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Masters of Sex - Blackbird - Review : "This Needs to Stop"

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Please note: English is not my first language.

"Blackbird". This is a reference to Paul McCartney's song, written shortly after Martin Luther King's death, a song in honor of civil rights. In an interview, he said: "I remembered this whole idea of 'you were only waiting for this moment to arise'", and that's what it feels like in this episode. This is also why I chose this title for the review, this is a line from Bill and this line resonates throughout the episode. Last week, I said that "change [was] around the corner," and the show continues with this idea. All characters find themselves confronted with their truths and the series develops this side of each character in different ways, which makes everything even more pleasant (and better). This episode has an "everything is falling apart" side, bringing an end to all the storylines. Everything in the show is about to change, there is a point of no-return for all the characters. The writers aren't fooling around and do everything to make this season meaningful. The characters' development feels completely natural. Nothing is rushed. Everything is given its appropriate time and place. Here, they find themselves confronted with their truths, their lies and fears. It's time for them to make a decision.

First, we have Libby, a character who has changed a lot between the first and the second season. Right now, she's loathsome. I used to like her, but now I hate her, but I don't think they've destroyed her character. On the contrary, I think the made her a deeper character than what we first thought. Plus, it was a well-made introduction to this season's theme. Libby is racist. Her racism has turned into obsession. She is jealous of Coral; jealous to see her with Robert - not that she wants to be with him, but she wants to have this kind of relationship with Bill. She wants affection. She wants to be happy. I think she knows she won't have this with Bill, and this why she wants to destroy what Coral has.
Caitlin FitzGerald is impressive in this role. We find her looking out the window as Robert picks up Coral. As she observes, she folds her laundry. She's standing with a look of fear and anger on her face. She glared at them, her hazel eyes held disgust and hatred. She envies them. On her face, we can see fervently reads on her face of fear, disgust, hatred and envy. Bill notices her multi-emotional face, and tries to understand what's going on. He realizes that his wife became obsessed with Coral and Robert, and orders her to stop.

The "chase scene" was my favorite scene. The scene was well directed, produced, written, and acted. Instead of being shot traditionally it was shot with a hand-held camera, it felt more realistic to me. Libby learns that Coral lied. Robert is not her boyfriend, but her brother. Libby's world collapses. She no longer feels safe - well, she never did... Robert notices that Libby has scratched her leg and leans up on his knees to check the wound. The scene was quite erotic - I don't think I'm over-interpreting. We see that Libby's obsession is a mixture of fascination and hatred. Caitlin FitzGerald perfectly captured her character's angst, vulnerability and hatred. The show never ceases to surprise me with this storyline. The fact that she bumped into him in the hallway at night raises a question: Did she follow them all day long?

Then, we have Betty. She knew that Helen's return would cause problems in her marriage, but she didn't think it would happen so quickly. There are times in our life when we hide a secret (probably not as big as hers), and after a while, unexpectedly, the truth comes out. That's what Betty lives in this episode. Helen is Betty's true love. They are reunited. Their love is visible from a mile away, it is difficult to hide. When Betty learns that Helen asked Al to marry her, she loses control of her emotions. She shows her anger. She lets her true self out and then hides it. At first Gene thought she had feelings for Al, but the conversation he had with Al opened his eyes to the truth. He confronts her to discover the truth. I didn't think the truth would come out so soon, nor that they would have this discussion. I'm really curious now, about what's going to happen. It seems clear that she will lose everything, don't you think?

