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

You might be asking yourself, with the announcement that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has been renewed for a second season, have we finally calmed down in our gushing for the first season? No. No we haven’t. Given our love for this gem of a show, we at Fangirlish decided to do a series rewatch as though viewing each episode for the first time. Because when you love a series (and a ship in Max/Zoey) why not? And if you’re going to do a rewatch, a roundtable just adds double the fun!

Joining me this week are Fangirlish writers Lizzie and Jacqueline as well as guests Jacquie and Amanda.

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After a couple of Clarkeman-light episode, this OTP came back with a bang in this episode, culminating in that song. What is it about “I’m Gonna (500 Miles)” that makes this musical number in particular such a gold-tier shipping moment, and where does the number fall in your favorite shipping moments of the season?

Jade: I’ve actually always hated that song…until this episode. Skylar Astin did a great job with it, of course, but I think what sold me on it was largely the situation. Zoey’s concern, her fear, and her aggravation were so palpable (that sound she made when she looked at her phone was one everyone who’s ever been frustrated and worried would recognize). Max’s determination to do anything it took to help her get to her dad at the hospital won me over. And while, yes, he clearly has romantic feelings for her, I have no doubt he would have been just as determined to help her as a friend, even if those feelings didn’t exist. His romantic love stems from his genuine caring for her that developed over their years as friends. It doesn’t replace it.

I knew Clarkeman would be the endgame ship before this, of course, but I was content with patiently waiting to see how things played out to get there. Before this episode, I was even on board with seeing Zoey and Simon play out first (after he and Jessica ended things and Zoey was honest with him about her powers, of course). But the way they did this entire song sequence made me want to see Zoey and Max get together right now, immediately, yesterday would be preferable. It was the moment Clarkeman went from A ship to THE ship. Somewhere between the song, the hug, and the reprise, Clarkman became one of my top five favorite ships. Because we can’t forget the icing on the cake. That reprise. Coming right on the heels of the hug, it’s everything. Sexy. Romantic. Poignant. Heartfelt. I could watch that whole sequence – song, hug, song – fifty times. (In fact, I have.)

Rewatching the series as we are, there’s a progression in Max’s heartsongs, from the uncertainty of “I Think I Love You” in the Pilot to the confidence of knowing how he feels about her and the certainty of the future they could have together in “I’m Gonna (500 Miles).” There’s no doubt about it. That man is head over heels for her, and I’m a sucker for a good love story. As far as favorite shipping moments go? It’s a three-way tie between this, “I’m Yours,” and “All of Me.”

Lizzie: I think it’s the choice of song + moment kind of thing. Yes, they’d done great with that before, but I think this was one of those “wow has a song fit a moment better” things. Plus, when Max sang his first overtly romantic song, we didn’t know him OR Zoey that well. Anything we could have felt had to do with first impressions, and with our general knowledge of tropes and what the show was probably trying to do. But now it’s episode six, and we have feelings and opinions about everything – which makes this Max moment one where we easily go from oh, so Zoey has feelings for two guys, and I might like one more than the other, but I’m not like super committed or anything to I WILL DIE IN THE ALTAR OF CLARKEMAN, SACRIFICE ME IF NEEDED.

You get my point. And of course, it helps that Skylar absolutely sells not just the first part of the song, but the reprise. Without the reprise, this song is good, but the reprise elevates it from awww to this could melt the polar ice caps. 

Jacqueline: I LOVE what they did with “I’m Gonna (500 Miles) – slowing it down really showed the lyrics more profoundly and Max just made it the MOST romantic song EVER. THIS was the episode for me. The one where I officially became a shipper and declared my undying love for Max. I always liked him better than Simon but this was the episode, with this song, that showed that the show writers are also team Max. Now, that I can reflect on the entire season, with the rewatch highlighting even more shipper moments, 500 Miles is still my favourite. It was the moment where my heart went boom and you can see in Zoey’s eyes when she’s looking out the window at Max, that hers did too! 

Jacquie: While hearing someone say (or sing) they have feelings for you is great, it’s the moments when they show you how they feel that mean everything. Max was Zoey’s hero in this moment. He took charge and that’s a nice feeling especially when the world around you seems to be spinning out of control in a million different directions. This song gave Max’s feelings more of a serious tone – it ain’t just a little crush. He wants to be there for her, do anything for her … and that was when my little shipper heart exploded. So far we’ve seen Max be supportive but in a more passive way; like ‘I’ll be there for you no matter what happens but I have no control over making anything happen’. Marching through the streets and scooter fighting was a much more self-assured and confident Max then we had seen before but with the same big heart he’s always had. The change in tone from the first half of the song to the reprise doesn’t diminish that feeling, but only makes it that much more heartfelt. This whole sequence is definitely in my Top 5 favorite shipping moments – as it was just the beginning of so many more AMAZING moments to come!!

