SPOILERS ABOUND, so don’t screw around…
Season Two, Episode 12: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Written by Michelle Ashford; Directed by Adam Arkin
The second season finale finds Bill, Virginia, and Libby questioning the choices they’ve made and figuring out how to move forward, right as the country is preparing for JFK’s inauguration. Bill makes a decision to focus more on the work and not fame; Virginia gives up her kids; and Libby decides her current life isn’t enough.
The episode opens with Bill and Virginia continuing their work on impotence by using Bill as a subject. In a montage of hotel scenes, we learn they have tried focusing on nonsexual touching and have then slowly reintroduced sexual touching and sexual intercourse. The results seem to be positive. This time they are actually focusing on the work: writing down notes, discussing approaches as they continue. This also lets us know a few weeks have passed since the last episode.
At the office, they are shown a rough cut of their documentary for CBS. The network is thrilled with the product and wants to air it, but Bill isn’t pleased – they’ve cut out even more of the language, and the whole thing is basically innuendo. Virginia also sees the problems but still thinks airing it will be in their best interest. Especially after the PR guy tells them that the other doctor in California is about to publish a book on the topic called Man Sex.
Virginia is having other troubles, as well. After having the kids for six weeks in Europe, her ex-husband wants to see them more often. His new wife loves the kids and is good with them. He tells Virginia that his new wife can spend more time with them than either of them can.
Virginia is shaken by this and doesn’t want to give him more time with the kids. She goes to visit the divorce attorney in the office and confesses to him that she doesn’t actually have a signed custody agreement with her ex-husband because it wasn’t really a problem at the time. She thinks if she sends the attorney to her ex, it will scare him and he’ll sign the papers for their current custody arrangement.
This backfires and her ex hires his own attorney. He tells Virginia he’ll take her to court and that all her work as a sex research and her affair with Bill with come out.
Meanwhile, Libby has been awaiting Robert’s return from the South. We learn he’s been gone since they had sex. When she sees him at the CORE office, he is polite but very professional.
This leads Libby to confronting Robert at his apartment at 2 a.m. He tells her he wants to apologize for that night and that he might have done it just for the danger of it. But she questions that and says what if he did it because he wanted her. They then proceed to remove each other’s clothes (she came only in a nightgown and coat) and have sex again.
Both Libby and Virginia are confronting big life decisions. They see each other outside the office, and Virginia tells Libby about the custody issue (leaving out the part about the affair). Libby, surprisingly, tells Virginia that maybe that wouldn’t be so bad as long as the kids are happy. Libby then confesses that her own kids aren’t enough and that she wants something more out of life: “They can’t be the only thing or I will die.” She then asks Virginia, “What if we both just let go everything we thought our lives would be?”
Other couples are facing their own issues. Lester and Barbara have been seeing each other, but they haven’t attempted sex due to their personal issues. They go see movies together – including Pillow Talk, which Lester hated. They then decide to accept it and just have fun with each other, even sleeping together in the same bed. When Lester tells Bill this, Bill snaps back that it won’t last – that you can’t remove sex completely from the relationship. “Sex is like breathing,” he says.
Virginia decides to offer her ex-husband the same situation they have now but reversed. She’ll get them every Wednesday and every other weekend, and he’ll have them the rest of the time. She doesn’t want to risk the work and thinks once the CBS documentary airs, people will see her work as legitimate – she can get take him to court then and get custody back.
What she doesn’t know is that Bill has a plan of his own. He contacts Barton (a nice reappearance from Beau Bridges), who gets him a copy of this other doctor’s book so that he can read it. He also has Barton get the book to a news outlet, who in turn does a TV special on the book (meaning their own special will no longer be original). He doesn’t tell anyone he’s sabotaging documentary.
At the office, the PR guy comes by to tell them what has happened and that CBS doesn’t want to air the documentary. He also has a cut of the special on the California doctor, and as they watch it, they realize that Ethan (from season one) is the doctor’s assistant – which Bill didn’t know.
Virginia breaks down for multiple reasons. Her whole plan has fallen apart, and she’s given her kids up for nothing. She also blames herself for this other doctor doing all this research now that she knows Ethan is involved. Bill goes to comfort her and feels bad since he caused this all to happen. But he did it for the work. He tells her all they can do now is get back to work.
The season ends with them doing just that. Bill knows from reading the book that the other doctor doesn’t have what they have, and if they have more time, they will still be ahead of the game. In the final scene, Bill and Virginia sit down with Barbara and Lester and offer them their advice on how to overcome impotence.
This final scene also highlights the idea of working together. Bill has, perhaps, accepted Virginia as his equal.
In the finale, Libby wonders, “What if we all started living the lives we have and not the lives we thought we would have?” This, in many ways, is the central idea of season two. Each character has been forced to face where they actually are and not where they think they are. Virginia and Bill have faced their personal affair and how they want the work to continue. Libby has faced the fact that Bill is having an affair with Virginia (she admits it in her final scene) and that she needs more and maybe Robert is that more.
The season chronicled a rocky time for Masters and Johnson, but as the season comes to a close, the focus shifts back to the actual work and leaves us with a hopeful outlook, which is partly enforced by the JFK footage. I look forward to the journey continuing next season.
Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…
I still feel Dr. Langham and Flo’s storyline doesn’t seem to matter much or connect to the rest of the show. In this episode, we learned about her family’s political connections and that her family would see Dr. Langham as just a dumb blonde.
Best scene: Libby and Virginia talking about their life choices and Libby telling her the kids aren’t enough.
Betty didn’t get enough screen time in the finale.
Ethan’s return was quite a surprise.