‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Re-watch Roundtable: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure”

We love Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist around here. A whole lot. And, well, we are in the middle of a quarantine, with very few new content coming till 2021.

So, yes, we are doing a re-watch of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and yes, we are going to be talking about every episode as if it just aired. Because, we love the show, you love the show, and frankly, what else are we going to do to fill the time?

Joining me this week for “Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure” are Fangirlish writers Jade and Jacqueline as well as guests Amanda and Jacquie.

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Zoey dealt with failure this week, or at least with the idea that her powers didn’t automatically mean she couldn’t mess up. What did you think about the message and did you agree with the show basically showing the human side of Zoey, powers notwithstanding? 

Lizzie: I’m not sad Zoey didn’t get everything right this episode, because I don’t think Zoey should get it right every episode. In fact, I think she probably got too many things right to be believable this season, but I appreciate the attempt to make her grow by way of failure, and I really, really appreciate Mo’s perspective on what failure means, especially for someone like Zoey who isn’t really used to failing. 

Jade: Not only do I agree with the show highlighting Zoey’s human, imperfect side, but I think it’s important as well. The thing is, sometimes even superheroes get things wrong. And people, even with all our good intentions, don’t have all the answers. We can only try our best, and sometimes that’s enough and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we hurt people we love, even when we’re trying to help. I think it would make for a very boring show – and limit Zoey’s potential for character development – if she got it right all the time. After all, the hope is that one day, she’ll be able to connect with (and even help) people without the aid of superpowers. Being a good person isn’t about never making a mistake. It’s about learning from the mistakes we make, atoning for them, and learning how to be better.

Jacqueline:  I am sad that Zoey wasn’t able to help David and Emily. Yes, she did overstep and I get why David got angry but she oversteps every week and it works out. It’s also realistic that she won’t be able to help everyone but at least the song doesn’t haunt her if she tries. When she tried to ignore Joan’s song a few weeks ago, she heard Satisfaction everywhere. It was nice to see Zoey’s human side and to learn more about her relationship with David. Also interesting how much David keeps from his wife…but hey, I’m not overstepping 😉

Jacquie: The hero genre often deals with the idea that being the “hero” doesn’t necessarily guarantee instant perfection. It just means that an imperfect person has an extraordinary ability (see what I did there) – and Zoey is no exception. She’s been pretty lucky to have her meddling via powers work out in the end so far. I think it’s a nice reality check for Zoey, as well as a good opportunity for growth to have her fail. In learning how to deal with failure, it’s how you go about fixing your mistakes that matters more so then how you made them in the first place.

Amanda: I think her failure was an important lesson that Zoey needs to learn, especially because she had a similar situation with Mo in the previous episode. Mo hits the nail on the head with his advice about failure, “as long as you see every failure, not as defeat, but as a stepping stone on the road to success.” Just because someone like Zoey isn’t used to failing, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, it’s part of being human and Zoey needs to learn how to handle failure when it occurs. What this show does incredibly well is depict real emotions, situations, and relationships, and it’s an important reminder that these characters are only human and that they are dealing with a lot emotionally and mentally throughout the season. Zoey is still learning to navigate her own emotions and relationships, and while she’s learning through helping other people with their problems, she is by no means an expert. She’s learning to respect people’s boundaries and relationships and that her powers don’t mean that she automatically knows all the answers.

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The show ended on a cliffhanger of sorts this week, with Simon singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” to Zoey, after coming to her for emotional comfort. If it wasn’t before, it’s clear now that the line has been crossed. How do you feel about these two and their journey so far? Does the relationship work for you or is the setup a big no?

Lizzie: It’s a hell no. I adore John Clarence Stewart in general, most of his performances are some of my favorites, but this one, as good as it was, was a bit cringey. I could – and I wanted to – give Simon the benefit of the doubt before, but after this? How can I? How can he pretend this is nothing? How can anyone? So, no …I don’t like them together, even though I think with different setup I could have really liked them, and I could still see myself enjoying them as friends. 

Jade: I’ll be honest. The first time I watched this episode, I knew from the Pilot that Max was endgame and I was on board with it. But I also watched this episode and thought if Simon broke up with Jessica the next episode and they pursued that relationship for a while, I’d be along for the ride. But Simon breaking up with Jessica first was a very important first step for me. (Zoey telling him the truth about her powers would be a very important second step. It’s unfair to him that she continues to act on the things she hears him sing without his knowledge simply in the sphere of friendship. It would be more so if they entered into a romantic relationship and he was still in the dark.)

