flight back to Anchorage. Jason asks about the gender of the person on the phone. When he learns that it’s a woman, Deputy Jason Stackhouse steps in and lets his magic work. He informs the woman that Bon Temps has been under attack these past few weeks and Brigette is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. All he wants is help. In a few moments, the woman on the phone emails Brigette the confirmation for her Delta flight. With his work done, he heads to the living room for some shut eye.

Love Is to Die- Hoyt and Jessica talk about why they broke up

For Hoyt and Jessica, the night has just begun. Hoyt asks Jessica that if the two of them knew each other before, why wasn’t Jessica ready back then? She admits that she was immature and hadn’t explored her dark side until she met him. And after Hoyt shot and killed Violet, Jessica saw a future for herself when she was on the verge of death. Again. When Jessica was on the verge of death again.

Love Is to Die- Pam works on Sarah's hair

While working on Sarah’s hair- seriously, Pam has nothing else to do- Pam talks about a young woman she once knew named Mary. Mary worked at a whore house and met Pam at the age of 16 or 17. She thought herself too good to be a whore. Pam believes Sarah sees herself as something similar, but once the world knows that she’s the cure, there will be a huge price on her.

Love Is to Die- Jason tells Brigette about Hoyt and Jessica

Brigette asks Jason about what he would have done if it had been a man on the phone. Good question, but Jason says he would have still tried. Jason has just always had a way with women, even back when he and Hoyt were young. Jason would always get the girl, but Hoyt would return to his mother. This all changed when Hoyt met Jessica. As we know, that went south and became even worse when Jason tried to justify having sex with Jessica. He feels that he deserved to get the hell kicked out of him by Hoyt, but he remembers something that Hoyt told him: Jason would never have what Hoyt and Jessica had because that was real.

Jason was just someone who thought with his dick. And because Hoyt wanted to forget, he wanted Jessica to glamour him so he’d forget about the both of them. So Hoyt never lied about not knowing Jessica- he just didn’t remember. And even though Hoyt and Brigette may have been an item for who knows how long, he was always meant to be with Jessica by the transitive property of happily-ever-after logic.

Love Is to Die- Hoyt and Jessica get it on

Oh, as this happens, Hoyt and Jessica get it on with swelling music playing in the background.

Love Is to Die- Eric talks to Sookie about Bill

The party at Bellefleur’s ends without incident. Sookie finds Eric waiting for her. He tells her to talk to Bill, but she’s scared. Absurd as Bill’s explanation is, Eric believes it will make sense to Sookie when she hears it from him. He offers her a lift.

Love Is to Die- Brigette and Jason do not have sex

Back at Jason’s, he and Brigette do not have sex, so they swap secrets. Worst thing that Brigette’s done was let someone cheat off of her test. And she never told a single person about it, either. I’d say alert the authorities, but Jason’s right there and not even sarcasm would be enough for this. Jason’s big secret is that he likes pink. Brigette wants a deeper secret, despite how simple it is to admit cheating on a test. But Jason relents: he would like to have kids, but he’s fearful that, if he had a daughter, she would meet someone who is just like him. Brigette comforts Jason, telling him that, contrary to what Hoyt said, there’s nothing missing in him.

Eric drops Sookie off at his please and bids her farewell. She heads in and takes Bill’s phone call. The two plan to meet up.

Love Is to Die- Eric and Ginger about to fuck

Meanwhile, at Fangtasia, a depressed Ginger is suddenly filled with anger when an equally angry Eric storms in. Ginger is livid that Eric didn’t tell her that he’s healed. Eric, however, is frustrated beyond belief at having to help other people with their relationship problems. He begrudgingly apologizes for not telling her that he’s cured. To make it up to her, the two are finally going to fuck. Just what Ginger wanted to hear. Where’s it going to take place?

Love Is to Die- Ginger and Eric fuck, sort of

On the throne. Ginger straddles him, just as she fantasized, and after a few moments of riding Eric Northman, Ginger climaxes herself to sleep.

Love Is to Die- Eric finds Pam and Sarah bound by the Yakuza

Now, onto what Eric originally came for: he searches for Pam, but doesn’t find her until he heads to the basement and sees Mr. Gus and the Yakuza have not only rebound Sarah, they’ve strapped Pam down with a stake above her. Gus asks if anyone knows about Sarah, and just before the stake can fall onto Pam, Eric admits that he told Sookie Stackhouse about the cure. Now all Mr. Gus needs is her address.

