... Or, I Love That Carrie Wears Gloves in This Episode For No Discernible Reason. Goooo, Gloves!
In the Land of Carrie and Big: one day, Carrie spies Big squiring his mom (who turns out to be Marian Seldes! Cool!) to church. Carrie decides that she would like to go with Big and his mom to church/meet Big's mom/have Big give her a definite sign that she's a real part of his life and future, seeing as how they've been together for a frickin' year. Carrie forces a meeting with Big's mum, and he introduces her as a "friend." (Big: "My mother doesn't need to meet another girlfriend." Awww, the cockles of my heart, I know they are warmed!) Big insists that he needs to do things "on his own time frame" (whatever that might be...?) and that she can't push that. Carrie asks him to tell her--not the world, not his mother, just her--that she's "the one." He won't. Finally convinced that Big just won't be able to give her what she needs/truly let her into his life, Carrie breaks up with him. Sad. (For her, I mean, I was delighted.)
Meanwhile, Miranda is dating a playwright named Thomas. Turns out, Thomas is Catholic. And because of said Catholicism, feels that sex is dirty, shameful, the works, and showers immediately afterwords--every time, without fail. (Carrie: "Have you tried joining him in the shower?" Miranda: "No, I'm afraid he'll bring out garlic and a cross!") Miranda tries to talk to him about it, and a Massive Hissy Fit on his part results, followed by his dumping of her. Miranda subsequently decides to get back with Skipper. ($%^&%$#.)
Charlotte is losing her faith that she will meet and marry the man of her dreams. (Wait, didn't we just have this conversation in Episode Ten?) So she goes to see various, dubious psychics, hoping they will reassure her that True Love is right around the corner. They don't. (Hmmm, maybe they're not that dubious, after all, because... turns out, they're right!) Eventually, she includes that she just needs to have faith, independently of crackpot psychic's pronouncements.
Samantha meets James, whom she believes to be her true love and "a man I could actually marry." Surely, no disasters lurk on the horizon there! Except when they sleep together, it transpires that certain things are not exactly as Sam might have wished or anticipated. What specific things, you ask? (Samantha, to the other ladies: "His dick is like a gherkin!") Ah. This seems poised to cause some conflict in Season Two! (Additionally, I wonder how the actor who plays James's agent sold him this part. "Well, you'll play this charming, intelligent, delightful guy...")
Random, Uninteresting Fact: The church which Big and his mom go to turns out to be a Presbyterian one. Yay, Marian Seldes is one of my people! On the other hand, boo, Big is one of my people!
Person of Color Watch: Add two more folks to our "people of color who have speaking parts" tally! The charlatan psychic whom Charlotte consults to learn whether or not she will ever be married is African-American. (Greeeeeat.) Also, Stanford has a fetching new boyfriend (who disappears hereafter... again, poor Stanford) who is Hispanic. He seems like a nice guy. He has good taste in hats. Better than being a crook!
"The One" Language: I think it's interesting that there's a lot of talk in this episode about people being "the one." (Sam thinks James is "the one"--very temporarily, Charlotte wants to know if she'll ever find "the one," Carrie wants Big to reassure her that she's "the one," etc.) Later in the series, there's actually a whole episode centered around this idea--that there is, as Charlotte puts it, "that one perfect person who's out there to complete you." Is this true? Or is it a damaging myth, which is responsible for untold emotional anguish and unrealistic expectations? It's one of the big push-pull aspects of the series... on the one hand, questioning the idea that we each have one ideal soulmate out there who will make our life perfect, and on the other hand... telling stories which suggest that "the one" is, indeed, more reality than myth.
In terms of this episode--Charlotte's still very clearly in the "If I am patient, some day my prince will come" camp, Sam's notion that she has met the one perfect man for her is pretty rapidly exploded, and I think that Carrie uses "the one" language in a relatively complex way. When she says that she wants someone to know that she's "the one," she seems to be saying that she wants someone who (unlike Big) will really see her, appreciate her, and truly want to be with her. This... does not seem unreasonable!
Catholics=Not Necessarily Deeply Messed Up About Sex Watch : Those who are Catholic can speak to this better than I, but I feel that it does at least deserve a mention that there are certainly many delightful, radical Catholic individuals and organizations who/which are way more sex positive than our friend Thomas the Playwright here is. Does the Catholic Church have a really nasty history (and, in many respects, present) when it comes to sexuality? (Way to ban birth control and abortion, define masturbation as an abomination, condemn pre-marital sex, and deem homosexuality a sin, celibate Catholic hierarchy! Well done!) Absolutely. But since Thomas is one of the few explicitly Catholic characters on the show, and he's a total loon-ball, it feels only fair to give a (as the kids say) shout out to non-loon-ball Catholics who are working to change Catholicism's nasty sexual culture for the better. Keep up the good work, y'all!
Breaking Up with Blokes Who Are Damaging and Destructive Watch : The main event of this episode, of course, is Carrie breaking up with Big. Over pretty much the entire season, we've watched her ask him for some kind of commitment, and him slimily dodge said requests for some kind of commitment. It seemed like a pattern which could have spun out forever--Carrie asking, and Big denying. But it doesn't. (Well--doesn't this season, anyway.) I'm glad that the writers had Carrie break up with him, rather than the other way around--to use that beloved feminist word, giving her some agency in the process. She's clearly in love with him, it clearly hurts her dreadfully--but she does it, because she knows that she deserves more than what he has to give her--because she'd rather risk venturing back out in the world alone than be with a man who is as closed-off and slippery as Big is. She's definitely the one who's in control of the process, she's clearly acting to protect and care for herself--excellent. (Let's just forget what awaits us in Seasons Two-Six, and the first movie, for one blessed moment...)
Notable Quotables : Carrie, after breaking up with Big and fearing that she's lost her faith in herself/love/the world: "Then I realized that I do have faith. Faith in myself. Faith that I would one day meet someone who would be sure that I was the one."
Next Up...? SEASON TWO. Goody, Season Two has all kinds of festive treats in store for us...