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What We Learn About Grief in 'And Just Like That…' Episode 9

Well, it appears as though everyone is experiencing growing pains in this episode. Fortunately Charlotte seems to be up to the task at hand and comes to the rescue.

Before we continue, just another reminder that there will be spoilers beyond this point for “And Just Like That…” Season 1 Episode 9. Not up to date? Read Season 1 Episode 8’s recap here.

Carrie’s new neighbor, who is a jewelry designer, gives her a ring to wear to promote on social media. When she does she notes Carries wedding ring which prompts a conversation about why she’s still wearing it. Instead of taking it off, she ends up putting Big’s ring on too. She is supposed to be meeting Peter for their redo date but decides to cancel because she doesn’t think she’s ready, considering she can’t give up her wedding ring.

Meanwhile, Che and Miranda are navigating their new relationship, which is proving to be awkward as Che doesn’t consider Miranda their girlfriend. Miranda appears desperate to make the relationship something Che isn’t capable of and this comes to a head when she shows up unannounced at Che’s. Che tells Miranda she needs to stop viewing their relationship through heteronormative limiting tropes even though they also confirm that they currently aren’t having sex with anyone else.

In the Goldenblatt household, drama unfolds when Lily gets her period and wants to learn how to use a tampon. Charlotte abandons dinner party preparations to coach Lily through the experience only to return to the dinner table to a burnt Challah and anxious, hungry guests.

When Miranda enlists the help of all the ladies to paint the new domestic abuse shelter that Nya has been developing, things get uncomfortable between a distraught Steve and Carrie. She ends up stepping in paint after he interrogates her about what she knew and when regarding Miranda and Che. As Carrie is washing the paint off her shoes, Bigs ring falls off her finger and goes down the sink drain. Steve manages to rescue it from the pipe leading Carrie to realize that maybe she needs to put both rings away for safe keeping.

Other happenings of note at the painting event include a tough conversation between Nya and her husband regarding him still wanting children and Lily losing track of the string on her tampon prompting she and Charlotte to spend a frantic afternoon with Lily in the port a potty trying to get her tampon out under the tutelage of a very annoyed Charlotte.

The episode ends with Carrie texting Peter to try to set up a dinner date and accompanying Seema to a nightclub owned by a French man who has taken a fancy to Seema.

Let’s break down some major themes in this episode:

Grief isn’t linear

The use of the wedding ring as a symbol for the ways in which grief can persist in this episode was really poignant. On the one hand we have Carrie who lost her husband suddenly and catastrophically to a heart attack. On the other hand, you have Steve who lost his wife just as suddenly but more ambiguously. In his case he was blindsided by her wanting a divorce when he was very much still in love with and committed to her. In some ways his grief might even be more complicated because of the fact that the source of his grief is still alive and well.

For both Carrie and Steve their wedding rings have meaning beyond just the trope of marriage. They represent a sense of connection and belonging to someone else and something bigger. In a way their security and even a part of their identity was ripped out from under them and holding on to those rings is a way of remaining in some way tethered to that security and identity.

Carrie realizes that for her the best way to honor that loss is to put her ring away for safe keeping, which in a way releases her to rediscover herself in other relationships. Steve’s profession that “til death do us part” means he will never remove his ring indicates that he is not ready to let go of that identity. He might never be… and that’s OK too. There’s no one right answer to how one moves through and emerges from loss and grief.

Health ed for teens and menopausal women

My husband’s look of shock and curiosity at the idea that women don’t inherently know how to put in a tampon was indicative of something quite thought-provoking. He asked me if anyone ever showed me how to do that. Honestly the answer is… no. And I don’t recall having much discussion about how to use one in health or sex education classes in school either.

In fact, women’s health was and continues to be somewhat cryptic and often shame-ridden, only reinforcing misogynistic ideas that there is something inherently gross about women’s bodies and sexuality. So seeing Charlotte openly discuss menopause with the other ladies and teach Lily how to use a tampon in so much detail was refreshing. And honestly I’ve never heard the term “flash period” and I’m at the age where I should be having open conversations with others about perimenopause and menopause. If you think I have, you’d be wrong. Perhaps I need to change that.

Relationships and communication

Che and Miranda are evolving in their relationship, however there still seems to be some murkiness in terms of Miranda’s comprehension of how Che views their relationship and what the expectations of that relationship should be. You see this when Miranda says she’s Che’s girlfriend and Che balks at it, and again later when Miranda shows up at Che’s unannounced and Che reinforces that they aren’t dating… they are just trying to get to know one another (and having sex). You can see Miranda struggling with exactly what that means throughout the rest of the episode when she chooses not to answer Che’s phone call saying she’s been “too available lately” but then frets over the fact that Che doesn’t leave a message. I may just be catastrophizing, which is something I do easily, but I honestly think their relationship is going to blow up spectacularly.

In another moment, Nya and her husband have a very uncomfortable discussion about having children. Nya has made it clear that she doesn’t want to do another round of IVF or continue trying to get pregnant, and that she’s content with the relationship she and her husband have. But her husband continues to bring it up and almost issues an ultimatum toward the end of the episode that he shouldn’t have to give up on his dream of having a child.

This is the kind of discussion that can really throw a monkey wrench into a relationship. Becoming parents is a huge decision and since in this case becoming pregnant comes at a disproportionate cost to Nya, it’s a bit unfair of her husband to put her in that position. I’ll be curious to see how they navigate this

Honorable Mentions

This is a bit tongue in cheek, but as a chef who happens to be Jewish, I’m appalled that Harry burned the Challah. He had one job while Charlotte took on the Herculean task of guiding Lily through how to use a tampon and he failed miserably. All I can say is…Oy Vey.

Will Nya and her husband figure out a compromise to their stalemate regarding having children? Will Carrie and Peter start dating? Is Che and Miranda’s relationship destined to fail? Stay tuned.

Image via HBO Asia YouTube page

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