Recap: Carrie announces to the gigolas at dinner that her publisher is making her travel to San Francisco to promote her book, then wryly adds, "Apparently, I'm big in San Francisco." Miranda counters with, "You mean Big is in San Francisco" and Carrie confirms he is, and that she hopes to meet up with him 'cause she's in desperate neeeeeeed of a casual romp. When Charlotte points out that a group of well-dressed men at a nearby table have been ogling them all evening, Samantha makes a blech face and calls them boring, calls the food they're currently eating boring, and snarks that they should start calling New York "Same York". Carrie changes the subject back to herself and says she's taking a train to San Francisco, 'cause in this post-9/11 world she hates the thought of the National Guard rifling through her makeup case. She urges Samantha to come with her, and that "two gals on a train" could be a fun adventure...then sweetens the deal by telling her that Clearwater Press has reserved for her a luxury suite in a fancy four star hotel. Samantha mulls that over and decides she's into the idea...and Carrie woots with joy and happily chants, "I'm gonna get laid!"
Back in her apartment, Carrie taps out her latest drivel and asks her readership to ponder whether or not women who don't seek a traditional life of marriage and kids are "the new bachelors". I dunno. Sure. If it floats your boat, go ahead and call yourselves that.
Carrie and Samantha arrive at the train station wheeling their luggage. Carrie says she hasn't told Mr. Big she's headed to his neck of the woods and is planning to surprise him. Samantha gushes about how sexy this cross-country train ride is going to be 'cause she never knows who's going to be getting on...and getting her off. When they hear the all aboard whistle, they grin at each other and shriek excitedly. The excitement starts to wane a few minutes later when a train employee leads them to a teeny tiny compartment. Carrie's all, "Wha-a-a?" and says she booked the deluxe first class sleeper, and he stares at her blankly and says this is the first class sleeper...then adds insult to injury when he opens the door to her tiny restroom, which features a shower head over the toilet. Awesome.
Harry drops by Charlotte's apartment to hand deliver her divorce papers...and because it's a super hot day, he complains that he's "schvitzing like a pudding at a picnic". Charlotte gives him a funny look and says how odd it is that a partner would be delivering her divorce papers, so he shoots her a goofy smile and says he needed the walk. He glances around the luxurious MacDougal pad and says he totally gets why she refused to stop squatting in it until she could make it legally hers, but she's like, "Meh" and says she's thinking about selling. Um...say what?!! And Harry's all, "Say what?!! After everything we went through to get it?!" so she says it's much too big for one person. Harry says he has a friend who's putting his place on the market, but warns her it's a tacky bachelor pad in desperate need of redecorating. Charlotte says that doesn't faze her, and quips about how her current apartment used to be "where plaid furniture came to die". Harry says he'll arrange for her to get a first look at it, then pulls out her divorce papers so she can jump back into the dating pool asap. As she looks them over, the sweat from Harry's brow drips onto the papers...and Charlotte looks icked out and hands him a box of tissues. After he mops himself off, a clump of tissue remains stuck on his forehead...and when Charlotte makes another ick face and points at it, Harry kind of chortles and calls himself "a fucking mess", then grins at her all smitten-like. Mmm hmm..
Carrie and Samantha enter the dining car on the Express to Hell and look disappointed that it's just a car with a bunch of tables and bench seating. Carrie asks the waiter for a table for two, and he gives her a funny look and tells them to just sit anywhere that's open...and naturally, the only available seating is beside a prim looking Amish couple. Samantha complains that every time the train stops, uglier people get on, and that there's not a single man aboard this train she'd fuck...which I find impossible to believe. Carrie can't concur 'cause she's too horny to be discriminating about who she'd be willing to jump in the sack with at this very moment...then looks over at the aghast Amish woman and apologizes for her raunch talk.
Harry brings Charlotte to a private viewing of his friend's bachelor pad, and she's all, "Eww!" when she sees the tacky decor. She says she can't believe that men think it takes stuff like this to get a woman into bed, and Harry eyes her hungrily and asks, "What does it take?" and tells her she's the sexiest woman he's ever met. Charlotte blushes and shyly points out that she's not sexy 'cause she's wearing her glasses, but Harry calls Trey a putz for letting her slip away...and that if he were ever lucky enough to get the green light to bone her, he'd never take his hands off of her. Charlotte giggles nervously, then looks intrigued when Harry tells her he hasn't been able to think of much else since the moment he saw her. The two stare intensely at each other for a few seconds, then start going at it in earnest.
On Day 2 of the train ride, Carrie and Samantha are looking worse for wear. Carrie's on the horn with Miranda to complain about a giant pimple that's taken over her cheek - just as a badly disheveled Samantha bursts into the cabin to announce that she just heard about a bachelor party in the bar car. Carrie says she can't possibly show her pimpled face in public, but Samantha guilts her for making her embark on this horrific train ride and decrees, "You are going to the bar car with me!" Carrie meekly tells Miranda she has to go attend a bachelor party now.
Charlotte's out at a gay bar with Anthony, dishing about the sex she's having with a man she doesn't even like. Anthony perks up at that and demands all the deets, so she tells him that the guy is her divorce lawyer, isn't attractive, but that the sex is amaaaaazing. Anthony assures her that "ugly sex is hot", then advises her to be clear with him about the rules of engagement: "fuck me and get out".
