Christian Borle as Frank Masters. (photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME)
On the flip side of Bill sits Frank, his healed, humane foil who attempts to connect emotionally by taking his brother to an AA meeting. Bill walks out, and now that I reconsider that fact, I wonder if it’s because he realized his own alcoholism or because he’s an emotionally stunted rage-baby-man. On principle, I was like, “NO FUCKING WAY, NOT ANOTHER NEW CHARACTER” when Frank and his kind-yet-strong wife showed up last week. But I’m coming around, particularly after his wife inspires Libby to re-examine her marriage and confront Bill.
Speaking of which, Libby’s story is finally getting interesting. It looks as though she didn’t work up enough courage to confront Bill about his drinking, which may or may not be a point of confrontation that seems more manageable to her than his possible philandering (can’t decided if she knows yet or not). But she did make some headway on her racist biases, via Robert. She wants to help by testifying against the white assholes who committed last week’s race crime, but when she nervously stumbles over her words, Robert asks her to hold off from going to the police with testimony. Based on an odd sequence of events towards the end of the episode, it seems as though Libby runs to Robert when she can’t muster the nerve to talk to her own husband. (I absolutely still think these two are going to get together sooner than later.)
In the end, we’re left with a triangle of dysfunction: emotional scars, substance abuse, and sexual impotence are tied together in a way we understand now, in 2014. But Masters and Johnson just may have been the first to realize just that 50 years ago, by using themselves as guinea pigs.