The Carrie Diaries: “Identity Crisis”
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The Carrie Diaries: “Identity Crisis”

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The Carrie Diaries

“Identity Crisis”

Season 1, Episode 11

If a person is lucky, growing up is all about figuring out who they want to be. The less fortunate have a much bigger task: figuring out who they even are. In The Carrie Diaries, these two distinctly different coming-of-age experiences are represented by Carrie and Walt. The pieces we’ve seen of their journeys so far are sometimes clumsy and sometimes uncannily accurate but are never better than when they dovetail the way they did tonight, culminating in one of the best scenes of the series thus far.

Although figuring out who you want to be and who you are appear to be fairly similar pursuits semantically, in practice, they could not be further apart. The whole premise of The Carrie Diaries is centered on Carrie’s journey from lost teen to the slightly less lost writer of Sex And The City, and the majority of her storylines up to this point have fed directly into that premise. She’s already come a surprisingly long way on her journey, having landed her dream guy and dream New York life in just a handful of episodes. All the real conflict of Carrie’s growing up is already behind her; now the show is turning to almost farcical situations to give her a little bit of drama in her life.

The ridiculousness of Carrie impersonating Larissa in order to deliver a wig to Andy Warhol had several fun moments but was ultimately just a little trifle compared to what was happening with Walt. Walt befriending Bennett always felt like it would be the turning point in his coming out journey, and that turning point slowly reveals itself here, as Walt spends more time in his company and comes to the conclusion that he might have more than friendly feelings toward him.

It’s the way it comes out that makes it work so well, though, and the scene shows just how strong a foundation of friendship The Carrie Diaries has built between its characters in just a few short episodes. After spending a day gallivanting around New York with Carrie and Walt, Bennett ditches them to spend some time with another guy friend, and Walt has a very strong, very sudden negative reaction to this action. What’s great about the scene where Walt realizes just why he might be feeling this way is how it comes slowly, in starts and stops, simply prompted by some slight nudging from Carrie. There have been times in the past where it seemed as if Carrie sensed something about Walt but never vocalized those feelings, and she finally gets the chance here to tentatively ask Walt if he might be gay. Walt’s immediate rejection, followed by Carrie’s immediate assertion that anything Walt is could never be a wrong or bad thing, was tender and touching and everything the writers have been building between these two characters for weeks, and it paid off splendidly here.

Also, for a show that loves to give its characters tidy wins, I like how nothing about Walt’s story feels like an easy victory. Walt is one step closer to accepting who he is, but both he and Carrie immediately recognize that even if he realizes he is gay, that’s just the beginning of his struggle. Struggling to figure out who you are is a hard enough feat; having to then turn around and struggle with everyone else to accept who you are just feels unfair. Now that Walt is one step closer to struggling with everyone else, the hard work is just beginning.

Other than this one lovely, perfect scene, the rest of this episode felt far more average. The biggest development back in Connecticut was with Sebastian and his extremely inappropriate mother, who is in town to try to rekindle her relationship with Sebastian’s father and generally gross out Sebastian in the process by over-sharing. Sebastian is a character in desperate need of layers—and ostensibly seeing his relationship with his parents should add some—but something about this fell completely flat for me. Sebastian being put into the role of sort-of parent and confidante to his own mother is uncomfortable and inappropriate and downright strange, but I’m not sure it really tells us as much about him as the writers might hope it does. It’s especially incomplete because we get no interaction from his father in this process at all. Seeing the full family dynamic would have added a lot to shade in this story. As it was, it just didn’t feel weighty enough to matter.

As for Mouse, it looks like her antagonistic relationship with West as an academic rival is headed where we all suspected, and they are being set up as a potential romantic pairing. Mouse’s story as the basketball manager this week wasn’t interesting, but the idea of her being drawn to West as a romantic partner most definitely is, especially if the two keep the competitive aspect of their relationship alive and well in the process.

If not for Carrie and Walt’s one perfect scene, this would likely be the least essential episode of The Carrie Diaries so far. But that scene was touching enough to elevate the episode to possibly the most essential for the evolution of Walt’s character. That’s a pretty neat trick, show.

Stray observations:

  • AnnaSophia Robb’s Larissa impression is really quite good. She’s such a find for The CW. (I know she had a career before, but go with it.)
  • Not enough good things can be said about the writing and acting in Carrie and Walt’s big scene. It was wonderful.
  • Tom’s storyline didn’t work for me at all, making me wonder if giving him stories that don’t tie into his daughters at all is wise. I especially didn’t understand Maggie and Sebastian catching him in the act with gum lady. Is this secret going to be something that comes between Sebastian and Carrie later?
  • Poor Maggie needs something to do now. Katie Findlay is so cute! Give her a storyline!
  • Walt and Maggie as high-fiving friends are nice, though.