Garson died at 57 after a private battle with cancer back in September.
Spoilers ahead! If you have not finished this week's episode of And Just Like That, bookmark this for later or proceed with caution.
Willie Garson's sudden death in September took the cast of the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That, somewhat by surprise. The 57-year-old actor, who played Stanford Blatch on the franchise was privately battling pancreatic cancer prior to his death.
On Thursday's episode of And Just Like That, Stanford's sudden absence from the series is explained when Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) returns to her old apartment to find a handwritten letter on Stanford's stationary.
Carrie calls over Stanford's husband, Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone), to ask him about the note, and he reveals that Stanford is representing a 17-year-old Long Island TikTok star who is "huge in Asia" and asked him to go on tour with her.
Carrie remains confused.
"Why the dramatic note? 'By the time you read this, I'll be in Tokyo,' who is he, the lost Bronte sister?" she quips.
"He said he couldn't bring himself to tell you he was leaving face-to-face after Big died," Anthony explains. "You know Stanny, he hates to disappoint people in person."
The comment seems as it could be rooted in the cast's reality as Garson did not disclose the nature of his illness to his co-stars until his final days.
Anthony also says he received a note saying that Stanford wanted a divorce.
"I don't get it, we were so happy," he adds. This seems like it will be the last fans hear from Stanford on the series.
The exit of such an iconic member of the franchise does feel abrupt and slightly out of place, but it's clear that the show did the best it could under the circumstances.
Cantone previously told ET that parts of the series had to be rewritten after Garson's death.
"Things had to be rewritten," Cantone told ET at the premiere. "I am thrilled to be here, and I’m sad too 'cause I miss Willie. I’m really sad about this, so it's a weird thing, but we're doing this for him. This is for him, and I’m just happy we made it through. We all kind of huddled together, and held onto each other, and we did it."
The episode ends with several tribute screens to Garson with the message, "In Memory of a Beloved Friend Willie Garson 1964-2021." It adds in his quote, "Be kind to each other... always."
Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda Hobbes in the series, previously spoke about the cast's knowledge of Garson's illness during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier this month.
"We shot with him for a long time not knowing he was sick and then things got bad enough that we were informed," Nixon shared at the time. "I think we're also very grateful that we had a few days with him, knowing that he was sick and we could talk to him about it and he could talk to us about it. And that, I think, was a really important thing for all of us."
As for the rest of the episode, much of it centered around Carrie regaining the ties to her former self. If fans thought that sartorial siren would spend the entire reboot wallowing in the death of her husband, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), then they were mistaken.
In the latest episode, she returns to her old apartment with some familiar theme music, spending the night in her former bed and getting dressed in her famous closet the next day. She emerges like a swan from her brownstone, dressed in a colorful sweater and flowing tulle skirt, reminiscent of Carrie's original white tutu from the first show's opening credits scene. She's even sneaking an occasional cigarette again. The OG Carrie is back.
Carrie is planning to sell Big's apartment and to do so, she brings in a cutthroat realtor, Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury), who wants to take the late businessman's classy-yet-bold style and make it entirely beige to appeal to more clients. When Carrie sees the newly staged apartment and the Peloton bike back in its infamous space, she grabs the box with Big's urn and ashes and puts it in a Barney's bag to head back to her place.
"I gotta get Big and go," she tells Miranda. "We don't belong here anymore."
Meanwhile, Miranda is inexplicably having dinner dates with her law professor Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), who decides that after she and Miranda got off on the wrong foot, she will confide in her about her IVF journey. It's as Carrie puts it, "Quite the turn around," but the two seem to bond over their complicated feelings regarding motherhood.
Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is trying to get in good with fellow mom pal Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) and scrambles to find another Black couple to come to an impromptu dinner party so that LTW and her husband won't be the only couple of color at the event. She eventually comes clean to her friend, who admits that she was also nervous to have Charlotte and her husband, Harry (Evan Handler) be the only white couple at her own party. It seems that each of the original women is finding friendship with one of the reboot's newcomers, while keeping a fast hold on their lifelong bond.
New episodes of And Just Like That stream Thursdays on HBO Max.