The long-awaited Mo-centric episode, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor”, built to an amazing payoff as Zoey grappled with faith and acceptance.
This recap of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 4, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Zoey (Jane Levy) has plenty to be getting on with in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 4, attempting to bond with her agoraphobic downstairs neighbor Bonnie (Naoko Mori) while also helping her boss Joan (Lauren Graham) deal with having left her husband, but the real focus of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor” is on Mo (Alex Newell), which is never a bad thing.
Zoey’s ability to know what people are thinking can obviously be useful, but it can also be intrusive; Mo, who has been her confidante throughout the season, feels violated when Zoey begins pushing at lingering issues with reconciling their gender-fluidity with their religion. Despite having a suitably open-minded pastor, Mo still feels conflicted; presenting at church as a woman risks the ire of the Almighty, but presenting as a man is deceptive and unsatisfying. The disagreement leads to an argument and Mo and Zoey not speaking for much of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 4, giving Zoey chance to busy herself with other matters.
Joan’s development continued, which is welcome since it’d be a bit unrealistic for someone to escape a toxic marriage and then go about their business as though nothing ever happened. It’s also a relief that the show continues to develop its characters even after their focal episode; it’s a relatively big cast, this, with a lot going on, and it would be easy for certain dynamics and subplots to feel short-changed, which is refreshingly rarely the case.
There is a strong undercurrent of faith in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor”, and not just in terms of Mo’s belief. Zoey, having not been raised religious and quickly developed a pragmatic, logical mind, isn’t well-positioned to counsel Mo on matters of faith. It’s hard for Zoey to imagine why someone would seek to belong to a community that they know mistrusts and, in many cases, outright rejects them. But Mo’s grappling with the church wasn’t really anything to do with the strict doctrines of religion; their desire is not to be accepted by others but to be accepting enough of themselves that nobody else’s opinion matters. Mo doesn’t want to live within the church’s draconian dos and don’ts but in spite of them.
Nevertheless, it built to a perfect payoff. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 4 ended with Mo performing “This Little Light of Mine” in full regalia, dress, wig, the whole nine, finally unafraid. Mo’s episode was worth the wait for that moment alone.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.