Another storyline ended. As Lillian's disease progresses, she gives in to her disease even more and becomes a slave to it. Her disease is killing her rapidly. She knows that she won't be herself anymore. Today, she asked doctors to stop her cancer treatment. Her friendship with Virginia was one of the strengths of this season. The two characters are so different, they have experienced so much, know each other well and complement each other. If Lillian is not close to her family, she knows she has someone to lean on, to fall back on when she encounters a problem, and this someone is Virginia. Virginia deeply loves Lillian, she's her best friend. They both don't have many friends, and that's probably what brought them together. They have forged a strong bond, and how everything comes together was insanely satisfying, especially the last minutes.
Lillian had enough. The scenes in the hospital were well-filmed. The setting of the scene is dark, cold and gloomy, with a low-key lighting setup. It emphasizes her despair and brings us to the heartbreaking "I'm done." At first, Virginia does not accept Lillian's decision because you know, Ginny is an optimist, a fighter. But, what's the point of fighting here? Live a few more days without being herself? Then, Virginia breaks down in tears in Bill arms at the hotel. She tries to understand Lillian's choice, their friendship, and begins to accept that her friend made the choice to die. The way she accepts Lillian's decision at the end of the episode was beautiful. Their last day together was also very touching. There is this farewell touch throughout the episode as shown in this goodbye kiss. Lillian does not want to suffer, she wants to die being herself, being aware of what's happening to her. For many reasons, she ends up taking pills and killing herself. Virginia finds her on her bed, dying. First, she calls 911, but decides to hang up the phone. She makes her decision on what Lillian wanted and not what she needed. Perfect storytelling.

Finally, let's talk about Bill and Virginia. They too have reached a point of no-return. So far, their relationship was purely sexual, they fought against their feelings, saying it was for the sake of their study. They kissed. This kiss changes everything. Bill and Virginia can't dance around their feelings for each other anymore. Once this happens, things between them will either get better or worse. Well... It didn't prevent him from betraying her. Indeed, when they had finally found a hospital wanting them, Bill messed up things - again. They know that Hendricks does not want the hospital staff involved in the study, he even doesn't want him to use black participants. Hendricks explains to Bill that black people have always been mistreated by researchers and a sex study held by whites watching blacks having sex would only get things worse, but Bill argues it would help move things forward, and dispel the stereotypes that African-American women and men face. Hendricks refuses to let the study burn his hospital to the ground. Things are not working out between them, and you know that Bill can't accept 'no' for an answer, plus, he heard that a journalist in the black community was supporting them. The, the reporter came to him. Bill is confident, he thinks he can control the situation, but she delves into his past and uncovers his secrets. She discovered he was sick as a child and wonders if it gave him a god complex. She wanted to understand how he ended up working in this hospital. He's angry and doesn't feel safe, and doesn't know what to do about it. For once, he's powerless. He confronts the editor in his office and threatens him to publish information proving that black stereotypes are true. This is unacceptable blackmail and quite racist.
He knows he has gone too far, and ultimately, this is what got him fired. He can't follow rules. He's a breaker. Bill needs Virginia. He is desperate and needs her, now -but right now, she's more desperate than he is. And then, the straw that broke the camel's back... Indeed, looking for comfort, Bill knocks at Virginia's door, and the door opens and it turns out a man answered the door. This is not a random guy, it's her "beau". That's a shock for him (and me). Just like his wife, several minutes ago, he has a nervous breakdown and cries. Another outstanding performance from Michael Sheen.

Note : 8/10 - It's a very strong and emotional episode full of character development. It was an impressive episode on many levels. Flawless.

Now, it's your turn! What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments!

About the Author - FrenchAmerican9
This is Michael (aka FrenchAmerican9), he lives in Lyon, France. He is a sophomore in college, majoring in Political Science and minoring in English. He is an avid TV watcher, watching shows from US, UK, Australia, Canada, France and Denmark.
This season, on SpoilerTV, he will review American Crime, Black-ish, Cristela, Dallas 2012, Empire, Fresh Off The Boat, Married, Playing House, Red Band Society, The Fosters, The Mindy Project and You're the Worst. His favorite TV shows are Fargo, The Ice Cream Girls, Black Mirror, Breaking Bad, Happy Endings, Friends, Buffy, LOST, Everwood, The Good Wife, Revenge, Hannibal, The Americans, American Horror Story, Grey's Anatomy, Masters of Sex and The Mindy Project.
Some of his other interests include politics, reading, music and writing.
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