It’s unclear what Aidan’s (John Corbett) ex-wife Kathy’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) intentions are when she calls Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) to have coffee in And Just Like That…’s "There Goes the Neighborhood." Is there finally going to be a confrontation about that kiss in Abu Dhabi 13 years ago? Does Kathy want Aidan back? Based on how over-the-top much of AJLT has been so far, something dramatic seems likely to happen as a result of this call.
In a sense, it does — the coffee conversation leads to a major shift in Carrie and the season’s narrative. But it doesn’t come from a big blow-up or a slapstick moment. Instead, the interaction between Kathy and Carrie features grounded, subtle performances by DeWitt and Parker that make for an emotionally earnest scene. Together they bring a sense of gravitas not yet present in this season or even the series at large, at least not since Big (Chris Noth) died. It’s a moment that causes Carrie to genuinely consider someone other than herself for a change, leading to one of the character’s biggest decisions so far: saying goodbye to her Upper East Side apartment for good.
This meeting is very different from the last time Carrie interacted with a partner’s ex (or current) wife. In Season 1 of Sex and the City, Carrie meets Big’s ex-wife Barbra (Noelle Beck) and immediately doubts that she’ll ever match up to her. Then of course there are Carrie’s several run-ins with Natasha (Bridget Moynahan): in the stairwell of Big’s apartment while Natasha is still married to Big, after the affair when Carrie wants to apologize to Natasha, and in And Just Like That… when it’s revealed Big left Natasha $1 million in his will. Each interaction sends Carrie into a spiral, questioning her own choices and the motivations of her partner.
Carrie walks away from Kathy more sure of what she wants and the sacrifices she’s willing to make to get that than ever. Kathy reaches out because she knows Carrie mines her real life for her writing, and she doesn’t want her boys to be written about. When she speaks to Carrie, it’s clear that she respects her, not in any strange or funny way, just in the way that two women who have experienced life can appreciate what the other has been through. While talking with Kathy, it’s clear that Carrie is really listening instead of just waiting for her turn to make it about her. Even when the conversation turns to a potentially cliched “don’t you dare hurt him again” moment, Carrie doesn’t get defensive. Her pensive response shows that she’s actually taking in what going all-in with Aidan will really mean this time, with Kathy’s presence as a reminder of the ripple effect of her actions.
DeWitt and Parker play the scene beautifully, allowing each other to showcase their range within the context of the Sex and the City universe — let’s not forget that DeWitt showed up in SATC Season 6, Episode 6, “Hop, Skip, and a Week” as Fern, Miranda’s co-worker who shames her for not being able to handle work and motherhood. Here, she’s a much gentler, more loving character, and she brings out the softer side of Parker. The writing (this episode is credited to Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky) lends itself well to the tone of the scene, showing restraint in not giving Carrie clever wordplay or sprinkling in unnecessary jokes. When Kathy points out that hurting Aidan also means hurting the boys, Parker’s nuanced, emotionally loaded delivery of the line “I know” says so much in just two words.
In the aftermath of her conversation with Kathy, Carrie knows for sure she’s leaving her beloved apartment behind. And the decision isn’t just to appease Aidan and keep their love fest going, it’s to find a place with enough room for him (the man needs high ceilings) and his family. Carrie is no longer stuck in the past or even infatuated with the present — suddenly she’s thinking about the future. When Aidan and Carrie discuss that future in earnest and all the inevitable ups and downs that will come with it, it’s enough to make even the biggest hater start to believe in their relationship, all thanks to Kathy.
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Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.