Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 2×02 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction,” is one of the best episodes this how has ever done. That’s not just the Clarkeman fan in me talking, though the Clarkeman scene in Zoey’s bedroom is probably one of my top scenes of the year (I know it’s January, I stand by what I said). This episode is a great balance of the sad, the real and the joy that can be found, even in the darkest of times.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Zoey is not fine. The Clarke family is not fine. But trying to lose yourself in the good things in your life isn’t an uncommon response to grief, and with Zoey making a choice, there really was nowhere to go with her, in this moment in her life, than all in.
Before I go into other things, I want to make two points in regards to this: I commend the show for making a choice – the only choice, really – easily and quickly enough that it allows all characters to move forward into other storylines. Often love triangles, even ones with obvious endings, like this one, get dragged for way too long, with the end result that by the time the writers make a decision, you actually dislike all characters. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist avoids this issue by just …letting the story run its course.
Yes, Zoey had a crush on Simon. She acted on that crush. It didn’t go anywhere, because it wasn’t the right time for him, and she wasn’t doing it for the right reasons, either. The show took pains to establish their connection in season 1, but to specific, through heart songs and general commentary, that there was nothing particularly deep about the romantic part of their relationship – just lust.
With Max, on the contrary, the show clearly established love. On his part, and on hers, during the glitch episode. The feelings were always deeper there, and when Zoey makes the choice to kiss Max in the season 1 finale, that’s a choice. Yes, life derails her after, but she made a choice, and though she might have needed some time afterwards, the choice wasn’t likely to chance.
Zoey has already made it, over and over again.
My second point is this: Moving forward, the show doesn’t seem interested in re-litigating Zoey’s choice, but that doesn’t mean grief, or life, or relationships are easy. So let’s allow Zoey the time to feel whatever she needs to feel, good and bad. Simon and Max will.
Now let’s go into Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 2×02 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”:
A BAD, BAD THING
I will admit I wasn’t quite sure where they were taking Leif after season 1, and that left me a little concerned. There was a lot of promise there, but even in a show that does so much right, there was always the chance they were going to make him a one-dimensional foil to Zoey, or worse, a cartoonish character who never grew out of whatever the plot required him to be.
Two episodes into season 2, I’m happy to report Leif has been one of my favorite things in the new season. He’s so much more dynamic, and though there’s still ways to go with Tobin, for example, I can wait, considering the show has already shown me they realize there needs to be more, for everyone.
Plus, the fact that there’s some women (and WOC too!) now in the bullpen fills me with a tremendous amount of joy, and hope for the future of this show. Zoey is the center, and she should remain so, considering the stories that are left to tell in her journey, but the world of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist looks better, kinder and much more representative today than it did yesterday. And that’s always a good thing.
TOO GOOD AT GOODBYES
It feels like Mo gets the best songs every episode, or maybe just the best ones at breaking our hearts? His wonderful rendition of “Too Good At Goodbyes” has been on my mind since I first heard it, and I admit I’m really, really excited the show’s going the road of giving Mo more development than just being Zoey’s friend. He gets his own fears, his own issues, and yes, even his own mistakes, and that isn’t always the case.
We also get a full name!
Alex Newell has talked about how there’s something of his story in Mo’s story, and that makes Mo’s story unique, in the sense that there’s a level of authenticity there that we don’t always get with the same writing staffs in the same shows. This show might be called Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, but the fact that the show understands that the only characters who deserve a storyline – or the heartbreaking, emotional songs – aren’t the ones we’ve always expected to get the stories, means a lot.
Not to mention that the show has given Mo both a romantic storyline and storyline that’s proving to be something else entirely – though I wouldn’t mind the mess that would be Eddie returning – and that’s also incredibly rare. We don’t just deserve characters like Mo, we deserve to see them in all their facets, because they are not just one thing. No one is.
