"And Just Like That," Carrie's last supper serves up Samantha's cameo and just maybe, a fresh start

Kim Cattrall's brief onscreen return may have been the reason to tune in, but the rest of the meal offers a reset

By Melanie McFarland

Senior Critic

Published August 25, 2023 12:00PM (EDT)

Kim Cattrall in "And Just Like That" (Max)
Kim Cattrall in "And Just Like That" (Max)

The following contains spoilers for the "And Just Like That" Season 2 finale "The Last Supper Part Two: Entrée"

At long last, "And Just Like That" gives us a season worth anticipating.  We mean its third, which Warner Bros. Discovery officially announced this week. The way that the second season finale, "The Last Supper Part Two: Entrée," plays out, it looks like series creator Michael Patrick King did not take the show's continuation for granted regardless of the buzz surrounding it.  

Or maybe its resolution is a matter of the writers recognizing that the show is transitioning, emotionally, to paraphrase Sara Ramirez's Che. "The old me is f**ked," they admitted to someone asking for a career update, "and the new me is not here yet."

This second season improved from the first, albeit in increments.

As Che's professional and personal identity goes, so goes this "Sex and the City" sequel. Where the two diverge is that King, who wrote and directed the two-part finale, leaves his show and everyone in it in a definitively solid place – save, perhaps, for Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker).

Nevertheless, Carrie's Michelin chef-prepared farewell dinner for more than a dozen, hosted in a tiny space that was barely large enough for one, realizes a dream so many of us want but few ever receive: closure, with wine pairings.

And Just Like ThatAnd Just Like That (Max)Despite offing Mr. Big in the series opener "And Just Like That" has been reluctant to loosen its grip on its decades-old legacy. To be fair, so has its audience. Viewers still yearn for these characters to behave like the people they used to be. That discounts the essential struggle of middle age, which involves acclimating to circumstances that force you to contend with your previous identity's obsolescence.

If Season 1 was a shock to the system, that's because Carrie and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) were wrecks. People adored Charlotte (Kristin Davis) through it all, owing to the relative stability offered by her happy marriage to Harry (Evan Goldenblatt).

The emotional peak of "The Last Supper" coalesces these notions in Carrie's address to her assembled guests. "In honor of my letting this place go, which has meant everything to me, I would like us all to go around the table and say something we want to let go of. Only one word. One word, and no repeats. . . . Those are the rules."

Carrie's word is "expectations." "I'm talking about, you know, assuming things will go the way we think they should, for whatever reason, because you never know what tomorrow will bring and it might be greater than anything you ever expected."

From our girl's lips to the writers' ears, hearts and heads.

"And Just Like That" has been in search of a purpose as the scripts struggled to evolve our main trio and four new characters they failed to flesh out.

This second season improved from the first, albeit in increments. Mario Cantone's Anthony enjoyed a pleasant second act. Miranda pulled out of her intolerable spin in these final episodes, during which we enjoyed witnessing Charlotte reclaim the parts of her she placed in cold storage to focus on domestic life. On top of all that, swoons for the Samantha Jones of it all – an amuse bouche successfully served that's bound to create issues to surmount down the road.

Season 2 also coaxed Seema (Sarita Choudhury), the show's most successful new character, closer to the story's heart, and ours, although much about her remains undiscovered.

Viewers still yearn for these characters to behave like the people they used to be. That discounts the essential struggle of middle age.

At the same time, Nicole Ari Parker's Lisa Todd Wexley and Karen Pittman's Nya Wallace remained side players – Nya more than LTW, who at least got to serve a few looks here and there. While LTW was allowed to slay all day in the role of the woman who has it all, Nya spent most of the season inside her Brooklyn apartment flitting between her bed and her kitchen table.

And Carrie functioned as everyone's story glue – except for Nya's; she's still mainly Miranda's friend – until reconnecting with Aidan gave us something to hold onto.

This is how the "Entrée" portion of "The Last Supper," which is less of a multi-course feast savored slowly than a pitstop at a department store's gift-wrapping station on Black Friday. A heaping armful of storylines dropped onto that rented table in that 42-minute episode, most of which tied up neatly, with a few details taped up to be revisited in the future. 

Top dish: Samantha Jones' cameo. The main attraction keeping even the hate-watchers seated at the "And Just Like That" table was Kim Cattrall's promised return, momentary though it was.

Samantha Jones dropped in for all of a minute by way of a trans-Atlantic phone call, explaining that a delayed flight would prevent her from attending her dinner. But she pays her respects to Carrie's apartment by addressing it directly.

"Thank you for everything, you f**king fabulous, fabulous flat!" Ms. Jones declares with a slight British accent. When Carrie asks her about that, she quips, "Who's Samantha? This is Annabelle Bronstein! I'm from In-jah!" a shout-out to an alter ego she introduced precisely 20 years ago to crash another exclusive venue, Soho House, in the sixth season episode "Boy, Interrupted."

With that, Ms. Jones is out with a "Tah, and cheerio. And have a great night."

Carrie acquires a new Shoe. This is what Carrie names her recently adopted kitten, who is indoor-only. This detail is both a responsible portrayal of pet ownership and has symbolic relevance; keep reading.