I don’t think Simon was thinking of the potential line he was crossing when he went to her for help that night. I think he was reeling and lost in undeserved, entirely sympathetic guilt and turned to someone he thought would understand. But that moment at the end was the moment they both realized that a line was being crossed. And that isn’t fair to Jessica. At the very least, it’s a wakeup call for him to start putting up boundaries or end things with his fiance. My determination on whether I was onboard for this ship was more dependent upon what they would do after this moment, and with the way things would subsequently play out, I couldn’t bring myself to get onboard.

Jacqueline: First, I LOVED John Clarence Stewart’s performance of Should I Stay or Should I Go – so freaking sexy!! I feel like the line had already been crossed prior to this emotionally – I wouldn’t want my significant other having that kind of relationship with someone. But during this song, they drove way over the line, so far that you can’t even see the line anymore. This relationship has no hope for me because he’s ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE. Even if he breaks off that engagement, which we know he does, he’s still not the right man for Zoey. Max is the man for Zoey. Maybe once Simon is doing better he can be the man for meee? 🙂

Jacquie: This moment had me screaming at my TV, and not in a good way. From the beginning I was not a fan of the romantic setup for Zoey and Simon. To me it was always a bad idea, and this moment only escalated that feeling. The heart-song gave cold hard proof that things between them weren’t as ‘innocent’ as they wanted to believe. Infidelity, or even the temptation of infidelity, is something I can never get behind. I like them as friends – but any romance between them now would always have this guilt looming over them – dooming them before they start. If you end something significant to start something ‘new and shiny’, you’ll always wonder if it was worth it somewhere in the back of your mind. And that’s no way for anyone to start a relationship. 

Amanda: “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was a great number, John Clarence Stewart did a great job, and it certainly ramped up with tension between the two of them. However, it’s a huge no for me, Simon is an engaged man, and even though nothing physical has happened between him and Zoey, he is still not being truthful or open with Jessica. Jessica wants to help him, she was there with him through the loss of his dad, but he’s pushing her away and turning to Zoey instead. I wish that Zoey would encourage him more to talk to Jessica or a professional about his grief, but Zoey is also being a little selfish in wanting to still be able to interact with him and help him. 

There is also the issue of Zoey’s powers and that if it weren’t for them she wouldn’t have known Simon needed help and reached out to him. He thinks they have a connection because she can see and understand him in a way that Jessica doesn’t, which isn’t fair to him or Jessica. So romantically they do not work for me, but I’d like them to be able to remain friends (and no that’s not just the Clarkeman shipper in me talking). Maybe Simon can find someone and they could go on a double date with Zoey and Max.

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Max broke up with Autumn this week, a big step for a guy whose peer reviews said would always end up settling. Do you think Max made the right decision? What was it that you think finally allowed him to put himself first?

Lizzie: I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did, poor dear. They literally had NOTHING in common, and if he stayed in the relationship for as long as he did was probably because the peer reviews are a bit right, he settles. It’s probably a self-confidence issue more than anything, he doesn’t think he can do more, or deserves more. He wouldn’t dare go for Zoey – or at least the old Max wouldn’t have – because he didn’t think he was the guy who did. So, in some ways, the relationship with Autumn, and Joan’s tough love did help Max grow into a more confident version of himself. 

Jade: I think any time you realize that someone isn’t right for you – for whatever reason – ending it is the right decision. I do think Max tried to make things work with Autumn, and I think he was even trying to make himself fall for her. But she’s a girl who unironically chases a butterfly for over a half an hour, and you’re either legitimately smitten by that or you really, really aren’t. He wasn’t. Ending it was the right thing to do, but I don’t think he would have done it if he hadn’t realized he was settling. Which was the first step towards him realizing his “anonymous peer review” may have been more accurate than he would wish to admit, leading him onto the journey of personal and professional growth that will carry him through the rest of the season.

Jacqueline: Max a million per cent made the right decision to break up with Autumn! She made him RUN and she unironically chased a butterfly for 37 MINUTES! He stayed with her FAR TOO LONG! I honestly think he just couldn’t take it anymore but I’m sure hearing his peer review may have helped as well.