Bill, meanwhile, knocks on Sookie’s door as the episode comes to a close.

As we approach the series finale, this episode appeared to have the growing sense of finality. We’re done with side-plots like Lettie Mae and Lafayette digging in the yard or Violet not being a very good mini-villain. We’re focusing on a few plots and the writers want to bring closure to some of them. However, while I’ve said before that less is more, it should still be interesting to watch. Not a lot is explained when there should be simple explanations, Bill’s decision being the biggest of them.

Love Is to Die- Jessica and Hoyt

Confrontation and coming to terms with your fate were some of the central focuses of the episode, with Bill resigning himself to the true death. Even though we don’t know when our time on Earth ends, rather than try to make the most of it, some accept that the end is inevitable, so there’s no point in trying to fight it. On the other hand, inevitability doesn’t always have to be bleak, as it’s what drove Hoyt and Jessica back together again.

They, like others during this season, have been given a second chance to make amends to the people they’ve hurt and right their past mistakes. They’re choosing to acknowledge their wrongs, but also not dwell on them to ensure a happy future for themselves. Even though that is a bit selfish, as Jessica acknowledges, at least people who choose this option are making a conscious decision instead of just going along with whatever life throws at them.

Love Is to Die- Party

There are a few moments this week that just didn’t make sense. I must question why Arlene felt that it was time to have a party. It hasn’t been that long since the last one and nothing happened at this one at all. It could have just been the regulars hanging out at Bellefleur’s. No need to dress it up as a party when the last one ended in disaster. We get bits and pieces of information, such as Lafayette and James have bonded more off-screen, while Keith and Arlene want to take things slow. Sookie really didn’t have a reason to be there, especially since I don’t think she told anyone besides Andy that Sam had left.

Love Is to Die- Jessica and Sookie find Sam's goodbye notes

And on that, why did Sookie and Jessica just randomly decide to stop by Sam’s house, anyway? To talk about Bill? If so, it seems odd that he’d be the first person they go to, but it just felt like a way to get them there to find Sam’s letters. If Sam’s gone, fine. I’ve lost interest.

Love Is to Die- Pam stops Sookie from smacking Bill a third time

Sookie has every reason in the world to be angry at Bill. She put her life at risk-again- by learning about Sarah being the cure, but did it for the greater good of saving Bill’s life. For him to reject it felt not like just one, but two slaps to the face. There was real venom in her voice when she demanded that Bill at least try to justify himself, but to Sookie, this was an insult.

Another insult came too little, too late. Sookie admits that, while with Alcide, she never let Bill go. She vowed to never do that again. This makes Sookie’s relationship with Alcide feel like even more of a waste because she never truly grew close to or loved him.

Love Is to Die- Bill has no words

If Bill wants to be resigned to his fate, then fine, but spell it out better than “There are no words.” It’s as if he wants to die, but doesn’t want Sookie to hate him for it. When you don’t tell the people who care about you why you’re looking forward to death, you’re guaranteed a negative response, as Bill did. After the two appeared to have reconciled their differences, Bill making this decision after last week’s cliffhanger is a disappointment. That buildup resulted in him just feeling sorry for himself and vampires alike for the harm they cause humans. I’m not interested in joining this pity party.

As for the love square that is Jason, Brigette, Hoyt and Jessica, I guess it was only a matter of time before Hoyt and Jessica found their way back into each other’s arms. Truth be told, I’m fine with whoever Jessica ends up with, whether Hoyt or Jason. I don’t have a problem with the two rediscovering their love, but I do have a problem with the execution.

Love Is to Die- Brigette and Hoyt

First off, Hoyt and Brigette, at first, seemed to be a genuine couple that cared for one another. However, Hoyt’s time in Alaska seems to have hardened him and he’s become more of a dick, flipping out at the idea of having kids. If we had to see Hoyt and Brigette break up, I wish it hadn’t been done this way since the two genuinely seemed to care for one another. Then, once Jason and Jessica entered the equation, it’s like a switch flipped on and the two became irrational and short with one another.