Amanda: Let’s start with the song lyrics, ones which honestly before hearing it in this episode I never paid attention to, apart from the chorus. This is a song about devotion, love, and everything that Max is willing to do for Zoey. When he starts singing it’s all about how he wants to be there for her, support her and be beside her through everything. Then later they slow the tempo and it becomes him declaring his intentions and love for her outside her window. Max even echoes the sentiment of the lyrics when he tells Zoey, “I’m here if you need me. Always.”

Next, we have the choreography throughout the number. Throughout it, all Max’s goal is to find Zoey a ride and get her quickly and safely to the hospital. Even though he’s looking around and at his phone trying to find a scooter he’s still focused on where Zoey is at all times. When she gets bumped by the Warriors fans he checks to make sure she’s okay and stays closer to her to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Then we get him becoming even more determined when someone takes the first scooter, he’s not going to let her down. He grabs ahold of her hand so she can keep up with him and stick close, as he determinedly strides down the street to get to the scooter.

We then have Max willing to fight a guy for the scooter because Zoey needs it, something which does not go unnoticed by Zoey, her expression is a combination of impressed and attraction. Max doesn’t really seem to be the type to get into physical confrontations with anybody, but he’s willing to do anything for Zoey, even if it means fighting a random guy over a scooter.

And then because Zoey can’t ride the scooter on her own we get that sweet moment of them riding the scooter together. It’s Zoey trusting Max to get her to the hospital no matter what, and Max proving how much he is willing to do for her. Who knows where the hospital is in comparison to his apartment or even the Clarke house? And we know he stays at the hospital with them and goes home to help with the bed and making sure they all got home okay. 

Lastly, Max singing outside as Zoey watches him is just such a moment because you can see Zoey starting to feel something outside of friendship for Max, just as he’s realized how much he loves her.

Ranking wise for Clarkeman moments I’d say it’s tied with “All of Me,” for the number one spot. Both moments, to me, are just so wonderful and really encompass everything that I love about this ship.

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Joan and Zoey’s friendship grew by leaps and bounds over the first six episodes of the series. What do you think about their dynamic and relationship, and what would you like to see from them in season two?

Jade: I love these two together. I enjoyed their dynamic when the show first began and I thought Joan would just be Zoey’s quippy, somewhat hard-nosed boss who would push her to do better. I really loved the way the show took that dynamic and spun it on its head. It’s also interesting to me that Joan is Zoey’s mentor at work, but Joan also relies more heavily on Zoey for emotional support. In a strange way, it makes their friendship one of equals, even though Joan is Zoey’s boss. Although with as much of a mess as Zoey is when it comes to emotions (much though we love her), if you’re relying on Zoey Clarke to guide you through the emotional quagmire of romantic relationships…oh, honey. Joan’s a hot mess, and we love her for it.

I really love their friendship, and I desperately hope Lauren Graham is able to juggle her schedule to be in a hefty number of episodes next year. There’s still so much to explore with those two, and I’d love to see even more bonding between them. This season there was a lot of focus on Joan’s love life – for good reason – with some focus on Zoey’s career and (later) grief. But I’d also love to see their dynamic grow even further beyond that. I want more positive relationships between women on-screen, and this series has all the makings for a truly spectacular one.

Lizzie: I’ve said this before, and I don’t mind continuing to sing the same tune, but it’s so rare to see two women, especially one in a position of power and a subordinate, develop the kind of relationship Joan and Zoey have been allowed to develop, one that’s real, that’s not about trying to turn Zoey into another version of Joan and/or isn’t about badmouthing the guys all the time, but is based on mutual respect and a desire to push each other to be better. Women have these kinds of relationships, it’s just that TV so rarely shows women in this vein, because …weh, they think it doesn’t sell? I’m not sure, but I would really like to see more of this going into season 2, and I would also like to see them continue to lean on each other, not just for matters of the heart.

Jacqueline: I do love seeing Joan and Zoey’s relationship grow but in this episode, I felt a little bad for Zoey. At this point, she is being pressured into hanging out with Joan because she is her boss, not by choice. I love how by the end of the episode they have more of a friendship going on but right now, this is an awkward phase. I’m looking forward to seeing Joan support Zoey more in Season 2. Joan will be a great mentor for Zoey and Joan is right, women in tech need to stick together. 

Jacquie: Joan is a force of nature and I love seeing her friendship with Zoey bring that side out of her more in a fun way. Being vulnerable is not fun for either of these women though, so it is so great that they have a safe space in each other. We learn about their similarities more as the show goes on and they have this really honest communication which is refreshing to see. I would love for season 2 to have Joan come back and shake things up for Zoey in a good way – we don’t know how much Lauren Graham will be back for at this point so I’ll take what I can get.

