Action stories often have trouble with characters who talk when they should be taking, well, action. “Before I kill you, Mr. Bond, let me tell you my plan.” Sometimes villains talk to their intended prey when they really should be focused on stalking and shooting them, not giving them time to spring a trap. Gamers joke that “talking is a free action,” but this sort of thing often pulls me out of the story a bit.

This scene avoids that problem, I think, by giving a lot of motivations for JJ to pursue talk. He needs to process Xan’s threat, and he’s intrigued by the tactical information that the video slowly reveals to him—although there’s one tactical detail he’s overlooked, related to who’s missing in this scene, that will be important in a few more pages. But the most important reason he keeps talking is a psychological one, and it’s one that Chrissie, Daniel, and Lia unpack pretty thoroughly in the text here.

FB: “Today, GUILDED AGE presents a scene in which a black trans person and her friends work in concert with policemen to bring a killer to justice. Despite these troubled times, we believe in a future in which such a scene will not be remarkable.”