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The Ending Of And Just Like That... Explained

Contains spoilers for "And Just Like That..."

Season 1 of HBO Max's "And Just Like That..." is over, and the series' central characters' stories have come to an end. Although the show has received mixed reviews, according to Casey Bloys, the chief content officer at HBO and HBO Max, the show has been a success with viewers. "In terms of viewership, it's been phenomenal. I couldn't be happier with how it's doing in terms of reception," Bloys told Variety.

Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Preston (née Bradshaw), Cynthia Nixon's Miranda Hobbes, and Kristin Davis' Charlotte York Goldenblatt are down one Musketeer (Kim Cattrall's Samantha Jones), but they are still ladies who lunch. However, their conversations about sex and dating take a backseat to topics such as death, gender identity, and aging. After viewing 10 episodes, it's obvious why the revival doesn't have sex in the title, since no one on the show is having much of it. Aside from Sara Ramirez's Chez Diaz, the show's new additions Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), and Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury) are chaste by the original series' standards.

Fans expecting "And Just Like That ..." to be a bubbly escape from reality were undoubtedly surprised and even disappointed by the show's overall somber tone. Carrie is a grieving widow, Miranda feels trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Charlotte is navigating the challenges of parenting. However, much like the epilogue in Carrie's latest novel, things end on an optimistic note. Here's a breakdown of the ending of "And Just Like That ...." 

Carrie's dark journey ends on a lighter note

Big's (Chris Noth) death in Episode 1 marks the beginning of Carrie's story arc for the season, and she struggles to see the light at the end of the tunnel following the death of the love of her life. The use of light factors heavily into Carrie's plotline, beginning in Episode 6, when Seema introduces Carrie to Diwali, a holiday that, according to Seema, is a celebration of "light triumphing over dark." It's a pivotal episode for Carrie, who is dealing with the inevitability of change. 

She buys an apartment she hates because she fears that living in her old brownstone is taking a step backward. Carrie also faces the harsh reality of the effects of aging on her face, heightened by the unforgiving light of the exam room and her grief. However, by the end of the episode, she begins to strike a balance between her former self and her new reality, and the episode ends with her bathed in bright sunlight.

In the season finale, "Seeing the Light," Carrie feels Big is trying to communicate with her through a faulty lamp, a metaphor for her conflicted emotions about saying her final goodbye to Big and moving on. As she struggles to figure out what to do with Big's ashes, she dreams of Paris, the City of Light. Light has practical applications as a way to see things more clearly and, for Carrie, is symbolic of hope and new beginnings

Miranda's frustrating happy ending

Miranda, the ambitious, skeptical redhead from the original, is replaced by a woman in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Enter Chez, who is the catalyst for Miranda to upend her life. 

During an appearance on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Nixon told Cohen, "Oftentimes, there's one person that is making the breakup happen and another person who is reluctant. But I have to say: That person who is reluctant is pretty miserable, too, and they're just not admitting it" (via Cosmopolitan).

Miranda tells Carrie she'd rather be alone than married, but she needs Chez to validate her feeling before walking away from her marriage. Having an affair, let alone trying to justify one, is entirely out of character for Miranda who leaves Steve Brady (David Eigenberg) during the first "Sex and the City" film after he admits to infidelity.

In Season 6 of "Sex and the City," Miranda warns Carrie not to give up her life in NYC and move to Paris, but she expects unwavering support from her best friend when she decides to become Chez's full-time groupie in the finale. Miranda acknowledges her drastic transformation, telling Carrie, "Am I not allowed to change a little bit? Or a lot? Or change back again if I feel like it?" She sounds impervious to the destructive behavior she's displaying. Nobody is denying Miranda the right to evolve, but does she have to become so unlikeable in the process?

And Just Like That... Season 1 deals with loss and self-reflection

Throughout Season 1 of "And Just Like That..." two major themes are dealing with loss and being true to oneself. Whether it's the death of a spouse, the end of a marriage, the inability to conceive a child, dreams passing unrealized, the end of a friendship, or dashed expectations, all of the main characters are grieving. 

However, the loss paves the way for introspection. The most obvious example is Carrie, who is trying to figure out who she is without Big. Showrunner Michael Patrick King told Variety, "She [Carrie] says the most challenging relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone else to love you, well, that's fabulous. I always wanted to test Carrie's relationship with herself, to see if that was literally something that could stand the test of a great tragedy."

Charlotte is forced to reevaluate her vision of having a picture-perfect family in light of Rocky's evolving sense of identity. In the finale, Charlotte expresses that she thinks she's a terrible mother because Rocky rejects many of the labels Charlotte embraces. In the finale, people-pleaser Charlotte accepts what she can't change, stops lamenting what she doesn't have, and celebrates herself.

Whether you agree with Miranda's journey or not, she decides to abandon the familiar for the unknown, and despite the shaky storytelling, it's the braver choice.

And Just Like That... reunites Samantha and Carrie ... sort of

One looming question that remains unanswered at the end of "And Just Like That..." is what happens during the long-awaited off-camera reunion between Samantha and Carrie? The first episode of "And Just Like That..." doesn't do right by Samantha, whose absence is attributed to a business dispute with Carrie. However, the series eventually finds a way to infuse Cattrall's character into the show in a meaningful way. Carrie reaches out to her former friend when she's feeling vulnerable, and Samantha responds in her typical no-holds-barred fashion.

Sadly, those fans hoping for Cattrall to reprise her role will have to make do with passing references and text messages. When asked if the door is open for Cattrall to return, King told Variety, "No. Just like there was no thought that Kim would ever participate in 'And Just Like That,' because she's said what she had said. I have no realistic expectation of Kim Cattrall ever appearing again."

And just like that ... our hearts are broken.