Amanda: I love Joan and Zoey’s friendship, they’re able to maintain a balance between their work relationship and their friendship so that there aren’t any issues between the two. Joan is able to support Zoey both as her boss, but also as her friend which is exactly what Zoey needs right now. Obviously, with Joan stepping up as acting CEO, there will be some dynamic changes between them at work, but I can see Joan needing more hang time with Zoey outside of the office. We need some more girl time between them, just hanging out, giving them a chance to vent about their personal lives and give each other advice. 

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Leif came up with the idea for SPRQ Point’s “Next Big Thing” – the Chirp, but the proposed product raises a multitude of ethical questions – including issues regarding the invasion of privacy. What do you think of the Chirp? Would you buy it, if it was on the market today? Is the comparison between the Chirp and Zoey’s powers intentional?

Jade: I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to people’s names, so I’d probably want to buy it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been confronted with someone I’ve met several times and couldn’t for the life of me remember their name. That said, there is something a little creepy about it. Using facial technology to identify who you’re talking to? It’s a little Minority Report. On its face, it sounds great, but it doesn’t take much thought before some serious privacy concerns come to mind. And because this show is so clever, I can’t imagine that’s unintentional. The difference is, of course, that Zoey can’t control her unintentional emotional voyeurism, whereas users of the Chirp would knowingly and consciously be toeing a line (at best). I wonder if this is going to come up next season, causing Zoey to reflect even deeper on the things she can hear and the ethics of her superpower, whether or not it’s entirely under her control.

Lizzie: I will admit I hadn’t given it much thought till now, which is probably a good thing because the more I think about it the more problematic it is. I do think they were trying to parallel the Chirp and Zoey’s powers, which also brings up the VERY interesting question of, how ethical it is for Zoey to know what other people are thinking/feeling and use that to form bonds with people (*cough* Simon *cough*) without coming clean.

Jacqueline: I LOVE that you asked this question!!! I HATE CHIRP! It is a huge invasion of privacy! But the tech world right now seems to be all about invasion of privacy and for the most part, the public don’t have a problem with it. So I’m sure some people heard the idea and were like so cool! But hey I’m old fashioned and I’m not letting Google or Amazon listen to me in my home so I am not the target for Chirp. I didn’t even catch the comparison between Chirp and Zoey’s Powers – too disgusted by the Chirp idea. Zoey’s powers are definitely an infringement on people’s privacy without their consent but she didn’t choose to have the powers, people would actively choose to use Chirp so I see them as different overall. 

Jacquie: The Chirp seems like it would be targeted towards a specific type of person, that being someone residing at the top of the corporate ladder. I don’t need something chirping in my ear like that. Call me old-fashioned but I like learning about someone by talking to them. While Zoey’s powers do give her a special insight, it’s on a much more genuine level. The Chirp would give you a version of what the person wants you to see via social media, whatever facade they want to show. The whole point of Zoey’s powers is to reveal what people are hiding inside – and hopefully help them resolve the issue. The difference doesn’t surprise me, considering who came up with the idea for the Chirp in the first place. Leif is one of the only characters who sang a heart-song that Zoey’s help had no effect on. The intentions of the Chirp are very different from that of Zoey’s powers, especially without the universe’s guidance (aka the rules for heart-songs). I don’t see the Chirp looking like such a great idea anymore once it gets to the general public.

Amanda: For commercial use, I personally think the Chirp is a very invasive and problematic device. The Chirp is a massive invasion of privacy, using an individual’s digital footprint and social media to gather the required information means that an individual’s privacy settings are practically nonexistent. However, I can see that this could be a beneficial device in the medical field to assist individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or developmental disorders. So in the right hands, the Chirp could be very beneficial to many people, but Leif and SPRQ Point are not the right hands.

I’m not super big on owning smart devices, I don’t have a smartwatch, Amazon Echo or Google Home, so it wouldn’t be on my list for that reason. But also I’m pretty good at remembering people and information so I wouldn’t be the Chirp’s target audience anyway.

Zoey’s powers being compared to the Chirp is something to be considered, especially because both act as an almost “cheat sheet,” providing information about individuals when needed. While both intend to help people, the individuals involved have every right to feel uncomfortable and feel like their privacy has been invaded. I think the comparison between them is more to show what Zoey’s powers could have been if she wasn’t growing emotionally and in her relationships with the people she helps.

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Even as the episode highlighted the solid foundation in the Clarkeman relationship, it showed the cracks in Simon’s engagement with Jessica. We have talked before about what Simon owes Jessica in this situation, as her fiance. What if anything do you think Zoey owes Jessica? Do you think she regrets her behavior with Simon or just the discovery and fallout?

