Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1×08 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” is the best this show has been, by far, with an emotional and relatable Zoey, a Max that has become the love interest we all dreamed he could be, a Simon that, so far, plays his role as the foil in this love triangle perfectly, and even manages to be charming while doing so, and the family part of Zoey’s story-line once again giving us all the feels, like it did in the Pilot.
Now, I’m not very good with dead parent story-lines. I lost my father, and it was a traumatic experience that I don’t usually like to see reflected on my TV shows, no matter how they handle it. Dead parent story-lines are usually the thing I run away from. And I’m not saying Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is doing this story-line better than other shows – it’s still gut-wrenching, and probably not something I would choose, I am saying that the show has, sneakily, made me care enough that I am more or less willing to put up with the anxiety and pain this story-line causes me.
Even if, right now, the thought of that last scene still makes me tear up.
So let me go into the ins and outs, the Max and Zoey, the Zoey and Simon, the singing and yes, that ending, as we talk “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch”:
THE DUETING PARTNER YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WANTED
I was always going to be the one to pick friends-to-lovers over whatever it is Simon and Zoey are, and even when I wasn’t sure about the show, I really wanted to root for Max. The thing is, it took until “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) for Max to show the kind of spunk that made it easy to root for him.
This episode, however, cemented not just why is the partner Zoey needs, but why he’s the one she deserves. From telling her the truth, to literally stepping in as a duet partner to help Zoey (fully aware that could cost him his job), to not letting Zoey avoid her feelings, calling her out on her bullshit, and most importantly, putting his own feelings aside when Zoey needed him, Max was more than the perfect romantic partner in this episode, he was the perfect friend.
And that’s the trope, it is. It sounds boring sometimes, but in reality, is there anything better than someone that knows us, truly knows us, someone that has our back no matter what? Can that compare to …someone we’ve connected to about one thing and one thing alone?
The show is clear on that: no. But the show is also clear on the timing problems. This isn’t the time for Zoey to be thinking about that, and as much as that hurts him, Max understands. Max is capable of putting his feelings aside and putting Zoey’s first. Even when he’s rightfully upset. Even when she’s hiding things from him, after promising to always be honest.
A lesser man would have called her out on that. A lesser man would have demanded an answer from her. A lesser man wouldn’t have pushed her towards the family reunion she desperately needed to attend. But Max isn’t that man. Max is, after all, the man who would walk a thousand miles fall down at her door.
Da da da da.
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LOVE VS. ATTRACTION
One of my favorite things about this episode was how on point Max – and the show – was in showing the difference in Zoey’s relationship with Max and with Simon, from Max referring to Simon as the “morally questionable totally engaged guy” to the comparison between “I’m Yours” and “I want you to Want me.”
Till Max mentioned it, I hadn’t really thought about the difference between the two songs, but there’s a point to be mad about one of those songs being about desire and the other one being about love. Whatever you want to take from “I want you to want me/
I need you to need me/I’d love you to love me/I’m begging you to beg me” it’s hard to deny that those words are a far cry from “But I won’t hesitate no more, no more/
It cannot wait, I’m yours.”
Now, I don’t think the Simon storyline is anywhere near done, and despite the fact that Zoey isn’t really in the right frame of mind to be thinking about this, something Max clearly understands, I think Simon will end up, in one way or another, forcing Zoey to think about it by …well, by either making a decision regarding Jessica, or worse, not making one.
Whatever Simon feels for Zoey and she feels for him could be something special, it really could. But not right now, and that’s not all on Zoey. In fact, it’s mostly not on Zoey. For that ship to ever come remotely close to setting sail Simon would need to break up with Jessica, be honest with her about what he feels, take some time for himself to make sure Zoey is what he really wants and that she isn’t just a rebound, and then see if after all of that, Zoey is in a place where she’d even want him.
That’s a lot of ifs.
And yet, is that really what Simon wants? Sure, there’s a spark between him and Zoey, a connection, one that’s built off an understanding how the other one feels. But is there anything else? I don’t know. They don’t know. And they’re not in the right place to find out.
HOW DO I LIVE
The final scene was both heartbreaking and uplifting in a very strange way. I lost my father a few years ago, and if you’d asked me to find the perfect song to explain how I felt then, how I still feel now, “How Do I Live” might have been it. And that’s what makes the scene work, that Zoey’s pain is both personal and universal.
Loss is a deeply personal thing that you still share with many, many strangers. People who haven’t lost anyone can rarely understand you, not truly, but that doesn’t mean that loss can and should be the only thing you have in common with someone (*ahem* Simon *ahem*).
But the most important thing this scene does, this show is doing, especially in this episode, which was as confusing as it’s possible to be for Zoey, is put their main character first. This is not the time for Zoey to be trying to figure out what she feels for Max or if her feelings for Simon are real, no. This is the time for Zoey to spend with her dad, with the entire family unit. This is a time to cherish.
I lost my father suddenly, and as hard as watching Zoey going through this is, as triggering as it’s been at times, I can wholeheartedly say I would trade with her in a heartbeat. She has a chance to tell her father all those things that are in her heart, a chance to love him for a while longer, and a chance to make sure her last memories of him aren’t about what she could have said or done.
That’s a gift, as much as it’s a curse. Thankfully, I think this show understands that …just as they understand that, sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes the world just goes silent, and that’s okay.
No, that’s necessary.
Things I think I think:
- Just toast? Who eats JUST TOAST?
- At least Zoey and Max are still talking.
- Zoey talking to Max about, you know, stuff, is my aesthetic. Even if it’s just office gossip.
- For now,
- This is borderline “friend” stuff you’re talking to Simon about.
- Making Zoey’s world go silent after the doctor’s appointment was the absolutely right choice.
- Silence can be so loud sometimes.
- Omg she’s singing.
- OMG the choreography.
- Max’s smile when he sees her, I’M MELTING.
- I totally understand Zoey not wanting to make it to the family meeting. I really do.
- Look, Zoey, please get a handle on the singing thing before I die of second-hand embarrassment.
- “Can you schedule your nervous breakdown for another day”?
- She, again, goes to Max.
- “I am nauseous, and I still don’t believe you.”
- This Zuckeberg wannabe, omg.
- If Max and Zoey weren’t already OTP material, the moment when he just jumped in and started singing with her so she wouldn’t look crazy, that would have been it.
- “The dueting partner you always wanted but didn’t know you needed.”
- And now she’s singing.
- I’M DYING.
- I want to watch this but I’m so embarrassed.
- It is pretty clear, Zoey.
- You did just sing “I’m Yours.”
- Come on, girl.
- “Whatever happens, it was totally worth it.”
- MAX’S SMILE.
- AGAIN, I’M MELTING.
- Yuck, she’s singing to Simon too.
- Though I’m not sure this is a love song, per se.
- Fuuuuck, Max heard.
- “Morally questionable, totally engaged guy.”
- Max with the tea.
- He is right in his estimation, one of the songs you just sang is about love, the other one about attraction.
- I just don’t think she can see it now, or that she’s in the mental head-space to try to, you know, understand herself.
- So, how about we just tell Max, Zoey?
- You know you want to.
- I kinda like Tobin now. Imagine that.
- Oh fuck, Simon.
- Now you’ve crossed the line, dude. YOU HAVE A FIANCEE.
- At least Zoey was the one to move back.
- Zoey’s pep-talk to Tobin was kinda …nice.
- Finally, she’s confiding in Max.
- He still loves you, Zoey, even when he’s mad at you.
- That’s just love.
- Yeah, sure, make me sob, why don’t you?
- “How do I live?” indeed.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch”? Share with us in the comments below!
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.