‘Masters of Sex’ Breakdown: “Dirty Jobs”

SPOILERS ABOUND, so don’t screw around…

Season Two, Episode Four: “Dirty Jobs”

Written by Michelle Ashford; Directed by Michael Engler

In this week’s episode, things get a little messy. (Or should I say dirty?) Big secrets are revealed, Bill and Libby each find their breaking points, and life-changing decisions are made.

Quick Breakdown

The episode begins with a dream sequence, which is meant to show us that Virginia is starting to question her role in the study and in Bill’s life. In the dream, Bill tells her she isn’t qualified to work at his new hospital and says that on the application for the job, Virginia wrote “mistress” as her occupation.

Virginia wakes up to find herself in the hotel room with Bill. He’s on the couch reading and watching her sleep. He makes some jokes about how she sleeps with her mouth open, and Virginia quickly cuts him off, saying they don’t sleep or read here and that this isn’t vacation.

We then flip to Dr. Langham, who is also in a hotel but with his kids. As he goes to place this room service tray outside his door, he spots Bill and Virginia leaving the hotel. (This was foreshadowed in episode two when Dr. Langham mentioned his wife was staying in the same town as Bill and Virginia’s hotel.) Langham says nothing and watches them through his peephole.

In the parking lot, Virginia pushes Bill about getting Dr. Greathouse (the head of Bill’s new hospital) to bring her officially onboard as Bill’s research partner. Bill says it will take time. As he’s loading files into her trunk, he sees her diet pills, which she’s still been selling them to help supplement her income.

The next morning, Libby is preparing to host a lunch for the wives of Bill’s new co-workers. She tells Coral about an article focused on how to make men enjoy fatherhood more, which included advice like making sure you take the diaper pale out before he comes home from work. In the conversation, Coral mispronounces “ask” again, and Libby corrects her. (She still hasn’t gotten over that.)

Meanwhile, Virginia is accompanying Dr. DePaul to the doctor for a procedure. While she’s in, Virginia tries to sell diet pills to the nurse on duty. She seems to be more successful than in previous attempts.

Over at Bill’s hospital, he’s finding Virginia’s absence is causing trouble. One of his volunteers backs out of the study since there won’t be a woman present anymore. This causes Bill to push the issue with Dr. Greathouse, who says he’ll bring it up to the board.

Later on, Dr. Langham sees Virginia in the cafeteria and sits down to eat lunch with her. He quickly gets to talking about the hotel, explaining how he takes his kids there when he visits. He then confesses that he saw them. Virginia covers by saying they are working on publishing the study and have no place to work. Dr. Langham doesn’t push her too much, but he’s not fully buying it.

Meanwhile, Libby is hosting a lunch for other doctors’ wives. They want the scoop on the sex study, but Libby tries to brush it off saying, “It’s boring really.” Coral comes out with the baby, and one of the wives asks her how she got so good with children at such a young age. Libby cuts Coral off, saying the women don’t need her whole life story. Coral responds, “She asked,” pronouncing “asked” like Libby wants her to. (Burn!) But then one of the wives, holding the baby, spots lice on his head.

That night at the hotel, Virginia meets Bill in the bar and tells him that Dr. Langham saw them. She says she covered it, but Bill isn’t pleased and reminds her what he has to lose and that he’s a married man. They don’t stay, and Bill heads home early.

When he gets there, he finds the baby crying and Libby frantically trying to wash everything because of the lice. Libby blames Coral for bringing the lice into the house (even thought there’s no evidence of that). Bill actually tries to calm her down and is pretty nice for once. He tells her she doesn’t have to wash everything, that they just need to get the shampoo from the drug store.

The next day, Dr. DePaul is presenting her idea to an important visiting doctor who could provide funding and support for her program. Dr. DePaul is still having trouble with her speech (confusing words). Virginia helps the best she can and tries to push the doctor to the consider Dr. DePaul for a grant.

Over at Bill’s hospital, Betty is still continuing her charade of fake fertility treatments. Betty’s husband wants to move things along and offers to provide a sperm sample (assuming they are getting to that point in the process). Betty wants Bill to just tell her husband that he’s sterile — then it will all be over. Of course, Bill won’t do that and tells her she needs to tell him the truth.

Instead, Betty tells him she can’t have children but acts like it all just happened (so…not the whole truth). He’s clearly upset and, as they are leaving, insists they go back and settle up the bills for all the treatments she had, which will expose the full truth.

