We wish we could say we were prepared for the season finale of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, but how do you prepare for a show that has both plucked at your heartstrings with its (heart)songs and managed to rip that same heart out and step on it through the power of music each and every week?
But alas, some things are inevitable. The passage of time. The conclusion of a phenomenal freshman season of television. The loss of a beloved character. We knew it was coming, and yet. And yet.
We're Courtney Enlow and Carly Lane, and it's been our sincere pleasure to recap this show for you.
Warning: The below contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 12 of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.
5. The day the music died
Courtney: Not only was the song choice this mix of fitting to the scene and moment with the nostalgia that comes with remembering an entire lifetime, but the way it was shot was also perfect. There is a dreamlike quality to single tracking shots like this that so accurately reflects the experience of grief and moving through the motions of going on.
Carly: Once I realized the intention was to do the entire "American Pie" performance in one single take, I was absolutely blown away — well, during those moments I wasn't weeping out loud, which were plentiful during this episode. The way the rhythm of the song changed throughout depending on the emotion of each room as Zoey walks throughout the house to embrace each of her friends who have come to pay their respects and honor her dad, only to end on that completely a cappella performance from Jane Levy ... it might have been my favorite sequence on the show, period.
4. Maggie says goodbye
Courtney: All season long, Maggie has struggled with how to exist without Mitch, how to be strong. But after last week, she’s found a kind of peace and strength (such is the power of Bernadette Peters) and this song was perfect. It wasn’t about her pain or her loss, but a gentle farewell to the love of her life.
Carly: Maggie and Mitch's relationship has been the true romance of this season from start to finish. How do you prepare for the inevitability of saying goodbye to your partner in everything? It's a question Maggie has had to finally acknowledge in terms of what that means for her both in the present and looking towards the future, and Mary Steenburgen has really done a masterful job of illustrating so many different dimensions of grief. This song was a quiet goodbye after everything, which made it more powerful in the end.
3. Goodnight, my angel
Courtney: Every goodbye is hard. But there’s something about being so close to having a baby, thinking there’s a real chance your dying parent will meet them, and then ... not. Mitch’s hand on Emily’s belly, on his grandchild, I was DONE.
Carly: This family's been through so many different ups and downs, many of them within the last few months. But I have to believe that Emily and David are going to find a way to honor Mitch's memory in their future child, especially now that we know they're having a boy. It'd be perfect, albeit bittersweet.
2. The dance
Courtney: I was wracking my brain trying to imagine what song could possibly match the emotion of saying goodbye to your child. And I’m really glad the show went with none at all. There isn’t a song in the world that can possibly sum up that feeling. And this quiet dance with her dad is so powerful, I’m literally crying again typing this.
Carly: We did get a callback to the very first heartsong that Mitch ever performed for Zoey with a subtle orchestral arrangement of "True Colors" during their dance. It felt like the show coming full circle, and it gave Zoey the chance to say farewell to her dad too in her own way.
1. And then there were four
Courtney: All season long, we’ve said Zoey should be on her own and focus on her family. And that’s how the episode ends. We don’t get a “pick” between Simon and Max. They leave and Zoey sits on the couch with her family, singing a quiet refrain, and placing herself next to the empty spot that used to belong to her father. Every distraction and concern that plagued her all season is now put aside. None of it matters as much as this huge loss and shift. And that feels right and true.
Carly: There are a lot of questions that still have yet to be answered, but they've all been put on hold for now — and you're right, that feels very true to life as we know it. When something like this happens, when someone you love dies, the world feels like it spins to a stop. The song ends, the last note rings out, and we don't really know how to move forward yet. Maybe we can't, but it's also OK to press pause for a little while and exist in the silence too.
Honorable mention: this tweet