Masters of Sex – “Catherine” (season 1, episode 5)
“Catherine” starts out with a fantastic comedic scene. Masters is interviewing a couple about their sex life, as he normally does, and the couple seem to be generally okay with how their life is currently. They’re young, newly married, healthy, and pretty darn good looking, so of course they want a baby together. Masters asks what kind of methods have they tried and not tried, and they respond that they just sleep together and pray to God for all he can do. “But we fear its not in God’s plan,” the woman says. Getting personal, as Masters does, he asks what positions they’ve tried. The couple looks dumbfounded; all they do is simply lay together and pray to God that they want a child. They truly believe that if they pray for it, wish for it, or even think about it enough, then God will simply make it happen.
At first, the scene plays for laughs and shows us that these are the kinds of people Virginia and Bill are dealing with. But that notion of God having any sort of power on a single person’s thoughts coming true is not only laughable to Masters in the beginning, it transcends to him and all the characters throughout “Catherine.” The theme sits subtly in the background of everyone’s mind, particularly Masters’ once the episode finishes. As comedic and funny as that first scene played, by the end of the episode it could be considered depressing because by the end of the episode, Libby has tragically lost her child.
Saying “her child” is the right choice of words. When dealing with the horrible ordeal, Masters puts up his doctor-to-patient facade on his saddened wife when they both know the outcome of what’s happening there in the emergency room together. He tries to hear a heartbeat in her pregnant stomach but keeps telling her they’ll try again later once he doesn’t hear anything. He leaves the room and calls for Virginia’s assistance. He holds Libby’s hand, but not for long. Sadly for him, Masters can’t successful put up such a wall between him and his wife, not in a time like this when all she needs is his hand to hold. Right before the surgery, his wife asks if he can perform it instead of Dr. Haas. She tells him that she wants him to lose the baby as well, so she doesn’t have to feel alone.
“Catherine” focuses a lot on parents and how they view their children. Virginia’s son begins to rebel against her, demanding that she stop working as much so she can be more fun like dad. He eventually runs away while in the hospital, upset that he wasn’t given the day of cherry pie and ice cream like his mother promised the night before. Ethan Haas finds her crying by her lonesome and does his best to help her situation. She reveals that her ex-husband didn’t even want children when they first got married, it was her dream. And for what? For her to be criticized and to feel exhausted after trying the best she can to be a mother? She knows that when her ex drops off the kids at the end of a long weekend that he’s relieved. He doesn’t want them the way she wants them and yet she’s punished for it. She claims that children don’t want just the cool parent and the stick in the mud, they want both. In a nice gesture, and sure to be a nice dynamic, Ethan offers his support by saying he wouldn’t mind taking her son out to throw a ball around or whatever. Understandably, Virginia states that his offer is sweet but it could prove to be a bother between the both of them given their history. He lets her know that he’s actually dating Provost Scully’s daughter, a relationship he’s beginning to really warm up to, next to Scully’s own optimistic expectations.
Masters’ God-complex doesn’t extend to Ethan’s or Virginia’s story to make the episode feel whole. God and children is woven within “Catherine,” causing our characters to confront questions and demons that they don’t want to think about whatsoever. At the end of the episode, Masters shows no sign of actual distress in front of Virginia, even though she’s well aware of the tragedy that happened the night before. When she brings it up, he reveals a fear he’s had since Libby stood up with blood on her dress: maybe he wished that upon her due to his indifferent feelings of having children. God’s apparent power scares Masters as he, on some level, plays God daily. When he begins to break down and cry in front of Virginia, he tells her to close her eyes as that’s the only kind of control he has right now.
- What an incredibly powerful hour for a show in its sixth episode of the first season. If Masters of Sex is able to pull episodes like “Catherine” off this quickly, I’m excited to see what’s down the road.
- Lizzy Caplan’s role was fairly small this episode, and understandably so, but her lines about divorce and her parental realizations to Ethan were nothing short of amazing work. In fact, all actors were incredible this episode.
- Who knew that Ethan could find some sympathy from the audience after being such a meat head earlier in the season. Honestly, I’m enjoying it.
- Sorry for missing last week’s episode! Here’s a short review of it: It was good, not the show’s best, but still fairly solid.