Last week, a commenter said — and I’ve since read this elsewhere, too — something that really helped me put my finger on one weird thing about this show: And Just Like That is being written as if its characters really were on pause for a decade. They’re Unfrozen Caveman New Yorkers and they seem very suddenly and very disproportionately baffled by the world around them and how to function within it, as if they simply arrived at 55 without having lived through 50, 51, 52, et al. They don’t feel like actually LIVED while we weren’t with them. This is further evident in one of Carrie’s plots this week in an episode that Cynthia Nixon directed, and get ready, because I REALLY was not into it. The acting is generally very good — that was never the problem, and truly, I keep waiting for the show around all these performers to be worthy of them. But these 38 minutes were lacking for me, and in many parts felt like treading water. I especially loathed the way Carrie comes across. Apologies in advance. If you liked it, you might want to skip this, although I did rather enjoy the feeling of getting all capsy again.

Carrie: First, Anthony drags her with him to a plastic surgeon, whom Stanford had booked for a his-and-his face lift consultation, which feels off to me already (can we stop dragging Stanny into the mess, please). Special Guest Star Dr. Jonathan “King George” Groff, concludes that Anthony is hot and doesn’t need work. Then Carrie nervously asks the surgeon his opinion about her face, and as he stares into SJP’s mostly unlined and very taut visage, he… encourages her to do all kinds of shit that includes a 3D reading that can later render how she’d look if he fixed all her problems. She didn’t even have an APPOINTMENT and the dude is just like, “Oh yeah, let’s spend 45 minutes on your problems instead,” which is actually exactly how Carrie would like it and in fact much of this episode is about Carrie making other people’s moments about her. SO. I guess this fits. It’s a sexist trope — dude is aging hot, lady looks tired and needs a demi-lift and forty other treatments — but the show really skims past that (beyond a brief beat of outrage from Miranda later) in favor of having Carrie get squirrelly and bashful and weird and agree to a face scan. It plays like Carrie is a babe in the woods who has never heard of these mystical treatments and procedures, and has never examined her own face before, or even been to a dermatologist. Which, no. I’m sorry, there is no effing WAY Carrie Bradshaw Preston, Semi-Famous New York Sex Socialite and Sex Columnist Whose Wedding Was On The Cover of Freaking Vogue, made it to 55 years old without so much as sniffing Botox. No. No way. Not buying. Carrie would have been writing articles about injecting Botox into your labia or something, for God’s sake. And there are only so many weeks that I can write off her scenes as, “I know she’s grieving, but…” before it gets tiresome, in part because she is not grieving in interesting ways. Carrie fretting over her face might be believable in the context of trying to put herself back out there, but as it is, it’s just… a lump in the show that could have been ironed over like so many elevens on a person’s brow.

Second, apparently she’s been apartment-hunting with Seema the last three months, and she decides to buy one  just because. (At multiple times here and in subsequent scenes, I wrote down, “What grown person thinks this is how you move?!?”) When Miranda hears, she is shocked: “Stay where you are! You’re comfortable there,” she says, and an anvil drops from the sky and smashes their lunch table. But Carrie feels like she should just pick a place and learn to love it as part of her new life, so she gives up and shells out for the most recent one she saw, which is the worst fit imaginable and the kind of thing that makes me suspect Seema is a bad Realtor: a spot on the Hudson that is chilly, minimalist, modern, and entirely white, with absolutely nothing about it that fits Carrie at all. And ZERO window treatments. So when Carrie is sitting and snacking at her kitchen island at night with all her lights on, I was screaming, “Don’t MOVE IN if you don’t have the means to COVER YOUR WINDOWS, MY GOD, you’re providing a free TV show for everyone within miles.” Also, she buys it and moves in immediately. Is there no escrow period in New York City? There’s some stupidity about a beeping she can’t get to stop, and basically, this goes the way of Miranda’s braces back in Sex and the City: Carrie admits she doesn’t really want it, Seema blithely says they’ll sell it so she can be somewhere she loves, and Carrie ends up back where she started. All in like five days, max. It’s so frustrating. Yes, Carrie is mega-rich, can buy an apartment on a whim, can sell it the next week if she wants (does she even OWN IT YET, technically? I DO NOT THINK THIS IS HOW REAL ESTATE WORKS but maybe it is when you can pay in cash, something I will never know), but it’s a jarringly irritating plot. We all knew Carrie wasn’t going to stay in that place, so why have her jump through such unrealistic hoops? It’s a turn-off. Instead, they could have scrapped the apartment, and doubled down on the scenes where Carrie goes to her storage unit with Charlotte to try and unearth some things she might need and instead digs up some feelings. Sidebar: Carrie apparently bought the place and started staying there but did not… schedule movers? She gazes at the boxes and says things like, “Where do you think sheets would be?” Her original movers would have labeled them, but also, these don’t seem like enough boxes for the size of that penthouse, and ALSO, why did she have them put her sheets in storage? Is she using old sheets? Can she not bring those sheets to the new place? What BED did she put in the new place, if she has not called movers, her headboard is still in storage, and her original bed is still at the old flat? What is happening?!!!?

