Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x05 Review: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure” (Inside of Your Head) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure”
Original Airdate: March 8, 2020

We never know what’s going on inside of someone else’s head. That’s why I’ve found that expressing kindness and empathy to people matters. Everyone is struggling with something they may not be sharing with anyone else. It’s impossible to read other people’s minds... unless you’re Zoey Clarke. In this week’s episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Zoey’s ability to hear other people’s thoughts through song leads her to try and help them, to varying degrees of success. And since we’re focused on a few main stories here, I’m going to break down whether Zoey’s abilities helped or hindered her relationships this week.


The title of the episode is related to the A-story of our episode: Emily and David’s marriage. When Zoey hears her first duet and it’s an unhappy one between her brother and sister-in-law, she wants to help. She needs to help. She tries to help. And it backfires on her.

David, as it turns out, is concerned about having a boy. Last week we discovered the gender of Emily and David’s baby, but the reality has become a lot for the expectant father. He doesn’t want his child to be the way he was growing up: reserved, sensitive, and a bit outcast. He’s afraid of the reality of raising a boy. What if he grows up to be like him? What if he grows up to be a jock? How is he supposed to raise a boy?

Instead of discussing his fears with Emily though, David lies and says he’s working but he’s really out with coworkers playing pool at a bar. Zoey confronts her brother about this, assuming his reasoning for hiding it from Emily. The problem that Zoey recognizes in this episode is that even though she can hear everyone’s inner thoughts as if they were songs, it doesn’t mean she always has the full story. She’s made decisions based on her assumptions in previous episodes, and has luckily been correct. This time she isn’t as fortunate.

When Zoey lets it slip to Emily that David is lying, she assumes her brother will be mad. What she doesn’t realize is that he hasn’t told her everything: Emily is now freaked out more than ever because she never wanted kids. David is the one who wanted kids. She agreed, and now she’s afraid that David is abandoning her after she compromised for him. Zoey doesn’t know what to say or do, and the episode doesn’t end with a tidy bow. David is upset because Zoey crossed a line, and he tells her essentially that they won’t be speaking for a while. He needs space.

I like that this storyline wasn’t perfectly resolved. We’re beginning to see that Zoey’s power and her decision to insert herself into the lives of others as a result isn’t always a good thing. Even though she tries to avoid meddling this week (and even says that she won’t), she can’t help herself. She wants to fix people. She wants things to be happy and better. But sometimes you just don’t know the full story and assuming otherwise can lead to heartbreak, conflict, or worse.


The B-ish plot of the episode is that Joan delivers the results of anonymous peer reviews to the employees. Most of them aren’t super positive, but Leif’s is perhaps the most negative of all. The review essentially calls him self-absorbed and irritating, citing that his attitude and demeanor are why he didn’t get a promotion. Leif spends the rest of the episode moping (he sings “Everybody Hurts” on repeat), and then Zoey learns the truth: Joan wrote Leif’s peer review. She is a bit blunt with her reasoning, but she’s not wrong. And she’s definitely not wrong when she tells Zoey that it’s her job as Leif’s manager to confront him with honesty and not coddle him.

So Zoey does. She reads him things that were said about her from her peer reviews and encourages Leif to be better. She doesn’t sugarcoat his review or say that the person was wrong; she tells him that his attitude really does stink and he needs to be better. But she does so in a way that’s still compassionate and empathetic. Unfortunately for Zoey, Leif assumes that their conversation means SHE wrote his negative peer review and when she corrects him, he doesn’t believe her.

This could go either way for Zoey: either Leif will be motivated to change regardless of who wrote the review, or he’ll try to take away her job.


Zoey’s been avoiding Simon like she decided to at the end of the previous episode. They were getting too close and he has a fiancé. But Zoey can’t ghost a coworker forever, and eventually she relents and talks to Simon. She soon discovers he’s in a pretty bad place because it’s the anniversary of his dad’s birthday. Zoey gives him a “grief kit” and encourages him to spend time with Jessica, his fiancé, remember?

The problem I’m having with Simon and Zoey’s relationship is that I’m not one to support emotional affairs but that’s what Zoey incorrectly handling her powers in the first episode led to. She even tells her mom that she used information she shouldn’t have to form an emotional bond with someone she had a crush on. And now that decision is coming back to haunt her. Because Simon needs and relies on Zoey. And Zoey WANTS to feel needed by people (hence her always trying to fix other people with her powers). But the danger, as we see in this episode, is that trying to fix people more often than not leads to bad things and not good things long-term.

For Simon, it’s leading him away from his fiancé and toward Zoey. I don’t think Jessica is a bad person. She is probably trying her hardest, actually, to help Simon. She bought them tickets to a basketball game during a time she knew would be rough for him. She’s making an effort, but Simon doesn’t seem to want to have to have recurring conversations with her about what he needs. He wants someone to just instinctively know him and know what he needs rather than putting in the hard work with Jessica.

While he’s charming, it’s hard for me to root for Simon right now, and even harder for me to root for Simon/Zoey. Even when he’s breaking down in tears on Zoey’s couch. Actually, ESPECIALLY when that happens. The more time Simon spends with Zoey, the less time he spends with Jessica. He needs to be talking to her about how he doesn’t want her to try and fix him or distract him; he needs her to just be with him.

But see, Simon isn’t communicating. At least not with Jessica. And that’s where our episode ends — in a very dangerous position.

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Failure” concludes with Zoey and Simon very, very close to one another, leaving us to wonder: are they about to cross a line?

Additional things:
  • Favorite to least favorite song rankings: “Just Give Me A Reason,” “Everybody Hurts,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”
  • “I am very aware of what a duet is.”
  • “You two would be great in a female cop show.”
  • Max breaks up with Autumn in this episode because he realizes he’s settled for her and they’re not on the same page when it comes to things. But Autumn handles it really well, and I enjoyed the subversion of what is typically the “crazy ex” trope.
  • “She unironically chased a butterfly for 37 minutes.”
  • “I like aggressive-aggressive.”
What did you enjoy most about this episode? Sound off in the comments below!


Post a Comment