Maybe it's for the best that Kim Cattrall's long-awaited cameo came in the opening moments of the And Just Like That... Season 2 finale, "The Last Supper Part Two: Entrée."
As Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) prepares to host one last dinner party in her old apartment, she receives a phone call from Samantha (Cattrall), with whom she's slowly reconnected since Samantha's move to London. Samantha explains that, with some help from Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), she made plans to surprise Carrie, but due to a last-minute flight delay, she'll no longer be able to make it.
"Wait a minute, you were flying all the way to New York for an overnight?" asks Carrie. "Well, it is your apartment, and I have to pay my respects," says Samatha, who demands Carrie put her on speaker so she can bid farewell to the "f*cking fabulous, fabulous flat."
When Carrie balks at the slight British accent, Cattrall's character insists she's not Samantha, but "Annabelle Bronstein" from "Injah," a callback to their Sex and the City days. In Season 6, Samantha was so desperate to get into SoHo House that she picked up someone else's ID and spent the day pretending to be Annabelle Bronstein — until an employee discovered the scheme and kicked her out.
The phone call ends immediately after the nod to the original series. "Ta and cheerio," says Samantha, kissing Carrie through the phone. "And have a great night."
And just like that... Samantha Jones slipped away, likely never to appear again. Regardless of the brevity of the cameo, which lasted just over a minute, the moment served up plenty of nostalgia for SATC fans, who praised the "lovely" reunion between her and Carrie. And yet, for that very reason, Cattrall's guest spot felt entirely out of place in an episode that otherwise prioritized letting go of the past and looking to the future.
If the first season of the SATC sequel was about putting these characters in uncomfortable situations and shaking up their worlds, Season 2 placed them on new paths and nudged them forward. Carrie rekindled her romance with Aidan (John Corbett), and though they initially found themselves falling into old patterns, the relationship pushed both of them to grow in unexpected ways — hence Carrie's sudden willingness to sell her beloved apartment, something she refused to do throughout her marriage to Big (Chris Noth). Miranda parted ways with Che (Sara Ramírez) and settled into her new job at a human rights organization, quickly climbing the ranks from intern to temporary manager. (While laughably ridiculous, the storyline at least restored a familiar version of the character.) Even Charlotte, who held down the comedic end of the show this season, returned to her career as a gallerist and attempted to find a new work-life balance.
The finale advances each of these storylines in efficient fashion as the core trio evaluates what comes next for each of them. Miranda and Charlotte choose their own adventures: The former mends her fractured relationships with Steve (David Eigenberg) and Che and excels during a work-related interview on the BBC, while the latter sets clear expectations for her husband Harry (Evan Handler) about how the physical and emotional household labor would be divided from now on.
Carrie is less fortunate, as Aidan breaks off their relationship (for now), explaining that his 14-year-old son Wyatt needs him, and he won't be able to commit to her until he's grown. Still, they hold out hope for a future together — "Five years will go by like [that]" he tells Carrie — and Carrie ends the season on a positive note, sipping cosmopolitans with Seema (Sarita Choudhury) on the beach in Greece. Carrie may not know what lies ahead, but as she tells Aidan, everything that happened over the course of Season 2, from her new, multi-bedroom apartment to their whirlwind romance, "was not a mistake."
The other characters' storylines are similarly progressive. Seema professes her love for film director Ravi (Armin Amiri), and they resolve to make things work despite his five-month work trip to Egypt; Anthony (Mario Cantone) opens up to Giuseppe (Sebastiano Pigazzi) in new ways — "This is not about your ass walls. This is about your other walls," Giuseppe explains; and Nya (Karen Pittman) connects with a man (the Michelin-starred chef behind the dinner, played by Gary Dourdan) for the first time since separating from her husband. And while Lisa (Nicole Ari Parker) is still grieving her miscarriage, she and Herbert (Chris Jackson) end the episode wrapped in one another's arms, ready to face whatever comes their way.
Sandwiched between these exciting developments is an extended scene in which Carrie makes everyone go around the table and say something they want to "let go of" in one word. It's not a subtle exercise — showrunner Michael Patrick King left that at the door long ago — but when it comes to leaving the past behind, it's effective, and it reflects And Just Like That's priorities as the show enters its recently announced third season (and beyond).
Cattrall's nostalgic cameo already had no bearing on everything that followed, but the episode's forward-looking mentality made her minute-long scene feel even more unnecessary. In a season finale explicitly concerned with matters of the future, the return of Samantha Jones amounted to a moment of fan service that struck a discordant note. It's a disappointing final appearance for such an iconic character, but then again, what's more Samantha than throwing an entire episode off balance with just a few lines of dialogue?
And Just Like That... Season 2 is streaming on Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.