ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST Post-Mortem: Kapil Talwalkar Breaks Down Tobin's 'Extraordinary Reckoning' Twist - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST Post-Mortem: Kapil Talwalkar Breaks Down Tobin’s ‘Extraordinary Reckoning’ Twist

February 9, 2021 by  


ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Reckoning” Episode 206 — Pictured: Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate)

[Warning: This post contain spoilers for the Tuesday, February 9 episode of ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Reckoning.”]

With Simon (John Clarence Stewart) on the verge of quitting SPRQPOINT—after Zoey (Jane Levy) asked him, on behalf of her boss, to retract his comments about the company being implicitly biased/racist—he got an unlikely ally: Tobin (Kapil Talwalkar).

Though Tobin initially opted against speaking up about his own experiences dealing with racism in the industry, after “a few QUEER EYE episodes and a Negroni nightcap,” he put his feelings out there, and made #BIPOCatSPRQPOINT an issue the higher ups had to contend with—and Simon stayed. (But, of course, Tobin being Tobin, also relished the attention he got after going viral.)

Talwalkar broke down his big episode, the important collaboration process, and how this display of vulnerability could change things going forward.

Ahead of the episode being filmed, what conversations did you have with the writers about what you wanted to see discussed while tackling racism in technology?
I actually knew that this episode was coming; I just didn’t know what role, in particular, I would have. I had to start rehearsing “Tracks of My Tears,” and I knew the conceit of the song.

Then when the episode came out, everyone was blown away by this story. Now, that being said, to answer your specific question. Did I have any sort of like input with the writers. Yeah. Actually, there was a lot of conversations that went into sort of crafting the nuances of the story with Zora [Bikangaga], who wrote the episode, and [creator] Austin [Winsberg], in particular. There were spots, actually, in particular conversations that didn’t feel true to me as my experience as an Indian-American. And I knew that there’s an Indian-American writer in the room, who’s a writer’s assistant, but I just wanted to have my own personal input, just to make sure that it feels real. And the great thing was that I felt super heard; those nuanced tweaks made it in.

Especially in that conversation with Zoey about why Tobin refuses to speak up, initially. I wanted to make that a little bit more specific to at least my experience working in the United States, as an Indian-American, as a person of color, through my own sort of perspective, to help me connect to Tobin’s storyline a little bit better. And I was like okay, this feels right.

[Normally, there can be] a clear divide between the writers and the actors, but I feel like this episode was something special. We’re really trying to push the envelope here. I was just very grateful that I was heard, and those nuanced changes were made based on the conversation I had with the writers.

This was arguably one of Tobin’s most humanizing moments to date. How much are the ramifications of that actually playing out in what you’ve filmed since?

What’s interesting is that it has definitely affected—and I don’t want to give too much away, because there’s so much great, great stuff coming—but it definitely has affected Tobin’s relationship with some of the people in the workplace. Now that Tobin’s sensitivity is sort of out, it’s been interesting playing ways to hide that, even though people have seen it. That adds another layer as an actor of, how do I struggle with keeping up this person that I want to show people I am at the workplace, with the person now they know I am on the inside?

He is a character that has a hard time showing vulnerability. And so, hopefully, what you’ll see is the vulnerability is like an arc itself now.

In many ways, Tobin saves the day, at least in regards to making it so Simon stays and SPRQPOINT was forced to make changes. At what point did you know you’d get the hero moment?
I had no clue until I read it. It was like 8 PM when we got the script, and I had a couple beers and I was like, “All right, let’s read that.” I knew this episode was coming, so, okay, let’s go. And the more I read it, I was like, “Okay, all right, I see what’s happening here; he’s sort of resistant to it. Oh my God, oh my God.” And I’d known a version of this was coming, I just didn’t know to what extent the role that I would play in this episode. It sneaks up on you. So even as I was reading it, it snuck up on. And I honestly had no clue.

Even the way he’s going about this is so Tobin, so in-character, so beautifully written. And that’s a credit to Austin, Zora, the whole team. It’s such a hard storyline to thread in a way that’s not cheesy. The way it’s done, even those parts at the end, he doesn’t realize he’s a hero, but he realizes that girls are hitting him up. And he’s like, “Listen, I didn’t want this, but like finally I’m getting some attention—let me have this.” And you’re like, oh my god, dude, come on man. But even in that way, he’s still so Tobin. When I was reading, I was like, oh my god this is gonna be such a joy to play, because it didn’t feel heavy-handed the way we were doing it.

How much did you work with the guest choreographer, Luther Brown?
Luther work more specifically with Alex [Newell] and John; there was so much stuff do to, especially with “Tightrope”—it’s such a big concept.

I talked to him, and he’s such a beautiful soul. And he works from such a place of like, let me find your energy and then let’s see how we can use this energy to tell the story. But for my “Tracks of My Tears” performance that was with [our normal choreography team] Jillian and Jeff and Mandy, actually, because that was more focused on the performance. We figured out the way I’m going to walk through the space, and really picking the moments of when to show the moments of vulnerability. And then the crescendo of the end when I’m standing by that whiteboard and pleading. So all those moments were crafted by Jillian, Jeff, and Mandy. But Luther in particular I’ve met him and I’ve spoken with them, and he’s a wonderful human being. And he’s done such an incredible job with John and Alex’s numbers.

Obviously, racism and unconscious biases aren’t things that can be solved in an episode of television. How much will this thread continue in the rest of the season?
Just as the way this episode sort of crescendo into episode 6—you saw a conversation happening at the end of 4, longer conversation happening in 5, and then 6 was the sort of climax of that storyline that crept up—I don’t want to give too much away as to the aftermath of this, and to be honest, I haven’t read 11/12/13 because we’re still working on it. But let’s just say, this is definitely not an isolated, contained sort of thing. It is definitely part of the bigger picture.



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