Spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, called "Zoey's Extraordinary Trip."
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist returned to NBC with an episode that sent Zoey on a wild trip, but not exactly the kind of trip that involves travel. Deciding to be a rebel after Season 2 so far, Zoey went along with neighbor Aiden in sampling drugs, and they were joined by an unexpected person: SPRQ Point CEO Danny Michael Davis, freed from house arrest and ready for a trip of his own. The unlikely trio went on a drug-fueled journey that involved sharing secrets, eating popsicles, and a musical number led by Jane Levy that proves yet again that Zoey deserves to sing all the time.
Yes, Zoey led the guys (and then a group of bystanders) in a fun and frenzied performance of Nicki Minaj's "Starships", complete with vivid colors and Zoey actually enjoying starring in a musical number for once. Admittedly, my biggest laugh of the number actually came from Noah Weisberg unexpectedly belting a line of "Starships" before joining Zoey's choreography, although only because I didn't expect that voice to come out of Danny Michael Davis. Felix Mallard was great as Aiden as well, but the whole number struck me as one big example of Jane Levy proving that she needs to perform in musical numbers as often as possible.
Now, I can admit that there are limited ways that Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist can actually give Jane Levy the chance to sing, since Zoey is normally the one and only character on the show who isn't supposed to burst into song with no notice. To date, ZEP has either had to go with dream sequences, glitching powers, a capella in Skylar Astin's killer mashup, or now a drug-fueled fantasy sequence. And I honestly would prefer Zoey not singing at all to seeing her sing with glitching powers on a regular basis like she did in a Season 1 episode. Levy crushed those performances, but talk about A-W-K-W-A-R-D in the workplace!
But it's not just the singing that makes me want to see Jane Levy in more musical numbers. In fact, I would probably rank Alex Newell's Mo or Skylar Astin's Max as the best singers of the series, although John Clarence Stewart as Simon proves why he belongs in the ZEP cast on a weekly basis. Levy just throws herself into the performances, whether it was the awkward moments that Zoey couldn't help when she was glitching in Season 1, her emotional recurring "Nowhere to Run" nightmare, or now with "Starships" and its choreography. As Zoey, she can go from goofy to emotionally drained to painfully self-aware while nailing dance moves.
If Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist can just somehow find an excuse for Zoey to participate in more musical numbers, even if it's just adding to the choreography of other songs, I might find a way to love this show even more. Jane Levy has already gotten to sing a surprising number of times in Season 2, which executive producer Paul Feig addressed in a recent interview with CinemaBlend, saying:
We always love to move her towards that. Jane wanted to also, and she's so good at it and so fun when she's performing. Knowing her the way that we all do, sometimes you're like, ‘Oh, I wish she didn't just have to react to everybody else.’ So when she had her episode in the first season, where she sings everything, it was just so funny and so effective. And she was so good at it.
Do I want Zoey to do drugs on a weekly basis just because "Starships" was so much fun? Of course not, and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist isn't just a show that delivers laughs, as proved elsewhere in "Zoey's Extraordinary Trip" with Max's "Numb" to his father and Simon's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" before taking a risky stand at a press conference after being asked to defend facial recognition software that misidentifies people of color. Still, if ZEP can find more organic reasons for Jane Levy to dust off her pipes and tap her toes to the choreography, Season 2 has already proved that she can nail it.