A Satisfying Finish for 'Sex'

updated 02/23/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/23/2004 12:10PM

After six enjoyable, risqué and sometimes heartbreaking seasons, "Sex and the City" didn't so much reach its climax Sunday evening as it wound down into a slow, comfortable fadeout. It was a fitting end to a show that has challenged conventions and pushed boundaries since its debut on HBO in 1998.

Of course, the biggest question is answered: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) ditches Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Paris to return to New York City and Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who chases her down and declares her "the one."

But fans and critics seemed to agree that the finale was memorable for giving each character a chance to come to grips with her life -- and herself -- in honest and satisfying ways.

For Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and husband Harry (Evan Handler), that meant a chance to adopt a baby, even after their initial plans derailed when the parents of the baby they intended to adopt changed their minds. Ultimately, the couple settles on a baby girl from China, to Charlotte's tearful relief.

The concept of family hits home with the tough-minded Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) as well. After husband Steve (David Eigenberg) discovers his mother had a mild stroke, he and Miranda visit her apartment, only to find that she has been living in squalor. Miranda agrees to take her mother-in-law into the couple's Brooklyn home in sure testament to her love for Steve.

Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) closure is a little more personal. After having lost her sex drive while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, her beau Smith (Jason Lewis) leaves for Canada for a film shoot and she urges him to pursue other sexual interests. Instead, he sends her flowers, agreeing to save himself for her upon his return. They end up together in bed -- with a final yelp of delight from Samantha.

As for Carrie's quest for love, it seemed certain she wouldn't get it from Aleksandr, whom she had followed to Paris. A conversation with his ex-wife seems to confirm that, and after a final letdown from the self-absorbed artist, she dumps him. In the hotel lobby trying to secure a separate room for herself, she runs into Big, who came to take her home.

Back in New York at Carrie's door, the show comes full circle when she asks Big if he'd like to come up, and he replies "abso-f---ing-lutely" -- a line from the show's pilot episode.

Reunited for one final brunch, the girls are surprised and delighted to find that Carrie has returned from Paris. And, as the show comes to a close, Big's name is finally revealed during a call on Carrie's phone: John.

The "Sex" finale seemed to hit all the right notes. But whether it's over for good remains to be seen. Last week, news surfaced that a movie script is in the works, and Parker seemed to play up the notion that the show could continue in some form.

"I haven't made any decisions about how we might revisit this show and in what medium," she recently told reporters, according to the Associated Press. "It's very important to me that we are dignified and graceful in our exit from the (current) series. After that, if we hear a cry from the public, I think we have to respond to that, if we can do right by them."

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