Warning; spoilers ahead.
And Just Like That, we open up immediately on the first episode to lunch in a fancy restaurant and Carrie in a ridiculous hat and not one but two crossbody handbags. Every escapist fantasy we needed this show to be is there right from the start; Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte in designer outfits out for lunch like they have nothing better to do.
Samantha’s first mention comes in the first three minutes. “She’s no longer with us,” says Charlotte, before Miranda clarifies that she’s not dead. “She’s in London,” says Carrie. “For work,” Miranda clears up. The first conversation at the table from the trio is like being back watching the TV show – “I stepped on my son’s semen before coffee, we are definitely getting fries with that” – and the new life problems causing the girls to drink at lunch are that Brady is now having sex (and has the only sex scene in the series in the first two episodes – it seems sex left the city with Samantha), Miranda is going back to college to get a Masters in human rights, Charlotte is shaming Miranda for her grey hair and pestering everyone to come to Lily’s piano recital and Carrie is taking videos of stylish strangers for her Instagram and has swapped her newspaper column for a podcast.
As they leave the restaurant, Samantha comes up again and we get the full insight as to why she’s no longer around. “You know, it is kind of like she’s dead, Samantha,” says Miranda. “We never even talk about her.”
“Well, what is there to say?” says Carrie “I told her that because of, you know, what the book business is now, it just didn’t make sense for me to keep her on as a publicist. She said fine and then fired me as a friend…she stopped returning my calls.”
“I understand that she was upset but I thought I was more to her than an ATM.”
We hear that all three women have been calling Samantha, leaving her voicemails and texting but have never heard back. “I always thought the four of us would be friends forever,” says Carrie. Do we really think Samantha, who never judged, spoonfed Carrie yoghurt when her wedding was called off and once took out Carrie’s diaphragm would ghost her friends?
But back to what everyone is up to. Charlotte is living the rich New York wife life she always aspired to. She has a dog called Richard Burton, she’s buying her daughters Oscar De La Renta dresses and her biggest issues are that Harry touches the apartment walls while skateboarding inside with Rose, who has left the terrible twos and is now a teenager who does not want to wear a dress.
Big and Carrie still live in a beautiful apartment and are childless-couple-living-their-happiest-lives-in-the-city goals, drinking rosé, eating Copper River sockeye salmon, singing and dancing and playing records. They’re going to postpone their trip to the Hamptons so that Carrie can go to Lily’s piano recital, which Big is going to miss because he’s getting a shoutout from his Peloton instructor for his 1,000th ride – very Big. And now, you can raise your Cosmo to the screen and turn off the TV and always remember them this way, because it’s all about to go horribly wrong.
Miranda stops into a bar before her first day of school, for a glass of Chablis at uh, 10.45am.
Within her first minute in class she’s accused of being “quick with the pronouns” and puts her foot in her mouth when she seems surprised that her professor has braids. She shouts at her professor at the subway – did the subway ever exist in the imaginary New York of Sex And The City? – that she quit corporate law and joined the class because “wearing a pink pussy just wasn’t cutting it.” Later, Miranda tells Carrie, “everyone was looking at me like I was the white lady who couldn’t stop saying Black,” and brings wine in her handbag to Lily’s piano recital.
Carrie’s podcast host is “queer, non-binary, Mexican, Irish diva” Che Diaz and Carrie, who had a sex column in the ’90s, is not okay with discussing masturbation and tells Che that she is “not comfortable with the more graphic content.” Che tells her to “step her pussy up” on the podcast. It wouldn’t be a Sex And The City show without Carrie at her laptop typing a deeply cringe opening sentence to a column, so here’s our first one – “Masturbation in the afternoon is like a little matinee. Single ticket buyer or subscriber?”
FYI she is using Helvetica font set at size 18 – chef’s kiss. We get a lovely moment where Big shows Carrie how he masturbates which, considering how this episode ends, is a truly cursed love scene between the two. Carrie wears her blue wedding Manolos, Big smokes a cigar, everything is right in the world, once again you can raise your Cosmo to the screen and turn off the TV and always remember them this way.
Stanford and Anthony are also at Lily’s piano recital, along with our new Samantha replacement and Charlotte’s new best friend, Lisa, another mom at her children’s school who is a documentary filmmaker and incredibly dressed. As Lily’s piano performance reaches a rousing crescendo, we see Big at home on the Peloton. He steps off it, turns on the shower, drops his phone and as he bends to pick it up, clutches his heart and falls on the shower floor.
Carrie leaves the piano recital, gets in a taxi, comes home and finds Big. They stare at each other for an endless pause before Carrie holds him on the floor of the shower, ruining her Manolos. And just like that, we get the worst line from Carrie since she compared single and married people in New York to the Troubles. “And just like that,” she says. “Big died.”
There are many things to say. In the length of time it took from Carrie to get from the recital to the apartment, Big couldn’t call an ambulance? In the ten minutes it took Carrie to stare at him on the floor, she couldn’t attempt CPR? He managed not to die for, I don’t know, maybe an hour between the recital and the taxi until she walked in the door? After twenty years of relationship struggles and break-ups in movies, Big has to die in the first episode?! By a Peloton?
Thank goodness the next episode was released at the same time but more misery lies ahead. Miranda stays in Carrie’s apartment and we see Big in a body bag being removed from the bathroom. Charlotte can’t stop making Big’s death about her, and cries because she thinks it’s her fault Big died because she made Carrie go to Lily’s piano recital. Carrie puts her in a taxi and Charlotte leaves Carrie on her own to potter around New York looking for funeral venue for her husband who died last night. Samantha would never.
At the funeral, Big’s coffin is covered in flowers, against Carrie’s wishes. The incredibly chic funeral directors tell Carrie that the flowers arrived and they were so gorgeous they wanted her to see them. “Who is it even from?” asks Carrie and they give her an envelope which has a card that just says, ‘Love, Samantha.’ Samantha would NEVER. Everyone pretends like this is a meaningful gesture and Miranda starts drinking at the funeral. She gives a horrible speech that Carrie wrote. “He will leave a big hole. And how sad. How very very sad.” I wish I stopped watching when Big and Carrie were salting fish and drinking rosé. Nothing else good happens – Miranda shouts at Brady for smoking weed with Che, Che and Miranda become pals, Carrie suddenly has an Android and not the iPhone she had in the first episode and texts Samantha “thank you” and not “you’re really going to just send flowers and a note when my husband is dead?” Carrie upsets Charlotte by not calling her to tell her that Big’s ashes have arrived but instead inviting over Miranda and Stanford. “I am mad,” Carrie tells Charlotte. “Mad at myself – not you – because I should have gone to the Hamptons with Big on Wednesday night, like I wanted to!” she shouts at her, which is about the height of the emotion she’s shown so far since Big died, so we have a lovely season of Carrie in bed all day like she was Abu Dhabi after the wedding fell apart ahead of us.
Both episodes see returning characters like socialite Bitsy Von Muffling, Susan Sharon and Anthony and Stanford are still happily married. Natasha has been photographed by paparazzi filming the show, Carrie has been photographed kissing someone else and Aidan has said in an interview that he’s returning, so we have all that horror to look forward to. And just like that, all the escapist joy we hoped for with the return of the series is in the bin with Carrie’s ruined Manolos, Samantha’s reputation as the most loyal friend and presumably, Big’s Peloton.