Masters of Sex Finale Recap

Masters of Sex Season 3 Finale Recap: Arrested Development

Talk about uneven! In its third season, the ordinarily extraordinary Masters of Sex careened between the sublime (“Party of Four”) and the ridiculous (the less said about “Monkey Business,” the better). But at least in its season finale, the Showtime drama wasn’t, er, messing around. Not only did the hour deliver the Bill/Libby showdown we’ve long craved, it also marked a major turning point in Bill and Virginia’s on-again/off-again relationship. How major? Read on…

DECISIONS, DECISIONS | As “Full Ten Count” began, Virginia was dodging Dan’s phone calls and leaving Tessa and Lisa in her father’s care so that she could take a trip. But “I’m not fleeing,” she insisted, “I’m just clearing my head for a few days.” Alas, she didn’t make it as far as the front door before Libby showed up to tell her about Bill’s situation with the Daughtry family. “It always comes down to the two of us,” Mrs. Masters sighed, “doesn’t it, Gin, the two that can right the ship?” Hey, when she’s right, she’s right.

Abandoning her plan to run away and think, Virginia headed for the office, where she informed Bill that no, in spite of his intentions to defend himself against the Daughtrys’ accusations of impropriety with a minor, he would do no such thing, he would settle, and fast — and using his own funds, not the clinic’s. For the sake of their work and his family, “Libby and I are aligned on this,” she added.

In response, Bill — as determined as ever to win back Virginia — revealed that he was dropping the M.D. from his name on their new book so that they could be seen as absolute equals. Which was about as nice as it was manipulative. And right about then, who should arrive but Dan, freshly divorced and harboring no desire for Virginia to give up the work that so fulfilled her. However, “I would ask — insist, in fact — that I mean as much” as the research, he said. In spite of this irresistible pitch, Virginia allowed him to “take [his] broken heart and go.”

OH, GOD! | Almost immediately, Virginia regretted her decision, because Nora conned Bill into making things “right” between them by helping out with her rent — so that she and Ronald could get Masters and Johnson arrested for pandering and promoting prostitution! By the time Dan bailed out Virginia, she had well and truly reconsidered her options, and was more than ready to divorce George and dump Bill to marry him. As for Bill…

When at last Libby made it to the police station, she was a combo platter of pissed over his “recklessness” and crushed since Paul had hastily left town. In other words, she was in no mood to indulge her spouse as he unburdened himself by confessing that he’d been having an affair with Virginia for ages. “I know this,” Mrs. Masters said, incredulous. “I have known this for years.” She even admitted that she and her husband’s mistress had made a pact to keep the Masters family intact.

When finally Libby – having sacrificed all that she had — couldn’t listen to another word about how she deserved a “real marriage,” she informed Bill that neither would she be posting his bail, nor would he be welcome at home. So there!

EXIT STAGE RIGHT | Meanwhile, Virginia was doing her damnedest to get the hell outta Dodge. First, she cleared out her office — and socked Nora with a box along the way — then Dan obtained her father’s blessing and slipped an engagement ring on her finger… just as the phone rang. Guess who. At the police station, Bill was in the middle of confessing that he loved Virginia and always had when he noticed that she was wearing Dan’s ring. She didn’t want the work, the success, the accomplishments more than she wanted to be happy, she argued. And if Bill loved her as much as he swore he did, he’d let her go.

At the same time, the publicist from Little Brown had gotten wind of Masters and Johnson’s arrest — mere hours before the press conference to announce their new release. If Betty didn’t get them both back to the clinic in 30 minutes, he threatened, he’d tell all those reporters that Bill enjoyed the company of young boys when he and Virginia weren’t running a brothel. Knowing that Virginia would never let that happen — it would sink everything! — Bill jumped in a cab to stop her from catching her flight with Dan. At last, he had a way to get her back!

IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY… | A funny thing happened on Bill’s way to the airport: He gave up. He had the cabbie pull over and let him out. He was gonna make it in time to prevent Virginia from leaving with Dan, and… he didn’t. Even as she was about to board the plane, she kept looking back, prompting Dan to wonder aloud if she was afraid Bill was coming or afraid he wasn’t. But for once, he wasn’t.

IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS… | Now sleeping with Jonathan, Barton planned to cook his lover dinner at home for his birthday — until Betty said no, no, a thousand times, no, you have to take him out, and made the boys a reservation at a fancy restaurant. And bless his heart, Barton did make progress. Though he didn’t inform the maître d’ that it was his companion’s birthday, he did hold Jonathan’s hand in public. Baby steps.

OK, opinion time! What did you think of the finale — and the season as a whole? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. Blurgh says:

    I think Bill is getting everything he deserves. I’m glad Virginia left him. And I hope Libby realizes that she can have a wonderful family with Paul.

    I loved that Libby laughed at Bill when he told her about the affair. And I love that she didn’t bail him out.

