“Zoey’s Extraordinary Memory” + “Extraordinary Birthday”, or, Zoey doesn’t know what she wants

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was a show that appeared when I needed it the most in 2020. The first season was full of heart, and soul, and the full range of human emotions. If you haven’t watched the first season yet, here’s the briefest summary I can manage: after a freak accident involving an MRI machine, Zoey is able to hear people’s thoughts…in the form of musical numbers.

Now, get yourself to Hulu and binge the first season (and the first eight episodes of this season!) because spoilers are ahead, darlings!

So what’s new with Zoey?

Alright, ZEP fam, I’m back after too-long of a hiatus, and we’re going to talk about episodes 7 & 8 of the sophomore season of Zoey’s. After a pretty powerful midseason finale that focused on internalized racism in the tech industry, the second half of the season seems to once again be focusing on the Clarkes’ life post-Mitch, and, of course, Zoey’s ever-messy love life. 

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Memory” has two focuses: (1) Max and Mo’s restaurant venture is about to have its grand opening and 2) Zoey wants to relive a memory of her father by watching a meteor shower that only happens once every twenty-something years. After almost two seasons of seeing Zoey’s telescope in her apartment and wondering if anyone was ever going to talk about outer space, it was nice to see that finally pay off. 

However, Zoey is feeling a little guilty about relying on her friends during her grieving, and resolves not to tell anyone why this meteor shower is so important to her…so she ends up driving to the middle of nowhere to stargaze with…Leif and Tobin? It’s a guarantee that the “Bros Who Throw”—yes, that is the name of their axe-throwing team—are going to ruin Zoey’s attempt at a trip down memory lane. And that’s exactly what happens, since Leif sings “Tainted Love” about a girl named Kaia, and Zoey is so distracted that she misses the first night of the meteor shower (Tobin, however, gets to enjoy the entire thing). 

Meanwhile at “Maximo’s”, Mo and Max hit a snag when the fire marshall—the really hot fire marshall—finds that their restaurant has all sorts of fire code violations. So there’s tension, and I don’t mean just professional tension, because uh…get it, Mo

“Maximo’s” opens on the second night of the meteor, and it’s Zoey’s last chance to recreate that very special memory of her father, but she also feels obligated to fix Leif and Kaia’s relationship, which, uh, doesn’t work at all since it turns out that Kaia was using Leif to get hired at SPRQPoint. Aside from Leif’s terrible date, the opening night is going really well for Max and Mo, and the restaurant is really hopping, bringing in an old flame of Max’s: Rose, who is sure to bring some new tension throughout the rest of the season.

Zoey ends up staying longer than she intended so she can deliver a speech from her boss Danny Michael Davis, the restaurant’s #1 investor, and it causes her to miss the final night of the meteor shower.  Unknown to Zoey when she starts reading, Davis’ speech almost entirely focuses on the meteor shower, and a wave of grief washes over her while she’s delivering the speech—and it doesn’t go unnoticed by her friends. Finally, she reveals the truth about why this celestial event means so much to her, and her friends—yes, Leif and Tobin too—bundle her into a car with a telescope and they all go stargazing together.

They may have missed the meteor shower, but the memory still becomes special for Zoey, since she is surrounded by people she really cares about and trusts. At the end of the episode, she repeats to her friends a saying that her father said to her during the first meteor shower, twenty years earlier: “Seeing you have the moment, is the moment for me.”

via NBC

In episode 8, Zoey’s 30th birthday is quickly approaching, and Maggie really wants to celebrate her daughter’s day by throwing a party. Initially, Zoey feels guilty about celebrating when Mitch is no longer with them, but eventually the rest of the family convinces her that it is what he would want. So, Zoey invites her entire floor at SPRQPoint to her party, in the hopes that a big party will help her, and her mom, feel closer to Mitch.

One person she goes out of the way to invite is Simon—who is definitely still interested in Zoey, although she doesn’t seem to be aware of it. She also stops by Maximo’s to invite Max and Mo, and she meets Max’s old friend Rose. After seeing them perform a very sensual duet of INXS’ “Need You Tonight”, Zoey exits stage left quickly because she’s definitely jealous. Adding to the messy love life, Aiden is hung up on Zoey, and writing a love song to her (Zoey’s brother David has joined Aiden’s band, and has no idea that Aiden and Zoey almost had a thing….awkward).

Zoey, girl, your love life is more complicated that furniture instructions from IKEA.

Ever-indecisive, Zoey decides to have a “mature” talk about her relationship with Max, and to pretty much assign “Terms and Agreements” to their paused romantic relationship. Her intention is to allow Max to pursue Rose if he wants, while also implying that Zoey could see Simon, or Aiden, if she wants. The conversation goes terribly; in fact, it could probably best be described as the conversational equivalent of a trash fire. Zoey feels so bad afterward that she decides to cancel her birthday party, although she ends up changing her mind after she sees how disappointed her work colleagues are when she announces that the party is off, to the tune of the disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

On the night of the party, Zoey and Maggie have a bonding moment when Zoey finds an old birthday present from her father. The show proves that grief isn’t constant, but it can ebb and recede like the tide, before rushing back in at unexpected moments. It also further proves that perhaps Zoey’s indecisiveness in her love life stems from the fact that she hasn’t fully accepted her father’s death, and while she’s grieving, it’s not easy to figure out what, or who, she wants.

via NBC

Zoey and Max finally get to have their mature talk, and they seem to mend their friendship for now. It’s still pretty complicated, but what in Zoey’s life isn’t?

Zoey’s romantic troubles are only compounded by the fact that everyone seems to be paired up at her party. Mo and the hot fire marshall—whose name is Perry and who is also a hot dad—are hitting it off, David and Emily are closer than ever, hell, even Tobin and McKenzie seem to have a mutual interest in each other. “Why isn’t anyone singing to me?” Zoey asks after all the couples sing a sweet rendition of Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me.”

Zoey gets her wish, but in just about the most awkward way possible. That song Aiden wrote about Zoey? He performs “Crimson Love” at her birthday party, and, uh, let’s just say the lyrics aren’t the most romantic ones ever…or ones that you would want your mother to hear. It’s the first original song performed on the show, and damn is it catchy, even if it’s got serious cringe factor attached to it in context of the show. David leaves the band shortly after he realizes Aiden has the hots for his sister.

After his performance, Aiden makes a move on Zoey, and maybe it’s the age difference, or maybe it’s the uh…song lyrics…but Zoey shuts Aiden down, closing the door on the possibility of a relationship, or fling between them.

But, when one door closes, another opens, right?

Simon pays a visit to Zoey’s apartment the day after her party, and Zoey finally gets the serenade she was waiting for (and let’s be honest, we were waiting for it too!).

Zoey may still be a little uncertain about what she wants, but you know what? I think that right now what she needs is Simon. So until further notice, I will be firmly on #TeamSimon…and #TeamMax. If Zoey can’t choose, why should I?

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs on Sundays at 9 pm on NBC or is available to stream on Hulu or the Peacock app.