SEASON 2: EPISODE 2 RECAP

(For those interested in hearing my reflections and opinions on the episode, scroll down to the “My Thoughts” section to skip over the recap)

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is back and this week things are getting steamy

….Or at least an NBC approved level of steamy. Episode two starts off with a literal bang as we open on a passionate make out scene between Max and Zoey. Picking up right where the first episode left off, we watch as the new lovers tumble around on Zoey’s childhood bed, the watchful eye of her giraffe stuffed animal looking on in judgement. Zoey tosses the plushie to the floor and the two continue their entanglement, Zoey remarking on how badly she needed a distraction, referring to their tryst as a “grief vacation.” 

Barely two minutes into their hook up, Zoey’s mother barges into the room, checking in with Zoey on their scheduled movie night. Awkward words are exchanged and the chemistry of the room fizzles out the moment Maggie leaves. As a result, Zoey devises a plan for a night with Max at her apartment, alone, with no uncomfortable parental interrupts. 

The next day, Zoey notices her mom’s continued fixation on Mitch’s disease, stuck in the habit of checking in to see if any cures have been found. Zoey points out that this behavior might be slightly unhealthy, and recommends her mom move her focus towards something else. Her mother agrees, voicing that she has been a “helper” for so long that she doesn’t know how else to behave. 

David and Emily then enter, revealing that Emily’s older sister, Jenna, will be coming into town. Emily seems less than pleased with Jenna’s arrival,  made obvious when Zoey hears Emily sing a rendition of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” around a clueless Jenna.  We quickly realize that Jenna is the complete opposite of Emily, embracing a more free-flowing and eccentric approach to life. 

Meanwhile, Mo and Max are making their partnership official by signing a 50-50 partnership agreement Max downloaded from the internet. But despite the four sentence long contract littered with typos, Mo is terrified by the proposal of long-term commitment and exits abruptly, leaving a very confused Max in his wake. 

Zoey, on the other hand, is anything but scared of commitment, leaving a voicemail for Max detailing the promiscuous events planned for later that night as she arrives at SPRQ Point. After hanging up, she observes her all-male programming team acting like a group of frat bros while at work. Leif assures Zoey their immature antics actually strengthen the team, and Zoey leaves to deal with bigger issues, more specifically, Simon arriving at Zoey’s office to tell her of a damaging viral video of the new SPRQ Point watch. The video features a man running around screaming as the watch on his wrist malfunctions, catching on fire. Zoey now has to put out some fires…literally

Zoey calls an emergency meeting to address the issue, receiving a surprise when Danny Michael Davis appears on a huge screen behind Zoey. He complains about how much he’s been struggling with his house arrest, all while ironically sipping from a glass of red wine in his luxurious billion dollar home. Danny Michael Davis appoints Simon as the new PR spokesperson to handle the SPRQ Point watch disaster after hearing Simon’s sublime recommendation to blame the watch’s malfunction on “overreach.”

We switch gears and return to Maggie, who receives a desperate text from Emily in the other room as she chats with her sister. Her talkative sister has been monologuing for hours to Emily as she struggles to stay awake, in desperate need of a new-mommy-nap. Maggie swoops in to save the day, whisking Jenna off to view some of her newly potted flowers in the other room. 

Zoey leaves the office in a rush to make it on time to her sexscapade with Max. She passes by the floor of frat bros, who have made a game out of the exploding watch, seeing who can keep it on their wrist the longest. Zoey is frustrated at the lack of progress, but Leif assures her that he has it under control. She hops on the elevator, eager to get home, and finds herself on the ride down with three female programmers from the fifth floor. They discuss the importance of sticking together as women in a male dominated field, before Zoey sprints off the elevator, rejoicing verbally she is off to have sex. 

Later, at Zoey’s apartment, Max and Zoey settle in for some long anticipated intimacy, only to once again be interrupted by loud opera music blasting from Mo’s apartment across the hall. Zoey goes to check in on Mo, assuming something is bothering him, but Mo claims to be completely fine. Mo’s thoughts betray him though, as he starts to sing the melancholy Sam Smith ballad, “Too Good at Goodbyes.” When Zoey tries to question him on this, he dismisses her again, sending her back to her apartment with more questions than answers. 

Zoey’s surface level investigation into Mo’s emotional life proves fruitless though, as our lovers are interrupted yet again by Mo’s loud operatic music. They decide to put a pause on their night together, vowing to pick it up as soon as Zoey has had some much needed one on one time with Mo to get to the root of the issue. 

The next day, Zoey returns to SPRQ Point, where she witnesses a guilty Leif singing “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” with the backup of the IT frat bros. Zoey watches this display of bluesy bravado – programmers in chairs sliding around the office as Leif unknowingly admits his regrets to Zoey via song. Zoey confronts Leif, trying to get to the bottom of whatever is weighing on his conscience. After some slight probing, he reveals the malfunction is his fault on account of him rushing through the upgrade without doing a proper safety check. He admits he can’t control the team and, as a result, had to take on the entire project by himself, only leading to further disrespect from the programmers. Zoey has a heart to heart with him and lets him know managerial confidence comes with time and lots and lots of mistakes. 

We return to Maggie and Jenna, who are taking a walk that Jenna immediately clocks as Maggie “babysitting” her. Jenna opens up to Maggie about the difficulties of being Emily’s sister and how she’s always felt “less than” in comparison to her perfect younger sister. Maggie sympathizes and suggests a few helpful ways to support Emily as she adjusts to the difficult transition of becoming a new mother. 