    • A says:

      Libby is my favorite character. Caitlin FitzGerald is a great actress. I think the ship has sailed with Paul, but I hope she finds the happiness she deserves with someone else.

  2. S says:

    This was a very disappointing season with just an OK finale to lead into Season 4. I am happy that they tried to soften Bill Masters this year, and make his character have more dimensions to him, though it probably ended up making him be less sharp and on top of things, but in doing so they also made Virginia a slightly unlikable and often times selfish character. I think everyone deserves happiness, and if Virginia wants Dan Logan then fine, if she wants to get more from the practice then go for it, but her approach this year was to just be hostile with Bill at every single turn and think she is always right and not see other sides to things. I know he isn’t easy, and I know on this show with the timeline it’s really been 10 years that they have been together, but she was on her high horse too much. Bill is no angel. He is just as bad at times. These are 2 very flawed characters, which does make a TV show run, but they have to make us want to root for these characters again. I haven’t done that in awhile. I root for Betty and her soon-to-be new child and relationship, I root for Dr. Scully (Beau Bridges) and all the progress he has made with coming out, I mean the dude went out on a dinner date and held the guy’s hand, that’s such a great journey for him. Both Betty and Barton have stayed flawed at times but also human and humble in their struggles. I need the 2 lead characters to do this next year. Because this was a very uneven and extremely underwhelming third season.

    • Blurgh says:

      I agree. It’s really hard to root for either one of them. I’m rooting for the supporting characters: Barton, Libby, Betty, Jane, and Lester. And I hope that Allison Janney will come back as Margaret. She is the best!

      • sue says:

        don’t you thing Libby has no role to play anymore if she leaves Bill? I really like her but she is in the pictures because of Bill.

  3. JK says:

    The only saving grace this season was Dan & Virginia’s and Betty & Helen’s relationships. I did like Libby’s affair. I felt like I was “hate watching” these last 3 episodes.

  4. toast says:

    lol look at all the viewers hatred towards Bill. Pathetic i must say. I for once hope Bill breaks off with Virginia but in the future Virginia would regretted her decision to leave Bill. Bill was abused so much as a child and people take that for granted. These viewers don’t know the emotional consequences it would have to someone even after 30 years later.

    • Blurgh says:

      I have sympathy for him being abused. But I’m not sure how childhood abuse correlates to cheating on his wife for over a decade.

    • xclampa says:

      I think his slow “emotional thawing” is a realistic approach to that kind of domestic abuse. Just *would not* recommend Gini sticks with him as a lover, or partner, if she was my friend. They work together beautifully, let them continue only on a preofessional level. Before Bill can be with anyone in a healthy relationship outside work, he needs to… do work. He’s never going to be “emotionally expressive”, but he can be a good, kind partner. This work should be done with a therapist, not in a relationship. Some wounds need treatment from professionals. There’s real PTSD there, as well as heartbreak and expectations, and vulnerability exploration needed to be done.

      • debcarmose says:

        Yes, thank you. He’s always been somewhat isolated though strong and he acts as though other people ‘just don’t matter’ – the punching people, the nasty sarcasm whenever his mother was around (grow the hell up!), the total obliviousness to Libby. I find it very difficult to view him as a sympathetic character, although he is obviously very brave in his work and he has moments of compassion, with patients. But there is a real entitlement and arrogance there. He needs Libby for – well, I’m not quite sure why he needs her, actually. Stability? A housekeeper? Mother for his kids? But then he walks all over her and gets mad at her in response to hearing of her pact with Virginia. Turning the blame back on her – typical abusive behavior. I just wanted to strangle him at that moment.

        He does have a bit of kindness in him, that is struggling to get out. But I’m not sure I can see him relating to anyone as his equal or friend. I get the sense he sees most of the people around him as objects to manipulate and use to suit his own needs. Not sure if he can ever really alter that. It would be nice to see some genuine moral growth in him but I am doubtful it will happen.

    • LK says:

      They cant really have them break it off unless they are gonna start deviating from the historical record completely… They should be getting close to the point where Bill & Libby break up and he marries Virginia… though this part of their lives is not nearly as interesting.

    • Romi says:

      Like Virginia would be an angel…this last season all I could think of her is how an oportunist she was. She married George again to make her mistake of gettin pregnant “less wrong”. She said goodbye to Logan but then when things got bad she ran to him and got engaged, just out of resentment and because she doesn’t want to be alone and she’s too much affected about what her mother told her. She even left the research she built for 10 years, now that the clinic is about to close, to fly to Mexico.

      • Romi says:

        The real Johnson was no better, though: she married Masters because of the study and convenience and it’s been said that she didn’t love him anymore at that time.

  5. Jim borden says:

    Quit watching after episode two, third season. The show is no longer interesting.