Jade: Maybe it’s because I used to be a practicing divorce attorney, but it always drives me up a wall when there’s infidelity in a relationship and the person who was cheated on blames the other man/woman rather than the person who actually broke their commitment. That said, it’s hard for me to say that Zoey owes Jessica nothing. The fact is that she knows Jessica exists. Jessica is even making overtures towards friendship. And, really, when it comes she to it, Zoey knows what she’s doing is wrong. I love Zoey, but it’s troubling to me that Zoey was fine with her flirtation with Simon – even as she professed it was innocent. If it was that innocent, she wouldn’t have tried so hard to hide it from Jessica. Neither would she be so alarmed when she got a random call from Jessica and thought it might have been because of the incident at her apartment. That makes it clear that, protestations aside, she knew what she was doing was wrong. And yet, she was still willing to go along for the ride and ignore the red flags in what she was doing until she saw Jessica heartsong and realized the impact of her actions. 

Does she owe Jessica anything as a friend? No, probably not. They aren’t really friends, though an apology wouldn’t be out of line. But what she’s doing with Simon – flirting with him and hoping he leaves Jessica for her (which she may not overtly state she wants but is clear she wishes for) isn’t great. At the very least, it’s bad form to go to another woman’s engagement party when you’re trying to steal the groom.

Lizzie: This is a very complicated situation, in that Zoey and Jessica aren’t really friends. She’s friends with Simon. I do think Zoey owes Jessica an apology in the sense that it’s just the right thing to do. I can, however, believe Zoey was in denial about any lines being crossed till the night Simon sang “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and that, after that, saying something would have been, in Zoey’s mind, a betrayal of Simon. However, that doesn’t mean Jessica doesn’t have a right to be mad, and that after this Zoey shouldn’t have approached her and been like “hey, my feelings aside I didn’t want to hurt you, and I apologize.” She didn’t, though, and that’s not just because she didn’t want to deal with what she did wrong, I think she knows that, but because Simon tried to pretend it was all okay afterward, and Zoey took her cues from him, which was a big no-no.

Jacqueline: As Zoey was friendly with Jessica I do feel she owes her an apology. It’s not right and Zoey knew it was not right to have that kind of emotional relationship with someone else’s fiancee. I think Zoey always felt a bit guilty about her relationship with Simon, not as guilty as I would feel, but she didn’t feel great about it – SHE KNEW HE WAS ENGAGED TO JESSICA. But I think Zoey felt especially bad given when and where her “relationship” with Simon was discovered. My heart goes out to Jessica. 

Jacquie: I think Zoey was being a little selfish, proud to be able to give Simon something that he couldn’t get from his fiance. I don’t think she concerned herself with how Jessica would feel about her and Simon’s friendship since she initially encouraged it. To be clear, Jessica wanted Simon to find someone who could understand his grief better than she could and help him through it – not someone to emotionally cheat on her with. I don’t think Zoey is a horrible person who wanted this to happen, but I do think she was fine as long as Jessica didn’t know about her feelings for Simon. She looked mortified during “Say My Name” when Jessica started singing directly at her. This was the moment when playing with fire got her burned … and the rose wall. When you have feelings for someone who’s taken, it’s easy to justify any behavior that’s not straight-out cheating. It’s hard to say with Zoey’s emotional nievate, but I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt that she really didn’t think her feelings for Simon were hurting anyone. I think her regrets after that night were that she even ended up in this situation at all. 

Amanda: Zoey needs to be an adult and accept responsibility for her actions, which means being open and honest with Jessica. She owes her a massive apology and explanation for everything that has happened. The fact that Jessica only found out because she happened to overhear Zoey talking to Maggie, isn’t fair to her at all. I think Zoey was beginning to have regrets with her behavior towards Simon judging by her conversation with Maggie. She knew that she was in the wrong and that it was up to her to put up boundaries between them, but she didn’t. Had there not been the discovery and fallout Zoey could have begun taking those steps towards distancing herself from Simon more and attempting to move on from her feelings. If nothing else Zoey definitely regrets the way in which everything came out, and the resulting fallout, and rose wall flambe. 

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Jessica became a bit divisive of a character after her outburst at the engagement party, when she indicated she thought Simon might be using his grief about his dad as an excuse or to put up a wall between them. What do you think about what she said? Did you understand her frustration, or did she cross a line?

Jade: The biggest problem in the relationship between Jessica and Simon is that we never really got to see it. I sympathize with her pain, and what she said definitely crossed a line. That said, I still find myself asking how many times she’s tried to reach out to him and his response has been – either subtly or overtly – “I’m sad about my dad, and you wouldn’t understand.” In which case, her words would still have not been great, but it would be more understandable that she feels he perhaps uses his grief as an excuse. However, since we only saw glimpses of their relationship from Zoey’s position as onlooker, we don’t know and will likely never know. Regardless, this whole conversation just highlighted once again why Simon and Jessica do not work as a couple. Certainly not now, and possibly not ever.

