The Mindy Project, “San Francisco Bae”

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There couldn’t have been a better episode for The Mindy Project to show how tight the writing could be with Mindy and Danny set apart than last week’s “San Francisco Bae.” Not only do we get a fun guest-star bit from Lee Pace, but we also get a well-connected episode thematically. Across the two coasts, we’re tied not just by the theme of cheating, but about misdirection around the cheating.

We establish the fear of trust in the cold open, with Mindy constantly calling Danny. I love that, of course, she enlists Morgan to help by secretly filming Danny while they’re on the phone. Naturally, this is the last straw and Danny suggests Mindy enjoy herself while she’s in a different city. I am beginning to question a bit the relationship Mindy is building with Gurglar, the head of her program – he’s definitely an in-between character, in that he should be a friend of Mindy’s but isn’t entirely trustworthy yet. Their friendship is literally based on the connection of Danny. Mindy discovers that Gurglar’s moved into the grad school housing since his marriage is on the rocks, thanks to his wife’s foot acrobatics with Danny (a.k.a. cheating). Seeing his desperation (I caught the joke, but maybe it was a bit much for Mindy to hint at a noose in the corner), Mindy suggests going out on the town with Gurglar in San Francisco.

Of course, after all the worrying about Danny meeting someone, Mindy is instead greeting with a gorgeous, successful ex of hers – Alex, but back then when they met, Xander, played by Lee Pace. The fun thing here is how ridiculous their flashback moment was. They in fact lost their virginity to each other late in life, which is a fun twist for a character like Mindy’s who was otherwise cool and confident and someone you sort of expect to have just been playing the dating game for a long, long time. The little details that add up in this flashback are fantastic, from Mindy wearing colored contacts, to “Xander” having long hair and samurai training, which is how Mindy meets him. Then, once they’ve consummated their… attraction, he is so smitten with Mindy and tries to suggest trying sex other ways, like missionary, which Mindy totally shuts down! The dramatic removal of the ponytail and the fact that Xander’s kept it for as long as he has becomes more fun and endearing than creepy, when he reveals that he tried to reconnect with Mindy when he was honored for an award. Oh, and the fact that Mindy technically suggested a change to his website that launched his career is also a fun detail that adds to the forlorn love story of Xander.

All throughout, we watch Gurglar slowly go insane, from basically calling out to Mindy that she’s ignoring him for her handsome ex, to finding the email Xander sent and sending it to Danny to cause a hubbub. And herein lies the real action in Mindy’s storyline – the fear of misunderstanding about her fidelity to Danny. We connect in this moment the West and East Coast misunderstandings of cheating with Mindy and Peter, who Danny and Morgan are eavesdropping on since they caught Lauren at Peter’s apartment. Of course, little do they know Peter’s been babysitting, but without knowing that fact, what they hear through the wall is concerning, if not, to them, disturbing. (A funny moment of recognition from Danny) When Peter comes over, things start to clear up for both storylines – first, Peter walks in straight up with the baby. So he is no longer in the hotseat, for now (Morgan of course pre-emptively calls Jeremy to say that “someone” is cheating). And Peter fulfills clearing up the other potential confusion by deleting Mindy’s accidentally forwarded email off Danny’s account.

We get more twists on the East Coast that build up nicely, while Mindy’s comes to a head with managing Gurglar and the temptation of Xander wanting to hang out some more. Mindy’s “cheating” story does become a little more anticlimactic after Xander’s heroic samurai display in the bar after Gurglar goes nuts with the fountain soda gun, since he’s basically being built up as the ultimate gentleman. It simply crashes down into Mindy soundly rejecting him while finding out Xander does have a current girlfriend. Not to diminish the fun of these scenes, but there are way less stakes after the email for Mindy than there are for the boys on the East Coast. Jeremy runs down – this is probably the funniest he’s been in a while – in full opera garb, and the boys soothe his ego by asking him to mediate a faux fight between Morgan and Danny, setting up the false pretense that Mindy cheated on Danny with Morgan. Of course, the connection between Jeremy and Peter is brought up – they’ve “resolved” their differences after Jeremy basically stole Lauren from him – which of course sends a noticeable pang of pain in Peter. To add to the twist, what Morgan and Danny thought was true at the beginning of the episode BECOMES true when Peter finally lays down the line with Lauren – he doesn’t want to just be a babysitter anymore. And he’s caught kissing her. Oh, the intrigue with these boys!

Of course, I’m sure this may contribute to Peter’s eventual departure as a regular on the show. So I’m curious how this will all shake out. Maybe the balance will be stricken again and Jeremy will become more likeable? Who knows. The love triangle, though, is the thing that’s kept Jeremy in the game after the Peter takeover.

Overall, this was a fairly strong episode that shows that the writers can keep it up, even with Mindy and her boys apart. Hopefully this stays this way tonight!

A few final odds and ends:

Danny, in regards to minding his own business: “Did I hear Beverly’s voice come out of a Times Square Elmo?”

Xander, after stepping away for a phone call and Mindy’s freakout over the email being forwarded to Danny: “Bitcoin for your thoughts?”

Till tonight!

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