Masters of Sex Season 4 Episode 3 Review: The Pleasure Protocol

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It's about time, Bill Masters! You've finally begun to see the light. 

It may have taken Bill more than a decade to find some clarity, but he's finally begun to understand just how dysfunctional his desire for Virginia actually is. 

Elsewhere in Masters of Sex Season 4 Episode 3, Bill and Virginia worked with their new associates, and Libby met a handsome stranger.

Second Guessing Themselves - Masters of Sex

It's amazing how the tables have turned in the never-ending saga of Bill and Virginia's relationship. Bill had been floundering over his obsession with Virginia while she actively tried to find happiness away from him and their work.

Alice's appearance and subsequent revelation that Dan and Virginia never married was a wake up call for Bill. Alice had stood by Dan through countless affairs and even cleaned up the women's broken hearts after her husband was through with them. 

Seeing Alice's pathetic devotion to her husband shook Bill. Virginia has never once expressed any desire to be Bill's girlfriend or wife. More importantly, she has never loved Bill the way he loves her. 

There's nothing romantic about Bill sitting in a dark room watching an old film reel of Virginia masturbating. It just comes across as sad and pathetic. 

Bill: Well for someone that lies to you, who disregards you, who ultimately cannot love you... can you possibly hate yourself that much?
Alice: Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don't. Surely people like us feel we deserve a certain punishment or these things wouldn't keep happening. What matters for me is Dan loves me, and I love him.
Bill. No. That's not love... that's torture.

Listening to Alice made Bill realize that Virginia has continued to lie to him and will never be devoted to him the way he wants to be to her. Why continue to pine for someone who will never feel the same way about you? Bill discarding the footage of Virginia gave me hope that he is finally ready to let her go for good.

The same can't be said for Virginia. She used to be an easy to read character, but her motivations are quickly becoming confusing. 

What does she hope to gain by lying about Dan? Surely she's not delusional enough to think she can lie forever. She seems to think pretending to be married to Dan will keep Bill away from her romantically, but I'm not convinced she doesn't want that from him.

After all, she was the one to look back to see if Bill ran after her at the end of Masters of Sex Season 3 Episode 12. There's also the matter of her explanation for why she and Dan didn't go through with the wedding. 

On the day of their wedding, Virginia slept with another man and purposely got caught by Dan. This woman is beyond complicated and seriously needs full-time therapy. I'm not a psychologist, but she comes across as the perfect example of a self-sabotager. 

Virginia: We were due at the wedding chapel at seven, and that afternoon I went downstairs to the tables, and I found a nice man with a Pearl Harbor tattoo, and I took him upstairs and let Dan discover us. That's the real reason why he's back with you.
Alice: I don't know who's more deserving of pity in that story. What kind of woman beds a man on the same day she was meant to marry another?

Her sexual independence used to be a sign of her feminism and ownership of her body. Now her casual encounters with men just seem depressing. 

Now that Bill knows the truth about Virginia, I'm curious how long he'll keep the information to himself. Also, how will Virginia respond when she finds out Bill knows she's not married and no longer wants her?

The featured patients in this installment were all interesting, especially the couple Bill and Nancy were trying to help. I wasn't expecting the husband to lash out and attack his wife in such a manner.

It's no wonder why he was so careful about being a gentleman. He must have experienced something so traumatic that engaging in a similar behavior triggered his outburst. 

Nancy: Aren't pain and pleasure two sides of the same coin? Both illicit the same physiological reactions: increased heart rate, perspiration, shortness of breath.
Bill: A well-adjusted individual knows the difference.
Nancy: Not always. It can be oddly romantic, even erotic... the sensation of pain, of punishment. Haven't you ever gone after something you knew would hurt you because it also felt good.

The other case was less dramatic, but still engaging. A woman wanting to achieve multiple orgasms could lead the clinic into new revolutionary territory. 

As far as Libby is concerned, she is ready to start acting like a modern woman and is willing to call a man without him calling her first. I'm loving this new side of Libby and her exploration of being single.

Handsome Stranger

The introduction of Bram Keller as Libby's potential love interest was a welcome reprieve from the darkness surrounding Bill and Virginia. David Walton is always charming no matter what character he plays. 

Libby has never been involved with someone so forward and flirtatious. Seeing her open up to someone like that shows us she's ready for something new and fun. 

Keller being Bill's attorney seems to have put the brakes on any potential hookup. She appeared opposed to the idea, but there's no way Keller is going to stop flirting with her anytime soon. 

Extra Observations and Thoughts

  • I still don't understand the point of Nancy and Art hiding their marriage. They didn't give Bill or Virginia any sort of explanation. These two are super shady and I don't trust them.
  • Betty's encounter with her former "client" was hilarious. It also reminded us just how far she's come from the woman in the brothel.
  • Judy Greer is amazing, but I think this is the last we're going to see of Alice.

So over to you all! What did you think of the episode? Will Bill go along with Virginia's marriage charade? Should Libby get together with Keller? What do you predict will happen in Masters of Sex Season 4 Episode 4?

Sound off below, and don't forget you can catch up on any missed episodes when you watch Masters of Sex online via TV Fanatic!

The Pleasure Protocol Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (28 Votes)

Amanda Steinmetz was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in June of 2027. Follow her on Twitter.

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Masters of Sex Season 4 Episode 3 Quotes

I know I caused enormous pain, and I deeply regret that.


Sex and love... a mysterious thing.

Hugh Hefner