When we last checked in on Walt Reynolds (Brendan Dooling) on The Carrie Diaries, things were not going well. He survived a mid-80’s AIDS scare, but it drove him back in the closet, where he broke up with boyfriend Bennet, and begged his disapproving parents for another chance. Oh Walt.
Prom, 1986. The world is about to bear witness to the awesome debacle known as … Hands Across America! It was a resounding success in NYC, with Carrie, Walt, and Samantha providing three of the links … until Samantha realized it was not Handjobs Across America, and lost interest.
Blair, Jo, Tootie, Natalie, and George The Gay Handyman (I’ll let you decide who is who) decide to screw protocol and attend the prom as a team, which has Walt excited, until he learns that it’s going to held in NYC, which he hasn’t visited since his vomit meltdown.
In a sweet scene, Maggie gently tries to nudge Walt into changing his mind, and when that doesn’t work, plays her ace card … the freshman promise that they made to attend the prom together, a promise she’s going to hold him to. Wait a minute … a gay boy going to prom with his straight girl friend? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Prom night! Carrie and Walt slow dance to “Time After Time,” and she notices the distracted look in Walt’s eyes. She asks if he’d rather be dancing with Bennet, and Walt unconvincingly tries to assure her that he doesn’t care about his ex-boyfriend anymore, even when she tells him that Bennet got fired and has been whoring all around NYC. Walt tries to appear indifferent, but Carrie presses the issue, and blunders badly.
Carrie: “I know how you must feel, Walt, it’s tough being at a party like this and not be with the person you love.”
Walt: “I know you’re trying, carrie, but you don’t anything about what I’m going through.”
Carrie: “I know you’re struggling with stuff, and I am too. I understand how hard it is to want to make your parents happy. I’m going through the same thing with my dad, trying to figure out if I should go to college or take the job.”
Walt: “Are you kidding me? Are you really comparing your situation with mine? Boo-Hoo, you don’t get to dance with your amazing boyfriend at the prom, when you have a lifetime to dancer with him. And boo-hoo, your dad might be mad at you for a minute if you don’t go to college. We both know that in five years, you’ll be married with kids living in the suburbs, and none of this will matter, while I have to keep living a lie so the world accepts me.”
Walt runs off, but Carrie catches up to him in the hotel lobby, where she learns why he’s so uncomfortable at the prom and in NYC.
Walt meets up with Bennet, and apologizes for how he ended things. He tells him that Carrie told him he got fired and … went off the deep end, and Bennet explains that it was actually the best thing that could have happened to him. He started volunteering at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and was eventually offered a full time job. They both admit that they still love and miss each other, and happily, they decide to get back together.
And Bennet and Carrie reconcile.
After some goofiness at the prom involving Bennet pretending to be Donna’s boyfriend, Walt takes his regained confidence back home, where he confronts his father and board-up-her-ass mother with a declaration of independence.
“I can’t keep pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m gay. If you can’t accept that, I understand. I also understand if you’d like me to move out, it’s your house, so it’s up to you. But how I live my life is up to me.”
We end on a high note, as Walt’s father interrupts his packing and tells him he doesn’t have to leave. He had always hoped Walt would follow tradition, and attend Dartmouth, and join his fraternity, but he realizes that Walt needs to live his own life. He gives Walt his “Dartmouth Ring” (which in a family like this, is like Gandolf handing over to Frodo), and tells him “You’re my legacy, and I’m proud of that. Now let me help you unpack this stuff.”
Well, after the darkness of the last Walt episode, I’m glad things are working out for him, and for him and Bennet. Sadly, there’s just one episode left. Will Walt get his happy ending?
Here’s this week’s Walt theme song.