The same goes with Jason, as I think not putting him with someone would have been a better idea. Why not just bring Hoyt back, and then have Jason and Jessica remind him of his past? Sure, it might have left Jason alone at the end of the day, but it’d be a bolder move than the two just switching ladies. But I’m not a television writer, so I have no idea what I’m talking about, really. A switch just seems too easy.

Love Is to Die- Jason discusses the conflict between himself, Hoyt and Jessica

Credit where it’s due, Jason has come a long way since the season and even this series began. Having a crazy vampire girlfriend may have helped push him faster than he’d like, but Violet’s antics definitely played a part in him re-evaluating his life. It was quite funny to see him and Brigette literally just lay in bed and talk. For all of Jason’s wild sex antics, the man showed some restraint. And though he’s not with Jessica anymore, I’m sure their friendship will remain intact.

Bill Turns Jessica

I don’t want to spend the series finale talking about every character, so I wanted to address Jessica for a minute. While watching this character grow, Jessica has slowly become one of my favorites of this show. It’s interesting to look back and watch where this character started and what’s brought her to this point. When we first met Jessica, she was a scared, Christian girl thrust into a situation that she had no control over. By no fault of her own, she wound up being bitten and turned into a vampire.

Jessica the Rebel

From there, we watched her grow from being a rebellious kid that’s trying to relearn how the world works, to becoming one of the most vital characters on the show’s run. She found love, almost met the sun and helped train Tara after Pam turned her into a vampire. She refused to leave Bill when he originally wanted to release her, but now, after watching him refuse to help himself, she readily took liberation into her own hands. Despite her spat with James, she did apologize for not giving him the attention he deserved. Though I wasn’t a fan of her sudden hunger problem or inability to forgive herself, Jessica has had a complicated, yet still entertaining life throughout the series’ run.

Love Is to Die- Jessica

Deborah Ann Woll has been both sweet and vicious when it comes to this character and I never got tired of watching her in this role. She can be menacing while embracing Jessica’s darker side, but in a seamless transition, she shows deep affection and care for those around her. One of my favorite performances on this entire program.

Love Is to Die- Eric the Relationship Counselor

Pam and Eric are fun to watch, but don’t get much to do this week. Pam’s here to work on Sarah’s hair and try conversing with the Yakuza, while Eric goes through hell as an impromptu relationship counselor.

Love Is to Die- Ginger climaxes herself to sleep

That said, at least Ginger finally got hers. The look of pure excitement and ecstasy when she rode Eric for a few seconds and climaxed herself to sleep was the most enjoyable part of the episode. She worked herself up to this moment and even got Eric to sit on the shitty chair, and it’s over before it even begins. That’s funny.

This was still a slow episode. What little good there is doesn’t make up for the uninspired and sometimes unexplained character motivations, lazy storytelling and telling us things that, as an audience, we already know about these characters. It’s the second to last episode! Give us a little credit!

Any questions, comments, concerns, issues or complaints? Would like to hear them, if’n you have them.

A Look at “Masters of Sex” Season 2, Episode 5: “Giants”

What are three things we want in live? Stability? Safety? Sex? Maybe a combination of all three? Well, that proves difficult for the characters in Masters of Sex, as this week’s “Giants” gives the characters some not so friendly reminders that even if they want to change, their questionable pasts will come back to haunt them.

Giants- Virginia and Libby with the baby

The episode begins with Libby and Virginia watching Baby John. Libby was in the area and stopped by Virginia’s while trying to get the baby to fall asleep. Virginia tells Libby that she hasn’t seen much of Bill recently, but that’s all about to change, according to Libby. She asks if Virginia knows about what is about to happen or if she’s given Dr. DePaul advanced notice. Even though Bill is picking up speed with his career, she worries that, given that this is the third hospital Bill’s been to, she doesn’t want him to screw it up.

Giants- Virginia meets Bill to discuss their affairs

At the Chancery Park Plaza Hotel, Virginia’s not in the mood for food when she finally arrives. She’s also none too ecstatic about Bill giving her the keys to her new office at Buell Green since Bill didn’t bother to run it by her first. However, even though Virginia may be on board, she still doesn’t have an official title. Though that can be decided on later, Virginia would prefer to know as soon as possible before upending her life since she still has two kids and doesn’t have the income that Bill is able to bring in. After all, she still has a great opportunity with Dr. DePaul, but Bill tells Virginia that Lillian probably doesn’t regard her that highly now that she knows about the two of them.

