[The following contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of And Just Like That..., "The Last Supper Part Two: Entreé."]
In one of the last scenes of And Just Like That...'s Season 2 finale, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Aidan (John Corbett) say goodbye again. It's a loving goodbye, one that holds potential for the future, as Aidan heads back to Virginia to focus on being a father and Carrie stays behind in New York. It might be temporary, or it might not. The five years he asked her to wait for him could certainly result in their relationship fizzling out, or the years could, as he optimistically predicted, go by in a snap. We, the fans who have followed these two through every up, down, and broken laptop, might never find out what ultimately happens with them; we have no idea what sort of ride the recently announced third season of Michael Patrick King's divorced-from-reality Sex and the City spin-off will take us on. Regardless, Carrie wants Aidan to know something: "No matter what happens, this," she says, gesturing to the new Gramercy Park apartment she bought as a sign of commitment to their rekindled love, "and this," she adds, gesturing between them, "was not a mistake."
It's hard not to look at that as meta commentary on the series as a whole. After its debut season revolved largely around a grieving Carrie's struggle to keep going after Big's (Chris Noth) death, AJLT dialed up the hijinks meter in Season 2. There was WidowCon, and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) discussing their kids' sex lives in a Chipotle, and Aidan's baffling jacket. Seema (Sarita Choudhury) came face to face with a penis pump. Che (Sara Ramirez) made Cameos while in bed with Miranda. At one point, Gloria Steinem showed up. This is a show with a frequently inconsistent tone, one full of preposterous conflicts and clownlike outfits. It has never been able to figure out whether it wants to be a zany sitcom or a legitimate drama. It takes place in a universe that sort of resembles one we're familiar with — the one Sex and the City so nimbly constructed over six seasons — if that universe were rendered through a funhouse mirror. As a viewer, you have one of two choices: roll with the bizarre punches as they come or spend 45 minutes every week stewing in frustrated confusion. You also have the choice to either view this series as a success or as a mistake.
And Just Like That… has certainly made a number of mistakes. Depending on who you ask, they range anywhere from the revival's characterization of Miranda to the treatment of its new characters. While the former can be debated, the latter holds weight, as evidenced by Nya's (Karen Pittman) sporadic appearances and weak storyline this season. Many of these mistakes were on glaring display during the finale: Lisa's (Nicole Ari Parker) miscarriage story was given no room to breathe and therefore landed with a thud, while the underwhelming conclusion of the Miranda and Che era felt like watching the writers throw their hands in the air in real time. We can also debate the necessity and execution of the much-hyped Samantha (Kim Cattrall) phone call, which came so early in the episode and had so little impact on the plot that I had completely forgotten about it by the time the credits rolled. And yet, the And Just Like That… Season 2 finale did one thing right: By letting Carrie revisit her past, it allowed her to move forward.
Carrie and Aidan's reunion was breathlessly teased before the season premiered, an act of shameless fan service that actually resulted in a sweet combination of romance and goofiness. That classic, playfully sexy chemistry between Parker and Corbett has always made it feel believable that these two ex-fiancés could come back together, older and wiser. Their history as a couple is a vast graveyard of hurt feelings, but all that hurt left them with enough unfinished business to make it understandable why the twinkly thrill of new-old love would be enough to render the bad memories obsolete as they fell headfirst back into each other's orbit. To my surprise, they talked through them genuinely and openly, each owning up to the things they'd done wrong and confronting old regrets. Carrie began to question whether, in choosing to be with Big, she'd married the wrong man entirely. Even Aidan's refusal to set foot in Carrie's apartment, the site of so many of those bad memories, ended up being slightly more nuanced than it initially seemed: "I was afraid I'd get mad at you all over again," he told her in the season's penultimate episode.
From a narrative perspective, Carrie and Aidan's amicable split at the end of "The Last Supper Part Two: Entreé" was inevitable. If this show, chiefly about the experience of how to maintain and navigate relationships — platonic and otherwise — as a woman over 50, is going to continue, the protagonist can't be tied down. Emotionally, Carrie and Aidan finally seem to have caught up with each other, but saddling her with a committed long-distance boyfriend so early on does not an interesting television show make. To AJLT's credit, the seeds of Aidan's troubled teenage son, Wyatt, were planted early on, coming to a head when the kid overdosed and crashed a car into a tree. You can see the end coming as Aidan steps through the threshold of the apartment he swore he'd never go inside again. The guests from Carrie's alternately peppy and somber "Last Supper" are gone, leaving the two of them alone, headed right back to where they started. But not really, he insists, as her head falls despondently into her hands. "We're not back here again," he says. He doesn't want them to fall apart; he just needs some time to be a dad, until Wyatt is out of his teens. They spend one last night together in the new apartment, and she sends him on his way in the morning.
There's a way to view this cynically. Bringing back Aidan, who has been alternately beloved and derided over the years, could have just been a blatant grab at nostalgia, as Samantha's brief reappearance was. But I'm of the opinion that Aidan's return actually meant something. It was proof of growth, as much as we could've hoped for from these two characters, especially Carrie. Aidan was right when he said they're not back where they started. They're positive they want to be together, and they've both matured enough to agree to not fight about it, to simply hit pause until the timing is right.
At her dinner, Carrie monologues about her desire to let go of expectations, something she also mentions to Aidan. Big's death emotionally uprooted her, sending her back to the familiar comfort of her single girl apartment, while Aidan's reappearance in her life led her to the realization that she doesn't actually need the safety blanket of that very apartment. By allowing Carrie something of an unexpected rebirth in her new Gramercy Place digs, And Just Like That... gets its own rebirth too. Thanking the past is essential to welcoming in the uncertainty of the future, and letting go of an iconic symbol (both the old apartment and, at least for now, Aidan) ushers both the series and its main character into a new era, one less beholden to the framework created by Sex and the City. The season fades out on a shot of Carrie and a similarly unattached Seema drinking Cosmos on a beach in Greece — a fittingly luxurious reward after so much reinvention.
I can forgive AJLT for failing to answer the Biggest question ("Was Big a big mistake?") it posed this season. It's fine that no one knows the answer to that just yet, and it would be a shame to rush into one. What Season 2 did well was prove that reuniting Aidan and Carrie wasn't a mistake, using their relationship as a signifier of how far she's come since the last time they were together. And by doing right by its main character, And Just Like That… proves that it wasn't a mistake either.
And Just Like That... Season 2 is now streaming on Max.