Joel is seemingly ready to conclude his part in the story by slipping into the time-honored role of “guy who knows a guy.” But as it turns out, he won’t quite have the last word in this interaction.

I think the “Don’t be a hero” bit was important for two reasons. It reminds us that Shanna is carrying around some guilt about Ferris. As far as she knows, he died because he leaked some key information to her, and she very much doesn’t want that to happen again. That desire will drive her to do things she didn’t think were possible for her, before her arc is over.

The second reason is to remind readers not to expect everyone to be heroes, especially not in Sepia World’s less “heroic” reality. Most of us would not, in the heat of the moment, be all that hard for someone like JJ to crack. And we shouldn’t be judged for that just because we watched a TV show where some other guy was all “YOU WILL GET NOTHING!”

I wasn’t totally sure the story would follow up with Joel or just imply he’d followed her advice the next time we saw JJ, but the ominous thrill of that final panel ended up being too much for Flo and me to resist.