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At the end of And Just Like That… season 1, Carrie Bradshaw is coming to terms with her grief over the death of her husband John, a.k.a Mr. Big. After a year without him, she finally says goodbye to his ashes in Paris before grabbing a drink with Samantha Jones—very much off screen. In the finale, Carrie opens up to a bit of romance again, kissing her podcast producer, Franklyn (Ivan Hernandez), in the office elevator. Will a workplace love affair become a problem?
In the season 2 premiere, the answer seems to be a hesitant no. The episode opens with a montage of the cast getting some action from their significant others, assuring us that sex is very much still happening in the city. The show even checks in on the group’s new friends, thankfully focusing on their own individual plot lines more as the season begins. However, it’s made clear that the only person not getting any is Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), whose husband Andre Rashad (LeRoy McClain) is still on tour.
Franklyn and Carrie have settled into a comfortable hookup situation where he comes over every Thursday, they watch a cooking show, and talk eggs. When Charlotte arrives at Carrie’s apartment one Thursday with her overbred bull dog Richard Burton, we learn that Carrie has been keeping her hookup quiet for the last three weeks. But they don’t have much time to talk about it; they’re getting ready for the Met Ball. (Not the Met Gala. Let’s be clear for trademark reasons.) The night’s theme is “veiled beauty,” and everyone’s faces must be obscured.
Charlotte is planning to attend with her buddy Anthony (Mario Cantone), and Carrie is bringing her real estate agent friend Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury). The show immediately leaps into fashion mode: Before the end of the episode, we get a parade of top hats and custom Valentino, and Carrie grants her former podcast co-host’s wife the honor of dressing her. Smoke (Bethlehem Million) is an up-and-coming designer that Carrie trusts implicitly, foreshadowing hijinks ahead.
Meanwhile, Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) is managing her family while trying to drum up $25,000 for her documentary, even though her husband reminds her he could easily just cut a fat check. As she reminds him of her MFA in film and two finished documentaries, a clear tension arises between his desire to have the perfect wife on hand and her need to carve her own identity as a filmmaker.
Over in Los Angeles, Miranda and Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) are enjoying making love in pools and exploring the joys of elaborate dildo halters. But Che is under some pressure as they prepare to shoot their pilot, discovering in their costume fitting that their midsection is a “problem area.”
Through more than one pairing, the episode explores how sex can be powerful in relationships, but sex alone can be a shoddy foundation for something deeper—and something real. Miranda finds herself questioning Che’s true interest in her after they both have a conversation with Carrie about her casual hookup. Franklyn seems to want a little something more after he invites her to a roof top bourbon tasting on a Tuesday, breaking their pattern. Che assures Carries that some relationships are just about the physical aspects, touching on Miranda’s insecurity.
In season 1, many viewers were gobsmacked by Che’s red flags and some of Miranda’s choices around her new love interest. After a tense moment following one of Che’s stand-up sets, it does seem like the two might not be connecting beyond the bedroom. But in a sweet turn of events, Che admits that they’re just sensitive about their stomach since getting the Hollywood treatment, and the two get closer than sex has brought them yet.
Carrie, however, decides she needs to reset her boundaries with Franklyn, which he graciously accepts. No bourbon for her and Thursdays are back on.
Nya, encouraged by Miranda to try new things, heads to a bar for a solo dinner. She’s approached by the gorgeous Toussaint, a fella who seems to know exactly what to say, but the professor isn’t ready to try someone that new. Drunk on malbec, she FaceTimes her reluctant husband in a sexy get-up only to find a floppy-hat-wearing guitarist named Heidi is in his hotel room. Things are not looking good for Nya’s marriage, but hopefully Toussaint will be back in the picture soon.
At Charlotte’s place, her kids Rock and Lily inform their horrified mom that their dad is totally excited for the Met Ball and even bought a top hat to match her outfit. Harry never went to prom and he dreams of taking a selfie with Rihanna, so Charlotte lets Anthony down easy so she can take her husband instead. Luckily for Anthony, Seema is also bowing out and he grabs her spot.
Seema met a man last season who appeared to be exactly what she’s been looking for, and he wants her to meet his son for lunch. They’ll be joined by his ex-wife, so Seema can’t skip getting all the intel. It’s a tough choice. At lunch, however, she learns her boyfriend and his ex still live together and she sweeps out the door to get ready for the Ball. She doesn’t like mess.
It seems like Anthony can’t win, but in the final quarter Harry realizes his boots are uncomfortable, he’s not going to get to walk the Met steps, and Rihanna will be nowhere near him. Anthony is back in!
If only things were going so well back at Carrie’s place. The stunning cape Smoke designed is ready, but a seamstress flu knocked out her crew before the dress was completed. The fit is a total disaster and they’re down to the last minute. Smoke begs Carrie to find something in her magical closet that will go with the cape.
Carrie is stumped until she remembers what’s been tucked away in there. She pulls out the “cloud dress” by Vivienne Westwood that she wore to her disastrous failed first wedding with Big. It’s packed away with the blue bird hat and veil, all ready for the night’s theme.
And just like that, she “repurposed her pain.”
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.