Jacquie: There’s a big parallel here between the peer reviews and Zoey’s powers, as they both expose something that the person themselves may not have been aware of. It was clear from at least the episode prior that Max wasn’t super thrilled with his new relationship, but went along for the ride anyway. The peer reviews were just what was needed – though Max found the news unsettling at first, it’s ultimately what allows him to grow as a person. Unlike Tobin, Max doesn’t want to strive for mediocrity in any aspect of his life. Good for him, taking immediate action once he realized this! Just number 1,000,000,000 on the list of reasons to love Max Richman!

Amanda: Max definitely made the right decision, and not just because he and Zoey are soulmates, but he made the right choice for himself. You could tell from the way he discussed the Napa trip, that the honeymoon phase of their relationship is over, what was once cute and charming is now irritating and annoying. I love Max, but he does initially seem to be someone who settles not really going after anything he wants. He told Zoey in the Pilot he had no interest in the team manager promotion he was fine with his current job, he’s okay going on a date and starting a relationship with Autumn because she’s pretty and she notices him. I mean he was honestly impressed that Autumn remembered that he drinks black coffee, I’m a barista, remembering that someone drinks black coffee is not that difficult or really that impressive. I think the peer reviews and his subsequent freak out about meeting Autumn’s parents are what really helped make him realize that he doesn’t have to settle in any aspect of his life. It’s great growth for him, putting his wants and needs first and taking more risks, which we get to see more of as the season progresses.

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David’s having issues with the idea of having a boy and raising him, presumably, without his own father. Can you understand and relate to his worries? What do you think about the way he handled his concerns, especially in regards to his wife and sister? Did Zoey deserve his harsh words? 

Lizzie: I’m feeling myself turning very protective of David on re-watch, weirdly enough, as I didn’t enjoy David as much the first time around. I just think it’s understandable, everything he does, even blowing up at Zoey – which I think is probably crossing the line, but then again, that’s his sister, it happens sometimes. I do think he was terribly unfair to Emily, though, and made her worry unnecessarily. The fears are normal, what you make of those fears can affect your relationships with the people around you, though. 

Jade: I don’t have children, but I imagine that having a child in the best of circumstances has to inspire a combination of joy and sheer terror. His concerns are entirely understandable. Even the fact he wanted to keep his concerns from his wife are sympathetic, given that he had to talk her into having a baby in the first place. That said…Zoey certainly was in the wrong for spilling things as she did, but David isn’t blameless here. Yes, he wants to keep Emily calm, and he doesn’t want her to think he won’t be involved with the baby. But she is still his wife. She deserves the truth, certainly at the point at which he’s hiding out at a bar every night with the boys to avoid facing it. I love David (and Emily!), but while Zoey shouldn’t have spilled what she did, the fact Emily would no longer have a happy, stress-free pregnancy wasn’t on Zoey. That was on David. And Zoey may not be part of his marriage to Emily, but in his avoidance, he wasn’t being part of it either. I think they both had some important things to learn in this episode.

Jacqueline: Not being a parent, I don’t think I can truly understand the stress of knowing you are going to have a child – BUT, I can imagine – and it would be super stressful! Add your own insecurities, which David clearly has about not being a jock and losing his father – it’s not surprising that he’s freaking out. When we freak out we don’t always make the best decisions. I get him not wanting to tell Emily at first but he’s anger toward Zoey was a little over the top. Not married, but I’d like to think you would be able to talk to your wife about things and not have to keep your love of musical theatre a secret. 

Jacquie: Everyone experiences jitters of being a first time parent. It’s responsibility over another life and what kind of person that life turns out to be. That’s a big ask of anyone, so I’m sympathetic to David in that respect. But his attitude towards being able to raise a boy was a little harder for me to accept. I think David was letting his insecurities concerning his own masculinity affect his judgement. Emily probably would have understood if David had just expressed his concerns over not feeling like a good enough male role model for his son. I actually think Zoey handled this one really well and David was just spinning out – which happens to the best of us. It’s David who’s truly to blame for how things escalated – so apologize to your sister mister! And realize that there’s more to being a man than knowing how to throw a ball –  you’ve already had a masterclass on how to be a dad from the best of the best! David should just adopt the mantra ‘WWMD?’ (What Would Mitch Do) 

Amanda: David’s fears are completely normal for first-time parents, being responsible for a tiny human being that’s a part of you, is a daunting task for anyone. You can see that Mitch is a supportive and loving father and that he has a wonderful relationship with both of his children. It’s how David is processing his grief, he’s not just losing his father, but also his son’s grandfather, and his role model for how to be a father. I think in a way David is worried that he’s not going to be able to measure up to how Mitch was as a father. Knowing that Mitch won’t be around to give advice or talk to as his son grows older makes it even more difficult for David to process.