Giants- Betty suggests she and Gene adopt children

Gene heads down to sleep on the couch, ignoring Betty’s singing that, to his ears, reminds him of migrating geese. Betty’s insulted. After all, she was Miss Melba Snyder in her high school production of “Pal Joey” before she got booted out. Now, there’s a flashback I’d like to see. Gene is still sore because Betty lied, but he’s not giving Betty the reaction that she’d like: overt anger, yelling and that sort. Instead, he’s treated her with icy disregard. Betty still wants happiness, even if she can’t have children, but she is willing to adopt if it means that the two can have a family with kids that will be theirs. Gene warms to the idea, but needs to think it over. Yay, progress.

Giants- Bill shown around Buell Green by Dr. Charles Hendricks, played by Courtney B. Vance, and meets Dr. Cyril Franklin, played by Jay Ellis

The next day at Buell Green, Bill is shown around his office by Dr. Charles Hendricks, played by our second Law and Order: Criminal Intent alumni, Courtney B. Vance. Changes had to be made for Bill’s arrival, much to the chagrin of the other doctors. Bill’s new exam room is next door. Even though the staff may be unhappy, Bill assures Charles that he’ll soon bring in a steady stream of patients. He tells Charles that he needs an employment contract for Ms. Johnson, but contracts aren’t given to members of the support staff because their guarantee is week to week. However, Bill asks him to make an exception. Bill, don’t burn the bridge before you fully cross it.

We also meet Dr. Cyril Franklin, played by Jay Ellis, who specializes in gynecology. Cyril is a fan of Bill’s and followed his work in fertility. Bill, none too boastful, is glad to take any referred patients. A clearly taken aback Cyril changes the subject to Bill’s office, which might not be big, but at least Bill didn’t get booted out of his office to make room for the new employee, like Cyril did.

Giants- Lillian and Virginia argue

Over at Washington University, Lillian answers the phone because Virginia can’t be bothered. A man in mimeo has a ten minute window between jobs, so Virginia can bring him the paperwork. Virginia wants to talk about Virginia, though. More specifically, she feels that it doesn’t matter what she does on her own time as long as she does a good job. We’ll get into that later. Lillian says that it most certainly matters to Libby Masters. Virginia goes on the defensive, saying that her and Bill’s work is still work, as they’re tracking the same physiological data as their other patients.

If it never interfered before, why should it now? Is this to punish Virginia? Lillian says that Virginia did that herself, but was also capable of waiting for a job she earned by using her ‘abilities.’ Now she’s made it harder for women after her. Virginia, single mom extraordinaire, doesn’t have the money to wait around for the perfect job opportunity. She says that Lillian had it easier, prompting Lillian to say that Virginia is the girl whose upset that she didn’t get asked to prom by the boy she didn’t even want to go with. Not entirely sure why Lillian chose that as her analogy, but let’s go with it. Lillian gave her work to someone who could secure its future, as she would never trust it to Virginia, who wants responsibility, but would just follow Bill anyway. Virginia leaves in a huff. Lillian yells for Virginia to try and not perpetuate the sick belief that women need to open their legs to get a leg up! Oh, those poor other women in the office.

Giants- Sarah Silverman's Helen speaks with spirits

Suddenly, Sarah Silverman. Silverman’s character, Helen, uses her precognitions to speak with ghosts while Gene watches- the ghost in question belonged to a 93 year old man named Saul, or Paul, who choked on a chicken bone. Betty enters and is surprised to see Helen, a friend from her past, back when Helen used to read palms. Gene tells Betty that his friend, Al, would hit it off with Helen. Betty disagrees.

Giants- Virginia arrives at Buell Green

Virginia arrives at Buell Green and finds Bill’s office still stacked with tons of paperwork and unopened boxes. Staring at it won’t make it go away, Bill. Human Resources did manage to draw up a contract specifying Virginia’s employment. He then tells Virginia that he’s open to resume their sessions either in the exam room or the hospital. He’s flexible. Virginia wants a third option: stop. After all, aren’t the possibilities exhausted and it’s time to reassess their objectives? She then asks Bill if personal involvement is a condition of employment. After a few seconds of silence, Bill says no, but he meant yes.

