MASTERS OF SEX 1.10 ‘Fallout’

Episode Title: “Fallout”

Writer: Sam Shaw

Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Previously on “Masters of Sex:”

Episode 1.09 “Involuntary”


The staff at Washington University’s hospital is ready for the H-bomb, but it’s unexpected pregnancies, gay husbands and how to charm a chancellor that Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) and his colleagues can’t handle.

A nationwide Civil Defense drill is a fitting backdrop for an episode in which proverbial bombs are dropped on several characters, while others take cover from the fallout. It’s also a sign of the times that doesn’t involve the typical misogyny and narrow-mindedness these characters are regularly made to suffer.

As the university buckles down for a large-scale drill, Bill takes note of Ethan (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Virginia’s (Lizzy Caplan) developing relationship. Ethan may have Virginia’s attention for the moment, but breaking Vivian’s heart may have cost him a permanent staff position at the University. However, upsetting the Provost’s daughter isn’t to blame for a rejection letter from the board, but rather getting a member’s wife, pregnant.

The way Ethan sees it, Bill should be thanking him for impregnating Libby. And after assisting in a surgery, Ethan tells him as much and brings up his excellent on-the-job performance record. It’s enough to make the already testy Bill take a swing at Ethan. But despite taking a punch and losing out on a job, Ethan says he’s do it all over again. He likes Libby and she deserves to be a mother, Ethan tells Bill. And with that, Ethan becomes even more likable while Bill hits an all-time low in this episode.

That “low” comes when Flora Banks, a young woman who participated in the study shows up at Bill’s office to let him know she’s pregnant. Bill denies her request to reveal the identity of her partner, citing the confidentiality agreement both parties signed and calls the pregnancy a “statistically inevitable accident.” But Virginia takes offense at Bill “pretending to have no responsibility” in the matter and when he’s out of the office, looks up the identity of Flora’s partner. It’s the hospital’s resident playboy, Austin (Teddy Sears).

There’s not a whole lot Virginia can do, as Bill refuses to hold himself responsible and Austin, well, in nine episodes of “Masters of Sex” we’ve learned he’s not one to stick around when things get messy. The least Virginia can do is offer Flora money from the study’s fund.

The “accident” does serve to highlight those “statistically inevitable” occurrences that can complicate an otherwise straightforward scientific study; like falling in love. When Virginia learns about Libby’s pregnancy from Ethan, she puts two and two together and realizes why Bill offered to pay her for sex. It wasn’t about the research, but the affair the two were having. And with that said, Virginia quits and goes on desk duty for Dr. DePaul (Julianne Nicholson).

It’s just a momentary break but with everything out in the open, it’ll be interesting when Bill and Virginia do reconnect to see what kind of parameters the two set for their “working” relationship. In the meantime, an alliance between Virginia and Dr. DePaul couldn’t come at a better time for the latter. On Virginia’s advice, the doctor tries to cozy up to the university chancellor, but it backfires on her when he assumes she’s making a pass at him. As tenacious as ever, Virginia suggests that DePaul court the people to whom the chancellor answers to.

While Virginia aligns herself with Dr. DePaul, Austin joins Margaret (Allison Janney) for a swim and the two take comfort in each other’s company. Like Bill, Margaret is finally confronted with the truth of Barton’s sexuality when she tells a prostitute about her husband woes. But after she getting an earful on the perils of divorce from her lady friends, what does she go from here?

“Fallout’s” heightened drama is tempered with a sense of relief, as several characters finally deal with the glaring realities we’ve been privy to these past nine episodes or so. Ornery and temperamental as ever, Bill remains an enigma only to be understood truly by Virginia. But understanding and accepting are two different things, a distinction Virginia makes clear to Bill when she walks out of his office for the last time. At least, for now.