Even though she was trying to help it was not Zoey’s place to tell Emily everything going on with David, particularly because David said he would tell Emily himself. That is a conversation that should have entirely been between David and Emily, Zoey should have left it at “Talk to David.” Marriage is a partnership, which means having the tough conversations, facing concerns and fears together. David shouldn’t have lied to or hidden his concerns from Emily, but he’s also struggling to face them himself. He told Zoey he was determined that Emily “experience a pregnancy with zero negativity,” (which is sweet but completely unrealistic), which in his mind means not worrying her with his concerns. David has a good reason to be annoyed with Zoey, and while his words were harsh it was something Zoey needed to hear. She needs to learn that just because she wants to help fix things and have everything work out, doesn’t always mean that it will. 

Honestly, I’m a bit annoyed at Zoey here, because as we see with David (and in later moments with Max and Simon), her reaction to people being angry at her is to try and fix the problem immediately instead of giving them the space they ask for or need. It’s good that she reached out to David to apologize again, but she’s so concerned with making everything “okay,” and how she feels, that she ignores other people’s feelings and emotional needs.

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Maggie struggled with the idea of continuing on with the business without Mitch by her side, and finally, with his blessing, decided to do it. What did you think about this storyline and about the ways the show is setting up this family for life without Mitch?

Lizzie: It seems like such an obvious thing to say that Mitch would want the best for Maggie after he’s gone, but it’s so hard in that moment to make that decision for yourself. There’s a level of guilt to it, especially because Mitch is still around, and doing that just feels …like giving up on him before his time. But the sad truth of life is that …well, it goes on, and Maggie cannot stop her life and sit down on the couch with Mitch forever. That’s not what he would want. That’s not what you want for someone you love. 

Jade: It’s really hard, but the (sometimes unfortunate) fact of life is that it does go on after a loss. This is perhaps the first time in the season that Maggie’s had to make a decision about what her life would be without Mitch. Of course, she wanted to close the business instead of carrying on without him. But I think it was good that she made the decision to carry on. It won’t be easy, but her life will continue after losing Mitch, and she’s going to have to find a way to carry on.

Jacqueline: The fact that Maggie and Mitch were business partners is just one more way she is losing him. It is all so heartbreaking. I was so glad Mitch was able to tell her to go on without him. I’m sure it gave her peace of mind. But Maggie Clarke is one strong lady.

Jacquie: I love that Maggie and Mitch are partners in every conceivable sense of the word. I’m sure she must feel guilty getting to continue doing something she loves, especially since her partner can’t. One of the hardest parts of grief is learning to live again and continue on without the person you lost. It’s a necessary part of life to move forward and I think Mitch giving his blessing while he’s still here will help resolve some of that guilt. With this show, I have no worries about all the characters living in a Mitch-less world. It might be a bumpy ride at first, but they’ll get there eventually.

 Amanda: I thought it was a very sweet and important way for Mitch to be able to show not just Maggie but Zoey as well that it’s okay to be happy and to find joy in things even in the face of everything. Mitch giving his blessing to Maggie wasn’t just about the job, it was also his way of telling her that moving on with her life after he’s gone is okay. I feel like Mitch has come to terms with his own mortality, his biggest concern isn’t dying, it’s leaving his family behind and he wants to make sure that they will be okay. Their lives are not going to stop just because Mitch is gone and it’s important to him that they know he doesn’t want them to feel guilty about living their lives. At some point, the family will begin to focus less on Mitch not being there, and more to what he would want them to do if he was still there.

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Zoey and Emily sort of bonded this episode, for what might have been the first time. Why do you think these two aren’t close? What would you like to see from them if – when – the show gets a season 2?

