‘Masters of Sex’ Breakdown: “Blackbird”

SPOILERS ABOUND, so don’t screw around…

Season Two, Episode Six: “Blackbird”

Written by Eileen Myers; Directed by Keith Gordon

In this week’s episode, “Blackbird,” Bill tries to save his study by lying about his study, Virginia faces Dr. DePaul’s failing health, and Libby’s conflict with Coral comes to a head.

Quick Breakdown

The episode opens with Bill and Virginia having sex and Bill attempting to kiss her. Virginia quickly pulls away and reminds him that they don’t kiss. Remember, they are having sex just for the study… (Yeah, right.)

The next day, Dr. DePaul gets radiation treatment and is somewhat relieved by the technician’s coldness. Afterward, Virginia argues with the nurse to change Dr. DePaul’s appointments to mornings because she’s stronger then. The nurse says there aren’t any appointments, but Virginia won’t give up. She then spots the nurse she sold diet pills to in a previous episode. The nurse, who has has lost weight and is pleased for what Virginia did for her, gets her morning appointments.

Back at her job, Virginia tries to convince a black nurse to participate in the sex study — they are still in great need of participants. The nurse wants to but tells Virginia that Hendricks (the head of the hospital) forbid the staff to participate in Bill’s study.

Bill confronts Hendricks about this. Hendricks tells him he thought he’d bring his own subjects and that he doesn’t want him to use black participants. Hendricks tries to get Bill to see the connection to black people’s mistreatment by researchers and doctors in the medical field, but Bill argues it would help move things forward. Both are trying to use each other, but it isn’t working out.

Over at Betty’s, she’s planning a party for Gene to celebrate the fact that his pretzels are going into a wider market. Gene tells her not to do so much and then brings up the kid issue again. He tells her that he doesn’t want to adopt and that she’s enough for him.

At home, Libby watches as Robert comes to pick Coral up. He does a little bow as he opens the car door for her. Libby wonders aloud to Bill if they put on this show just for her. (Yes, Libby everything is about you.) Bill calls her a “peeping Tom” and tells her to stop watching them. Libby then brings up safety again, and Bill says she’s being ridiculous and needs to fix this issue she’s having with Coral — or he will.

The next day, Bill and Virginia seek out a black reporter to try to push the subject of having black participants in the study. They hope publishing a story about the hospital refusing to allow black participants will help. The reporter points to the all the stereotypes of black people involving sexuality and hopes Bill’s study might bring out the truth. Bill says they will go where the research goes.

We then flip to Betty and Helen having sex at Helen’s place. Betty has to go back to Gene, but he tries to make Helen feel better by offering to get her an apartment. “Are you proposing that I be your mistress?” Helen asks. Betty tries to convince her it would be a good plan, that they could both benefit from Gene’s money and Helen could forget all about trying to date Gene’s friend Al. Helen’s not so sure.

During another treatment of radiation, Dr. DePaul asks the technician what will happen to her as things progress. He tells her the truth and it isn’t very pretty: that, by the end, she won’t know what’s happening.

When she comes out, she doesn’t wait for Virginia and just goes out the door. Virginia chases her down, and Dr. DePaul tells her she’s done with treatment. She doesn’t want radiation anymore, and she doesn’t want to fight with Virginia. Then she takes a taxi home instead of letting Virginia drive her.

That night, Helen and Al show up at Betty and Gene’s unannounced and tell them they are going to elope. Betty is not pleased, and when Al kisses Helen, Betty shouts at them to stop and tells them they are being vulgar.


Meanwhile, Virginia tells Bill about Dr. DePaul. (Virginia was still the only person to know she was sick.) Virginia tells Bill  that she “didn’t see her coming,” meaning she didn’t expect to let Dr. DePaul in. She admits they’ve become close friends — and Virginia doesn’t have many of those. She’s crying, and Bill comforts her by kissing her in an intimate way (not for the study).

The next morning, Coral arrives at Libby’s, and Libby tells her that she checked with a friend and got Robert’s police record. (Come on, Libby.) He’s been arrested three times — for silly things, Coral says. She tells Coral that she doesn’t want Robert coming to the house anymore, that she’s worried about Coral. Coral is quick to tell her that someone else will drive her from now on.

