Not too hard and not too soft.
"...Besides, you look shitty in all black."
Elaine: "...I love your pep talks."
Diane: "Yeah, well."
IN JUBAL'S BARN
T.J.'s not cleaning fish, of course. He's snorting blow. Doug takes him down immediately and the rush of words, words, all the weapons of the addicts, feinting helplessness, attacking from the side, just the cadence and the desperation of a person about to hit the ground, and Douglas lets the words rush past him. He learned this part from Margaret: Not too hard, not too soft, just tired enough that he can yell and just sad enough that he can still take his brother in his arms, shake him until he stops hurting himself.
But not yet. First, he gets the Barrish treatment. Frigid, terrifying: A cage of ice that simply and elegantly says, I just might not love you anymore.
"Get out of here," he says. "We'll discuss my investment," Doug says, "When you're sober." I can make our parents hate you with a single word, any time you want. We'll discuss that secret when you've come down enough to hurt.
Bud: "Boys! Hey! Told ya he was fine."
Doug: "Sure, yeah. He's great. And you didn't screw Jubal's wife..."
Bud, cheaply: "How many times do I have to say it? I did not touch that woman!"
Doug: "That's your genius. It's not a lie if you believe it. Well, if you want to convince yourself that you're not a cheater, Mom can upset Garcetti, T.J.'s just fine, well you go right ahead."
Bud chastens his son -- "you don't have any faith in people" -- just long enough to catch the look in Doug's eyes. It stings worse than his response: "I don't need to take character advice from you." It was always going to come. It comes. Not the whole truth, not the whole future, but it comes and when it comes quick. And you'd better be clean.
Bud: "What's this really about, son? Now what's your beef with me? Come on, spit it out."
"It's not my fault! It is not my fault that she lost! I did everything! I wanted her to win so bad! I did everything I could! You! You lost it for her, not me!"
Every word and the weight on his back gets louder and brighter and lighter. And the entire time, son's fists against his chest, he takes it. Blame me. But this time, he's not whispering and it's not in code. "I know that, son," he says. "It was my fault," Bud says, "And your mother knows that too."