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Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Recap: A Journey of Grief

Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke. Pic credit: NBC

The remarkable thing about NBC’s hit show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is that it’s a show about grief. And in being a show about grief, they do not shy away from showing all the facets of this incredibly complex journey.

Mourning the passing of a loved one is a jagged, steep road. There’s no right or wrong, no fixed time frame and no standard way to deal with it. Everyone has their own unique journey, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has been showing us exactly that in the most beautiful way.

Tonight’s episode, titled Zoey’s Extraordinary Dreams, showed us that Zoey isn’t quite as alright as she thought she was.

Following the “grief vacation” that she determined she was going to take last week, her mind went right back to grieving her father’s death in earnest.

Dream Interpretation

What was so great about tonight’s episode was that it found a way to use Zoey’s powers to show herself that she’s still a long way from being fine and that it’s okay not to be okay.

When bizarre dreams keep plaguing her sleep, Zoey becomes more and more on edge and irritated.

While her relationship with Max seems to be going well, the more sleep-deprived she becomes, the more withdrawn and distant she gets from her new beau.

The recurrent dream that is keeping her awake at night– and completely terrified to fall asleep during the day– is about how she is stuck inside her empty house, and no matter what she does, she can never reach the door and get out.

The song her powers have deemed appropriate for her emotions at this point is Nowhere to Run by Martha and the Vandellas. It clearly spells out to her that she can’t run from her grief, but it takes her a hot second to get it.

While she’s working through this, every single aspect of her life starts falling apart. At work, she snaps at everyone. At home, she tries to help her mother and fails.

She thinks it’s because she needs to go back to her own apartment. Max suggests that maybe the dreams are literally what they seem– that she’s feeling trapped in her childhood home.

Although she doesn’t feel super confident in leaving her mother alone in the house while she’s still grieving her husband’s death, Zoey agrees that maybe it is time for her to go back to her life.

When she decides to talk to her mom about going back to her own apartment, Maggie sings a heart song, and Zoey just knows she can’t leave her mom alone just yet.

So she decides to stay, and the dreams continue. But when her mother gets the help that she needs – from Emily’s sister Jenna of all people – Zoey talks to Maggie about going back to her place.

She’s severely sleep-deprived by this point, so she’s pretty much falling asleep everywhere, and the dreams never stop.

When she returns to her apartment, she takes an involuntary nap on the couch with Max, and she finally has a breakthrough. Her dream changes, but this time she’s trapped in her own apartment and she does make it to the door.

When she opens it, she sees herself, standing in her own way.

Talking to Simon about it helps, and she realizes that she just needs to give it time. She needs to give herself time to process through this monumental, traumatic change that happened in her life.

Her father died. He’s not coming back, and she needs to come to terms with it. But coming to terms with it doesn’t have a deadline or a timestamp. Dhe needs to let herself grieve and go through this at her own pace.

Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke, Skylar Astin as Max. Pic credit: NBC

The Clarkeman of it all

We knew it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing, right? No ship is ever all sunshine and rainbows, and the fact that her father has just died was obviously going to play a huge part in whatever obstacle their relationship faced.

So was it easy to watch them both struggling? No, it wasn’t. Zoey is still very deep into her grief, and it seems that just now she is starting to understand that it is a process and that she’s not going to be okay overnight.

It took her a while to finally get that and it caused her to distance herself from Max more and more.

Max, on the other hand, just wants to help her but has no idea how to do it. He has never been through this, so he doesn’t know what he should say, what he can offer.

When his heart song finally comes out – a heartbreaking rendition of “Say Something” by A Great Big World – it felt like both Zoey and Max came to the same conclusion at the same time.

Despite having very real, very intense feelings for each other, maybe now is not the best time for them to jump headfirst into a relationship.

Believe it or not, this was the best decision they could have made. Yes, it was heartbreaking, but it was also a very mature, sensible decision. Zoey is not in the right frame of mind to be in a relationship right now. Simon is right – she needs to take care of herself first.

Other highlights of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

  • Absolutely loved Maggie’s storyline in tonight’s episode. It’s great to see her face her fears and step out of her shell.
  • I love Jenna. She just wants to help, despite how intense she comes off sometimes.
  • All the awards to Jane Levy and Skylar Astin. All. The. Awards. Levy was incredible through the entire hour, but their “Say Something” scene was just incredibly beautiful and poignant and so, so heartbreaking. Their chemistry is amazing.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs on Tuesdays at 8/7C on NBC.

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