Giants- Virginia tells Bill to strip

That night, at the hotel, Bill’s ready to go, but Virginia doesn’t remove a single article of clothing and is adamant about staying that way. Instead, she tells Bill to strip for her. Bill laughs, thinking this a joke, but Virginia does not flinch. Bill strips to his pants. Next up, Virginia wants him to touch himself, without sitting down. That’s probably a better way to do it if you’re trying to pound one out before you go to bed. That way, your chair doesn’t squeak, but I digress. Bill goes to work while Virginia asks what he’s thinking about and notes how quickly he closed his eyes. When Bill tells Virginia that he’s thinking of her, she beckons him forward, where he proceeds to go down on her.

Giants- Virginia can't help with directions

The next day, Errol, played by Cutter Garcia, is looking for radiology to drop off some X-Ray solutions and asks Virginia for directions, but obviously she has no idea where that is because she’s new. He has a quick, but uncertain glance at Virginia’s flier on the sex study. Following this, she gets to work at calling the patient list to provide the updated location.

Giants- Robert, played by Jocko Sims, talks to Libby about Coral

At House Masters, Libby receives a visit from Robert, played by Jocko Sims, who wants to talk about Coral before she arrives. See, every night, he asks Coral about her day and things are usually fine. Recently, however, Coral’s behavior has changed due to an incident involving having her hair washed. To the point, he’d like it if Coral went back to enjoying her days at House Masters. And there’s no need for her to know that Robert popped by, either.

Giants- Helen and Betty talk about their past together

Betty meets up with Helen, who is still upset about Betty breaking her heart years ago. Betty still believes that her marrying Gene was the best thing, but for her. Before that, neither woman would have a good future since they both secretly love women. Betty’s fucked a lot of men, but she won’t apologize for her past because now she has a hat for every day of the week, can eat beef bourguignon and lives in a home complete with gold faucets. Well, good for you, Betty. She doesn’t want Helen around, but it’s time for Helen to get the brass ring.

Giants- Mrs. Turnsworth, played by Melanie Paxton, isn't a fan of the Negro neighborhood

Back at Buell Green, Bill and Virginia talk with Mrs. Turnsworth, played by Melanie Paxton. Turnsworth is set to have another child, but, if possible, would prefer to be at home. Her husband, Earl, just got her a new car and she doesn’t want to leave it just parked for hours. Not in this neighborhood. It’s an El Dorado! Anything could happen to it. She also wants to know if Masters and Johnson intend to be at this current hospital for long, but Bill says Buell Green is a good hospital. Sheesh, lady, these Negroes work in a hospital. Do you really think they want to steal your car?

Giants- Libby confronts Coral about her talk with Robert

Libby confronts Coral on her unexpected visit from Robert. You know, exactly what Robert wanted. Libby knows what the world is like. After all, she’s older than Coral, if that wasn’t obvious by the obvious age difference. But Libby just wants Coral to be safe. She’s worried about her being with this Robert boy that threatened her. Seriously, Libby? Did he threaten to take your purse or something? Lucky for Robert, Libby won’t call the police, but she does want Coral to leave Robert. Coral agrees…for a moment, but she reconsiders after remembering that not only does she live with Robert, he makes her bad feelings go away when they’re in bed together, with his soft hands and lips. It’d be pretty hard to leave that. But it was worth considering. Coral then asks if Libby would like her to make both beds. Boom, score one for Keke Palmer!

Giants- Virginia suggests separating the data by race

Virginia sees that the flier she put up has been taken down. Not only that, she tells Bill that it will take considerable effort to get willing subjects. Hence, the two should prepare to lose their regulars. Virginia considers the idea of separating the data by race. Bill argues that they never did that before, but they also never had Negro patients before since they’d never been exposed to recruitment at a White hospital. Virginia just believes there may be a value in separate data since society thinks there’s still a difference. Oh, and a Mrs. Kennedy canceled her appointment and doesn’t want to reschedule. Guess she doesn’t want her car stolen, either.