Carrie opens a box of Big’s records and has a minor meltdown. And in fact, that is the meat of the story: Carrie learning not to fear her memories, but to embrace them; not to resent the end of 15 years together, but to celebrate that she had them, and honor them. Which she does at the end by having some boxes delivered to her actual place and playing “I Can See Clearly Now” while she unpacks. This show does seem to want to be heavier, and have more serious discussions, and let the women show off their acting chops. I appreciate that, but resent it being bogged down by 55-year old Carrie having no idea how to act like a person in the world — without that being her actual storyline. If it were, okay, let’s own THAT and deal with it. But it really isn’t. And they shortchange the important stuff with all the other filler.

Charlotte: Rock wants to chop off their hair, and redecorate their room to remove a “Rose” mural and all of Charlotte’s Madame Alexander dolls. (They and Lily share a room.) Charlotte has all the tiny international ones lined up on a shelf in there, which brings back major memories; one of my sisters collected Madame Alexander dolls, and I LOVED her Little Women ones. Meg was my favorite. I also adored her Goldilocks. The global costumes were also quite pretty, but Lily and Rock announce that they’re very problematic now and Charlotte is deeply distressed. (More so by the words about her dolls than anything Rock said.) During a fight with Miranda — I’ll get there in a second — one of the things Charlotte wails is that nobody can just stay the same anymore. She doesn’t admit to them what any of that is about, which is too bad, although I wouldn’t talk to Carrie about anything either because she just makes it about how no one’s problems are as bad as hers.

Seema: She has lied to her parents that she has a white boyfriend named Dennis who’s always off with Doctors Without Borders. This is to keep them from asking other questions, but it seems like they still ask plenty of them; they’re just Dennis-specific this way. While shopping for a sari for Seema, Carrie invites herself to Diwali specifically so she can buy and wear one herself and have it not be a problem — for real, that’s the crux of her dialogue; she wants to come, she wants to make sure its okay to wear that, she admits she’s relieved because she’d already seen one she wants — and we get a very short bit that’s not at all about the loveliness and light of Diwali itself, but about Seema’s parents grilling Carrie about what’s wrong with Dennis (“Is he FAT?” her mother asks, which…). Carrie tells them and Seema that Seema is impressive and fabulous all on her own and it’s hard to find anyone who can match that. But then later she still asks Seema if she’s happy being alone, which… I know why she’s asking, but Seema JUST had a conversation with her about the way she talks about Seema’s singleness, and Carrie has already asked if Seema would consider an arranged marriage, and now she’s asking for reassurance about being alone. Carrie treats her like an anthropological curiosity, rather than a person, and if I were Seema I’d drive off into the sunset. But not before taking another commission. By the way: Seema looks fantastic this whole time, including in a head-to-toe leopard outfit. Sarita Choudhury is a stunner. (And I wish they had not introduced Diwali just to, in essence, check it off a list.)

Nya: She still isn’t sure about doing more IVF, and is uncomfortable at dinner with their very nice friend who get pregnant as easily as sneezing. So she tries to cut off the conversation any time they bring up their kids, and it comes off strangely. Later, after sex with her extremely nice and supportive husband, we learn that… he is extremely nice and supportive, and doesn’t want her to be nervous about telling him anything. He’s great, they’re both great, and I’m happy for Nya and want to introduce her to Lisa Todd Wexley and Seema and give them their own show. Oh, and these outfits are from this episode.

Miranda: She’s masturbating to her fantasies of Che. (Steve is off shooting Chicago Fire, so none of this affects him yet. I hope they merge universes and reveal that Steve has had a whole separate family in Chicago this entire time.) Brady tries to talk to her through the bedroom door, and she just… shouts answers at him while continuing with her vibrator? Like, maybe switch it off when your son enters the chat? Am I crazy?

