"Your father and uncle lived through this when they were your age, now it's happening again." The dictator's name is Andreas Phaulkon, the playboy dictator; it's him that gets fat while his people die. Joe just wants to ignore it all. He took back his name, but that doesn't make him Tauron again, not like this. Sam sends back money, so does Evelyn. Secreting it away, sending it when they can. Larry just wants the TV off. Sam talks Tauron when he watches, and he smokes cigarettes. He can't take his eyes off it. When Larry looks all he sees is Sam, as a child. Sam at night, shaking. His husband the orphan.
Evelyn gets Willie out of the house; the boys follow. Joe doesn't speak. Ruth doesn't look her in the eye, as she's gathering their things for the day. "You're good for him, you know?" Evelyn laughs, at her boss's mother in law; she blushes. She likes taking care of him. A man needs something like that, to be loved. To be taken care of. "That's not what I mean, and you know it." Ruth looks at her, this half-daughter, Shannon's replacement in all but deed. These are the old ways. "You should look in on him tonight," Ruth says lightly. "Make sure he's got all his appointments for tomorrow too. Willie and I will be at my sister's." These are the old ways.
A man needs something; she likes taking care of him. Amanda brings him his coffee, in her white satin robe. She is beautiful in the morning, every morning. She says the coffee smells like the whole morning, waiting, like a fresh sheet of paper. She feels like this too, although she doesn't know it and she wouldn't have the words to say it. She invites him upstairs; he doesn't sleep too well downstairs. They've been sleeping separately now for such a long time. A man needs something. "I keep running into roadblocks. Zoë's code, what I remember of it, was so... So intuitive. Makes me feel like a hack trying to recreate it." Like a fresh sheet of paper, if you knew the words. She took the code and made souls sing; he feels like a hack. When his wife tells him she has faith in him, he sighs and takes off his band. He returns to a darker world. "I wish you did," Daniel says. He is alone.
Human psychology is based on projection. There is something truly terrifying about reality augmented to this extreme. Not the kitchen table but an absolute facsimile, a world with no faults and everything rearranged the way he wants it. You could climb into that world and never come out again; holobands behind the eyes, making the whole world a fresh sheet of paper, written exactly the way you want it. Like playing NCC inside NCC inside NCC, perfectly selfish and perfectly projected. Perfectly alone. Maybe that's all we're ever doing. Our lives and our worlds only ever getting smaller; floating above the truth of our lives and the pain our luxuries necessitate somewhere else.