Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, called "Zoey's Extraordinary Distraction."
The return of a COVID-free Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist has delivered a nice dose of escapism on television, and Zoey's hookup with Max provided her with just the kind of distraction she was looking for after the loss of her dad. Despite a few false starts and some mood-killers in the form of Maggie barging into Zoey's bedroom with popcorn and Mo singing emotional opera right next door to Zoey's apartment, they finally got to do the deed, but not before Skylar Astin delivered a musical number that deserves all the awards.
Let it not be said that Max doesn't come prepared! He revealed that he saw a therapist for some tips on how to not burst into a melodramatic heart song when hooking up with Zoey, and the result was the kind of musical number that no production other than Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist could have pulled off. When he was able to focus, Max's heart song was a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," but he couldn't keep baseball on his mind the whole time.
Skylar Astin's Max went back and forth between "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You" as things got hotter and heavier with Zoey and clothes started coming off. Trying (and failing) to keep his focus on America's pastime, he literally shut himself in a closet at one point to try and get the Boyz II Men out of his head/heart.
Things took a turn for the genuinely romantic when Max and Zoey shared a duet to Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This," with Max's half as a heart song and Zoey's half being sung out loud to reassure him that they were on the same page. Simon who? If I wasn't already on Team Max, I would have been converted after this episode! If anything, I'm ready for Skylar Astin to start clearing off a trophy shelf.
Skylar Astin completely blew me away with both his vocals and how he threw himself into the songs to sell Max's determination in a scene that could have been cringe-worthy and left me squirming out of secondhand embarrassment. Instead, a scene that might have been painfully awkward was a delight to watch, and I say that as somebody who is pretty easily afflicted with secondhand embarrassment. There's a musical number from a whole different show that I have trouble rewatching because of one of the actors' hair, despite the perfect harmony!
For Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Skylar Astin had to switch back and forth between two wildly different songs while stripping his way through the opening stages of a love scene in a relatively small space. It was funny, sweet, endearing, and so well-choreographed that I was immediately ready to hit rewind and watch the scene all over again. Jane Levy nailed her half of the scene as well, and definitely sold why Zoey would have chosen her best friend Max over Simon.
Plus, Max's ill-timed heart songs leading to "A Moment Like This" meant that Zoey got to sing without a repeat of an "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" or Billy Joel's "Pressure" situation from when her powers were glitching, which 100% had me wanting to look away back in Season 1. This musical number made the episode for me, and it never would have worked if Skylar Astin didn't throw himself into it. Plus, the "I'll Make Love To You" performance felt like a throwback to Pitch Perfect, which definitely didn't hurt.
All things considered, I don't think I've ever been happier that Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist got the Season 2 renewal despite some low live ratings, or more relieved that ZEP just decided to skip any pandemic storylines and get back to bonkers business as usual. Talk about escapism! Tune in to NBC on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, and be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule for more viewing options.