And Just Like ThatSarah Jessica Parker in "And Just Like That" (Max)Charlotte and Harry successfully revisit the terms of their marriage. Although the Goldenblatts very much exemplify the ideal marriage even now, Charlotte's resumption of her career temporarily transforms her doting husband into a gigantic whiner. As he's waking up a hungover Charlotte — mainly to handle Anthony, who has dropped by to discuss his, "a** virginity" — he complains about getting the kids ready by himself by yelling, "I can't do it all, Charlotte!" 

Charlotte's whispered rebuttal rivals America Ferrera's feminist call-to-arms in "Barbie." "I can't talk loud, so please, just listen: You are not doing it all," Charlotte says. "I know, because you made a few breakfasts and ran a few errands, that it feels like you are. But in fact, you are doing the bare minimum of what I and other women have been asked — no, expected — to do around the house for years and years and years."

"And now," she continues. "I am asking — no, no expecting – you to help me with part of it. Not all of it. Because I love my work and I'm good at it. . . . So I need your help and your support. Not your words of help and support." 

This is the Charlotte I want to see more of in the third season, although slightly less than others begging for more development. 

For what it's worth, Harry pledges to let go of possessiveness. Charlotte's word is "limits."

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Anthony's Roman holiday. Out of everyone embarking on new relationships, Anthony's unexpected fling with his poet and poster model Giuseppe (Sebastiano Pigazzi) is among the season's tenderest developments. Cantone's Anthony was always the brash but it's long been understood that his harsh candor hides a generous heart that bruises like a peach.

Bringing the insistent, romantic Giuseppe into his story allows Cantone and the writers to showcase that side of him and his stubborn insistence on pushing away frightening unknowns. At the Supper, Anthony says he wants to release "control." At this Giuseppe, who'd been threatening to return to Italy, says he'll let go of Rome.

Anthony's unexpected fling with Giuseppe is among the season's tenderest developments.

Seema's ready for her close-up: When love strides into Seema's life in the form of a handsome director, Ravi Gordi (Armin Amiri), she can't help questioning it. Then again, Ravi doesn't give us much to evaluate his worthiness other than his word that after a five-month shoot in Cairo, he'll be coming back to her.

Seema pledges to let go of mistrust even as she declares later that night, "I'm not giving up my career and this person I've worked so hard to become for a man. Full stop." 

Herbert and Lisa Todd Wexley show up to dinner in the aftermath of her miscarriage, which they briefly talk about in Carrie's thimble of a bathroom where LTW retreats to privately weep at the thought that she may have wished the baby away. Herbert (Chris Jackson), to his credit, says all the right things and reaffirms his status as Harry's equal in the Good Husband category. LTW breaks Carrie's rule and claims the same word Miranda calls out, which is guilt.

Miranda, at last, updates her personality software after her catastrophic drop-in to Che's dreadful and abusive stand-up act, closing the night with a triumphant last-minute appearance on BBC for her job. Before all that she heads to Coney Island to make amends with Steve (David Eigenberg). They resolve to remain friends; Miranda even admits he was smart about a lot of things, including buying their Brooklyn home and "being good parents" which is debatable!

"The only thing you weren't right about was us," she says.

Steve gently demurs. "Nah. I was right about us for a very long time." Down the beach, a glowing image of Stanford Blatch appears beside the ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker. Just kidding – but truly, Steve's display of satori verges on this level of supernatural. Maybe that explains why he's not at Carrie's dinner – he's let go of all attachments to these people.

And Just Like ThatGary Dourdan and Karen Pittman in "And Just Like That" (Max)Nya finally gets around to dessert. Remember at the top of the season when Nya turned down former "CSI" star Gary Dourdan in that restaurant? Apparently, we were supposed to. On the same day as Carrie's dinner, Nya finds out that she's been elected to the prestigious American Law Institute, and realizes she doesn't have a man to share her news with, other than that Tinder himbo, and who knows if he can even read?

Anyway, she threatens to bail on dinner, but Miranda lures her back in with the reminder that a Michelin chef is making it – and of course, that chef turns out to be Dourdan's Toussaint Feldman, who still very much wants her to taste his to-die-for chocolate sweetness. With that Nya, announces she's letting go of yesterday. Let's hope this means she'll have more to do tomorrow.

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On that note, we return Ms. Bradshaw and her late arrival: Aidan (John Corbett). Country Lurch breaks his pledge to never enter her old apartment so he can tell Carrie he can't move into her new palace either. That's not all. Aidan doesn't think it's a good idea for her to visit him in Virginia because his boys need all his attention.

"But I won't lose you again. OK? I won't," he says. Just give me some time."

How much? Until Wyatt's out of his teens. Five years. So along with Shoe, Aidan expects Carrie to be an indoor-only pussy cat waiting for his return. Symbolically, she blows out a candle and mutters about letting go of expectations.

Following one last night of lovemaking for a few years, if not forever, she sees him out of her much bigger domicile by telling him that no matter what happens, "this" – she says, indicating her fantasy gigs — "and this" – she says, motioning at the two of them – "was not a mistake."

Maybe not. If "And Just Like That" aspires to truly move on, answering our question of what might have been with the other guy is essential. We can't say we never found out what could have been.

Who knows? Aidan may end up being the home to which Carrie returns at the end of all of this, a destination at which we won't arrive for a while. In the meantime we leave Carrie and Seema on a beach in Greece, drinking Cosmopolitans. Some habits are tougher to abandon than others.

All episodes of "And Just Like That..." are streaming on Max.


By Melanie McFarland

Melanie McFarland is Salon's award-winning senior culture critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

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