Lizzie: I think it might be a personality issue, and a both of them are the type who doesn’t really try issue. But then again, I think grief might bring them closer. Well, grief and the baby and what it means to try to balance the happiness of a new baby and that grief. I’d really like to see them, not necessarily becoming each other’s person instantaneously, but you know, trying. I want to see them trying to be – not even sisters – but friends. It’s a progression I want to be a part of. 

Jade: They both seem like the kind of people who aren’t particularly good at emotional nuance. And Emily in particular does not seem to have much patience for small talk or even necessarily tact. I don’t think it’s an issue of them not getting along in the past, so much as they both just didn’t know what to do with each other. Emily probably hasn’t known what to do with Zoey’s more…quirky qualities, and Zoey probably hasn’t known how to respond to Emily’s very forthright nature. I’m glad they found a way to break the ice and start to relate to each other over the course of the season. I’d really like to see that relationship explored more in the second season. WHICH HAS NOW BEEN CONFIRMED!

Jacqueline: I’m not surprised Zoey and Emily aren’t close, they don’t seem to have much in common. I kind of like that they aren’t close it feels a little more realistic, not everyone is close with their sisters-in-law, right? It would be interesting to see them find common ground in season 2, maybe then develop a friendship but the current situation makes sense.

Jacquie: Zoey and Emily strike me as the type of opposites that repel. Emily wouldn’t let her get away with half the Zoey-ShenanigansTM she does if they were closer. So really their lack of a relationship is to preserve the plot of the series. In season 2 I would love to see these gals find some more common ground – maybe in the form of a 7lb bundle of joy. 

Amanda: It can be difficult to bond with your in-laws, and Zoey, as we know, is only really just learning how to navigate her own and other people’s emotions, and building relationships. Emily is a confident, strong-willed, corporate lawyer, who like Zoey doesn’t really seem very comfortable sharing emotions (crying about David but blaming her hormones). Not to mention Emily intimidates Zoey, neither of which makes it easy to foster a relationship with one another. They haven’t really had a chance to see one another outside of the roles of “David’s sister,” “David’s wife.” Zoey even mentions that they haven’t really had a chance to bond as sisters-in-law, which I think stems from both sides not really reaching out to one another. They see each other at the Clarke’s house, and when Zoey comes by their home, but those interactions also usually involve David, almost creating a buffer between them. 

I’d like to see them bonding more with season 2, the baby being born will provide lots of opportunities for Zoey to drop in, visit and spend time with Emily and her new nephew. I’m sure Emily would love to hear embarrassing stories about David growing up, which Zoey could happily provide! Also, Zoey needs more strong-female friends, really just female friends in general, and what better place to start than with your sister-in-law.

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What was your favorite musical number in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure”?

Lizzie: It hurts me to not pick John Clarence Stewart, but the song just didn’t do it for me under the circumstances, so I’m going to give this one to Leif’s “Everybody Hurts.” It was surprisingly heartfelt, especially for what we knew of the character at that point in time.

Jade: Oh, man, I really loved “Everybody Hurts” and am crushed that it isn’t available for purchase on iTunes. But I also really enjoyed “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” even if I wasn’t thrilled with the circumstances. Can’t I just give it to both of them?

Jacqueline: “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” John Clarence Stewart KILLED IT. I don’t even want him and Zoey together and I STILL LOVED IT. The man is just wonderful…BUT he shouldn’t be cheating on his fiancee emotionally…the song was AWESOME THOUGH. Honourable mention to Leif’s angsty “Everybody Hurts,” especially the growly version! 

Jacquie: “It’s Your Thing” is my favorite for this one. I go crazy over Peter Gallagher’s vocals and the heart melting father-daughter dance sequence. Zoey looks completely overjoyed during that number and that’s a Zoey I’ll always want more of! 

Amanda: I’m torn (I know not surprising at all) because “Just Give Me a Reason” is one of my favorite songs ever and so beautifully done by David and Emily. It’s the first time we have heard either of them sing and it’s our first official duet! They’re both such strong individuals and I love getting to see more inside their relationship with one another. But then Leif’s “Everybody Hurts,” was wonderfully done, starting the song from inside the isolation chair was total genius. Also, it just gives us more insight into Leif, and how melodramatic (something we see later post-Joan) he can be when faced with rejection, whether it’s professional or personal.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist available on streaming now on Hulu and through the NBC app.

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