Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: A perfect finale for an extraordinary season

ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST -- "Zoey's Extraordinary Dad" Episode 112 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alice Lee as Emily, Andrew Leeds as David -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST -- "Zoey's Extraordinary Dad" Episode 112 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alice Lee as Emily, Andrew Leeds as David -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC) /

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1 has taken its final bow. If there’s any justice, this finale will go down in history as one of the best of all time.

If Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has left us with any clear-cut message throughout its first season, it’s that art has a way to bring people together. It helps us say what we otherwise never could.

But there’s been something else, something just as important—if not more so—subtly trying to make itself known all along. In Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, Episode 12, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad,” that message finally hits home, and it’s yet another universal one: Sometimes, no matter how much you try to avoid it, the inevitable will happen.

In spite of all of her gifts, and no matter how much she just didn’t want to face certain things, Zoey Clarke was never going to be able to prevent endings from happening: Sometimes, people—like Max—just need to move forward. And sometimes, yes, death comes for those we love. What matters is not how much we don’t want to go but how lovingly we do.

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With that being said, just like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist‘s penultimate episode reminded viewers there was no proper way to grieve, the season finale lets us know there’s no perfect way to say goodbye. Some, like Zoey’s mom and brother, need to stay close to a dying person’s bedside. Others, like Zoey, have to look elsewhere.

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad” even reminds us, through a touching moment between Zoey and Howie, that there’s no right way to view death. When asked to “have the talk about what death is like,” Howie responds in an open-ended way, the perfect response coming from someone who has witnessed death and supported others through their grief many, many times:

"Death is hideous, and ugly, and grotesque. And wildly, wildly unfair. Or, maybe, death is beautiful, and spiritual, and transcendent. And, sometimes, a very necessary and very freeing escape from our physical bodies when they are no longer habitable."

When she asks which view she should choose, Zoey never receives an answer. Because maybe, fittingly, it’s both. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist doesn’t preach to viewers about how to cope with any past or future losses; it just tells us that everybody involved in creating this work of art is there to hold us up. Because they get it.


Perhaps the most heartwarming moment comes in recognizing that death isn’t as final as we’d like to think—that our loved ones never truly leave us. As the Clarke family is watching Mitch pass on, Zoey is treated to a private dance with the image of her father she gets to remember forever—his inner light, not the dying man we’ve seen all season.

It’s in this incredibly powerful father-daughter moment that all the ones we’ve lost along the way get to speak to us, to remind us that they’re still with us, even if we can’t see them. They’ll never really leave us, are always watching over us; and above all, they just want us to be happy. It’s a “True Colors” reprisal without lyrics; in moments like this one, the words just aren’t necessary.

"You’re always going to hear me. Whether it’s a song or not, all you have to do is…listen. What are you looking over there for? I’m right here, kid."

But what makes this finale so perfect, from minute one straight through until the end, is how it balances this crushing loss of our heroine’s father with hope that life does go on. After a season of playing the Team Max versus Team Simon game, Zoey takes a leap forward in making a choice that seems to settle pretty clearly on Max.


Rather than bitterness, Simon greets this change with grace, still being exactly the type of friend Zoey needs—one who understands the loss of a parent. Love triangles don’t always have to end in anger and resentment, after all.

Sometimes, when our hearts make their final choices, the will they/won’t they of it all can just end in happily-ever-after. Even Mo takes a leap forward to accept love, even after admitting that he hasn’t always been on the receiving end and doesn’t always know how to accept it.

Then, there’s the grand finale: a performance to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” remarkably created in a single, continuous take. Viewers get one last dance with each of the series’ characters before the final curtain. We’re leaving them, but not forever. There are still songs to sing, still complicated, yet somehow so simplistic, choreography to work out.

Even if Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist never receives a single new episode, there’s still this feeling that our new friends are out there, getting through life, together. David and Emily still have a child on the way, and SPRQ POINT still has plenty of groundbreaking technology to create.

But it’s fine to pause all of that long enough for grief, okay to put aside the feuds and just feel the loss. We’re all allowed a our individual moments to give Mitch—or any of our loved ones—the perfect send-off into whatever qualifies as the next act.

Music never actually dies, and it’s nice to be able to imagine that, in some shape or form, neither do we. All it takes is the perfect song and dance to remember that, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has delivered it all season—especially in its extraordinary finale.

dark. Next. Looking for some feel-good TV? Check out Ghostwriter S2!

So, how are you feeling after the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist finale? Leave us a comment, and don’t forget to relive all your favorite moments on NBC or Hulu!