We should have known that it was too good to last.
Just when things were going our characters’ way, the rug was ripped out from under us on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 Episode 3.
Zoey and Max had barely been a couple for two episodes before the pair decided to hit pause.
Let’s just hope the besties are on the same page about what pause means, or we could have another ‘We were on a break’ fiasco on our hands, à la Friends.
Yes, the rational part of me understands that Zoey and Max taking a break is the smart move.
Over the past two-plus months, the titular protagonist has been dealing with so much change — her father’s death, a new job, a new relationship — that it’s bound to make her head spin.
Zoey: I know you want to know what’s going on with me, but I’m feeling a hundred things at once, and most of them are about how messed up I am. You and I both thought that moving back here was gonna make my bad dreams go away, but it didn’t. So, I started to wonder if it was maybe something else.
Max: Something like me?
Zoey: No, me. Nothing in my life feels right right now. I don’t feel right right now, and I don’t know. There’s no one to blame for it, but I don’t know how to fix it either.
Max: Well, I mean, do you think we rushed into this? Maybe I pushed you when deep down I knew it was probably too soon after your dad. Maybe I just wanted to be with you so badly, I was just willing to go for it.
Zoey: I wanted to go for it too, but I’m barely ever present with you because I’m sad or tired or just in my head all the time, and I hate it.
Max: I know.
Zoey: It’s not fair to you. Maybe I do need more time.
Max: We should put things on pause for a bit. Yeah, it’s OK. Look, if we both force this thing to happen before you’re ready, then we’ll destroy it before it’s even begun.
She is just inundated with new things coming at her from all sides, all while grappling with the grief of losing her father.
Frankly, it’s rather impressive that she’s been able to handle the stress, up to this point, as well as she did.
She’s feeling a million different emotions at a mile a minute, barely able to keep herself above water, and this installment, everything just became too much.
All of that pent up emotions Zoey had put on the backburner reached a critical breaking point, hence the somewhat hilarious public breakdown at work.
Everything just became too much, and as they say, her cup just runneth over.
So something had to give, and unfortunately, that ended up being her burgeoning romance with Max.
While the pair made the right decision to press the pause button, it’s still hard not to feel somewhat cheated by this turn of events.
It’s not completely unexpected, but it does feel a little like emotional whiplash, especially after the end of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 Episode 2.
Zoey and Max were in such a good place after their heart-to-heart that this abrupt 180 felt a little off.
Maybe if there had been more buildup to the conflict between the pair and/or Zoey’s nightmares, things wouldn’t have felt so hasty.
Max: Did I just sing to you? You have that look in your face.
Zoey: You might have sung to me.
Max: What did I sing?
Zoey: Um, I don’t know the name of it, and it was clear you definitely have feelings…
Max: About what? About Simon? Just sing me the song.
Zoey: I don’t know the song. I can’t sing the song.
Max: Well, that’s not fair. You know people can have a lot of thoughts in their head without meaning them, and by the way, I worked overtime not to be weird about Simon even though you work in the same office with him, so you can’t read into it if a song…
Zoey: I’m not reading into it. It’s fine.
Max: No, it’s not fine. You always have a secret window into my brain, and you know, I would love to know what you’re feeling.
Zoey: I’m not feeling anything.
Max: No kidding.
Yes, Zoey’s ability to hear Max’s innermost thoughts was discussed prevoiusly, but that friction was only a small piece of their escalating tension.
Suddenly, every little thing became this huge problem: Zoey’s window into Max’s mind, her confiding in Simon over her him, her being distant while they spent time together.
It was unnecessary for every possible reason Zoey and Max might take a break isn’t necessary when one explanation would have sufficed.
Moving beyond this, hopefully, this isn’t used as an opportunity to reintroduce that dreaded love triangle.
Zoey has made her decision, and even if she and Max are on pause, it doesn’t mean she should be cozying up to Simon on the side.
She and Simon have very little chemistry and don’t make sense as a couple.
What they do make sense as, for maybe the first time, is good friends.
Beforehand, their friendship felt forced, as Zoey was only supportive of Simon because she had ulterior motives.
Then, there was that whole holding pattern where Zoey wasn’t dating Max or Simon but was torn between the two guys in her life.
Zoey: I just thought I’d feel better by now. I’ve tried reducing stress. I moved back to my place, but no matter what I do, I can’t stop having these awful dreams where I’m trying to get out of the house. And last night, I finally made it out the door, but I still couldn’t escape because there was another me blocking my exit.