  6. Jen Here says:

    The entire series has been loosely based on the ‘research’ and relationship between William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series takes it into the 21st century by introducing topics such as racism and sexual prejudice. The script could have been written by any fiction writer. The extreme to which the series goes to titillate gets really annoying. The actors aren’t likable characters at all. They are ruthless, selfish. self-serving narcissists and that may just be the one true representation of Masters and Johnson that the series offers.

  7. Courtney says:

    As far as living up to its potential it did not. This series is still amazing at least to me. I love the actors and the characters but as a whole I gave the season a B. It still held my attention and I wanted to watch it each week. I am excited to see Virginia have to come back to Bill for once instead of him always Chasing her! It should be interesting to see how this plays out..will she actually get on the plane and if not..what stops her? If it isn’t Bill or Betty or the work or the kids..then what? It isn’t like they have cell phones, so she is going to have to change her mind on her own. She wanted Bill to come to her so maybe that will play into it.
    The acting as usual at least for me is always spot on but the writing MUST improve for next season and the sexiness of the show must return. I want more of the research and more of the Bill and Gini that we love..instead of this angry bitter Virginia who is mad at the world. And can we please have some revelation about the Tessa Rape and something about Henry..if they are going to put these storylines in they need to finish them out?
    For me this show is still my favorite despite it’s problems this season. I am as confident as I am with GOT that one misguided season doesn’t mean the next will be the same!
    Have to give credit though to the affair revelation..didn’t see that coming. He was still doing it for purely selfish reasons but I loved that scene.

  8. Lara says:

    I don’t know if I just struggle to be critical of shows that I love, but I enjoyed season 3. Reading some of the reviews, which were saying that story lines were just dropped and whatnot, in retrospect, this is definitely true. For example the children’s story lines just ended, and even the children themselves… like where is Bill and Libby’s daughter?? and Where is Virginia’s new baby?? Anyway, I suppose I just kind of let the show take me where it wants to go, and assume that the children and whatnot are just active in another part of their lives which is not being shown at the time. So I will just say my opinion on what’s happening, not picking apart the show at all, just a general thoughts and feelings kind of thing… One of the things I really admired about Martin Sheen was his ability to take a character that is extremely reserved, and shows very little emotion and manage to show that Bill has a complex emotional life all bottled up inside him. Bill always seemed to be eminently capable and strong, but this season has shown him as being very weak which I have struggled with a bit because I liked the silent and strong Bill, hopefully we will get more of that in season 4. I don’t agree with another comment posted here that ‘Bill is getting everything he deserves’ Why is Bill the bad one? Because he doesn’t love Libby? Because he was unfaithful? Yes, these are things that are not the most moral of actions, but having his name and reputation completely decimated for falsely being accused of pedophilia and prostitution? Losing his wife and his lover and his kids and his job and business and book? No, this is not what he deserves. And lets not forget, Libby has been unfaithful too, as has Virginia.. None of these characters are blame free, just as no one is in real life. I feel that it is shocking how pretty much everyone turned their backs on Bill in his hour of need. I think that was awful of both Libby and Virginia. Bill may not always be as kind or thoughtful as he should be, but he tries and he always helps them out when they need him most. And after EVERYTHING he has done for Virginia, and they have worked on together, she is prepared to just throw it all away so she can get married??!! I mean, what the? That was terrible. I did agree with another post saying Virginia has been totally disagreeable and confrontational to Bill all season. This is accurate and to be honest her interactions and responses to Bill were pretty much totally unfair and I am a little bit mad at her right now. I will end with saying that Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald and Martin Sheen are at the top of their game, and are completely compelling actors. I love this show and I love their work.

    • debcarmose says:

      Libby’s the most likable really. Although Virginia is ok. But yeah, whatever happened to the work? The earlier episodes interwove the drama and excitement of starting a new daring project with the personal and love lives of the characters. You didn’t like everybody all the time but you felt that they were BRAVE! I miss that inspirational element.

  9. Nily says:

    The season finale was great. Left us on our toes, wondering what will happen to Bill, Libby, Virgina and most importantly to the clinic. I hope they will continue next season from this point and not jump too much ahead. I didn’t like the idea that Bill has to pay the Doughtrys for helping their son. I understand why Libby left Paul. She could have been happy with him but she had to give her family the time to heal. One thing that bothered me this season was that the majority of the time was spent on the charecters’ personal lives and not enough time left for the actual work. I wasn’t happy to see Bill working alone without Virginia. Her point of view was made clear but she was not present most of the time. And even when she was, it was a bit shallow in my opinion. Hope to see more next season.

  10. Rose H says:

    It’s Michael Sheen, not Martin Sheen. Martin is the father of Charlie Sheen, entirely different Sheen family.

  11. Simone says:

    i think its due time Bill understand that his actions has consequences and that he realizes he cant treat people any how he wants to and expects them to stick around and for as long as he would like them too accepting little or nothing at all. I know he has his demands dealing with but don’t we all?

  12. Macint0sh says:

    I’m still not clear on when or why do you and left Virginia. Did I just fall asleep during that part or can someone fill me in?