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Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist recap: Sometimes it’s right in front of you

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke, Katie Findlay as Rose, Skylar Astin as Max in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Pic credit: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

Last night’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was a fun little gem of an episode. While it still hasn’t returned to its prime, it was definitely an improvement compared to the subpar installments in the past couple of weeks.

We had a bit of a time jump, and it’s been a few weeks since Zoey’s 30th birthday. She and Simon are still going strong; Max is still dating Rose; and Mo is still dating Perry, the hot fire marshall.

But what made “Zoey’s Extraordinary Mystery” fun was exactly as the episode title says. Zoey had a mystery to solve and that drove the entire narrative last night.

Freaky Friday

It all starts when Mo decides to give Zoey a session with a psychic as a birthday present. Zoey is a little skeptical, but if this is an opportunity to maybe talk to her dad, she’ll absolutely take it. The lady psychic doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, and the only thing she tells Zoey is that her father maybe liked movies, which makes her sound even phonier.

But something happens while she’s there. The lights flicker, and the psychic merely says it’s an electrical problem. But after that, Zoey’s powers sort of start malfunctioning.

First, she watches Max perform a heartbreaking rendition of Demi Lovato’s Anyone, and she’s very concerned about him. But he reassures her a million times that he’s fine and that he and Rose are definitely fine. He’s actually very happy.

That doesn’t compute with Zoey because isn’t the point of her powers to reveal someone’s innermost emotions and feelings? If Max is singing a song about feeling so incredibly alone, then how can he say to her face that he’s fine?

But then the programmers at SPRQ Point sing a song that makes zero sense (One by Three Dog Night) when they’re in the middle of an argument. That’s when Zoey starts to realize that something is very wrong with her powers. After that, her mother sings a song that was definitely made for two people, and her performance starts when she’s telling Zoey about feeling awkward with her couple friends during a dinner party.

That’s when Zoey realizes that the heart songs are switched. Her mother sang the programmers’ song, and they sang Maggie’s song. And if that’s the case, then that means that someone out there has yet to sing Max’s song and is in deep, deep pain.

So she tells Mo all about it — during which she witnesses another switched performance when Mo sings a country music about drinking — and they return to the psychic. Nova, the psychic, tells her that she has an M name in her life after hearing about her powers, and maybe that’s who she needs to help so that her powers can return to normal.

Zoey and Mo come to the conclusion that this is a Freaky Friday situation, so they need to identify which song belongs to whom, and they need to do it yesterday. So Zoey decides to talk to literally everyone she knows to try and find who the mystery person who is in pain really is. When she talks to Simon, he bursts into a hilarious performance of The Fox (What does the fox say?). Kudos to John Clarence Stewart, who took the opportunity and delivered one of the most entertaining moments this show has ever had.

Now she has yet another mystery song to match with a mystery person. Mo builds her a murder board to help her solve the case and match the songs to the right people. They already know that Maggie’s and the programmers’ songs were switched, so now they have Max’s, Mo’s and Simon’s songs to solve.

Zoey suddenly remembers that Max mentioned that Rose liked country music, so maybe that’s who switched with Mo. It helps that Rose had invited Zoey to go to an art exhibition opening, so that’s her chance to find out if Rose is the one with the drinking problem.

Bingo.

Rose starts a fantastic performance of “IDGAF” by Dua Lipa and Zoey knows she has just matched with Mo. By the way, let’s take a moment to appreciate how incredibly talented Katie Findlay is. Despite being Max’s new love interest, I actually really like Rose, and her first solo performance was off the charts.

So Zoey finds out that Rose has been sober for a year, which tracks with the heart song Mo sang. That’s two more names off their crime board. That means there are still two people out there she needs to find that will match Simon and Max. Mo says that he figured out the fox song. It turns out that Perry’s son’s favorite stuffed animal is a fox, which means that Perry will sing Simon’s song.

Zoey devises a plan to bump into Perry and finds out that he’s going to the Science Center the next day. So she makes that meeting happen, and it turns out that the hot fire marshall has his two kids with him, a boy and a girl. Perry explains to Zoey the whole stuffed animal debacle and that his son has had a tough adjustment after the divorce. The stuffed fox is the only thing that calms him down.

And guess what, the heart song actually belongs to Perry’s young son. And let me tell you, what a fantastic little guy. So incredibly talented, so confident in his performance of “Love on the brain” by Rihanna. This was easily one of the best moments of the season so far.

With these two songs matched, now the only one left is Max’s heartbreaking song. So Zoey goes back to Nova, the psychic, because she doesn’t know what else to do. While there, she receives a text from Emily — one of several random texts that she has been receiving over the course of the past few days. And that’s when it clicks for her. The name that starts with an M. It wasn’t the letter M. It was Em, as in Emily.

So she runs to her sister-in-law and finds her completely distraught, even though Emily insists she’s fine. That’s when she starts singing “Rosanna” by Toto, and Zoey knows it’s Max’s song. This means that the absolutely soul-shattering heart song Max sang belongs to Emily.

That’s when Zoey does something she’s never done before: she interrupts a performance, telling Emily that she’s not alone, that she’s right there with her. And that’s when her powers return to normal because Emily delivers the most heartbreaking performance ever to grace this show. Alice Lee made me cry like a child in her best moment yet on the show.

I really hope we get to explore what Emily is going through in the next few episodes — post-partum depression, maybe? All in all, this was miles better than last week’s episode, despite still messing with Zoey’s character development. At least it was very entertaining.

Other highlights of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

  • I understand Zoey’s decision of not telling Simon about her powers. It’s too soon and it would probably just spook him.
  • I do not understand Zoey’s reaction to Max’s actual song. Was she jealous? Didn’t she choose Simon? You have no right to be jealous, Zoey.
  • I love the adorable love/hate relationship Tobin and Mackenzie have and I just want them to kiss already.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs on Sunday at 10/9C on NBC.

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