Often our shadow work wasn’t once spotted in the graveyard of painful experiences rather dressed in a snazzy red suit patchworked into the brighter memory of one’s first day of work. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Session” is quite similar to a time traveler in this way, allowing us to drift between the before and the after. Mitch gives out a landscaping magazine to each person sitting around the table; he’s, of course, at the head, excitedly turning it around to show a photo of the now-divorced pair stretched across the cover with greenery from a backyard they’ve created. “Hold on a second,” he muses. “Did they make my eyebrows look bigger?” A flimsy detail protested by Zoey’s therapist as we’re zapped back to the after; the year where the rain hits the dimly lit room’s window, the year where her father’s dead, and the year where Max is about to move a few hundred miles away. It’s an exercise, recounting her initial touchings with loss, that is. Perhaps we’re too reminded of the hole Mitch left as he tenderly hands Zoey a paper lunch bag reminiscent of her first day of school; there is a rollup nestled inside poking against some other childlike food item.
SPRQPoint’s floors display a rainbow from the color painted across its own windows. Eager possible newcomers spread out, including Leif, who’s bragging about a project he worked on by being cc’d into a couple of emails. The first interaction between Zoey and him and then Zoey and Max, which, while the prior points to their competitive friendship, we watch weekly, there’s a bit of tension conspiring with the latter. He’s cozied up in a zipped jumper one would usually find on a university student as well as an interest in frisbees, let’s just say he’s not taking things as seriously as Zoey would’ve liked. Danny Weisberg, the resident boss man of SPRQPoint, is the same as he’s ever been as he plays out a montage paralleled to Willy Wonka introducing the six contest winners to his factory. Remember Zoey’s powers are non-existent in this land of before; instead, the writers have decidedly drizzled in the musical element by creative character exchanges. This is one of them. Although Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” could’ve been spun on The Hunger Games head as he marks the start of a competitive induction process: they’ll work in pairs through a series of competitive tasks until one’s remaining. The roles are switched somewhat as Mitch drives Maggie to the hospital. She’s a little short of breath, only too much for those overly protective concerns. After Zoey says something interesting here, that she was so preoccupied with the chance of losing her dream job that she didn’t pay too much attention to the first time she could lose her mom but isn’t that life itself?
Strolling through the fourth floor, we hear the traditional jests belonging to Zoey and Max over the ball pit located to the right before bumping into another blast from present-day: Tobin. He’s plowing Leif over in a tight hug. Apparently, the finer details to an NDA called out the tight-lipped secret of the partnership employee showdown the former was privy to while the latter was busily quitting his job to move to Los Angeles, where he thought his for sure current one is at. On the screen overlooking Zoey and Maxi’s sugar crash breakfast snack discussion, Danny’s face appears. He’s trying to swallow down a lava coffee that he then passes to his needing a payrise assistant Tony to blow on to meet the perfect temperature. It’s pairing up time; Zoey has her eyes set on Leif, who is being forced with Amber, leaving behind Max to circle back with Zoey.
Fiddling with children’s toys and puzzles, so the pieces eventually fit together, is a time management task, after Zoey muses. Each one has a sticker glued to it dictating the allocated points. Max believes it’s best to start with the highest, playing around with a supposedly 250 pt t-rex, while the redhead would’ve preferred to go with a strategy plan of large and small tasks opting for a puzzle. Regardless they’ve advanced to the second round alongside the leading competitors of Leif and Amber, leaving one of the fourth placers to melancholy belt out Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” A jukebox thought that would’ve been lingering inside his head if it weren’t for being trapped in the year of the before. Welcome to round two: lunchtime. That’s if these tech-geeks were lounging around in a secret bunker needing to hack into their password-protected box to find two hot dogs inside. The larger grey box is relatively easy to hack into only to find a darker blue inside wrapped in a riddle; Danny’s clue of resources leads them onto a path ending with a duet battle of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Zoey looks at him differently here, perhaps for the first time, that little spark short-circuiting into a messy triangular entanglement. Roaming around in the song were two numbers, 70 and 23; Zoey worked out being the first of the three pairs to open the final box.