Lizzie: I understand her frustration, I do, but that’s crossing a line. To me, bringing someone’s grief into it and throwing it in their face just because you don’t understand it, well …that’s just not good. She had a bunch of other things she could have thrown at Simon, and she would have been more than justified, but his grief isn’t about her and it isn’t about Zoey. So what if he doesn’t know how to handle it? No one does. He isn’t struggling with it to hurt Jessica, it has absolutely nothing to do with her, and to judge him for basically having a hard time moving on …well, that hurt me.

Jacqueline: I totally get Jessica’s frustration with Simon’s grief ESPECIALLY as he’s never let her in on it. They are supposed to be in this together, she wants to be supportive. I know she says the wrong things but if they are going to marry they need to learn to talk about the BIG STUFF. Simon’s father’s death and subsequent grief is big stuff. So, I think she said it out of frustration and maybe a bit of anger given the whole Zoey situation. 

Jacquie: I think Jessica’s frustration was justified, and actually mirrored Zoey’s frustration with Simon for the same reasons in a later episode. Simon likes to be placated especially when it comes to his grief over his father. Those are a lot of heavy emotions and he seems to get stuck in them rather than try to work through them. Not wanting your fiance, the supposed ‘love of your life’, by your side during those moments – how is that supposed to make the other person feel? I don’t know if Simon was intentionally pulling away or not, we don’t know enough about their relationship to know for sure. But I think that he and Jessica haven’t really talked about it, to avoid the hard conversation that would expose the cracks in their seemingly perfect relationship. 

Amanda: We have all said things in anger and lashed out at those we love before, which unfortunately is what Jessica did in the heat of the moment. As much as Simon is struggling to deal with his grief and the loss of his father, Jessica is also struggling. We don’t know what her relationship with Simon’s dad was, or if there even was one, but she has had to process her own grief as well as support Simon through his. All of which can be emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting, so it was only a matter of time before she snapped. While she shouldn’t have said what she said, she is hurting and frustrated with Simon, which is completely understandable. Jessica is also grieving the loss of the man that Simon was, his father’s death has irrevocably changed his life. She knew him and loved him before his father’s death, but he will never be the same as he was when his father was alive, something which can be difficult to acknowledge. Simon struggles with his grief so much not just because it’s the death of his father, which is difficult to process on its own, but losing him to suicide, which has its own separate, difficult, and complex grieving process.

Jessica’s frustration is warranted, she has been there supporting him throughout his grief, she’s encouraged him to talk to someone, to talk to her about what he’s feeling, but Simon would rather talk to Zoey who he has known for maybe a month? Ideally, the confrontation wouldn’t have happened with such a large audience or at their engagement party, but outbursts don’t exactly schedule appointments.

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What do you think about Simon’s response – or lack of response – to Jessica and Zoey’s confrontation at the engagement party? Where do you think he is emotionally at this point, and do you think he even knows what (or who) he wants?

Jade: Simon doesn’t know what he wants – which isn’t inherently terrible, but he needs to figure it out. He owes it to Jessica, certainly before their relationship continues. He would owe it to Zoey before they pursued anything, if that’s what they chose to do. But mostly he really needs to figure it out for himself, because the person he’s really hurting the most through all of this is himself. Is that intentional on the writers’ part and subconscious on his? Is he subconsciously self-sabotaging because he’s afraid he’ll lose another person he loves, so he’d rather push them away before that can happen? (It’s my pet theory, and I am not letting it go until there is evidence to the contrary.) But it’s another interesting counterpoint between Max and Simon and their relationship with Zoey. Simon doesn’t know what he wants – not just with Jessica, but with Zoey. Meanwhile, Max has never sounded so certain about how he feels and what kind of future with Zoey that he wants as he did in this episode. 

Lizzie: I think he has absolutely no clue, and that’s why he should have just backed away from both of them and tried to get his head on straight. He makes the wrong decision in this regard again and again, until finally he makes the right one. And I know it’s hard, stepping back means you might lose the people you care about, but if you can’t truly be you with them, if you don’t have a chance in hell at making them happy because you aren’t happy, then why even try at all?

Jacqueline: Simon’s lack of response says it all. I think he’s a mess emotionally and really can’t know what he wants. He needs to grieve his father and for some reason he can’t be open with his fiancee which I think should set off alarm bells. Of course, Jessica, can’t understand exactly what he’s going through but I don’t feel like Simon gave her a fair chance. Simon needs to work through his grief until he is able to cope before making decisions about significant others. 

Jacquie: Simon is just a big ol’ mess this whole season, as he is totally absorbed in his grief. I think his feelings for Zoey and Jessica are mixed up in all of that – and he has no more an idea how to deal with those feelings than he does with his father’s death. But standing still doesnt stop the world from turning, and Simon’s inaction is going to catch up with him. He needs to settle the constant torment he lives in before he can know for sure what his feelings are.

