A faintly silly premise hides a deeper exploration of personal and professional problems in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”.
This recap of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 2, episode 2, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”, contains spoilers.
Don’t be fooled by the faintly slapstick-y premise of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”. The episode might be about Zoey and Max trying – and repeatedly failing – to have sex for the first time despite a torrent of other issues in their professional and personal lives, but only superficially – it’s really about those issues, about the people they affect, and about that awkward process of transitioning from a platonic relationship to a romantic one.
Romance is key, really. We’ve always believed that these two are best friends with a mutual attraction for one another, but we’ve also come to know them as silly. Going from that to a dead-serious sexy relationship wouldn’t have worked under any circumstances, but especially not when one of the pair has musical superpowers. Would you really want to hear the internal jukebox of someone you’re trying to sleep with?
It’s a predicament. For Zoey, the talent is useful and somehow brings her closer to Max; for Max, it’s an embarrassing invasion and puts a lot of pressure on him. Few shows about superpowers of any kind bother to explore how those powers have an impact on relatively normal relationships, and since almost all of the key characters know about Zoey’s gift at this point, now seemed the right time to address how they feel about them.
If Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 2, episode 2 was about Zoey’s love life, it was also about her work life, especially since she’s now the boss at SPRQ Point, and SPRQ Point has a pretty serious problem. Leif, trying to impress as a manager, has rushed out the development of a watch to earn some brownie points, and the watch is now exploding while people are wearing it. But this is much less a public health crisis – we’ve had enough of those lately – than a personal crisis for Leif, whose pompous exterior has always hidden deep-seated insecurities.
This was Zoey’s first real test as the new fourth-floor boss, and she handled it well, but Max and Mo’s new business venture proved a more taxing problem in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction”. Enthusiasm is still high for their idea, but as soon as a contract is put on the table, things change for Mo. While the natural assumption is that he’s worried about Max ripping him off, we gradually learn that Mo’s worried about ripping Max off, having already ruined a previous venture with an old friend. The knock-on effects of that for both Max and Zoey would be catastrophic, so you can understand Mo’s reticence, but Zoey is on-hand to assure him that Max is the best, most trustworthy person he could possibly be working with. There will almost certainly be further obstacles in the future, but for now, business continues apace.
So, too, does the show. Like the premiere, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist season 2, episode 2 abandons a problem-of-the-week format for a more wide-ranging clutch of issues that all affect Zoey in competing ways. After a full season spent helping others instead of herself, we seem to be focusing on Zoey’s interiority here, letting her powers work for her and her relationships. It’s a good angle for this season, even if it leaves some characters, like Simon and Maggie, feeling a little short-changed.