Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 1, episode 12 recap – “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad”

May 4, 2020 (Last updated: January 14, 2021)
Jonathon Wilson 2
TV, TV Recaps
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Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist season 1, episode 12 recap - "Zoey's Extraordinary Dad"


Friends and family paid tribute to “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad” in a beautiful, moving finale that wore the weight of inevitability.

This recap of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 1, episode 12, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

For weeks now, I’ve been dreading Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 12. This was it. The finale. The end. Not the end, obviously, since the show has proved popular and there’s far too much character drama to wrap up in a single episode. But the end for Mitch (Peter Gallagher) and his season-long battle against a terrible illness that, in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad”, finally claimed him.

The drama surrounding Mitch and Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), parents of the titular Zoey (Jane Levy) and her brother David (Andrew Leed), has always felt the most well-observed component of a show that performs light as well as heavy, musical comedy as well as romance, and various other formal balancing acts. Week to week, the show has raised and more often than not solved a variety of personal problems, from issues of identity and agoraphobia to ill-advised workplace romances and personal ambitions. It has crafted a love triangle that, by the end of this episode, seems murkier and more complex than ever. In all that, Mitch has remained the one constant, the one thing immune to Zoey’s powers and the show’s generally upbeat attitude. Throughout the entire first season, he was dying, and in the finale, he died.

None of this is surprising; on the contrary, its inevitability is what gave it such emotional power. We knew it was coming and could do nothing to stop it – the very essence of a debilitating, incurable illness. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Episode 12 opened very much like a regular episode, and persisted as one through the first half of its runtime, though Zoey’s malfunctioning powers causing her to sing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” in the mirror was an ominous clue.

The thing is, though, it could have applied to any of the various problems she encountered throughout her day. Mo (Alex Newell) was struggling after prematurely breaking up with Eddie (Patrick Ortiz). Max (Skylar Astin) had been fired from SPRQ Point, and Joan (Lauren Graham) might not be far behind him. Simon (John Clarence Stewart) is back and ready to move forward with Zoey, but is she ready for that? And on and on. The impression was that any or perhaps all of these things could have led to Zoey’s powers acting out. Yet as “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad” progressed, almost all of these things reached some kind of conclusion.

The effect of this was that I became less and less happy the more things started working out. Mo and Eddie reconciling irritated me. Zoey getting Max his job back, and Max refusing it, and the two of them kissing, made me worry. Joan getting a promotion rather than a sacking had me convinced. The bad moon rising was the most obvious one, the one we wanted least. Mitch was going to die.

And he did. It was unavoidable, and the show treated it as such, including all the mundane but heart-breaking formalities of someone succumbing to a stubborn and cruel illness. Zoey, David, and Maggie, knowing if they didn’t say their goodbyes now they’d never have a chance to, parted ways with Mitch in song, each in turn. Zoey’s was the hardest to watch, and Jane Levy impressed again with the depth of emotion she was able to summon. I don’t know who she has lost in her life, but she must have lost them, again and again, to do what she did here. And just like that, Mitch was gone.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 12 left some crucial matters unresolved, namely the romantic entangling of Zoey, Simon, and Max. That’s for another time. The episode ended with a vigil for Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad in which all her friends and family sang together, differences put aside. It’s what he deserved.

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2 thoughts on “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 1, episode 12 recap – “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad”

  • May 4, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    The script was too busy. It got in the way of what really mattered, which was the goodbye. The comedy and the tragedy were stepping on each other’s toes. Some beautiful moments–but I lost my dad a few years back, and this didn’t connect the way some of the earlier eps about Zoey sensing her dad’s feelings did. Too prettied up.

    As for Zoey and Max, you can write it any way you want, but either two actors have romantic chemistry or they don’t. Levy and Stewart do. Levy and Astin don’t. But Astin has a bigger fanbase (not big enough to keep two shows from getting shot out from under him), who push for him online, so that’s not going away. If they push it too hard, I will. Still, hope they get another season.

    • May 4, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Yeah, I can see that. I saw the relatively normal first half as kind of a bait and switch, presumably so that Mitch’s death and the vigil weren’t too overwhelmingly morbid, although I can’t disagree that saying goodbye to the character would have warranted it.

      As for Max, you’re probably right. I think Simon’s a much more charismatic and interesting character on the whole, but I suppose that Pitch Perfect goodwill has some legs yet.

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