Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 6 of The CW's "The Carrie Diaries," titled "Endgame."
So that's why Carrie hates to cook!
I haven't truly enjoyed an episode of "The Carrie Diaries" since the pilot until Monday night's "Endgame." The Thanksgiving-focused episode kept young Carrie primarily in Connecticut dealing with high school romances and attempting to fill her mom's suburban shoes by being a perfect housewife. But "Sex and the City" fans know Carrie Bradshaw far too well than to watch her put on an apron and expect it to fit.
In "Endgame," Carrie wanted to cook what she called the perfect Thanksgiving meal for her sister and father as an attempt to pay tribute to her mother's favorite holiday. The episode opened with a flashback of Carrie's mom cooking Thanksgiving dinner as a toddler-aged Carrie stood with curly pigtails hugging her mom's leg.
As Carrie planned out her meal, it became clear that Dorrit did not want recreate Thanksgiving. Instead, Dorrit attempted to sabotage her older sister by ruining recipes, hiding cookbooks and smoking pot in the house. To make matters even more stressful for 16-year-old Carrie, her dad Tom decided to invite her boyfriend George and his father over for the day.
Mouse ran over to Carrie's house with some backup recipes, as Tom, George and George's dad got comfortable watching football on the couch. We learned that Sebastian was left alone by his mother on Thanksgiving, who decided to fly to St. Barts for a weekend away with her tennis instructor. Maggie spent the day with Walt's uptight family.
The episode accomplished two things that made it work for me. First, there were multiple "Sex and the City" homages that made it really fun to watch for a diehard fan. Second, it used the Thanksgiving holiday to delve deeper into Carrie's background and explore her relationship with her family. We always knew that Carrie feared showing men the "real" her, but "Endgame" gave viewers some serious adolescent examples as to why that fear might exist. Similarly, we know that Carrie loves her friends dearly as an adult, but we know absolutely nothing about the love she has for her family.
Some of the better "Sex and the City" homages included Carrie announcing that she was nervous for George to see the "real" her. "George has only seen 'Manhattan Carrie.' I don't want the 'Connecticut Carrie' to scare him," she lamented.
This line and inner-conflict reminded me of the Season 1 "Sex and the City" episode titled "The Drought." Remember when Carrie farted in bed with Big, which led her to have a meltdown and paint her apartment for a couple of days? When Miranda came over to check on her frazzled friend, Carrie announced that she always felt like she was acting like different versions of herself around Big. This is something that Carrie seems to have done even as a teenager, as she felt like she showed George one side of herself and Sebastian another.
I also though young Carrie was truly connected with her HBO self when she announced that she didn't know turkeys came in different sizes, and when she subsequently blew up the oven. Her Thanksgiving dinner attempt was a total failure, and it led to her freaking out on her father for sitting on the couch and leaving all the work to her. Carrie unintentionally showed George the real her: a well-meaning teenager who can can't cook and freaks out when she's overwhelmed from biting off more than she can chew. George adores her regardless of her more human qualities, something that reassures Carrie as he leaves her house unfed. Carrie decides that she will probably never cook again -- and will likely use her oven as storage in the future -- and we know that she will.
Sebastian decided to head over to Carrie's house Thanksgiving night because he was feeling lonely and just wanted to talk to her. This led to her inviting him in for some bean dip and Fritos (the last minute Thanksgiving dinner put together by her father after Carrie blew up the turkey in the oven). I am enjoying how Carrie feels pulled between both Sebastian and George, and look forward for some more dramatic moments ahead.
"The Carrie Diaries" airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.