At Betty’s, Gene accuses her of liking Al after her display the night before. She tells him that she hates Al and doesn’t want to see him again. Gene then meets with Al to tell him Betty doesn’t want him at the party, but Al has a revelation himself: He saw Helen and Betty kissing at the restaurant in the last episode.

The reporter comes back to Bill to ask questions about his background. She’s researched his childhood, education, and job history, and she tells him that his story is one her people can relate to because he’s had to fight. She then starts pressing him about his recent firings, calling him “estranged from the white community.” Bill gets very uncomfortable and doesn’t want any of that to be part of the story.

Virginia goes to see Dr. DePaul at her house and offers to do errands for her. Dr. DePaul asks if Virginia can give an envelope with directions for her death to her family. She wants her body donated to science but knows her parents will want her buried in their family plot. She wants Virginia to make sure it happens.

Over at Libby’s, Coral lies by saying that her aunt is coming to pick her up instead of Robert. But Robert waits down the block, not in front of the house. Coral walks down to meet him, but Libby follows her and finds out. She doesn’t, however, confront her there.

Instead, Libby packs up the baby and goes to Coral’s building. When she gets of the car, she scrapes her leg on the door. She doesn’t know which apartment is Coral’s, but she finds Robert in the lobby. In the course of their conversation, the truth comes out that Robert is Coral’s brother — not her boyfriend. Robert is confused why Coral would say that, and he tries to help Libby with her leg, which is bleeding at this point. He wipes her leg, which makes Libby uncomfortable. Libby gives him money to give to Coral and asks him to tell her that she’s fired.

Meanwhile, Bill meets with the reporter’s boss and tries to make him nervous about publishing the story. He lies and says they’ve found differences between blacks and whites in terms of sexuality — and that if Bill publishes his findings, it won’t be good for the black movement. The newspaper guy calls him out and says he’s lying.

Before the party, Gene confronts Betty about what Al told him. He asks her to just tell the truth, repeatedly asking, “Who are you?” She admits that she once loved Helen. He says everything she’s said to him has been a lie. (Not sure Betty is going to get out of this one.)

At Dr. DePaul’s, Virginia and her share a bottle of wine and talk about boys and falling in love. Dr. DePaul says how she’s never had closeness with a man. But he tells Virginia that she has that with Bill, and that Bill loves her.

Later, Virginia puts Dr. DePaul to bed and leaves. While she’s gone, Dr. DePaul takes an overdose of sleeping pills. Virginia comes back a little later because she forgot the envelope she was asked to give Dr. DePaul’s parents and finds her dead.

After Bill’s failed attempt with the newspaper, he talks with Hendricks. Bill is upset about misrepresenting his work in an attempt to squash the story. He tells Hendricks he can’t work in a hospital anymore where he is beholden to other people’s agendas. Hendricks understands and tells him to be out by the next day.

He then goes to Virginia’s to tell her the news, but discovers a man there with her kids. He says Virginia isn’t home (she’s with Dr. DePaul), but that he’s Virginia boyfriend. (What!? They apparently met on the night of the big fight in the hotel lobby.) Bill is clearly shaken by this and goes home to Libby saying, “I’m not feeling well.”

But who is? And that’s where they left us this week.



This season has been pretty action-packed, as each episode changes things up pretty drastically.

Bill has now quit another hospital and is setting out on his own. We saw him hit a new low this week when he attempted to lie about the findings of his study to manipulate the newspaper, which backfired. He’s also been getting closer and closer to Virginia and this week they shared a intimate kiss that was followed by him finding out she’s been dating someone for months. Where does he go from here? Where do they go?

Virginia realized how much Dr. DePaul meant to her, but it was nearly too late. How will DePaul’s death affect Virginia? And then there’s Libby and her misplaced anger. She’s now fired Coral, but seems to be a little turned on by Robert. Will she finally admit that her actions have been about her lack of affection from Bill and not about Robert and Coral? Only time will tell.

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

Best scene: Virginia putting Dr. DePaul to bed.

Not a huge fan of having Dr. DePaul kill herself. She deserved a better ending.

Virginia has a boyfriend! Great surprise!

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