Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.
Much like Carrie's misguided trip to Paris, the much-anticipated last episode of "Sex and the City" was a mess.
Perhaps it had to be this way. After all the hype leading up to the HBO series' conclusion Sunday night, how could the show's final 45 minutes not collapse under their own weight?
Rather than tie up loose ends, the usually crack writers decided to fray them just a little bit more, adding new plot points and needlessly cranking up the drama in ways both unexpected and unwelcomed. Just as the "Seinfeld" foursome found themselves in unfamiliar territory at that show's end, the "Sex and the City" stars seemed to have stumbled onto the set and script of a different show.
Not only did Carrie's relationship with the aloof Aleksandr Petrovsky have to go sour but he had to slap her (accidentally, of course) on her way out? Charlotte and Harry had to have their adoption hopes dashed by one couple before finding out they will be getting a child from China? Steve's mother had to lose her mind so that we could see how compassionate Miranda had become? And -- perhaps the unkindest cut of all -- Samantha had to lose her libido?
For all its glib humor and frank sex talk, the six seasons of "Sex and the City" were made great by their subtlety. Sadly, such nuance was barely evident Sunday. Did Carrie have to step in dog poop to illustrate that her decision to move to Paris stank? Yikes.
There were instances when even the hardest-hearted critic found herself blinking back tears, however. The scene when Mr. Big -- on his way to proclaim his love to Carrie -- passes her on the street unseen was a stroke of genius, as was the image of Miranda bathing Steve's ill mother. And of course, when we discover that Big's name is John when it pops up on Carrie's cellphone, well, those were the kinds of moments that kept us tuning in all along.
But now the screen has faded to black. No more ogling the amazing (and sometimes amazingly ridiculous) fashions. No more gritting our teeth as yet another relationship tanks. No more cosmopolitans. No more Carrie.
She will be missed, as will her trustworthy compatriots. For some viewers, especially the women who saw themselves reflected in the characters, the end of "Sex and the City" has loomed large -- sometimes tearfully so.
Like the casts of other dearly departed shows ("Cheers" and "M*A*S*H" come to mind), Carrie and Co. have become, if not friends, certainly a consistent and reliable presence in the lives of their followers.
Unlike those shows, however, "Sex" was made up almost entirely of excruciatingly personal moments. Whether it was Carrie -- leg in the air -- getting a bikini wax or Samantha writhing in ecstasy or Charlotte quietly learning that her in vitro treatments had failed yet again, we were there to share it all. We had a seat at the cafe table where a delightful foursome of actresses (Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis) congregated in nearly every episode, dishing about sex, loves, failures, and triumphs. Now, we can only assume that they're still there, lattes in hand, chatting about any number of things. Sniff.
That is what made the final episode something of a disappointment. Yes, Carrie's choices -- between Alek and Big, between Paris and New York, between being the person she thought she needed to be and the person she was -- all needed to be resolved. But beyond that, all we really needed was another half an hour at the table with the girls.
Unfortunately, we got only a glimpse of a tearful reunion. For now, fans will have to fill in the blanks -- and the Blahniks -- on their own.