Giants- Libby talks about sex being used as a way for people to make up

That evening, Libby, from her bed, tells Bill that sex is used as a way for people to make up and iron out their differences. Bill’s not so sure of that. He thinks Libby is angry with him, but she isn’t. So, the two have sex, and Bill misses Libby’s orgasm because she didn’t want to wake the baby. How very considerate of her.

Lillian receives a surprise pick-up from Virginia, while Libby tells Coral that she’ll clean up her bedroom.

Giants- Betty and Gene talk about Helen's gambling problem

While Gene is hard at work, Betty misses the meaning of the word subtlety as she begins vacuuming, something she rarely, if at all, does. When Gene stops her, Betty tells him that she’s just burning off anxiety. Oh, and newsflash, Helen’s not good at bathing. Like Napoleon and Josephine, the more she stank, the more he loved her. Betty doesn’t want Helen to sink her hooks into Al, especially since she loves to gamble and spend time at the horse tracks. Guess what? Al loves that, too! Thanks for being so honest, Betty!

Giants- Patient Penelope Drake, played by Jules Lambert

Patient Penelope Drake, played by Jules Lambert, is here to have her fertility history taken. However, some shouting from down the hall gets Bill and Virginia’s attention.

White man has Black man in choke hold because White man didn’t like how Black guy was apparently looking at his wife and might have tried to slip his hand into her purse. When the White taunts the Black, the Black throws a punch that ends up connecting with Bill.

Giants- Libby tells Bill about her bad day

When Bill explains it to Libby, he can’t believe how a bit of mixing can turn the best of men into Neanderthals. Guess what, Bill? Libby’s had a hard time, too. She got a visit from a large Colored man who banged on the door and threatened her! Banged?! Oh, for the love of-anyway, she mentions the Colored man’s accusation, prompting Bill to ask Libby whether she did force Coral’s head under the faucet. Libby gets defensive, wondering why he would take Coral’s side, but Bill is doing no such thing. He just wants the truth and says that Libby should apologize. Frankly, she got off easy.

Giants- Double Date

The double date goes as planned, as Helen hits it off with Al, played by Johnny Sneed, who owns a pepperoni business. Helen shares a tale about a time she was in Kentucky and bet on a horse named Beautiful Betty. The horse had the odds heavily stacked against it, at 13:1. She gave the ticket to Betty, who had been feeling blue that day, to prove that when the odds are against you, someone will always bet on you. Sounds like a neat story until we learn that the horse broke a leg and had to be shot. The girls laugh for quite a while. Seriously, ladies, it wasn’t that funny.

Betty heads to the powder room in tears, quickly followed by Helen. After a moment, the two kiss.

Giants- Patients separated by race

The next day, Bill sees that Cyril has separated the patients according to race, based on yesterday’s incident. Bill doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

Virginia, meanwhile, gets a phone call and heads to meet Lillian, who fainted on the floor of the ladies’ room and was found by a wandering 10 year old. Lillian could only be released to a responsible party and, quite frankly, she didn’t know who else to call.

Giants- Lillian and Virginia in car outside Lillian's house

When the two head to Lillian’s, rather than get out, Lillian just wants to sit in the car and talk. She has no plans to return to the hospital as a doctor. Patient, maybe, but not doctor. After all, her condition is worsening each day. She’s afraid for what’s ahead, but can’t afford to be upset.

Giants- Libby fails to apologize to Robert

That evening, at House Masters, Libby meets Robert and tells him she overreacted. Good. She just had a baby and is having a few moments. That’s fine, but Robert believes that Libby should apologize to Coral, who just happens to walk out. Libby, however, has no such intentions since Coral deliberately disobeyed her. Robert is disappointed, but reminds Coral that this is what to expect from when dealing with White people that are unable to take responsibility and do the right thing. Coral gets in the car and the two drive off, unable to hear Libby gloat that her doctor works at the Negro hospital. Libby, stop talking.

Giants- Charles talks to Bill and Virginia about the future

Charles recommends that Bill sees Dr. McAlpin over in ophthalmology to make sure there’s no damage to his vision. Bill admits that he misjudged people’s reactions and is resigned to the fact that he’ll inevitably lose patients because he and Virginia work in the Negro hospital. Charles is disappointed, but throws an analogy at the two: how do people get in a cold lake? Do they go inch by inch to stave off the cold, or do they take the plunge to get it over with and hope that their body will adjust to the cold?