Simon: So you literally could not get out of your own way.
Zoey: It sounds so obvious when you say it.
Simon: Hey, here’s the thing. You’re dad just died, and looking for any other reason why these dreams are happening or thinking you can just make them stop is crazy.
Zoey: You’re very comforting.
Simon: Is it comforting to know that at least you’re not alone though. We, we are part of the same sad club now. Five more nightmares and you get a jacket.
Zoey: So I’m just supposed to do nothing?
Simon: Talking to me isn’t nothing, and, uh, I do think moving back to your place is a good step forward. Honestly, the more you can do for yourself right now, the better.
Now, though, that she’s made a firm choice — one Simon seems to respect — allows an organic and true friendship to blossom.
While Zoey confiding in Simon over Max was problematic because of their past entanglements, Simon proved to be a good listener and gave her some sound advice.
Again, this is a conversation she should have had with Max, her maybe, sort of boyfriend, but as a coworker and friend, Simon did a standout job.
He didn’t insert himself into Zoey’s personal life, instead waiting for her to come to him for help.
Also, his show of support bore no romantic overtures, laying the groundwork for a solid friendship.
With the end of the love triangle, there had been some speculation about Simon’s role in the series, now that he’s not a romantic prospect for Zoey.
While ‘supportive work friend’ may not have been the title we expected, Simon wore it well.
That’s not to say a romance between the two won’t happen at some point, but if it does way, way down the line, there’s a chance the characters’ interactions won’t feel as forced and grating, now that they’ve built a solid foundation.
Elsewhere, the series decided to kill two birds with one stone by pairing Maggie and Jenna up as Maggie navigates re-entering the world of landscape architecture alone for the first time in decades.
One of the pluses this season is the increased screen time for secondary characters since the show no longer insists on having Zoey’s side adventures of helping her friends and family overshadow the remainder of the hour.
Maggie: What are you writing?
Zoey: Everything you’re saying. Once I understand the parameters, I can generate a solution.
Maggie: OK, well, one of the first parameters is focusing on the overall concept.
Zoey: Concept like what bushes you want.
Maggie: Yeah, sure, bushes are a part of it, but it’s more like the overall design. Should we do country cottage or organic garden, European formal?
Zoey: I’m just going to brush up on European formal in one of these books here.
Maggie: Oh honey, it’s not really a thing you can just study.
Zoey: What about this? This is pretty. Can we do this?
Maggie: It’s Versailles.
Zoey: Right, so… no. No on Versailles.
This has allowed the series to explore Max and Mo’s new business venture, Leif’s struggle as team manager, and David and Emily’s struggles as new parents.
Some of these plotlines have worked better than others, so while the idea of Maggie getting her own storyline outside of the Clarke family seems fine on paper, the execution left something to be desired.
Cramming Jenna down our throats as Maggie’s unlikely partner didn’t help much, for David and Emily were right in that she is a lot.
Like her sister and brother-in-law, Jenna works better in small doses, and while she is a nice foil to Maggie, the storyline of Maggie’s newest project wasn’t that engaging, even before Jenna was inserted.
There was too much focus on the actual project and not enough time spent on how Maggie feels about continuing with her work now that Mitch, her husband and business partner, is gone.
All the storyline touched on was Maggie’s creative block and how Jenna’s spontaneity and unconventional approach helped Maggie rethink her design.
It was mostly a snoozefest, which we could have done without, especially since Mo was only in one scene.
Some stray thoughts:
Zoey pretending to hear Max sing a heart song to trick him into opening up was pretty unfair of her. He already feels uncomfortable with her ability to see his innermost thoughts, so to lie about her powers like that was very inconsiderate of her.
I get that Zoey wanted Max to be more open with her about his feelings, but it was hardly playing fair, especially since she didn’t reciprocate.
Even though Zoey and Max were over before they started, Max was the epitome of the perfect boyfriend during that time. He was caring, considerate, and supportive. Plus, he’s always cooking for Zoey. What more could a person want?
There was not enough Mo or George. There needs to be more of them.
Tobin is seriously the worst, and I hope the female coders continue to put him in his place. More power to them.
So what did you think, TV Fanatics?
What are your thoughts on Zoey and Max’s hitting the pause button?
Can Zoey and Simon just be friends?
Why is Jenna still around?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, remember you can watch Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.