With Valentine’s Day coming up, and The Mindy Project going on hiatus, it’s quite apropos to take the time to sum up the last few episodes of the first chunk of Season 2.
Season 2 of The Mindy Project has proven to be colorful and fun with all types of developments for everyone. We’ve followed Mindy through a progression of romances that have filled the season – from breaking up with Casey to dating a skater boy to prove a point to dating an intellectual culture writer and chasing after the lawyer in her building, all with sprinkles of closer intimacy with Danny. Throughout this season, we’ve seen more and more hints of Danny recognizing a compatible mate within Mindy. What makes The Mindy Project a successful romantic comedy is the fact that we’re instead watching the guy chase the girl in many of Mindy’s romantic conquests, especially that of Danny’s. The biggest twist on the genre, I think, is that Mindy was never in hot pursuit of the one that seems obvious and right (Danny). Her confidence and ability to attract men to her many times over makes her a different sort of romantic comedy heroine, one that may pursue the chase sometimes but instead is the often object of pursuit. Romantic comedies are usually framed where the girl is hot for the guy and trying to bag him; every now and again, there is the guy wanting the girl, but most of the memorable comedies usually add that guy as the third wheel. Danny is Mindy’s third wheel man, but Mindy strikes the balance between pursuer and pursued, keeping this trope fresh, smart, and funny. In season one, we saw small hints that Danny was the one, but Mindy was the one seeing the signs at first. To develop on this in season two is what makes the hiatus finale satisfying and exciting.
In the episode “L.A.” we get a fun call back to one of Mindy’s ex’s. I will say another thing that makes The Mindy Project a successful comedy is the way it handles its callbacks to former characters, which we had a lot of all throughout the run of the series.
Morgan, Danny, Peter, and Mindy head out to L.A. for a medical conference, which – in usual tv/movie fashion – we never actually see them attend, because, hell, they’re in L.A.! The Peter-Mindy friendship pairing here is fun – again, we dispelled the possibility of the two of them being a romantic potential, but platonically they both work very well together. They decide they need to soak in the L.A. scene, and they bump into Casey, who now owns a super hot shoe brand. (Please take a moment to let the humor of the situation soak in: pastor turned DJ turned wanna-be event planner turned shoe mogul. Oh, Casey) Casey invites them to his shoe launch party. Mindy, in trying to be a good girlfriend to the now-seldom seen Cliff, tells Cliff that she bumped into her ex. Cliff advises her not to hang out with Casey – and, of course, she caves and does so to support Peter and take him out to feel better.
Meanwhile, Morgan with his crazy wannabe-the-problem-solver antics, takes out Danny to see L.A. and drops the D-bomb: he arranged for Danny and his estranged father to meet up. More on this later.
Mindy hangs out at the party but isn’t quite into it, finds herself in the pool with Casey, and effectively rejects his advances. Not before a paparazzi photographer snaps an otherwise racy-looking photo. Cliff calls to break up with her.
In “The Desert,” we get some resolution from the events in L.A.
Right from the get-go we get the tables turned on the usual turn-of-events for the characters on this show. Whereas we usually see Mindy drag Danny into helping her out in a crisis situation, we see Danny beg Mindy to stick around with him while he faces his father, all while she packs her bags to rush back to NYC and win back Cliff. Mindy asks Danny for a ride to the airport, which he takes as an opportunity to force her into being his support system while he heads to his father’s house.
Upon meeting his father, he finds he has a half-sister (coincidentally named “Dani Castellano”) and that his father is a well-adjusted, present family man in a new setting. Danny tries to keep in his passive-aggression during the meeting, while Mindy takes in the hospitality and sees the positivity in the situation. Danny drinks up a lot of beers to cope, leaving Mindy to drive herself back to the airport to catch a flight to NYC. Of course, halfway there she gets a desperate call from Danny, drunk and lost in the desert.
Meanwhile, back in NYC, Peter and Morgan get stuck in the bathroom at the office. Morgan tried to forewarn about it, which Peter ignored and soon realized why Morgan was pestering about it – it only opens from the outside. While there, they listen to some… interesting sounds.
Once again, adding flavor to the usual breakup scenario, we find Cliff lamenting breaking up with Mindy by listening to Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me” ad nauseum, overheard begrudgingly by Peter and Morgan. (Hilarious to see a guy do this given the circumstances here. This show does amazingly well with song choices) When the cleaning lady releases them from the bathroom, they bump into Cliff in the elevator and decide to take Cliff out for drinks, thinking Cliff is upset that Mindy broke up with him. Of course, it takes them several rounds of shots for the truth to come out that Cliff instead broke up with Mindy, which of course upsets Peter and Morgan. Cliff realizes that he needs to get Mindy back. But…
Mindy and Danny, after finding each other in the desert, spend a lot of time together for the remainder of the trip, what with walking into an army reserve, with only Danny’s father as a lifeline, to attending little Dani’s soccer game. On the airplane, Danny helps Mindy compose a letter to Cliff, where he is – naturally – projecting subconsciously what makes the perfect mate and perfect relationship. This epiphany, as Mindy tries to find the right tonic water for Danny, gives him the balls to go up and plant one on her, just as she was prepping to win Cliff back.
This Cliff-hanger (couldn’t resist the pun!) will definitely set the course for the rest of the season and the remainder of the Danny-Mindy dynamic. It’s the moment we all knew could have happened, wanted to happen, but were unsure of the circumstances. Mindy was never seeking it, but she has been called out on how she and Danny have an undeniable chemistry. Ever since Danny and Christina were officially over, there’s always been signs of affection on Danny’s part looking out for Mindy. I mean, you don’t just learn a dance to Aaliyah for just anyone. The fun of the show was watching Mindy’s dating adventures – seeing an independent, smart single woman navigate the dating world of NYC. Her longer relationships usually pass by swiftly, with the exception of Casey. Can the show hold Mindy down to a relationship with Danny, or will we turn the show toward the romantic comedy trope of former lovers passive-aggressively working out their tension against each other till they come back together again? I would love for a relationship to succeed – maybe one day, but not now – but either way, I’m sure The Mindy Project will find a fun way to further develop Mindy and Danny’s relationship.