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Max’s Powers Explained by Skylar Astin

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Goodbye.”]

So how was that for a Season 2 finale cliffhanger? After two seasons of Jane Levy’s Zoey being the only person with the ability to hear other’s thoughts and feelings through song in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, now Skylar Astin’s Max has the power (too). Really, it feels like creator Austin Winsberg and co. would have teed enough excitement for a third season just by having Max break it off with Rose (Katie Findlay) for Zoey, but having Max hear a heart song just blows the doors wide open to loads of new possibilities, ones that could undoubtedly keep this ability fresh and fun moving forward while also adding new layers to the characters in the process. 

We already released the portion of our conversation with Astin covering Season 2, Episodes 2 through 12, but now that the finale has aired and the news is out there, it’s time to dig into this game changing moment for Max.

Jane Levy and Skylar Astin in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

Image via NBC

Turns out, Astin has been aware of the plan for Max to get the power for quite some time now, but he did have some doubts that it’d really happen. Here’s how he explained the situation:

“So there’s a lot of stuff that I find out literally when we get the scripts delivered. I’m quite literally the last to know. [I’m] very grateful that I’ve known that I was getting the power for a very long time and I have not told anybody. I didn’t even really tell the cast. I think Jane knew, of course, but it was something that Austin told me even before we started Season 2. And it wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when. And it was a question of, is the network gonna go for it? I know that they had always gone for it from its initial idea land and pitch land and outline land, but things change and you get the script and if the network or the studio is like, ‘I’m not buying it. It’s too soon and I’m not into it.’ I was always really worried that that could and would happen. So I was more like hanging on to a secret that I never fully believed until we actually filmed it.”

The placement of that reveal in the episode is of the utmost importance for Max, Zoey and the audience. While I could imagine a version of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Goodbye” where Max hears Zoey’s heart song and that compels him to break it off with Rose, having him come to the conclusion that Zoey’s the one before the power kicks in adds some serious weight to his decision. And the same is true for the level of commitment on Zoey’s side, too. We’ve watched her navigate a love triangle with Max and Simon (John Clarence Stewart) for two seasons now; if you’re wondering if she could wind up changing her mind again, that’d be understandable! But, the way the writers structured the tail end of Season 2 ensures that this time, it’s different – for the viewer and for Max as well. Here’s how Astin laid it out: 

“Something that was holding her back and something that she was never even able to say in that kitchen scene at Maximo, ‘Just don’t go,’ and having Peter [Gallagher] kind of hit the nail in the coffin is so important for Zoey’s journey, I think, for her to just know unequivocally, this is the right man for me and I’d be foolish to let him go. And then on top of that, she says it from her heart and then something that she can’t fake is a heart song. All of our characters, we can’t hide what we’re feeling. It’s our full subconscious. So if audiences wherever are like, ‘I don’t know if Zoey really means it. I don’t know if Zoey really wants it. I don’t know if Zoey should be with Max. She’s not ready.’ The heart doesn’t lie. And so the fact that we got the window into that I think is actually a really important device for the audience and for Max to know this is for real.”

Jane Levy and Skylar Astin in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

Image via NBC

RELATED: Skylar Astin Tees Up the ‘Zoey’s Playlist’ Finale by Discussing the Most Challenging Heart Song and Building That T-Rex LEGO

In addition to Max’s ability changing the game for Max and Zoey’s relationship, it could also raise some interesting questions about the power itself and how two people can perceive the same thing in a different way. Here’s how Astin put it:

“What if I hear a song from somebody and Zoey hears a completely other song from that person? And what does that say about certain constructs? What does that say about relationships, about listening? I love when our show gets cerebral and when we delve into the power because it just says a lot about human nature through this really cool device. And now that two people harness it, you could even say more!”

So does that statement confirm that both Zoey and Max have the power and it isn’t a situation where Zoey transferred her ability over to Max? Not so fast! Astin doesn’t have the answer himself just yet, but he did share the possibilities he’s been considering:

“That I don’t know, actually. That I’m assuming just like you probably are. I mean, again, that’s something that I’ve mentioned to Austin and – by the way, I’m not gonna now just start revealing completely how the sausage is made, but just to give you three full universes for Season 3 – and I don’t know the answer to this – I could see a world where Max only has it. I could see a world where they both have it. I could also see a world where Max only has it and then Zoey gets it back and then they both have it and then only Max and they’re fighting over it. You know what I mean? And now actually, Zoey, when she thought that she never wanted this power and was running away, misses it and needs it back. And it’s actually her search for the power, and she now resents Max for it. There’s so many areas to go and you could actually kind of do a mixture of all of them or none of them and that is above my pay grade. That is not my job, but I care so much and I love playing those kinds of stories out. So I’m really interested to see where this series goes.”

Jane Levy and Skylar Astin in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

Image via NBC

Another burning question one might have after the episode wraps up – what exactly ignited the ability in Max? Was it a purely emotional trigger or did Max have an encounter with a faulty piece of technology like Zoey did with the MRI machine at the start of the series? Here’s what Astin said when asked if, perhaps, Max got far enough into the airport to go through a security and there was a glitch as he walked through the x-ray machine: 

“Well, great question. We haven’t gone into it. I only can assume it’s not radioactive because I believe in that dream [with Mitch] having a lot to do with the transfer, and I think the affirmation of Mitch being the person that she’s always looking up and questioning to the universe, I always believed that the power not only came from the MRI machine, but it was also a coping mechanism obviously. And I know Jane believes that it really has to do so much with her father. So bringing back that kind of almost godlike figure now with Peter I think is really useful, a cool device and I think it has to do with that. I think it has to do with maybe her fully letting go and her fully being vulnerable. Who knows if we start Season 3 with the damn x-ray machine, bring Katie Findlay back and I’m checking in. I have no idea!”

If you’re looking for even more from Astin on the Season 2 finale of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, be sure to check out our full spoiler-filled conversation at the top of this article!

KEEP READING: ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Standout Alex Newell on Memories of ‘Glee’ and Mo’s Latest Season 2 Reveal

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