Charles has been down this path. If he wanted to change people’s minds on segregation, he’d bring in a young, unassuming White resident and let patients slowly get used to them. However, Charles has too much he wants to get done. Bill is a cold lake. He didn’t ease people out of ignorance to sex- he exposed them to the truth, no matter how uncomfortable. Charles tells Bill that he needs to call patients and let them know that this is what it is right now. This is how you move history forward, even though that’s outside Bill’s purview. Charles doesn’t buy that, since Bill wouldn’t keep doing the study if that was the case. One must embrace the future, and that includes integration. Though Bill isn’t one for wooing patients, he believes that Virginia is more than capable of that.  Dr. Hendricks leaves the two to think it over, before he takes down a flier on the sex study while continuing down the hall.

There’s a lot take in with this episode. It deals with progressivism and how it takes time for society to prepare for change. We can’t always look as far down the road as others and, at times, we don’t want to move as fast. More than this, through the different storylines, we see who is ready to change, who is reluctant to change, and who refuses to because they’re steeped in tradition.

Giants- Mrs. Turnsworth doesn't want to lose her new car

Change isn’t always a positive, sure, but depending on the circumstance, as we see with the class and racial angles, it can be inevitable. Inevitable as that may be, that doesn’t mean that change comes without challenge because the status quo is being threatened. Soon, however, societal changes come to embrace what becomes their destiny.

Like “Fight,” but nowhere near as well done, the episode gives us some significant power struggles that go against character’s expectations. We see more of the perception versus reality through the eyes of pairs like Bill and Virginia or Helen and Betty.

Giants- Betty and Helen in bathroom before they kiss

Betty has no shame or regret about what she’s done to get where she is. It’s a past she’d rather not acknowledge, but she doesn’t deny it. In her mind, she’s suffered and paid her debt for her sins, so it’s time for her to be happy. Through her suggestion of adoption, it’s clear that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure her and Gene have that happy family life they’ve dreamt of for so long. She wants to save her marriage because it’s all she has, golden faucets and all. Now that she has a life of luxury, she’s doing whatever it takes to keep it.

Giants- Betty and Helen Kiss

Helen is another reminder of Betty’s past that she’d like to ignore, even more so because she doesn’t want to fall back into the temptation of loving another woman again. However, from the kiss shared, the desire looks to still be there. As far as Sarah Silverman’s performance goes, she’s good. It’s probably the straightest role I’ve seen her play since, maybe, Greg the Bunny. It is hard for me to separate the actress from the role because, at the end of the day, it’s still Sarah Silverman. If she wasn’t already so recognizable to me, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Giants- Lillian knows Virginia always planned to go with Bill

I like that Lillian is slowly becoming more assertive, despite her fate. From being willing to drink alcohol at work, to giving away her study, giving Austin Langham the time of day, showing far more emotion than ever and telling secrets- for a person who normally doesn’t engage in such behavior, they come off as the actions of someone who doesn’t have long to live.

I love Nicholson’s performance in this episode, particularly during her argument with Virginia and how she slowly shifts from cold and emotionless to anger. She’s disappointed in Virginia, yes, but she’s even more upset because Virginia didn’t trust her and probably would have gone to Bill anyway. Her line about women opening their legs is very telling- women in this day and age have to say and do a lot to get ahead or just be heard. Heck, the other women in DePaul’s office probably would love to make the salary that Virginia or Lillian make just because it’s more than what they get.

Giants- Lillian smiles

Despite all of this, even after her disappointment, Lillian still sees Virginia as a close friend and companion. Sure, she’s angry, but she also realizes that her list of friends is very thin, so burning her bridge to Virginia won’t do her any favors. Even though she’s dying, Lillian isn’t letting the inevitability of death of control her.

Giants- Libby and Coral

Libby, however, is losing control all around her. She’s trying to force kindness upon Coral and, as such, her apology lacked any feeling of being genuine. She feels the need to protect Coral, who has done nothing but try to be the best nanny possible, by passing on her so-called wisdom, but she comes off as more patronizing than anything else. She becomes defensive when Bill doesn’t side with her after describing her “horrific” incident. Again, I really don’t want to think Libby has some dislike of Negroes, given her friendship with Walter last season.

