The Mindy Project, Season 3 Finale Recap

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It’s kind of perfect that I caught up on “The Mindy Project” for its final 2 episodes, since they tie in so nicely together. I’ve also recently begun reading Mindy’s book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” so I’m definitely full of a ton of appreciation for the way these final two episodes cap out season 3.

“What To Expect When You’re Expanding” is a surprisingly touching episode, and it’s one of the few this season we see Mindy in a low. I’ve said in the past that it’s not as fun to see Mindy hit low points – what’s awesome about her is her confidence. And, amazingly enough, that’s exactly what Danny says to comfort Mindy and prove that he really loves her, no matter what. The topic of body image and self confidence is something that we’ve touched upon here and there on the show, but never to this extent with Mindy as she’s confronting her body changing. It makes it even more on-point casting, then, for Laverne Cox to guest as Tamra’s cousin Sheena to talk about owning your image and, in Mindy’s case, her body’s transformation as she moves further along in her pregnancy. They tackle body shaming and fat shaming with grace here, and even show a little bit of both sides: it’s not just about what everyone else is going to say about you, it’s about how you feel about your own self. Granted, Mindy’s revelation occurs in a VERY strange place – in the middle of confronting Morgan’s new ex-squeeze Jessica (guest star Julia Stiles) – but she comes to re-love her body nonetheless.

Of course, all of this body image stuff really surfaces as Peter announces to the crew that he’s finally marrying Lauren in Texas, and he chooses Mindy to be his best man. In excitement, Mindy looks through her clothes and places a lot of hope into a dress that she claims will always make her looks skinny and hot. Of course, she rips through the dress and takes on track suits as a solution. There’s also the fear of taking a photo for the practice, and this further launches her body image into overdrive, especially when she now gets on Morgan’s side for basically being broken up with for having gained weight. It’s an odd, comical side story that doesn’t really get properly resolved – we basically reveal that Jessica is a huge, unapologetic jerk – but it becomes the jumping off point for Mindy’s moments of empowerment to confront a bully of the fat shaming and face her own demons.

“Best Man” features the continuation of Peter’s wedding (which feels very much like a “closure” episode for him) and Peter continuing to act as confidante to Mindy for an important relationship-changing moment. Now, I’ve kind of been waiting all season for the 2 big elephants in the room to be addressed: 1) where the hell are Mindy’s parents? and 2) will Danny and Mindy ever acknowledge that maybe Danny is averse to marriage because he had a failed one with Cristina not too long ago?

I never imagined that both those would converge in this final episode of the season. This sort of thing shows Mindy’s true skill as a writer. As much as I’ve questioned it all season, I’m sure she and her crew of writers were aware that these issues had to arise, and she chose a spectacular way to set off a set of major reveals. In the first act, we see Danny almost guiltlessly miss an opportunity to meet Mindy’s parents – even with his procedure having gone on late, he really lets it become an excuse to not even try to head up, knowing that he’ll not see them in the U.S. for another year. This is naturally upsetting to Mindy, who for the first time is really shown in her cultural own, in traditional garb and talking about how large and close her family is in Boston (again, surprising this doesn’t come up enough but she’s meta enough to acknowledge this later) At a surprise shower at Annette’s, it is then revealed, after Morgan’s misunderstood eavesdropping leads him to bring home four of Mindy’s exes, that Mindy never even told her parents about Danny, and was hoping him showing up would be the opportunity for them to meet. Perhaps it would’ve given her the courage to confront them about her life choices. It totally makes sense, then, why they’ve never shown up or been spoken of much throughout the show – she definitely lives a world apart from what she feels is their expectation. And it’s almost fitting that Danny and Mindy both have something to fear about admitting their commitment to one another. Of course, in the same night Danny finds out Mindy never told her parents about him, he lays bare that marriage isn’t something he’s jazzed about because of Cristina. BAM. Talk about taking care of exposition in one sitting.

The end becomes a wonderful little surprise of a romantic overture, which seems to be how Mindy has ended her seasons. From the swift engagement and running off to Haiti, to rushing to the Empire State Building to make their love official, there’s always been some major move that shows some gesture of love. Mindy in this episode discovers her pregnancy is too high risk for her to fly, so not only does she feel the disappointment of Danny’s words by the end of the episode, she can’t even be the best man at Peter’s wedding. Danny goes for the both of them to what we think is the wedding, but when Morgan calls to give Mindy an update (veiled more as a complain session how he isn’t the best man), we find out Danny never made it to the wedding. Instead? He flies to Mumbai to meet Mindy’s parents (and, I presume, probably even ask for her hand in marriage)

It’s been very interesting the twists and turns of Danny and Mindy’s relationship throughout this season. Mindy’s definitely turned around what would otherwise be major red flag negatives (whether she was aware or not) into opportunities to actualize her own wants and needs. Though it feels some of these revelations were rushed, at the end, they culminate perfectly into this latest very real conflict about figuring out if your wants and needs match those of your partner. There hasn’t been a fourth season confirmed yet, and it almost feels like too-perfect closure for some of the other characters that you almost wonder if the writers are worried this is the last hurrah. If this is the final moment for Danny to show a moment of romantic change, then it’d be a perfect end to the love story. Danny’s always been an ornery guy, set in his ways, stubborn about his worldview. It’s certainly taken women in his life to help him understand himself better, whether it’s Mindy or his mother (this season, more frequently it was his mom who pushed him to the right conclusions) He takes a major leap here flying off to Mumbai to prove his love for Mindy. The big question here, of course, is what happens next?

There have been lots of moving parts this season, lots of characters coming and going (I’m not a fan of the new doctor, and I wish there was more of the Stanford presence) – you could feel the sluggishness of the writing and keeping it fresh for a little while. What ultimately helps the show even as it lunges forward into keeping Mindy and Danny together is that the writers understand their characters. They know where the characters are and where they need to go, and can hopefully keep refreshing the journeys of Mindy and Danny as they move forward into parenthood. Mindy is meant to be in New York, and Mindy is meant to be with Danny, no matter the up or down, and that’s the formula that works best for the show. Let’s hope we get to see them grow together more in another season.

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