SOME PEOPLE WAIT A LIFETIME
I talked in my intro about Zoey’s choice, so I want to spend some time talking about some of the other choices she makes in this episode. The choice to be with Max is the most important one, yes, but there’s also the choice to hang onto the good in her life, when everything else feels like it’s crumbling, and then there’s the choice to do it right, to open up, to be vulnerable with Max.
This shows that Zoey’s choice isn’t just about escaping. Yes, she’s using her feelings as an escape, but that doesn’t mean that if she weren’t she’d have made a different choice. Because the Zoey that literally chanted sex as she walked around her job all day, that one might have been looking for an escape, but the one who made a swan out of a towel, and the one who looked at Max in the eye and told him what she felt, that one was just …in the moment.
She also makes another choice, the choice to sing to him, to share the consequences of her power with him. This is a very important choice for a show that uses songs as a way to show people’s inner feelings. There’s usually no level of intent to the songs, however, and that’s important to remember. No one’s choosing to share their innermost feelings with Zoey, they just are.
But Zoey makes the choice to share her innermost feelings with Max. Not because he asks it of her, or because she feels she needs to, but because she wants to. Because she’s overcome by the moment, and what she feels during it, so she wants to share that with him.
He feels every word of that song, yes, but so does she. And though he couldn’t help himself, she chose to sing it. She chose him. And there’s no going back from all of Zoey’s choices in this episode. There shouldn’t be.
FOR A MOMENT LIKE THIS
What Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 2×02 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction” gives us is the ultimate OTP moment. I’d argue – and we have before – that the show has always been setting up Zoey and Max as endgame, but this moment, if needed, cements it. You don’t waste a moment like this (ha, pun) on a couple you don’t want to end together.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that Zoey is actually doing as well as this episode would suggest, or that she still doesn’t have a journey to go through. Grief isn’t linear, and it isn’t even logical. There’s still so much more for Zoey to learn, and feel, and do that we probably won’t agree with. But romantic choices, whether things are going well with them or not, should be a thing of the past.
Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this …and Zoey and Max got it this episode. Together. That means something. No, that means everything.
Things I think I think:
- Are those Zoey’s pajamas?
- Max with the beard is a 10. Without it, a solid 8.
- THIS MEAN GIRLS MOMENT. Maggie is the Mean Girls MOM.
- Zoey is so awkward. I love her.
- NO, EMILY. NO. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR TASTES? Simon?
- Davis is in the right here.
- Yes, this family needs boundaries.
- “That girl is poison” is …a lot. Like, a whole lot. Therapy needed kind of a lot, if you ask me.
- Oh, Mo. I just want to give you a hug.
- HOW MANY TIMES HAS ZOEY SAID THE WORD SEX?
- Danny Michael Davis isn’t funny, he just makes me angry. I hope that’s the point.
- God, Leif. Get it together.
- GOTTA GO, SEX!
- What love triangle? Was there a love triangle? I can’t even remember.
- This setup at Zoey’s apartment is kinda …cute.
- Mo gets the best songs, I swear. And then almost improves on the original. It’s madness, or magic.
- I’m starting to like Leif, okay?
- He and Zoey should run an Etsy cardigan store together.
- Zoey really does know Mo.
- “Can I burn all your sweaters?”
- Leif looks SO TIRED. I almost want to hug him.
- Awww Mo. HUGS THERE TOO.
- ALL THE HUGS.
- Non-platonic ones for Max.
- How exactly did you train for this, Max? Like, how?
- HER FACE when he sings “when I tell you that love has come here and now.”
- The way he nods when she sings “oh, I can’t believe it’s happening to me.”
- The way they look at each other, at the end. The way they LOOK at each other. Stop. Pay attention. It’s so soft.
- Did that murder you in the best way or what?
- Maxwell! She called him Maxwell!
- David, I love you.
- I really, really like Leif right now.
- WHAT IS ZOEY WEARING?
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 2×02 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”? Share with us in the comments below!