“Zoey’s Extraordinary Mother” pumps the brakes for a slower, more sombre episode that nonetheless had some powerful things to say about grief and loss.
This recap of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 11, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Mother”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There’s an elephant in the room in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 11, and the latest hour spends a lot of its runtime addressing it. Mitch (Peter Gallagher), his condition continuing to worsen, is going to die soon; next week’s finale being titled “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad” more or less confirms it. But in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Mother”, that eventuality is carefully prepared for rather than outright confronted, and it makes for a slower, more somber installment than usual.
Wisely, most of this was couched in Maggie’s (Mary Steenburgen) perspective. Since her and Mitch’s relationship has been so consistently warm and hopeful throughout the season, simply seeing her negotiate a plot of land in which to bury him is emotional in itself. With the reality of the situation becoming suddenly real, Maggie needed the connection she formed with a guest-starring Bernadette Peters as a widow who allowed her to confront her feelings on the inevitable. Their conversation in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 11 was a clear, relatable highlight.
This morbid tone bleeds into the rivalry between the fourth and sixth floors of SPRQ Point in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Mother”, with both Max (Skylar Astin) and Leif (Michael Thomas Grant) dealing with having lost both Joan (Lauren Graham) and Zoey (Jane Levy), as well as their teaming up to work on Chirp. Their relationship woes are a bit different – Leif fell for someone with whom a relationship could never work, while Max loves his best friend who still isn’t sure how she feels about him in return – but the same in one crucial respect: Neither man is over the woman in their life. Leif’s enduring love for Joan compels him to betray Max, with whom he develops a friendly relationship this week, and feed information on the Chirp back down to the fourth floor. This selfishness results in Max being fired by Ava (Renée Elise Goldsberry), which is the cliffhanger we leave things on at the end of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 11.
But there’s also room for a Mo (Alex Newell) subplot, and it’s – predictably, at this point – another tragic one; their relationship with Eddie (Patrick Ortiz) is over, despite neither party truly believing it should be. It’s a classic case of stubborn pride getting in the way of one’s happiness, and Zoey’s attempts to help – she hears Mo singing their true feelings during the break-up scene – come across as hypocritical after her dalliances with both Max and Simon (John Clarence Stewart), whose absence was felt this week.
If nothing else, at least Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 11 compelled Zoey to admit her feelings – or some of them, at least – to Max. I have a feeling she’s going to need him for next week’s finale when one assumes that the tragedy we’ve been preparing for is going to occur.
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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.