Zoey and Max are sitting on the platform steps overlooking the rest of the potential employees. There’s a sharing of apologies, she’s sorry for being too hard on him despite having dreams of scoring such a job since making a paper phone to call Steve Jobs in primary school, and he is for stooping so low to rag on her family. As he munches on her rollup, there’s a call from Mitch explaining that Maggie failed her stress test resulting in the admission she also may have had a small heart attack. We’ve all had those moments where it just switches. You remember the faintest details from the inclination in their tone as they tell the news to how at first, it sounds unbelievable since you always believed there was this protective bubble wrap around your family like death followed everyone else’s but yours. Max notices the shift, but they’ve already moved onto round three. In a two-hour allocation time frame, the pairs have to create a new product using the smart tech carried around on SPRQPoint printed carts.
Max has an idea. After knowing what’s happening with Zoey’s mother, he comes up with the genius thought of the two of them working remotely. She’ll hatch the coding from where she is while he’ll configure the product besides a ruthless Leif and Amber. It kind of works smoothly, ‘kind of’ as in Mo (this version is still BFF-ed up with Zora) is Zoey’s Uber driver making her contribution through belting out Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive” slotted in with other pop earworms on Mo’s Exquisite Playlist. With one finger pressed into her ear so she can hear Max on the other line, she pitches through the phone a fitness watch with the feature of keeping track of Danny’s heartline to communicate to an automated coffee maker that’ll make the perfect one. There’s a conversation caught from the hospital corridor as Maggie tells Mitch she’s sort of glad she’s the one maybe leaving them first; this all intelligently ties into the opposite happening making the scene that much more bittersweet. She doesn’t believe she’s strong enough to live with his ghost. Show and tell time starts with Leif and Amber displaying The SPRQ-ler. It’s a kaleidoscopic light bulb affair sharing inside goss of how well they’re doing against other tech companies. From the phone’s screen, Zoey dramatically waves to Danny. He’s a bit lost on hearing as she steadily shouts inside the waiting room. Danny’s so impressed with their heartline coffee maker it’s rendering his assistant’s job obsolete.
While David might have brought his positively annoying current girlfriend to the hospital, who’s made a point of asking for nachos when lingering in the hallway, he bumps across who we know as Emily. It feels that bitter promise where after some time has passed following a certain incident, allowing you to feel inspired by the creation of a new path, suddenly they appear back in your life, reminding you of what you thought you could never quite get over yet did. All of their traits, how Emily seemingly cares more so about his mother, the chemistry forecasting how they are in the after, it’s a small moment leaving a lasting impression as they make the pact to meet up once again for coffee eventually. Max walks in then; he has a few shards of glitter pressed to his forehead to congratulate Zoey on making the cut as he, unfortunately, didn’t. There’s a nostalgic hit as Mitch softly sings Doris Day’s “Dream A Little Dream of Me” to his waking wife, the same crooning lullaby that Maggie used as a means of comfort as he passed. It leaves the therapist coming to another conclusion, Max and Zoey’s story is as much about love as it is about loss.
With the landscape painting of the Los Angeles bridge poked in the background, Zoey finds Max leaving Mo’s apartment. They’ve been discussing the pop-up restaurant as his flight to New York awaits. Their first day together lingers and remains as he opens up his closet to find their prototype. It turns out that he had originally won the position with Leif. However, knew Zoey would always be the right person for the job, or it showed how much he cared and had compassion towards her even after knowing her for a few short hours. He lies about what he found to Rose; she’s huddled up in their bed with the laptop’s light bouncing off the brick wall behind her with a tab open to cheekily opt for economy comfort. “Let’s go for it,” he replies.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on NBC.