***Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for episode one of the HBOMax series, And Just Like That…***
The debut episode of “And Just Like That…” begins how you might expect. Our main girl, Carrie — blonde locks flowing, capped by a quirky hat — spins through a crowd searching for her fellow ladies who lunch. After all, were the best parts of “Sex and the City” actually plot developments, or were they really the recaps and commentary the four main protagonists gave over coffee and cocktails?
Carrie finds Miranda and Charlotte, and the three of them get seated — but not before a little cameo from Ms. Bitsy von Muffling, during which we learn that Samantha is “no longer with us.”
This is literally what Charlotte says before clarifying to a visibly horrified Bitsy that no, Samantha’s not dead. She’s in LONDON. Dead to them, though, it seems. That’s all we know for now.
Over brunch, we learn that Miranda and Steve’s son, Brady, is having sex. In their house. Miranda references stepping on a used condom, and Charlotte — Ms. Park Avenue PollyAnna, of all people — says “at least he’s using protection.” Indeed.
At this point, I’m only mildly ill at ease. It’s just a little jarring to be back in this world again — sans Samantha — and I’m still getting my bearings. We’re talking about stepping on semen already and I’m trying to do the math of how old Brady is, and — I have to say it — I’m very distracted that Kristin Davis has gotten too much botox.
And then we find out Miranda quit corporate law after 30 years and is going back to school to get a master’s in human rights to pair with her law degree. In response, Charlotte makes her priorities crystal clear by asking if Miranda is going to color her hair.
AND JUST LIKE THAT, “Charlotte” is on my last fucking nerve, which is becoming a theme as she next gives Carrie shit about missing her daughter Lily’s piano recital to go to the Hamptons with Mr. Big — aka John James Preston (JJP).
So… we now know Carrie and Big are still together. We know Charlotte is still a perfectionist control freak, and we know Miranda is still growing as a professional, even though it shames her friend Ms. Botox that she has gray hair. OK.
Next, outside the restaurant, we learn a little bit more about what happened to Samantha. Apparently, Carrie had to “let her go” as her publicist, and they had a falling out, and she moved to London. It’s heavily implied that the girls have tried to keep in touch with her, to no avail. Hmmm.
Also, in a classic “Miranda is the cool mom friend” moment, she assures Carrie she shouldn’t feel bad about missing the recital. But you can tell Carrie feels that she should go, so upon returning home, she asks JJP if it’s OK if they leave the next day. He seems fine with that, and predictably turns down her offer to go with her to the recital. He’d rather stay home with his sexy Peloton instructor, Allegra. (Now, for me, both sound a bit like torture, so it’s a toss-up.) As the scene continues, we also learn one of Carrie and Big’s traditions over COVID was listening to a pick from his never-seems-to-get-an-update record collection over dinner, and tonight it’s Todd Rundgren. They dance a bit to “Hello, It’s Me,” the episode title, and we come away feeling like those two are solid. Awww, how lovely.
YOU ARE NOW ON A RIDE TO CRINGEVILLE. THERE ARE NO SURVIVORS.
As the episode continues, we’re thrust into several awkward scenes where there are some clear struggles with trying to take a show that thrived in the early 2000s and make it relevant in present day. In Miranda’s first class, she digs herself a huge hole trying to be overly “woke” with her black professor (I’m STILL processing that scene… cringefest!). Carrie is on a podcast with a non-binary stand-up comedian, who tells her she needs to stop being a prude and “step her pussy up” when she shies away from publicly discussing masturbation. Which leads to another semi-cringeworthy scene of Carrie asking JJP to do it in front of her. Charlotte struggles to get Lily and Rose to wear matching dresses to the recital. It’s clear Rose is not much of a girlie-girl — which is basically Charlotte’s entire identity — so you can imagine the friction there.
Finally, it’s The Big Event (a teenage piano recital), and Carrie dons her special wedding shoes (the blue Manolo’s she put on to marry JJP at the end of the first movie) and tells Mr. Big to text her if he wants to leave for the Hamptons yet tonight, and she won’t go for cocktails. They share a tender moment before she heads out, where he says “I’m just looking at you,” and I start to realize something awful is about to happen….
At the very-important-absolutely-cannot-miss teen piano recital, we finally reunite with Anthony and Stanford (played by the late Willie Garson, who died in the middle of filming this season. Just devastating). They’re somewhat predictably bickering as Stanford is late, but the reason, we later learn, is because they were fighting, and Anthony just up and left. Miranda continues to be my hero as she brought “purse wine,” something Charlotte purses her overly puffy lips about but ultimately lets go. (Girl, they showed up. Let them have WINE.)
As the recital gets underway, back at Carrie and John’s house, JJP gets on the peloton. As the scene plays out, Lily gives a mesmerizing and rousing performance, clearly blowing the audience away, while we simultaneously watch Allegra push JJP to his limits. I don’t have a GREAT feeling about this at all, given how they are focusing on him like this and knowing his history of heart problems that was addressed in SATC Season 6 (he has a pretty serious surgery).
And alas, as JJP completes his workout, and the recital comes to a climactic close, he stumbles and clutches his arm, and you know this is not gonna be good. He does manage to get a text out to Carrie, “Let’s leave tonight,” before he goes down, which gives me hope she’s going to come home and save him.
I’m now holding my breath. Carrie comes home and calls out for John. She begins moving through the apartment, and upon finding him in a pool of water in the bathroom, exclaims “John!” in a way that has since haunted me.
He’s still alive. He seems totally out of it though, propped up against the wall. What follows is probably 60 seconds of utter devastation. The two of them stare at each other across the room for what seems like hours, while I’m yelling “AREN’T YOU GOING TO CALL 9-1-1?!!!” Another heart-wrenching “John!” from Carrie as she finally runs to him and gets down on the floor, sort of holding him, sort of maybe trying to breathe or kissing him?! I don’t know. CALL 9-1-1, WTF!
The words “And just like that… Big died,” spoken overhead like a narrator by Carrie, ends the episode. ROLL CREDITS.
AND I AM NOT OK… NOT AT ALL.
We’ll process this more in episode 2.