Amanda: I think Simon is incredibly confused and he is so wrapped up in his own grief and issues that he’s not able to process much beyond that. So when Jessica and Zoey have their confrontation he doesn’t know how to respond because he isn’t sure how he feels himself. Emotionally he is struggling, he’s hiding things from his fiance, desperately latching onto Zoey who he hasn’t known that long. Honestly, when it comes to his relationship with  Zoey, I think it’s a combination of having someone to “discuss” his grief with, but also a slightly self-sabotaging act. He proposed to Jessica shortly after his father’s death, which means he likely rushed into the engagement, so desperate to not lose anyone else in his life. I think he’s realized that he made a mistake in proposing, but he doesn’t know how to explain that to Jessica, so instead, he makes foolish mistakes like spending time with another woman and hiding it from her. Simon really really needs to talk to someone about his grief, emotions, and how it’s affecting his relationships. Until he’s able to sort out his own feelings he shouldn’t be making any decisions about romantic relationships.

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Shirtless Max or Max in a suit? Discuss.

Jade: I don’t have enough data to make a firm decision. We need to see both in a few dozen more episodes to decide. I did not expect Max to be such a “secret buff,” but he looked damn fine in a suit, too. I liked what I saw with both, and it was clear Zoey did too. But, honestly, talk about flashing neon “THIS IS THE ENDGAME OTP” signs! One could argue that his clothing makeover was another step in his story arc to achieve character maturity – from realizing what he did and didn’t want with Autumn, to getting rid of the clothes that made him look like a fourth grader, to his upcoming arc at SPRQ Point, where he embraces professional responsibility. But that shirtless scene? It was…20% for the fans and 80% an enormous OTP setup, causing Zoey to see Max in a way that certainly wasn’t platonic. 

And her thoughts were definitely not platonic. I’ve a number of friends I’ve seen shirtless, and I’ve never had to be reminded to stop staring at their nipples before. I’m just saying. Still, putting them back-to-back like that in one episode? Austin was trying to kill us, and he damn near did it.

Lizzie: I have poured over all the available information multiple times, and this is the conclusion I’ve reached: There is no right or wrong answer, there’s just personal preference. Because Max looks finnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeee shirtless and in a suit. The suit, however, wins it for me, because it’s much more socially acceptable to put him in that suit and take him to places, and if you had Max, you’d want to take him to places. 

Jacqueline: Can I choose both? I adore both. First, let me say, Max, is way hotter shirtless than I expected. Underneath those geeky shirts beats the heart of a man….wowzer! Like Zoey, I COULD NOT STOP STARING. Then I felt like I had whiplash, how can he be as hot if not HOTTER in a suit?! This shirtless then suit situation is enough to make this one of my favourite episodes. I just wonder why more women weren’t flocking to him at the party?

Jacquie: Sorry I’m still working on even having a coherent thought after seeing them both again… IN THE SAME EPISODE! ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL ME! They say the clothes make the man … and no clothes makes the women go all googly. I think the first step to getting Zoey to accept she has feelings for Max was to make her face her attraction to him. Sure we got glimpses of that during “Sucker”, but her denial was so deep extreme measures had to be taken. Cue shirtless Max and subsequently ‘can’t take my eyes off him’ Zoey – something told me she’d be singing a different tune after that. Suited Max is sexy in a new, more confident way. It’s special because it’s different, and not something we see a lot of in other episodes. While I adore both … it’s shirtless for the win in my book. Start doing crunches now buddy, because we are definitely gonna want more of that in Season 2!!

Amanda: Since we’re writing this down it counts as science right? This is actually a very, very very difficult decision to make! On the one hand, you have not just a shirtless Max, but a shirtless Max who’s wearing very nicely tailored dress pants (Thank you Mo!!). As if standing there looking like a snack isn’t enough he has to go and flex showing off his muscles? Ugh, he’s trying to kill us all. Shirtless Max also comes across as slightly more confident and flirtatious, teasing Zoey, and that adorable smirk he does *fans self*.

Okay onto Max in a suit, bless Mo for that makeover and the tailoring because WOW! I’m a sucker for an attractive man in a well-tailored suit! Max in a suit is next level sexy. We’ve seen him without a shirt and in some other great outfits (the “Sucker” jacket, and “Bye Bye Bye” shirt spring to mind), but there is just something about that suit that just takes the cake.

So shirtless Max is hot, and Max in a suit is sexy….the results are inconclusive, I need more data. Clearly the only solution is to have Max be in suits and shirtless more in season 2.

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Although Max and Autumn seemed to have a relatively smooth breakup, it turned out Autumn wasn’t as okay with it as she had appeared. What do you think of Max’s desire to try to make amends? Have you been in that position before? Was Mo right to stop him?

