Barb is placidly setting the table for dinner when she gets a call from Rhonda of all people. Rhonda wants to apologize for her behavior with Barbara, but she has to do it in that creepy bible-thumping way: "God said I needed to atone." Rhonda says she's sorry for what happened, and she hopes Barb feels better soon. And then she hangs up. You know, I'm starting to think that there needs to be a hotline between Juniper Creek and Bill's houses, like the one between the White House and the Kremlin.
Bill and Don are back in the parking lot beneath their defaced sign, whose graffiti is getting crudely painted over in white by a couple of guys with rollers. Don's kind of pissed at Bill for his earlier behavior. Bill says he feels trapped, and that he's following the American dream: "Work hard, play by the rules?" Except for that second part. He says he "can't go backwards. That's not the life I was called to lead." I certainly don't begrudge Bill's desire to succeed. I have one of those myself. But I think it's extremely naïve of him to think he can put himself out there as the public face of Home Plus while keeping his highly irregular family situation private. By the way, you notice that I'm not mocking the very idea of a hardware store's owner representing it in its advertising. That's because we used to have a chain of locally owned hardware stores here whose owner used to do all of its TV commercials. And then he became the junior Senator from Minnesota. You think Bill would scoff modestly if someone told him that, dismissing the idea out of hand? I doubt it. Don's got more immediate and pragmatic concerns: "I've got sixteen mouths to feed!" he snaps at Bill. Bill backs down a bit. He says he takes responsibility for Don's family, and that he can't do this alone. Don says he'll go to the end, "But I need to make sure that the end is later rather than sooner." Bill nods understandingly, but he doesn't promise not to swear at any more of their vendors with media monopolies. Don asks how much they owe the painters. "I told them sixty-five bucks apiece," Bill says. Seems like they could have saved a lot of time and grief doing that in the first place.
Back home, Barb comes out into the kitchen to find Bill mixing up Nicki's coconut cake and teaching Nicki's kids how to tell time. He shouldn't bother. The sooner Wayne and Raymond learn that it's always too late around here, the better. Speaking of which, he's surprised to see Barb at home, skipping class. He sends the kids out for a private convo with his first. "Nicki and Margie went to the compound," he tells Barb. "Apparently Joey fell off the wagon pretty bad." Oh, plus there were all those cops that needed lying too, not that Bill mentions that part to Barb. Bill has an anniversary gift for her. It's a watch. She's totally his favorite. "I know it's not enough for the sacrifices you make every day." He says he's sorry she missed her class. She says she didn't mind, and it's so sincere that you even believe her. One might even forget that under the circumstances, Bill's decision to give her a gift of time is little more than a cruel mockery.