Little America – Season 2 Episode 7 “Paper Piano” Recap & Review

Paper Piano

Episode 7 of Little America season 2 starts with Zahir working at a chicken shop, struggling to deal with rude customers demanding refunds on half-eaten food. Oh the woes of working in the food industry! Zahir’s passion is not with chicken though but instead with playing the piano.

Zahir struggles to stand out in the concrete jungle of New York, but everywhere he looks he’s reminded of music. Zahir is encouraged to start playing abandoned pianos in hotel lobbies by his roommate but Zahir refuses, believing he’ll be arrested if he tries. Zahir is still reeling over the death of his father though, given he never showed up to the funeral back in Afghanistan. His friend is quick to point out he would have wanted Zahir to follow his passions.

Now, Zahir actually showed up in New York for two weeks for a music exchange, explaining why he’s in the Big Apple. They played Carnegie Hall but while in the country, the Taliban attacked his home country again and it’s not safe for him to head home. The Taliban have also outlawed music, and anyone caught singing or dancing are quickly stopped, by any means necessary.

During flashbacks we see this play out in devastating detail, but Zahir is also encouraged by his father to tap out his own private symphony to the sounds around him.

That night, Zahir is forced to tell that angry customer to leave but he comes back with a gun. It’s a horrific moment, as Zahir realizes he could have been killed over 3 pieces of chicken by a madman believing that “the customer is always right.”

Off the back of this, Zahir decides to spend his money buying a piano. He’s finally ready to get back in the saddle. He wants to go to music school, and uses his guidance councilor to get a foot in the door. As he prepares his audition, he plays day and night, determined to nail his symphony.

Zahir starts to doubt himself right on the eve of his big audition. With the bitter news that his mother won’t be arriving in the country for many years, Zahir uses all of that energy – that pain and those memories from the past – to play his original composition.

When Zahir heads back to his place, he learns that he’s got into music school. However, it’s a hollow victory as he wants his mother to come. Zahir believes he’ll miss his mother’s funeral and she’ll be dead back home. Thankfully Zahir receives some words of encouragement and is urged to continue on and pursue his passions while waiting patiently for her to arrive in the US.

As Zahir heads into school and touches the piano keys, he hears his father’s voice, a throwback to an earlier time where Zahir was first learning to play with his loving parents around him.

It’s a bittersweet moment as the episode closes out. However, in doing so we learn that Zahir is still working to bring his mother to the United States. They haven’t seen each other in seven years now. Zahir’s works have been performed by the New York Symphony but that’s undercut somewhat by the fact the Taliban are back in control of Afghanistan.

The Episode Review

The penultimate episode to this second season does a great job encapsulating all the drama and tension filled within the streets of New York, with Zahir feeling like an outsider and struggling to grapple the complexities of bringing his mother over to the States at the same time as following his own dreams.

The episode itself works well and the composition is really moving, especially with Zahir shedding tears in the middle of playing. Overall, this is another solid chapter.

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You can read our full season review of Little America Season 2 here!

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