Carrie and Samantha enter the bar car, which is filled with average looking middle-aged men lounging around, drinking beer. Samantha sashays past them in her skin tight, cleavage-baring dress and coos, "Aren't you boys a sight for sore eyes?", suggests they order a bottle of champagne, then asks which of them would like to help pop her cork. The men just stare at her in icked out bemusement...so Carrie approaches one of the men and asks him what kind of bachelor party this is and could one of them please engage in at least some mild flirtation with her slutty friend. The man explains that they're all married, and that their soon-to-be-wed friend Brian is the last of them to tie the knot so they're taking him to a Giants game in San Francisco. Carrie relays all this to Samantha, who moans about the midlife crisis she's abruptly manufactured for herself.
Back in the tiny deluxe sleeper, Samantha guzzles champagne and rails about the lack of meaning in her empty, shallow life. Carrie finally manages to pop her pimple, then apologizes to Samantha for dragging her aboard this hell train.
A day or so later, Carrie arrives at the San Francisco bookstore to kick off her book tour. As she marvels over the huge turnout, Lily (from Clearwater Press) informs her that some of the people (and by some she means the vast majority) are here to see Mr. Winkle, a small dog author who's developed a huge Internet following. Samantha scrunches her face in disbelief and exclaims, "You're opening for a dog?!" - bwahahaha!! - and when Carrie stares at Lily with a look of horror and mortification, Lily sheepishly explains that the West Coast sales rep fucked her over on this one. Carrie gives Samantha permission to skip her book reading and head back to the luxury hotel for a relaxing bath...then decides she's too depressed to bump uglies with Mr. Big after all.
While waiting to perform her book reading, Carrie sits next to Mr. Winkle and commiserates to him about how rough (ruff?) this book tour stuff is. She then looks over his outfit and remarks on how much she likes the little striped sweater he's wearing.
Carrie does a reading of one of the shitty columns included in her book, with all of its grating 'I couldn't help but wonder' musings. A dorky guy raises his hand to ask when Mr. Winkle is coming out - bwahahaha! - and after that a second person raises his hand. When the people sitting in front of him move out of the way so Carrie can see who she's talking to, she's pleasantly surprised to see that it's - squeal! - Mr. Big. He asks her if "this Mr. Big character" has a real name, and she coquettishly replies that he does, but that she's keeping it from her readership as a means of protecting his privacy. Also, the writers convinced themselves it was somehow fun and clever to keep his boring name (John) a mystery until the series finale.
Carrie rushes back to the hotel, orders Samantha to end her bubble-bath asap so she can relocate herself over to the room she booked for her on another floor. She explains that she did meet up with Big after all, that right now he's currently milling around the lobby, and she really neeeeeeeds to have sex. Samantha climbs out of the tub and snarls, "You better fuck him good."
Thirty minutes later, Big arrives at Carrie's suite and jokingly asks her if she hid the body...or did whatever needed doing before he was allowed to come upstairs. He then inserts some awkward looking product placement when he offers her a piece of Big Red gum, and she accepts it, unwraps it, and sexily feeds it to him...then a few seconds later hornily pounces on him, which causes him to start choking on the gum. When he recovers, she gets all amorous and offers to "kiss and make it all better" - but he tells her to put a pin in that 'cause he made dinner reservations and explains that he promised his vineyard partners he'd schmooze it up with the restaurant owner in an effort to drum up business.
As Carrie and Big get caught up at dinner, he tells her he read her book and feels bad that he caused her so much emotional turmoil during Seasons 1-3, and that it was tough to see it all in print via her columns all strung together in a single book. Carrie breezily calls it fiction, says she embellished most of it, and that it's all in the past anyway. He mulls that over and asks her if he really was that big of an asshole regarding the Season 2 'I don't want to give you a key to my apartment' situation, and Carrie just stares despondently into space.
Hours later, Big is sitting in Carrie's hotel room bed, poring through her book. When she begs him to least lay on top of her, he says he doesn't want her to get hurt again. She assures him she won't, and that she totally gets that nothing exists between them but good sex. He declines and says she clearly has very bad judgement where he's concerned...and she stares despondently into space again and mutters, "I can't believe this is happening."
After Charlotte and Harry finish bumping uglies a second time, Charlotte takes Anthony's advice and tells Harry there's nothing between them but sex, then orders him to put on his pants and go. She pauses to nervously ask, "Is that OK?" and he just shrugs and goes, "Sure" and climbs out of bed, revealing his very furry back. As he gets dressed, he invites her to dinner on Saturday night, but she scrunches her face in irritation and snaps, "This is just sex. You're just a great fuck. Is that clear?" and Harry seems totes OK with that.
Carrie gets a 7:30am wake-up call...and we see that she slept in her clothes all night, and that a fully clothed Big fell asleep beside her with her book spread out across his face. He wakes up and tosses the book aside and asks her if she'd like a morning romp, then points out that she's going to need some fresh Big material for her sequel. She's like, "Yes please!" and the two start going at it.
Carrie makes a final stop on her book tour, and this time it looks like she got a pretty good turnout even without the lure of Mr. Winkle. Samantha arrives at the bookstore and shows her the first class plane tickets she got them so they don't have to suffer a second train ride. She excitedly gushes, "I can't wait to get to New York!" and the two climb into a limo.