The following story contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of “And Just Like That.”
Oh, honey. That’s what I call a cameo.
On Thursday, Kim Cattrall reprised her “Sex and the City” role as Samantha Jones — er, make that Annabelle Bronstein — in the Season 2 finale of “And Just Like That,” delighting fans who longed for the return of the lusty publicist known for her ribald wit and powerful libido. For one fleeting moment, the magic of the original “Sex and the City” was alive once more.
In the brief but much-anticipated scene, which opened the episode “The Last Supper Part Two: Entree,” Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is preparing for a farewell dinner party at her soon-to-be-former apartment when her phone rings. It’s Samantha, calling from London to report that she’d been planning to surprise Carrie by jetting to New York for the night but wouldn’t be able to make it because her flight was delayed.
Samantha, who is in a car — presumably on her way home from the airport — then asks Carrie to put her on speaker so she can say goodbye to Carrie’s apartment: “Thank you for everything, you f—— fabulous, fabulous flat.”
Detecting something different in her friend’s voice, Carrie asks, “Samantha, do you have a British accent?”
“Who is Samantha? This is Annabelle Bronstein… from India,” Samantha replies, pronouncing it “Inn-juh,” a delightful callback to a “Sex and the City” episode from 2003 in which she (badly) pretended to be a British woman named Annabelle Bronstein in order to get into the Soho House pool. “Ta and cheerio — and have a great night.” With that, Samantha hung up — and gave her phone a kiss.
While the scene worked as a sweet, fan-pleasing sendoff for Samantha, it did not conclusively eliminate the possibility of a more permanent return to the “Sex and the City” universe — by, say, killing her off on a stationary bike. The series was recently renewed for Season 3.
The exchange, which lasted just over a minute, marked the first time that Samantha has appeared in person on the Max series — and not just as a text message on Carrie’s phone. The cameo, which was announced before the premiere of Season 2, came as a surprise because Cattrall has publicly feuded with her castmates and said repeatedly that she wasn’t interested in reprising the role. The scene was reportedly filmed in March and did not require Cattrall to interact with other cast members or showrunner Michael Patrick King.
And if we take Cattrall’s repeated protestations at face value, it will also be the last time she appears as the character, ever. No, seriously. She’s done. So stop asking!
For her return — and farewell — Samantha wore a gold jacket, red dress and a bright green clutch. The look was styled by Patricia Field, the celebrated costume designer who helped turn “Sex and the City” into a fashion phenomenon during its original run on HBO from 1998 to 2004, but has not been involved in the reboot.
Samantha’s appearance was the most preemptively hyped moment in Season 2 of “And Just Like That” — more feverishly anticipated than even the return of Carrie’s ex-fiance Aidan Shaw (John Corbett), who hit pause on his rekindled romance with Carrie in the finale.
Despite — or perhaps because of — the buzz around it, Cattrall’s supposed swan song is unlikely to quell endless speculation about the reasons for her departure from the franchise.
During the original run of “Sex and the City,” it was often reported that Cattrall had a frosty relationship with her co-stars Parker, Cynthia Nixon (who plays Miranda Hobbes) and Kristin Davis (who plays Charlotte York-Goldenblatt). A five-time Emmy nominee and fan favorite, Cattrall, unlike Parker, was not a producer on the original series. In 2004, she said the series ended because of a pay dispute. “I felt after six years it was time for all of us to participate in the financial windfall of ‘Sex and the City.’ When they didn’t seem keen on that I thought it was time to move on,” she told the English broadcaster Jonathan Ross in 2004.
Despite these grievances, the British-Canadian actor participated in both movies — including the critically reviled sequel, in which her character was arrested in Abu Dhabi — but hostilities escalated circa 2016 when she declined to participate in a third “Sex and the City” film.
According to news reports, Cattrall walked away from the project for financial reasons; in 2017, Cattrall told Piers Morgan she had simply moved on from the character. “It’s a great part. I played it past the finish line and then some, and I loved it,” she said. But last year, Cattrall elaborated in an interview with Variety, saying the script included a storyline in which Miranda’s teenage son sent her unsolicited nude pictures — a twist she found “heartbreaking,” she said. “Can you imagine going back to a job you did 25 years ago? And the job didn’t get easier; it got more complicated in the sense of how are you going to progress with these characters? Everything has to grow, or it dies.”
The rift between Cattrall and Parker continued to play out publicly over the ensuing years, with Cattrall sending a clear message to her former co-star via Instagram in 2018: “You are not my friend. You are not my family.”
Cattrall was not asked to participate in the reboot, which premiered in late 2021, and she claimed she only learned it was happening via social media. “We did not ask her to be part of this because she made it clear that that wasn’t something she wanted to pursue,” Parker told the Hollywood Reporter, “and it no longer felt comfortable for us, and so it didn’t occur to us.”
The Samantha-free “And Just Like That” instantly set social media ablaze, though not necessarily for the right reasons. The reboot was widely criticized for its awkward attempts to diversify and for the way it handled Samantha’s absence, which was explained by saying she had moved to London and fallen out with Carrie after she stopped using her as a publicist. Many fans sorely missed Samantha and the humor and outrageous sensibility she brought to the show. Carrie and Samantha communicated sporadically via text message in Season 1 and seemed to be on the brink of a reconciliation, but even Virtual Samantha was largely absent from Season 2.
While promoting Season 1 of “And Just Like That,” Parker and King both said they could not envision a scenario in which Cattrall returned to the show. As recently as last year, Cattrall herself remained adamant she would not resurrect the character. But in May, Variety reported that Cattrall was returning for a one-night-only encore and would be dressed by Field.
In a June visit to “Today,” Cattrall teased the “great friggin outfit” she and the stylist had found for the scene on a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman.
Shooting the scene “felt like dipping my toe back in time and having a wonderful afternoon, and then a great martini,” she said, warning fans not to expect anything more. “That’s as far as I’ll go.”
Still, she added, “I don’t think I’ll ever say goodbye to Samantha.”
Clearly, she’s not the only one.