It's Thanksgiving 1984 – the Bradshaw fam's first Turkey Day without Mom, which is fraught for everyone. Carrie, naturally, wants to make every single thing her mom used to make, exactly how her mom used to make it, to keep Mom's memory alive.
It's a sweet instinct, but it doesn't look promising for her plan, and not just because we already saw the turkey going all IED in the previews. Carrie repeats the word "perfect" in her voiceover at least 27 times before the first commercial break – a scripted-TV guarantee that it's all going to go pear-shaped – and both family and friends are doubtful that Carrie can pull it off given her weak-at-best cooking skills. Carrie's like, it's fiiiiiine, Grandma's going to do most of it anyway, and at least George, recently promoted to boyfriend, is supportive: "I've never dated anyone who cooked anything before." George says this while giving Carrie a "tour" of Central Park that includes a statue he peed on the first time he got drunk…when he was eleven. He then jokes about the first cigarette he smoked: "Ahh, pre-school." Hee. We suspect George isn't long for the "Diaries" world, but we enjoy him. (And he's a Jets fan! …We're from Jersey, sue us.)
But guess who's stuck in Florida thanks to a storm? Correct. No Grandma. We're bummed, because we wanted to see who they cast as Carrie and Dorrit's grandmother; Dorrit is bummed because this slows Carrie down not a single mph, although she's wigging out that George and his dad Harlan are also attending Tryptophanaroo, because George is probably used to "foie gras, whatever that is." "It's a fat duck," Dorrit grouses. Carrie: "How do you even know that?"
Dorrit knows a lot of things, like how to sabotage Thanksgiving. She smears Mom's recipes; she hides the relevant cookbooks; she takes Carrie's signed picture of Shaun Cassidy and relocates it to the front hall; she bonds with George to distract Carrie; she hides in her room and smokes pot.
But Thanksgiving probably wasn't going to go so well anyway. It goes well for us, as AnnaSophia Robb goes full frontal Lucille Ball in the scene where she and Mouse – who ate early at the country club and came over to help (and report that, though Donna LaDonna couldn't STFU about Sebastian, her new booooyyyfriend, Sebastian himself was AWOL) – have to de-giblet the turkey. While that's going on, George gives Dorrit a bit of guff for her goth "shtick" but impresses her by relating that he got a shrink for his seventh birthday. "I was a biter." Dorrit delightedly gasps that she was a biter 'til she was eight. Love it. Carrie's terrified that Dorrit will tell the story of the time Carrie peed on Chip and Dale at Disneyworld, though.
Boom goes the dine-amite
It's about to blow up, literally, as Mouse informs Carrie that Harlan called her "the Oriental maid," the turkey catches fire, and Dad can't open the stove and wails to Carrie, "What did you do?" "Everything!" Carrie yells. "Oriental maid begs to differ," Mouse grumbles. Carrie goes on a rant about trying to do everything. Her thanks for covering for Dorrit's joint-smoking? Every fuse in the house blows. Harlan, from the darkness: "Now this feels like Thanksgiving." Amen, brother.
But of course, it's actually for the best. Dorrit shares that Mom actually got really stressed out by Thanksgiving, and Dorrit is trying to ruin it because she doesn't want to think about Mom. Well, duh. Carrie admits that she couldn't let go of the tradition. Double duh. (She also says that, when she's grown, she'll only use the oven "for storage or something.") Once she feels like Carrie is hearing her, Dorrit softens, as she always does, and sweetly offers to pull out the giblets next year. We really love how well the show does this sibling relationship, and especially how angry Dorrit is…but how at the same time she longs to be included and understood. Stefania Owen is a keeper.
The candles are lit. The ambrosia salad and bean dip with Fritos are brought out. Dad sits in a dark den, feels guilty about watching the Patriots/Cowboys game instead of helping in the kitchen, and has an epiphany about not letting his daughters struggle alone, which it seems like he has in every episode, so maybe move that along or drop it, writers.
Maggie, who tried heroically to fit in at Walt's WASP-y house – pearls, politesse, the whole bit – also drops by. She and Walt scrapped over him letting his parents think he's going to Dartmouth, instead of to NYU and an advertising job; Walt in turn couldn't believe she'd just follow him to college, since she always seems so sure of herself. When Deputy Illicit Sex tries to mack on her, she sends him away, and Carrie VOs something about respecting herself and making a plan, and it seems out of character for Maggie to drift along after guys, and not a thought-out plot, but if it was an excuse for Maggie's brother to inform us that he wanted to be the lead singer of Bachman Turner Overdrive when he was a kid, we can live with it.
Carrie falls all over herself apologizing to George, who naturally shrugs that this doesn't even rate among HIS Thanksgiving disasters, and he'll call her tomorrow. But who should turn up next…
Sebastian! Looking sheepish and toting Scotch (which we assumed he was bringing over to Donna's, since she just called him), he admits that he really likes Thanksgiving, and was bummed that his mother went to St. Bart's with her tennis coach and blew him off. He also confesses that Carrie was the one he wanted to see and talk to, and asks hopefully if Carrie ever wishes she could go back and change things "that maybe were mistakes?" She knows what he means, but says no: "You can't go back. Choices get made and things happen because of them." Is this the same Carrie that cheats on Aidan with a married Big half a lifetime later? Because this Carrie is very mature and wise!
Still, he's invited in. Dad makes an exception, and is glad he did so when he finds out Sebastian hates the Cowboys. Cute ep that does better-than-average work with the usual Turkey Day clichés.
Totally Awesome '80sMaggie makes a "Terminator" reference.
Deputy Sex With A Minor asks Maggie why she's dressed like Nancy Reagan.
Dorrit describes Mouse as "having a total cow."
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"The Carrie Diaries" airs Mondays at 8 PM on The CW.