But then she goes and exaggerates her story to Bill about being confronted by Colored Robert, as if Libby was one of those White women who would falsely claim that she had been raped by a Negro. Where does this all come from? If it’s a way to make the audience dislike Libby, then no, I’m not a fan of that. And boasting that Bill works in the Negro Hospital? What, does that make her good with every Negro ever?

Giants- Awkward sex

As the season has progressed, Libby sees that there’s nothing for her at home, which used to be her domain. Her sex life, which has never been glamorous to begin with, is at its end here. The scene where she and Bill have sex is just awkward. There’s none of the banter and passion that we see with other couples, and Libby doesn’t even look at Bill the entire time. It felt very wooden and mechanical. And for Coral to throw that at her shows that, as wise as Libby thinks she is, she’s still not getting any when between the sheets. Libby wants a happy future, but she finds it harder and harder to get that, as her happy, suburban life is crumbling all around her.

Giants- Bill talks with Libby about Robert

Bill may be a loving husband, but he’s not faithful. This, we know. He’s less likely to treat Libby like a patient, as he did for a lot of last season, but there’s no passion in their relationship. Each time Bill and Libby talk, Bill looks as if he’d rather be anywhere else. He misses Libby’s orgasm, for goodness’ sake. Maybe if he’d said the phases aloud, like last season. For now, it looks as if Bill just tolerates Libby. He’s clearly not afraid to call her out when she’s wrong, but he still comforts her when necessary.

Giants- Bill touches himself in front of Virginia

With Virginia, however, the two are locked in combat, as if their battle from “Fight” never ended. Most of the time, Bill’s been the dominant figure between the two. However, during their session at the hotel, control switched and Bill found himself on the defensive. In this moment, he felt completely powerless and exposed. He’s in a vulnerable state, while Virginia, clothed and clinical, assumes control. It’s not a position Bill’s accustomed to, which made this a more interesting scene to watch. He’s so used to controlling the situation, but he sees that sex won’t always play out with him calling the shots.

Giants- Bill tries to stop fight

This also translates to his job, where he had expectations of employees falling in line to back him, instead of the blowback he received. He came off as very arrogant when he told Cyril that he’d be willing to take on referred patients, like he can just waltz in and assume command based on reputation alone. He pushed a doctor out and thinks things will be the same before he arrived, but doesn’t see the reality in front of him, as evidenced when he gets subtle and not so subtle racism from White patients. Seriously, at least people who are overtly racist let you know it up front and don’t try to cover it up with code words. These Whites, for obvious reasons, aren’t fans of the Negro, so they won’t just warm up to change overnight. Bill, however, is an ambassador of change, if the sex study is evidence of anything, so he has another battle to fight.

Giants- Virginia watches Bill pleasure himself

The line about Virginia being able to woo patients shows her importance to the study. Last week, she told Henry and Tessa that you can only depend on yourself, but here, we see just how much Bill depends on her. She’s integral not just to him, but the study as well. Virginia does for herself, but here, she flat out takes power from Bill. Sure, we’ve seen that she’s capable of pleasuring herself, but during “Fight,” she followed Bill’s lead or countered him. Here, she’s in charge instead of having to wrestle control from him. And even better, she never reverts control back to him, which I like, because it shows how much more assertive she’s becoming.

Giants- Virginia argues with Lillian

Granted, she doesn’t back down against Lillian either, but Lillian forced her hand. She goes on the offensive regarding her research with Bill, but she’s being very contradictory. In the first season, Virginia often reminded Bill that he had a wife he’d been neglecting. Here, she doesn’t think that her personal life should have any bearing on her personal. I disagree. It affects her integrity, for one! Like Bill, Virginia harms her relationship with her superior, but while Greathouse can find another doctor, Lillian has few people to turn to. Their friendship remained intact. And, like Bill, Virginia is a trendsetter, but as DePaul says, her actions may make it harder for women who come after her.

We see the House That Bill and Virginia Built begin to crumble. This was a strong episode that threw a lot of messages at us, but managed to do so without overstuffing it, even if some of the racism was a bit cartoony and ridiculous. We know that Lillian DePaul’s time is almost up, but for Bill and Virginia, despite the obstacles they face, their challenges have just begun.