“Zoey’s Extraordinary Mystery” (and it’s not what you think)

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 nine episodes of the second season!) because spoilers are ahead, darlings!

It’s Like Freaky Friday

Well, it’s been a few weeks since Zoey’s birthday, and things have gotten really domestic between Zoey and Simon. They even have their own sides of the bed! For the record, they’re adorable.

It’s getting serious enough between these two that Zoey is contemplating telling Simon about her powers. They’re telling each other secrets, but is she really ready to reveal THE secret? Especially since that may have been a big part of the reason that things didn’t work out between her and Max?

Zoey puts a pin in revealing that secret to Simon, hoping that she will get some enlightenment from a psychic that Mo is taking her to see as a belated birthday present. She’s also hoping to get some communication from her late father, Mitch, and it’s strongly hinted at that Zoey is still struggling with her grief.

The psychic doesn’t really go as planned, leaving Zoey with the vague answers of someone with an “M” name liking movies. Disappointed, Zoey goes on with her day, meeting Max at “Maximo’s” and having a rather mature chat about their blooming relationships…that are not with each other. Max and Rose seem as happy as Zoey and Simon, so it’s a rather big shock when Max reveals a heartbreaking rendition of “Anyone.” Max tells Zoey that can’t possibly be his heartsong, because he’s doing great and is happy, and she believes him.

Enter the mystery: the heartsongs are switched, and it’s up to Zoey and Mo to figure out the connection between the heartsong and its rightful singer. (By the way, I’d totally watch a spin off of Mo doing detective work while looking fabulous…just a thought, NBC.)

Maggie’s heartsong is switched with Zoey’s programming team’s; Simon’s is switched with Perry’s son’s (and uh, that kid is gonna break hearts someday). And in possibly the most amusing switch-up, Mo’s song is swapped with Rose’s…which results in Mo singing a country western hit, “The More I Drink.” Truth be told, Alex Newell can sing anything and this song proves it.

While trying to solve the mystery of whom Max’s heartsong belongs to, Zoey does resolve some other issues for the people around her. Her mom is lonely, and when she plans a dinner party for some old friends, it doesn’t go as planned. Maggie discovers that her old friends don’t know how to be around her after the death of Mitch, but that she’s okay in embracing a new life, and new friends (we already know that Bernadette Peters will be returning!). Zoey’s teammates are still arguing the Megaphone v. the Microphone…and while there’s no resolution in that particular argument just yet, things between Tobin and McKenzie seem to be heating up. I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s another office romance in the future.

via NBC

Mo’s relationship with Perry has also hit a wall; Perry is a dad—a good one—and it seems like Mo’s commitment issues that we saw earlier this season may be resurfacing. In the end, it’s insinuated that Mo forgives Perry for leaving their date early, but will Mo be able to share the attention with Perry’s children? Also, is Mo ready for that level of commitment? I certainly hope so because 1) Perry is hot and I want to see more of him and 2) I think Mo and Perry have amazing chemistry and I just want Mo to be happy, okay?

Meanwhile, Simon invites Zoey to his “elite woodworking club”—a secret that he revealed to Zoey at the beginning of the episode—and Zoey spends so much time focusing on fixing the heartsongs that she stands Simon up for their date. Luckily, Simon’s pretty understanding even though Zoey chooses not to tell him about her powers yet, and in the cutest sequence of the episode, he presents her with a stool that he made for her in his woodworking shop, because, you know, she’s short and can’t reach the clothes in her closet. It’s also useful for kissing Simon because, you know, she’s short.

They’re so cute I can’t stand it.

So who does the mystery song belong to?

After deducing the rightful owners of most of the heartsongs, Zoey revisits the psychic because she believes that Nova has something to do with her malfunctioning powers. She’s so focused on the heartsong, and not the person, that she cannot see the person in distress right in front of her. Throughout the episode, it becomes increasingly obvious who the person in distress is, and it is frustrating to watch Zoey run in circles trying to figure it out when the answer is right there. The psychic, Nova, played brilliantly by Ashlie Atkinson, sums Zoey up in a brilliant moment:

So let me get this straight, the only way you can identify a sad person is if they stand in front of you singing a sad song spelling out how sad they are?

-Nova the Psychic

What the audience sees that Zoey does not is that Emily, Zoey’s sister-in-law, is desperate for Zoey’s help. She asks Zoey to request the psychic for knowledge on how to “find joy”, and throughout the episode, Zoey repeatedly brushes off Emily’s requests to spend time together. When we do see Emily, she’s not the put-together lawyer that we’ve seen in past episodes. She’s more somber, more sad, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that “Anyone” is definitely her heart song.

By the time Zoey figures it out, it’s been about a week since she heard the initial heartsong, and we realize that Nova is right—Zoey relies so much on the heartsongs for her relationships that she’s forgotten how to rely on her own intuition for figuring out if something’s wrong with someone she cares about. When Zoey hears Emily sing “Anyone”, it’s absolutely gutting. It’s plain to see that Emily is desperate to be seen and heard, and everyone—including Zoey—has been blind to her pain. It’s hinted at that Emily may have Postpartum Depression and if that’s the case, it will be the first time I’ve ever seen that addressed on a network television show, once again proving that ZEP will never shy away from the difficult topics.

So what’s next for Zoey this season? Well, we saw in this episode and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Reckoning” that she has a habit of not seeing the pain of the people right in front of her unless it’s in the form of a heartsong. As useful as the heartsongs can be, it seems like our Zoey still has some emotional learning to do.

As for Emily, I hope that Zoey does listen and does make sure that Emily finds her joy again.

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