I feel a little weird talking about this, but I’ll just dive in: we intended a sexual vibe to Carol and Shanna’s conversation, and that’s probably clearest here at the beginning and near its end. Sex is tangled up with power, intimacy, and some other elements that’ll come into play here, especially but not exclusively in American psychology. I don’t think of either Shanna or Carol as attracted to women, but they’ve both been without sex for a while, and when you don’t have the traditional outlets to express a part of yourself, that part can assert itself in other ways. Especially if you’re repressing a lot, as both Shanna and Carol are, for different reasons.

That’s one reason for the choice of setting: all sorts of things happen in a coffee shop, but I’ve been witness to some pretty handsy dates there. It’s reflected in other scene-setting aspects: Carol’s idle compliment, the panel focusing on her lips, the unromantic but intense eye contact, her pose in panel 5.

As we start, Carol looks like she has all the cards. Any anguish she feels about Ferris is well-concealed: if there is one thing Carol knows, it’s how to act professional. She’s physically above Shanna, shredding that disguise Shanna worked so hard on with two words, and acting like she doesn’t even care. She’s also bringing her own coffee to this meeting (that’s not a Starbucks cup), which, you’ve got to admit, is quite the power move. It’s like Ron Swanson bringing a flask to a wine tasting. (Not sure if Starbucks has a policy against bringing in outside coffee or not, but it wouldn’t matter if it did. Carol’s got that air of money that keeps minimum-wagers from challenging her.)