“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is back for its second season on NBC with more catchy tunes and an Emmy for choreography under its belt. It’s safe to say that its countless musical numbers make the show stand out from anything else on TV.
For those unfamiliar with the show, “Zoey’s” follows the life of computer programmer Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy), who gains the ability to hear others’ inner thoughts through song after an earthquake interrupts her MRI appointment. Her power lands her in some awkward situations, but it serves as a gift just as much, if not more.
One can catch up on all of season 1 now or watch new episodes the next day for free on Peacock. Beware of spoilers ahead.
With “Zoey’s Extraordinary Return,” Season 2 picks up six weeks after the Season 1 finale in which Zoey’s father Mitch (Peter Gallagher) died from complications of his severe neurodegenerative disorder. In the meantime, Zoey has lived with her mother, Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), and stayed away from her work at tech company SPRQ Point and her friends Mo (Alex Newell), Max (Skylar Astin) and Simon (John Clarence Stewart). She also hasn’t heard any music in her head since her father died.
Nevertheless, music quickly comes back into Zoey’s life. Mo opens the episode and provides the motivation Zoey needs to get her ready for her first day back at work by singing Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” Mo’s sense of humor is also on point when she tells Zoey to wear something uplifting and colorful instead of looking like a “sad Emma Stone Halloween costume” in her black pajamas. This pair’s scenes are always fun to watch.
Zoey meets Max on her way to SPRQ Point to catch up on life and work. In a sweet gesture, Max gives her a gift for her first day back: a ring in the shape of a shield with a musical note to give her strength.
Zoey sure needs it, as she hears her first heart song, “Hello, Dolly!” from her coworkers at SPRQ Point who are all excited for her return. However, she’s overwhelmed by Leif’s (Michael Thomas Grant) changes as interim manager, including standing desks and Max’s replacement George (Harvey Guillén), as well as her boss Joan’s (Lauren Graham) offer to promote her to executive director.
At the same time, Maggie is struggling to finalize all of Mitch’s affairs and Zoey’s brother, David (Andrew Leeds), and sister-in-law, Emily (Alice Lee), are struggling to raise their newborn son. Discovering that Mitch left them all video messages on his computer adds to their grief.
After work, Zoey goes to meet Mo, where she finds that Mo, Max and Simon have all become great friends while Zoey’s been at home. The initial shock of seeing them all together is multiplied when Max and Simon, her two love interests, sing “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet, indicating that they both still have feelings for her despite their new friendship.
Zoey is still overwhelmed at work the next day. Lief wants to co-manage their floor, coder Tobin (Kamil Talwalkar) is hazing George and Joan wants an answer on the job offer. When Zoey just wants to calm down, she hears George break into song with Melissa Manchester’s ballad “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Like Zoey, he’s struggling with work, so her power helps the two connect and smooth things out at SPRQ Point after she accepts Joan’s promotion.
Guillén seems like a fun addition to the cast who will bring some extra happiness to the show as the kind and lighthearted George. He also reminds me of Josh Gad, who voiced the delightful Olaf in the “Frozen” movies, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in future episodes.
Later that night, Zoey and the Clarkes decide to watch one of Mitch’s videos. His message is touching and extremely helpful to the family as he urges them to move on and live out their lives. Maggie, David and Emily then begin to sing fun.’s “Carry On” — the most perfect song to round out the episode and propel the rest of Season 2.
Lastly, Max stops by to talk to Zoey about a new business idea he’s working on with Mo, but they end up discussing their kiss from Season 1 … and kiss again. That seems to indicate the love triangle conundrum is over for now, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some drama resurfaces later on.
Like its first season, “Zoey’s” choreography and song choice exceeds expectations every week. In this week’s premiere, each tune serves its purpose to a tee. From the elaborate flash mob dance moves in “Hello, Dolly!” to the deep and powerful meaning of the lyrics in “Carry On” — as well as the freezing of time in that scene, showing how each character gets stuck and unstuck in their grief — the show’s incredibly satisfying to the audience and never falls flat.
Though past episodes typically feature one or two more songs and it’s disappointing that Joan’s character was written out — Lauren Graham is filming a reboot of “The Mighty Ducks” for Disney+ — I’m pleased with “Zoey’s Extraordinary Return” and excited to see where the show goes next.
Contact Michael Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.