I cannot stress enough how many spoilers this post contains for the events of the first episode of And Just Like That …
The first few minutes of HBO Max’s big, tulle-filled revival of Sex and the City, And Just Like That … try so hard to return to normalcy that Calvin Coolidge himself would be proud. Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte reunite over brunch and speak almost entirely in exposition about getting through the pandemic, how they feel old now, and how Samantha has moved to London after a friendship-ending fight with Carrie (explaining away the not-so-friendly relations between Kim Cattrall and the rest of her co-stars in real life). Look, the show seems to want to say, this is Sex and the City as you remember it! And yes, the rest of the episode does feel a lot like the old TV show, though now with more characters of color and more explicit acknowledgment that, for a sex columnist, Carrie is a prude.
But then! We get to one heck of a wild final sequence: Carrie goes off to Charlotte’s daughter’s piano recital, leaving Big at home to commune with his favorite Peloton instructor, Allegra Planche. Once Charlotte’s daughter takes the stage and surprises everyone with a skilled rendition of the third movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” the show cuts between her virtuosity and Big sweating it out on the bike. Her hands race across the keys! Big pants! Then he gets off his bike, texts Carrie they should go out that night, and, as the music builds, collapses onto the floor of his immense shower, seemingly from a heart attack. By the time Carrie gets home, the light is almost gone from his eyes. She screams and rushes to hold him and then we hear in voice-over, “And just like that, Big died.” Naturally, we have some questions about, well, all of this.
Did Peloton Approve?
The idea that riding an exercise bike could kill you is not exactly great brand association, but the characters use the brand name repeatedly. Big mentions he’s excited about getting a shoutout during his 1,000th class, and Allegra herself is played by Peloton instructor Jess King, using an exaggerated Spanish accent. In my attempts to Google “can a Peloton kill you” after this shocking moment, I found that spin classes can cause biochemical effects that resemble heart attacks (though those are normal), that there are health risks associated with extreme exercise, and that there have been cases in which Peloton’s treadmill line led to injury and death, though those were mechanical. Peloton’s own website, perhaps ready for the traffic this episode would generate, features a list of “common cardio myths,” including one that reads, “Doing cardio is always beneficial for your heart.” (Miranda repeats this, nearly verbatim, in episode two.) Peloton’s site recommends that you “always consult your doctor first before starting any new workout routine,” which does really feel like something Big should have done.
If Peloton did approve, was it contractually negotiated that Big could only die once he got off the bike?
This is my new theory, because there’s a good chunk of time during which he grabs what looks like a very fluffy towel and wanders into the shower before he starts clutching his arm.
Did the title of the show or the dialogue in this sequence come first?
It seems that the prerequisite for a compelling Sex and the City revival would be Carrie’s embarking on the single life again, so in a way it makes sense that the writers decided they needed to write off Big. But who suggested death? Who suggested this form of death? And who suggested ending the scene with the winking line at one of Carrie’s favorite abrupt segues? Is the “that” in the title now supposed to refer to the angel of death? Did they already have the title and decide to throw the line into the show, or did they land on that line and decide it just had to be the title?
Is the instructor’s name Allegra because the piano music is fast?
I mean, yes, obviously. Right?
Who decided there needed to be so many swooping shots over the piano as all of this happens?
It feels like one of those scenes in an action movie where there’s a bomb hidden underneath the orchestra.
Why did they decide to play “You Got the Love” by Candi Stanton over the credits?
Carrie does not got the love anymore! This is dramatic irony, and a call-back to the use of the song at the very end of the original series. Were they trying to kill us too? (Secondary question: Where does Candi Stanton rank among Big’s many favorite artists whom the couple listened to during the pandemic? Tertiary question: Will Carrie keep the record collection?)
How much time did Big and Carrie spend on renovating that bathroom?
I mean, seriously, it’s gargantuan. You could fit an entire Equinox in there. Carrie better hope Big’s estate planning passes his money off to her, because she cannot afford that on a podcasting salary.