Back at the lice house, Libby gives Coral the medicated shampoo and insists she use it when she goes home. Coral claims she doesn’t have lice but takes the shampoo anyway.

As the study continues at the new hospital, Bill is running into issues and realizing how much Virginia helped (like warming up the dildo). Dr. Greathouse comes by to watch, which also frustrates Bill. Greathouse tells him that he spoke to the board about hiring Virginia but hasn’t heard anything back yet.

Dr. DePaul is working late, and so is Dr. Langham. He comes by to talk to her but mostly just launches into all his problems with his divorce. Dr. DePaul isn’t really in the mood, and she says if he’s going to keep talking, she’s going to need a drink. They get drunk in her office and start laughing and having a good time.

After quite a few drinks, Dr. Langham brings up Virginia and Bill’s secret (he didn’t buy her story at all), but he assumes Dr. DePaul already knows. Of course, she doesn’t and is clearly surprised.

The next morning when Coral comes in for work, Libby comments that her hair is exactly the same. Coral tells her she didn’t use the shampoo, that her hair costs her $4 a week, and that she didn’t want to ruin it. Libby is angry, but then Bill gets involved, saying it’s unlikely she has it since “negro hair is tightly coiled.” (He read an article about it.) Once again, Bill is taking Coral’s side over hers. (This isn’t going to go well.)

At the doctor’s office, Dr. DePaul and Virginia are talking in the waiting room. Dr. DePaul randomly admits that she once cheated in school, hoping this will make Virginia confess her secret about her affair with Bill. More than the actual affair itself, she seems upset that Virginia hasn’t hasn’t shared this gossip. But Virginia won’t do it and says, “Honestly, Lillian, I’m not that interesting.”


Meanwhile, Libby tries to force Coral into using the shampoo after Bill has left for work. Libby says it’s a trust issue and that now she has to wash it for her, or she’ll be fired. Coral gives in, and Libby washes her hair while trying to convince Coral how they need to be a team. Afterward, she gives her $4 to get her hair redone.

Dr. DePaul makes a big decision, meeting again with the doctor she was trying to recruit to help with her program. Instead, she gives him her project to use at his new research facility in Miami. She says her hospital doesn’t have the proper staff to make it happen.

Later, she tells Virginia the news, which upsets her greatly. Virginia can’t understand why she would do that after all the work they’ve done. Dr. DePaul tells her, “I didn’t go into medicine to see my name on a study.”

At Bill’s hospital, he tries to convince Dr. Greathouse to stop coming to his study by telling him that continuing to view the study might lead to engaging in homosexual activity. (Come on, Bill). Greathouse doesn’t buy it and not only shows up but also brings in a bunch of other doctors to observe (or, well, watch while they eat Chinese food).

This causes Bill to blow up at Greathouse in the hall. Bill tells him things are going to change — he can’t observe anymore, and he will hire Virginia. But Greathouse isn’t a pushover. He laughs Bill off and goes right back in to watch with his buddies. Bill gets even more irate and ends up throwing a punch at Greathouse and getting fired (again).

Bill comes home to find Dr. Langham there. He claims he has a patient he wants his advice on, but he’s actually there for other reasons. Dr. Langham asks Bill to go outside for a cigar, giving him some advice about failed marriages. He tells Bill, “We are the same” (which he said to Virginia in episode two). He also tells Bill that Dr. DePaul knows and that he needs to be careful or he could lose it all. Bill refuses to admit anything.

At another dinner table, Betty’s husband is angry at her for lying about her ability to have kids. But he has a bombshell himself, confessing that he actually met her first at the brothel (which she didn’t remember). He knew along who she was.

The next morning, Bill wakes up to Libby irate because she just got a phone call saying Bill was fired. She blows up at Bill because this is the second job he has lost in a few months and because she is always the last to know anything. Bill tells her she just has to believe in him.

The episode ends with Bill accepting a new job at a new hospital. As the camera pans out, we see the board is all black. He’s joined the staff at the “negro hospital.”



This week’s episode provided some great action and really moved the plot along. Bill and Virginia’s relationship is no longer a secret. Libby is getting more and more angry and acting out. Betty finally gave up her charade. And now Bill is about to start at a new hospital, which will provide some fascinating insight into the race issues of the period particularly in the medical field.

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

Best line of the night was Bill shouting at his secretary: “Old men masturbating!”

Libby’s blow up has been a long time coming and it was refreshing to see it.

So where did the lice come from?

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