The meatiest scene is out in the park, when the ladies have non-alcoholic sparkling drink and spill some of their issues. (No explanation for why Carrie suddenly has on a sensible pantsuit, when she’s been back on her usual bullshit so much in other scenes.) First, we get a meta scene where Miranda rants about Dr. Jonathan Groff making Carrie feel badly, and Charlotte practically SCREECHES that women should be able to freshen up without feeling bad because “Botox and filler are not the end of the world,” and okay, roger that, the Internet hears you, this is all so on-the-nose that it’s going to get lasered off by Dr. Groff. Charlotte is also proud of Miranda for quitting booze cold turkey, and Miranda says she’s just replaced it with masturbation. Carrie makes it about her sadness by cracking resentful that Miranda is discussing her vibrator orgasms when BIG IS DEADDDDDDD, as if Carrie could not somehow buy a vibrator herself to buzz through her pain. (Carrie always does this: Shames someone for forgetting her pain, gets the attention and apology she wants, and then brushes it off with “it’s fine” and a lie about how she always wants to hear about yada yada yada whatever.)

Miranda then confesses to Charlotte that it’s more of a reenactment than a fantasy, and that she and Che had sex when they thought Carrie was asleep. Charlotte squeals that she can’t believe Miranda had an affair. “It’s not an affair, it’s a finger,” Miranda says, and they act grossed out and horrified, as if they have not been having more explicit conversations than this for 20 freaking years. Come on. Samantha would be asking about the girth of the finger. Miranda is defensive (“It’s not judgment, it’s SURPRISE,” Charlotte insists of her reaction) and Carrie gets detached and snarky and makes sarcastic asides. “Why are you trying to make this nothing? It’s SOMETHING,” Charlotte says, and Carrie actually sincerely replies, “No, you know what? Big dying is something. This is… I don’t know what this is.” Her tone is chilly and disgusted and a little angry, but for some reason Miranda doesn’t call her out on that; she only goes after Charlotte’s more vocal shock. Charlotte is trying to process Miranda’s sexuality in clear terms, and Miranda explains that there are no clear terms here — Che is nonbinary, Miranda isn’t necessarily suddenly gay, and she doesn’t know what any of it means except that it made her feel more alive than she has in years. Carrie stares at the table looking bored, and then Charlotte comes out with, “I’m just going to say it. You are not progressive enough for this.” I snorted at that but I can’t tell if I should have because it’s not played as a laugh line? It was just so random. Miranda tries to storm off and Charlotte yells after her, “You’re having a midlife crisis! You should have just dyed your hair!” Her reaction is 100 percent about her fear of change when it comes to Rock, but Charlotte doesn’t actually tell them about Rock so none of this makes sense to them. But from what we’ve seen on the show so far, she also doesn’t seem wrong? Miranda’s story has been that she spent the pandemic on the couch with Steve eating ice cream and they stopped having sex and she’s bored. So I get why Charlotte would think that, but I don’t quite buy her foot-stomping about it this way.

Anyway, Carrie chases Miranda and tells her, “We already lost Samantha. We’re not losing anyone else. PEOPLE ARE GONE. You can disagree but you can’t leave.” Okay, Carrie, but you are also being unsupportive and a jerk about this, and now you’re using your two traumas — Big and Samantha, the latter of which apparently had nothing to do with Miranda and Charlotte — to guilt Miranda into coming back to a conversation that is not REMOTELY productive for her, with people who don’t really want to listen to her. This is when Charlotte sadly notes, “What is wrong with people just staying who they were?” and Carrie intoning, “Some of us just don’t have that luxury.” I don’t know. You have every other luxury. YOU KEPT YOUR OLD APARTMENT AND YOUR ENTIRE OLD WARDROBE. You have literally gone back to where you were, and in some ways, to who you were. Put down your baggage for a second and pick one up for your friend. How has NO ONE noticed, also, that Charlotte is flailing in ways that are clearly not about Miranda? Are you people even friends?

At the end, Miranda messages Che on Instagram to see if they want to hang out, with a hopeful smile. Carrie puts on a froofy red dress and heads into the light, which is basically… the same note on which we ended last week, emotionally. And Charlotte merrily puts away her dolls while beaming at newly short-haired Rock, who papers over the mural with a poster. All three of those endings feel like a mad rush to put an uplifting but unearned bow on the end of the episode.

Hero of the Week: Lisa Todd Wexley, for having the sense to sit this one out.