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Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 premiere recap: A Lesson in Grief

ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST – "Zoey’s Extraordinary Return" Episode 201 – Pictured:(l-r) John Clarence Stewart as Simon, Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke, Harvey Guillen as George, Michael Thomas Grant as Leif – (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has returned for a second season. Pic credit: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate

Emmy-nominated Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist returned for its sophomore season last night on NBC, and it was everything we could have possibly hoped for with this absolutely delightful show.

The NBC series stars Jane Levy, who is best known for her roles in Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe and Suburgatory.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard about the premise of this show, I was a bit skeptical. Musicals are usually either fantastic or horrible, and the premise didn’t give me a lot of hope.

But then everyone was talking about it, so I decided to give it a chance and see what the fuss was all about. While it had a slow start, once it found its groove, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist shone brightly.

It’s funny, it’s quirky, witty, but most importantly, it has heart. Despite its bright, beautifully choreographed musical numbers, this is a show about human emotion, dealing largely with love and grief.

Season 1 showed us Zoey trying to understand and get a handle on her new bizarre powers — where she can see and hear people’s deepest emotions through amazing musical numbers — while also dealing with the fact that her father has a terminal neurological condition and is going to die. Very soon.

Watching Zoey and her family trying to come to terms with this fact was sometimes hard to watch, only because it hit too close to home. But this beautiful story was handled with so much care, culminating in what was probably one of the most beautiful (and most devastating) hours of television I have ever seen: the Season 1 finale Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad.

The inevitable happened, and when Mitch passed away, the family had to deal with the pain of his absence. And that’s exactly where we pick up in the season 2 premiere, aptly titled “Zoey’s Extraordinary Return.”

The many facets of grief

It’s been six weeks since Mitch’s funeral. Zoey has not been faring too well during this time, barely getting out of bed and refusing to face anyone or anything. But she inevitably has to go back to work, so her friend Mo finally manages to get her out of bed, serenating her with a beautiful rendition of “Rise Up.”

But of course, her first day back is not as smooth or as easy as she thought it would be. After meeting Max for coffee — in which he gave her the most adorable present ever; we’ll talk more about that in a minute — Zoey returns to SPRQ Point to find her floor complete unrecognizable.

Not only has Leif changed everything in her absence, but her boss Joan also drops a major bomb on her: she wants Zoey to take over as Executive Director of the Fourth Floor.

As if her first day back wasn’t already incredibly overwhelming, her powers decide that today was the day to make a come back after six weeks. On top of that, she finds out that Max, Simon and Mo are now BFFs and have been hanging out for the past six weeks while she was grieving.

And if that wasn’t enough, she was also treated to a fantastic heart song in which both Max and Simon sang to her about how they are crazy about her and want to win her over, despite having just reassured her otherwise seconds before the musical number.

And then, just to add to the pile of stuff Zoey has to deal with, Joan tells her that she is leaving. She’s been transferred to Singapore and that’s why she wants to Zoey to take over the fourth floor in her place.

Meanwhile, her mother Maggie has been running around, trying to get Mitch’s affairs in order, which has been proving to be very challenging and frustrating. What was fantastic about this episode was that they showed in a beautiful way how everyone’s grief process is different.

There’s no right or wrong. Each one of them is processing everything that happened differently. While Zoey could barely leave her bed, Maggie threw herself in closing Mitch’s accounts and dealing with any bureaucratic loose end he may have left behind, just to keep herself busy.

We haven’t really seen David properly grieving, but he has so much on his plate at the moment with Baby Miles, and work, and his marriage, that I don’t think he has fully allowed himself to process his father’s death. I am absolutely sure that he will eventually have to deal with this, and I can only hope it doesn’t break him when it all comes to a head.

The love triangle from hell

Seriously, who likes love triangles? While I like both Simon and Max just fine, I hate that they have to be involved in a love triangle with Zoey. I’m really glad that they get along fine — this would be even worse if they were at each other’s throats all the time — but things would just be so much better if we could have dealt with each relationship at a time.

That being said, my Team Max heart is so incredibly happy that Zoey chose Max. He’s her best friend, she already realized she has deep feelings for him, he already knows about her powers, and he’s been there for her through everything that happened in season 1. And then, to top it all off, he gives her that adorable superhero ring in last night’s episode. It was a no brainer, right?

Of course Max was the right choice. And while I know this doesn’t mean it will all be smooth sailing from here on out, can we just be happy that Zoey has a fantastic guy by her side now? She deserves something great after everything she’s been through, right?

Other highlights from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

  • George is a precious cinnamon roll and should be protected at all costs.
  • Mo is the friend we all wish we had. Supportive, but also drops some truth bombs when we need to hear them.
  • Leif and Tobin remain the awesome, hilarious nerds they have always been, and I can’t wait to see more of them this season.
  • I hate hate hate that Joan is leaving. Please don’t leave us, Lauren Graham. We love you!
  • I cannot wait to see Zoey run that entire floor like the badass powerhouse she is.

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

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