The Mindy Project, “Caramel Princess Time”

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I know I was feeling iffy before our brief hiatus for the World Series, but we definitely are back in the swing of things. Now, the conflict and situations feel a little more natural. Even if the main driving plot points were rather simple, we get a lot of comedic treats and amazing character reveals for Danny and Peter, who are pretty heavily highlighted in this episode. Even though Mindy was a little more in the background here, this was a fun episode that shows the strength of not just the ensemble characters, but of the good cameo characters as well.

The A storyline is deceptively simple: Mindy and Danny are dealing with a major difference of habit and personality – punctuality. It’s set up nicely in the cold open with Danny and Mindy trying to go on a date to the movies at night, only for the movie to be sold out because Mindy was late. Danny keeps digging into Mindy about being late, and he actually decides to teach her a lesson on their next date night – ditch the date if Mindy is too late. My only problem with this episode is the ridiculous exaggeration of the kitchy comedy club Mindy winds up braving by herself until heckled by the comedian for being a terrible audience member, but it achieved the point. In the first fun turn, Mindy gets back at Danny by turning his watch back an hour (ironic how this episode aired after daylight savings time ended!) to make him see that being late isn’t THAT big a deal.

The fun thing here is tucked in the A storyline is a sub-storyline involving Niecy Nash’s Dr. Fishman, who reminds us that last they interacted, Mindy and Danny cooked up this act about Danny’s mental instability. Dr. Fishman first suggests that Danny attends a counseling seminar. After Danny rushes to the office from his morning run to still be on time for work, and does a manic victory dance in front of Dr. Fishman that definitely makes him look crazy and unstable, Dr. Fishman enforces a suspension until he completes one session of the seminar. The next fun twist here? The seminar is run by none other than Brendan Deslaurier, an always welcome cameo on the show.

Adding to the already meaty storyline is Mindy helping out Danny by taking his mom Annette and her friend Dot (who we met at Annette’s birthday lunch) to a hair appointment before getting a mammogram (that they’re both wonderfully and old-fashionedly afraid to get). This is an amazing red herring for the lateness conflict between Mindy and Danny – Mindy speaks too soon wondering why she needed to pick up Annette an hour early for her hair appointment, only to see the beginnings of the Annette-Dot dawdling around. Mindy gets a taste of her own medicine with Annette and Dot making them late to everything, causing Mindy to coerce their ob/gyn to stick around and complete the mammogram they were late for. Of course, Mindy speaks her mind and winds up being too harsh on the little old ladies. You’d think – and Mindy assumes – Danny’s anti-lateness stems from what he must’ve dealt with growing up with his mother. But alas…

During counseling, Danny moans and groans through, refusing to fully participate. Of course, pinned against Brendan, we know Brendan won’t let Danny off easily. After so many outright refusals to really give his all during the program, Danny gets roped into a one-on-one with Brendan… in front of everyone else. We reveal instead that really the root of Danny’s punctuality issues is… a daddy issue. It’s wonderful that this is revealed – it adds to the deeper well of Danny’s complicated family history, and brings back more sympathy for the character. When he reveals this to Mindy, they share a very sweet moment of acknowledgement and understanding – Mindy doesn’t prod, and they both forgive each other.

The B storyline (or maybe it’s really the C storyline since there was so much clearly going on in the A story) involves Peter trying to get back on the dating scene. Tamra and Morgan set him up on a date with Tamra’s friend Abby. Peter creates an expectation of Abby physically – as is expected of Peter – and ditches out in the middle of the date due to his disappointment in Abby’s appearance. Now, what’s been great about Peter is we established early on that, though fratty, Peter does have a heart (don’t know if I can say much on that for Jeremy, who is noticeably absent here). Tamra and Morgan of course find out about Peter’s date ditching and make him apologize to Abby. Of course, while reading Abby’s historical romance novel waiting spontaneously on line to see her at a book signing, he gains respect for her as a person. What’s great here is that the fight isn’t that easy – she turns him down, shaming him in front of everyone for what he did. In a pretty great rom-com type move, Peter figures out that Abby is part of a writing group and attempts to write a semi-autobiographical romantic rendering of their failed romance and uses this as a tool to give a super heartfelt apology. I hope we see more of Abby in the future, since she does say she’ll give him a second chance.

Overall, these character developments are wonderfully peppered with many zingers. Everyone in this episode was just so, so funny, and the timing was perfect for everyone. Even though there’s no huge revelations, or no huge game-changing conflicts, it’s truly a testament of talent and good writing to take two simple everyday things and churn out amazing character reveals.

And now, for the many lovely odds and ends of this episode:

-Tamra’s dance to announce to Peter she has a blind date for him is amazing, especially since Peter reads right through it and suspects that there’s something up with the date. It’s so funny and on point how blunt Tamra is about her friend being willing to “lower her standards” for the likes of Peter. I wish all possibly iffy news was preceded by a dance.

-Mindy’s misunderstanding of CPT was very well played. And I loved Tamra’s confidence explaining Caramel Princess Time.

-When Tamra and Morgan scold Peter about what his expectations were of Abby physically, they really showed how well they work together comedically as a couple. I died when Tamra and Morgan both made Natalie Portman digs at Peter. “Natlie Portman would throw up if she saw you.”

-All of Danny’s on-time victory dancing. Screaming MICHAEL JACKSON totally took the cake.

-The fact that Dr. Fishman and Brendan Deslaurier are both involved in forcing Danny to confront his inner issues is like the perfect marriage of the top two antagonistic characters for Mindy.

-Danny’s final exclamation before being roped into one-on-one: “You wanna stop acting crazy? Eat lean protein and exercise!”

-Brendan about The Godfather Part 2: “If it’s not Swedish, I’m not familiar with it.” Of COURSE Brendan would be a film snob!

-Peter during that writing group was so wonderfully bizarre and hilarious. From the ridiculous analogy he made with the Titanic, to calling his heckler John Waters, and then just holding a cat in his lap as he finished his story – this scene was such comedic perfection.

I’m excited for next week since the title of the episode is “We Need to Talk About Annette.” Considering Mindy had to still apologize for how she scolded Annette and Dot, I’m wondering if we’re getting a direct continuation, or at the very least how long the stand-off between the two could be. Till then!

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