Later, we see a heavily made up Zoey sitting in Mo’s chair, getting a full beat makeover as a means to get some insight into Mo’s remorseful ballad the other day. Zoey, not so subtly, hints at the discontent between Mo and Max, trying to garner some understanding of the circumstances upsetting Mo. Mo remains defensive, claiming he’s “had a problem with partnerships in the past,” before kicking Zoey out of his apartment for taking advantage of makeover night. 

Zoey decides the solution to ending the spiff between Max and Mo is a binder of team-building activities from work, which she shoves into a hesitant Mo’s hands. The pair spend the day together doing a slew of surface level team-building activities, to no avail. Max finally settles on a game of Two Truths and a Lie, where he reveals he has never heard his father say “I’m proud of you.” His willingness to get deep encourages Mo to share his own regrets, where Mo explains this is not his first attempt at a business partnership. He tells Max that when he was younger he tried and failed to start a jeans company with his best friend, Zora. The company sizzled out after Mo steamrolled over Zora’s ideas in a business proposal meeting, cutting him out of the deal because Mo believed he could do it all on his own and didn’t want anyone standing in his way. This explains Mo’s hesitancy to sign the contract, fearful of driving Max away the same way he did with Zora. 

The tender moment between the two men is interrupted by an SOS text from Zoey. Max rushes to her house to discover there is in fact no emergency, but instead a flirtatious Zoey waiting for him. She reveals she has equipped her childhood bedroom with rose petals and a swan towel to give it a sensual atmosphere. As he undresses, Max explains he has talked to a therapist in Berkley who has given him a few strategies on how to keep heart songs out of his head while being intimate with Zoey. He starts to sing a restrained and monotone version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” that almost instantly transitions into a passionate “I’ll Make Love to You.” The result is a hilarious battle between Max and his own libido as he struggles between the two juxtaposing songs. 

Zoey eventually cuts off his serenading, telling him to stop fighting his instinct to share his feelings to her musically. She lets him know hearing what he’s thinking helps her feel closer to him. Max rebuts by saying he doesn’t like that she knows what he’s thinking at all times because it feels like she has some emotional advantage over him, especially since he has no idea what Zoey herself is thinking. Zoey lets Max in on her own thoughts, sharing with him that she’s both nervous and excited to finally be intimate with her best friend. Max starts to sing Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and Zoey joins in, despite the real-life Max confused by her sudden outburst of song. The two duet and the camera pans between the singing Max, belting his heart out, and the real-life Max watching Zoey sing acapella to him. 

Zoey returns to work the next day with a few changes in store to fix the frat house environment that’s pervaded the SPRQ Point office space all episode. She brings on the three women from the elevator scene earlier – McKenzie, Yasmeen and Jazz – and Leif reveals they will be replacing three of the fourth floor programmers in order to dilute some of the male energy in the office. This causes some shock waves in the group, despite McKenzie’s sarcastic volunteer to join the “nut punch” game the programmers have been playing throughout the episode. 

The episode ends with Mo finally signing Max’s contract, where he points out the numerous typos, complimenting how it adds to the contract’s non-threatening vibe. A heavily dolled up Zoey reveals herself, finally having gotten the makeover she promised Mo earlier. She dons a sparkly, rainbow, off-the-shoulder top with tight curls and bright lipstick – serving us Mo-level looks. The trio take a few goofy photographs together, leaving the episode on a light and fluffy note.

MY THOUGHTS:

I think this episode was a very cute follow-up to the first episode. Cute is probably as far as I’ll go adjective wise, since the episode was clearly meant to be one of the lighter moments in the season – it was a dose of sweetness, no doubt meant to counteract some of the darker moments I expect to be coming later in the season.

While the episode did feel a bit safe, I did enjoy seeing Max and Zoey toy around with the mechanics of Zoey’s power. How does one have a balanced relationship when one person is privy to private thoughts the other doesn’t even know they’re revealing? It’s a complicated dynamic and, while we only dipped our toe in it this episode, I expect it will come back later as Zoey continues to explore her relationship with Max. 

Furthermore, a standout moment of the episode for me was the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame/I’ll Make Love to You” sequence. The songs flowed between one and the other in a way that was both jarring and entertaining at the same time. Watching Max’s internal struggle worked to provide moments of much needed comedy, while also perfectly articulating the internal battle waging inside of Max. Not to mention, watching Skylar Astin switch between passionately crooning at Zoey to forcefully distracting himself with America’s favorite pastime was an overall joy to witness. 

While this episode wasn’t a showstopper, it did have plenty of moments of sincerity and comedy. It was in no way disappointing, and I think this subdued follow up to episode one was a conscientious choice on the writer’s part. It’s important that Zoey has somewhere to go this season, which means there has to be at least one episode of build up before she faces the consequences of her actions. My guess is the upcoming few episodes are going to be much juicer and exciting as Zoey continues on this new journey with Max. The season is already building up to something – what that ‘something’ is, I’m not quite sure yet. But I’m excited to find out.

Watch Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Tuesdays on NBC at 8 PM ET/7 PM C, or stream it on Hulu the day after episodes release.

By McKenna Batterson

Reformed theatre kid. Current daydreamer. Future screenwriter.

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