Jade: I mean, Max is a genuinely good guy, and it sucks to think someone you cared about on some level (even if it wasn’t love, he had some sort of positive connection with her) hates your breathing guts. It’s also understandable to want to try to make it better. But sometimes it’s hard to accept that the only way you can make things better sometimes is to go away and give the other person space. Maybe Autumn will get over it someday, she’ll reach out, and the two can find their way back to friendly terms. But maybe that’ll never happen, and he’ll have to accept that. It sucks, I know. I’ve been there. But that’s what happens when relationships end. Trying to be nice can end up being cruel, and Mo was absolutely right to put a stop to it.

Lizzie: Typical man Max just needed – needs – to stay away. Sometimes two people aren’t right for each other, but that doesn’t mean the moment after the breakup is easy. Sometimes you can’t be the good guy right then and there, but you breaking it off means you’ll be the good guy in the long run – you know, unlike what Simon did. But people need time to grieve and to just feel whatever they want to feel, and Mo was – as always, absolutely right. 

Jacqueline: I think Max wanted to make amends because he doesn’t want to be the bad guy. He thinks of himself as a nice guy. If he hurt Autumn, which he clearly did, is not nice. I have not been in this position before. Mo was absolutely right to stop Max. But then, Mo is usually right. In this case, Autumn has a right to her anger and her feelings about the breakup need to be respected and that’s truly the nicest thing Max can do here. 

Jacquie: I mean … no one likes getting dumped – no matter how nicely you do it. While he innocently thought that they could be civil after the breakup, going back for round two would have ended more like the events of the heart-song. Thank god for Mo stopping that bad idea train. I totally get where Max was coming from though. When you’re a genuinely nice person who would never knowingly hurt anyone ever- it’s hard to accept that you can’t, or maybe shouldn’t, try to fix it. People need to be allowed to feel how they feel, and not how you want them to; Even if you have the best of intentions. 

Amanda: Max’s need to make things right reminds me so much of how Zoey reacts to people being upset with her (her and David, and eventually her and Max). They both have this need to smooth things over and fix them as quickly as possible in order to make themselves feel better and avoid further conflict. People need time to process their emotions and feelings, but both Max and Zoey get too caught up in the need to make sure that everything is “okay.” I can understand where Max is coming from, having people upset with you is not a great feeling, and admittedly in the past, I have tried to quickly smooth over misunderstandings or conflicts just to keep the peace. Thank goodness for Mo helping to explain to Max why it’s not such a great idea to try and “fix” things. Especially because since it’s Autumn’s place of work, things could have gotten very uncomfortable for her. Max is still technically a customer which means Autumn still has to do her job in order to keep her job. Max pressing the issue with Autumn would have just made things worse for everyone. His heart is in the right place, wanting to make things okay between them, but he really just needs to give Autumn her space and accept that she’s going to be upset for a while.

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After a few weeks of displaying some jealousy regarding Max’s relationship with Autumn, Zoey saw how far he’s willing to go for her when she needs him. Where do you think she is emotionally when it comes to Max, and how do you feel about the development of the Clarkeman relationship in this episode?

Jade: We know Zoey cares about Max. We know she’s attracted to him, too. But she’s clearly not ready to face that yet. At the end of the episode, in particular I think she started to get maybe a glimmer of her feelings for him, but she shut that down fast. We know she’s scared of losing him, and I think that’s probably getting in her way a lot at this point in the show. 

It may be coincidental – a byproduct of a short season – but it’s interesting that, the more she runs away from her feelings for Max, the more she focuses on her crush on Simon. I think this was a necessary episode, because it does set up that something inside Zoey is changing. We all know what’s coming up, and that Zoey will sing a song that makes it clear her feelings for Max are stronger than she’s willing to admit. But, she can’t be ready to completely face that now if she won’t even be willing to face that in a couple of episodes. While I have no doubt that she’s attracted to Simon – and I know he is and will be very important for her to have in her life, particularly once she loses her dad – I wonder how much her determination to pursue Simon romantically is connected to her denial about her feelings for Max. I don’t deny she’s attracted to Simon and she likes him, but she’s pursuing an engaged man she’s only really been talking to for a couple of months at maximum. (And since we know that she wasn’t able to talk to him prior to the Pilot, her crush on him up to that point could only have been physical attraction.) Is it only that she’s running to Simon, or is it at least in part that she’s running from her feelings for Max? Maybe the answer to that question will become more clear in season two.

Lizzie: I actually think she’s back in denial. She sees Max and she sees she cares, but now she’s even more in denial about what that means or what it could mean, romantically, because she doesn’t want to see it, and she somehow thinks because she can’t handle it right now, Max, who has proven to, in many ways, be able to anticipate her needs, will somehow continue to be just the Max she needs right now, instead of the Max HE needs to be. She doesn’t see that breaking up with Autumn is Max breaking his cycle of settling, and she has convinced herself this means things are back to normal. So yeah, Zoey has issues and denial is not just a river in Egypt, it’s a freaking ocean.

