Zoey may have made a love choice between her best friend, Max, and co-worker, Simon, on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, but the consequences of her decision -- and her continued grief over the death of her beloved father, Mitch, the cause of her recurring nightmares -- turned out to be too much for her. Ultimately, something had to give. Unfortunately for Zoey and Max's spicy new romance, it was their relationship that took a hit as she decided to take a step back and focus on herself for the time being.
But a breakup is more complicated when it involves one of your closest friends, so how does this development change Zoey and Max's friendship in the short-term? "I think that 'What now?' question is meant to preserve their friendship and their relationship as people. And eventually, hopefully, a romantic relationship," Skylar Astin tells ET of the closing moment of Tuesday's episode. "It's complicated... It's going to be interesting to see if and when Zoey ever does come back, if Max will feel the same way."
Following the episode, Astin breaks down Zoey's decision to cool things off with Max, what this means for their friendship moving forward and if they'll come back together romantically down the line.
ET: Zoey and Max decide to take a step back with their relationship. What's racing through Max's mind at the end of the episode?
Skylar Astin: Max is kind of in survival mode and we've definitely seen Max in the past swallow his pride a bit and go against what he wants because relationships are a two-way street. And I think if Zoey and Max are meant to be together, he wants her to be fully present. In a small way, whether it's Simon or someone else, he does just want her to be happy. Of course, he wants her to be happy with him, and if that was ever to happen, it probably would have happened now. So before they get even more meshed and more comfortable with each other in that regard, where it's beyond repair and she hasn't fully grieved the loss of Mitch, then it's not meant to be. I know how I felt doing that scene. I got to be honest. Even me performing that scene, it was frustrating because it's like me as Skylar is seeing Max's side and me as Skylar is trying to see Zoey's side, and it's a harsh reality for now.
Max at the end even asks, "What now?," now that they've gone all-in for a brief amount of time and are suddenly pulling back. Does this complicate their friendship? How does this affect things in the short-term for them?
I think that "What now?" question is meant to preserve their friendship and their relationship as people. And eventually, hopefully, a romantic relationship. It's complicated. I don't know if you've ever done that in your personal life, I've never done that in my personal life. It must be a really difficult thing to do to stop it before it gets any worse or stop it before it's begun. But the thing is, it's already begun for Max. So I think that it's going to be interesting to see if and when Zoey ever does come back, if Max will feel the same way. That's the risk that you take in these situations. You can't fake timing and you can't force timing. In this case, Zoey can't force her timing. She's still dealing with and grappling with the loss of the other man in her life, Mitch, and doesn't feel emotionally available for something as important as what she believes Max is.
What I appreciated was the reasoning went a bit deeper. Zoey's dealing with the loss of her father. In a way, it's hard to fault her for taking a step back.
What can you say in terms of how Max handles this? Does he compartmentalize his feelings? Does he try and move on?
Not to give too much away, but I can say moving forward to episode 4, Max is going to really throw himself into his work. That's something that he knows well, he knows how to do and he was very preoccupied. I've done that in my past after a breakup. I know that that's something that's very common. You throw yourself into your work and your other support systems and repurpose, in this case his relationship with Zoey, to be the friend that he's always known. I don't know how that friendship will not be affected, but I know that Max and Zoey are very evolved people and they both have such big hearts and they both care about each other so much. I'm sure that they're going to do their best.