Jacqueline: By the end of the episode I think Zoey, like us, could no longer deny what was between her and Max. You can see it in her eyes when she looks down at Max singing on the sidewalk. HE IS THE ONE. This episode showed Max’s love for Zoey, Zoey’s love for Max and the writers’ intention that they were ENDGAME. I feel like this was the true beginning of Clarkeman’s romantic relationship. And now I CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT SATURDAY!!! 

Jacquie: While Max had been an option before, here he became a contender! Now Zoey knows she’s physically attracted to him – no denying that. But also seeing him go above and beyond for her when she needed it, made the ice start to thaw. By the end of the episode when she’s looking at him through the window, you see something happening there. I think Zoey got so wrapped up in avoiding feelings, this episode was just what was needed to open her eyes. I think their development here is crucial for them. This episode opened a can of worms that needed to be opened so they could move forward. 

Amanda: This is really the episode where Zoey starts to consider Max as more than a friend. From the way she stares at him shirtless in Mo’s apartment to how she looks at him throughout “I’m Gonna (500 Miles).” She’s called him her rock before, but I think she’s realizing how true that really is, and everything that means for her. Max in her mind went above and beyond to get her to her dad (I’ll argue that’s what best friends and soulmates do for each other, but I digress), which makes her realize how much he means to her, and how much she means to him. The moment where she watches Max singing to her through the window, you can see that she’s no longer as terrified of Max’s feelings for her as she was when she first learned about them. 

I had already lived for the Clarkeman moments in the previous episodes, so of course, I loved that they were moving forward. I had hoped we might get a moment like this towards the end of the season, but Austin blessed us with this moment mid-season, and then spoiled us rotten with the finale! 

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Finally, if you know me, you know I feel very strongly about this last question. HOW DID THEY NOT KISS IN THE FOYER AFTER THE HUG??? HOW??? HOW COULD AUSTIN (Winsberg, the show runner) TORMENT CLARKEMAN SHIPPERS LIKE THIS???

Jade: Would it have made sense? No. Do I care? Also no. I swear that the first time I saw that scene, I was convinced she was following after him to the door to give him a kiss. Even if it was to chicken out at the last moment and give him a kiss on the cheek goodbye. Every time I watch that scene, I’m surprised anew that it didn’t happen. That moment? With that chemistry? Leaving it like that has to be some sort of crime against the Clarkeman fans. Leaving us hanging like that was brutal. BRUTAL!

Lizzie: It probably wasn’t the right time, plot-wise, but in a pure chemistry+situation standpoint, boy, I’m not sure how they didn’t. They weren’t thinking about her parents, and they weren’t thinking about all the reasons why they couldn’t or shouldn’t, they were just there, present, with each other in that moment …and that’s why, if it had happened, it would have absolutely worked for me.

Jacqueline: Truthfully, I have no idea how they didn’t kiss after that hug. HE CARRIED A BED DOWNSTAIRS FOR HER FATHER. He deserved a kiss. He was in that suit – very kissable suit. He was THERE – she should have kissed him. But shows do love to torment but given everything we got in this episode I find it hard to complain. But of course, I can, if necessary 😉

Jacquie: As much as I would have loved a kiss here, and I mean LOVED, it wasn’t the right time. Max still hadn’t made his feelings for Zoey known, and I think hers were just beginning to surface out of her denial. They both have some more growing to do at this point before they can be together – a kiss would have just complicated an already over complicated mess of Zoey’s own making. And also her mom and dad were in the next room – and we all know that kiss wouldn’t have been some sweet little two-second peck. Veteran shippers know that when shipping, being tormented early on is half the fun. 

Amanda: I would have loved for them to kiss in this moment, but to me, there was almost more intimacy in the hug and Zoey watching Max finish his heart-song through the window. Those moments are just so romantic and swoon-worthy even without a kiss, which is just proof that these two are endgame!

With Zoey we also see her looking at Max in a new light, he’s always been her friend, but she didn’t seem to realize how much he was willing to do for her. He was willing to fight a guy to get her a scooter, helped her ride it to the hospital, made sure she got home safe, and carried Mitch and Maggie’s bed downstairs! She’s trying to puzzle out these new feelings for Max, so she wouldn’t really be in the right mindset for a kiss. 

In Max’s case, he just got smacked in the face with how strong his feelings for Zoey are. You can see it when she hugs him he gets that “OMG, I’m in love with her,” look on his face. Sure he had a crush on her before, but it’s really in this moment that he’s realizing that it’s more than just a crush, that he’s completely head over heels in love with her. He’s busy trying to process his feelings and Zoey hugging him, that even just the thought of kissing her would probably cause his brain to explode. 

Also, Zoey had been drinking quite a bit and is in an emotionally vulnerable state, and because Max Richman is a gentleman, he wouldn’t want their first kiss to be like that.

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

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