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The Mindy Project Recap: Girl, Interrupted

THE MINDY PROJECT: Betsy (Zoe Jarman, L), Jeremy (Ed Weeks, second from L), Mindy (Mindy Kaling, second from R) and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz, R) visit Danny (Chris Messina, C) in the hospital in the "Mindy's Birthday" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Tuesday, March 19 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT)

Because even analyses of the North Korea situation this week somehow have to relate to the Girls finale, I must admit that I thought of The Mindy Project several times during the second-season ender of the HBO show that launched a million tweets. It suddenly veered into the rom-com territory that Mindy has been mining all season, to quite clever effect. That anti-rom-com speech from Shoshanna to Ray — he hates going out for dinner … he hates sunglasses — was the total inverse of the When Harry Met Sally ending speech. That seemingly happy ending, with the montage full of love recovered and sweeping off feet, was the ultimate cliff-hanger. (What happens after the happy ending? Nothing good.) It felt really vindicating for Mindy territory, at least to me.

Meanwhile, Mindy is back after some downtime and a season-two renewal. Now we can settle in. Alas, this episode was not of the settling-in kind, but of the burning-off-our-troubles kind.

Here, what we learned tonight:

Here are some people who may still exist: Dr. Jeremy, brother Rishi, Gwen, and Alex.
Well, Jeremy, I think, is really in this for the long haul. He had a funny-enough opening sequence in which he helped to underline the impression that Mindy is, as she says, someone who “fluctuate[s] between chubby and curvy.” He asked her to break the news to one of his pregnant patients that said patient was overweight, and the patient overidentified with Mindy: “You and me, we both gotta face some facts and lose some weight.”

Rishi, meanwhile, showed up in one random phone call to help explain that Mindy thought she was on her way to an Internet date with a guy who looked like Topher Grace. (True story: Someone once claimed to want to set me up with the Topher Grace, which excited me as much as it excited Mindy. However, it came through about as much as Mindy’s date did.) Hey, guess what! It was a surprise birthday party instead, at “Seafood Restaurant.” She was not meeting the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” dreamboat Zack Peabody, but just her friends throwing her a party. Her plumber, and her old plumber, were there.

Even Gwen was there, despite the fact that she’s no longer on this show; and Alex, Mindy’s other friend, was there, too, even though we’re not sure if she’s on this show anymore. Danny and Jeremy both seemed to vie for Alex, and we started suspecting that this episode was running out of sequence, from that weird time before B.J. Novak and Seth Rogen did their guest appearances and thus signaled a new, stronger, more confident era in Mindy Project history.

Mindy respects the truth that happens at chain restaurants.
After receiving Microwave Cooking for One, a lifesize body pillow of a shirtless Chris Evans (who kind of looked like Danny), and an elliptical machine as gifts, Mindy escaped to what appeared to be called “Sloppy’s American Grill” in Times Square. In any case, it was clearly supposed to be a TGI Friday’s–type place that served such things as Strawberry Cheesecake Daiquiris.

There, Mindy ran into a group of Delta Gammas freshly graduated from Rutgers who would be attending a Taylor Swift concert together soon. They were real, y’all. And they loved Mindy. They thought she was 28. They didn’t think Mindy was chubby, even though her friends called her chubby. In fact, they thought such pronouncements were “inaccurate and also offensive and irresponsible and antifeminist.” Furthermore, they thought it was fine if she wanted to augment her breasts from “As to tasteful Cs.” After all, it’s her body.

Things didn’t go wrong until Mindy kept it far more real with them, telling the girl whose boyfriend — Brian with an I, the hot kind — texted to say he had to work late and couldn’t make it out. “Where is he texting you from on a Saturday night?” Mindy asked. “Hooker Island?”

That would’ve been the end of that, except …

Beverly returned to the fold via a waitressing stint at Sloppy’s American Grill.
Remember when the old nurse showed up as a secretary a few episodes ago? Well, it seems that’s because, in the mixed-up timeline of a sitcom finding its way, Beverly rescued Mindy from the Rutgers bitches in this episode. The two even had some nice moments, of sorts, like when Beverly acknowledged that Mindy was “built real sturdy for sex.” (Mindy: “Thank you. I never fall off the bed.”) Beverly also told Mindy, like a wise older mentor, “You got class and sophistication coming out of your stinker, Kitten.” They shared 40s of malt liquor. Beverly spoke of taking an iVillage quiz. Mindy offered her a new job as “executive secretary,” and it was official: We knew we were watching these episodes out of sequence, and we had already seen the future in which Beverly returns to the office only to be baffled by computers.

Aw, I almost like Beverly now.

We may end almost every episode in a hospital, but that may have almost nothing to do with these people being doctors.
Danny fell down a manhole while trying to hit on Alex, so, yeah, there we were at the hospital, as usual. There was a running joke about people thinking a child had fallen down a manhole, which was okay, but not up to recent Mindy Project standards. We did learn that Danny was from Staten Island, which I hadn’t realized before. We also learned that his penis works, which was not an issue I had given a lot of thought before. “Kind of a misleading text, I would say,” Mindy said to Morgan when she had implied otherwise.

Alex apologized to Mindy for “getting you presents that make you seem like a fat loser.” That midwife Mindy slept with bought her a constellation. Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” played in the background. All’s well that ends well, but it’s hard to tell whether anything that happened in this episode meant anything in the grand scheme of things, or whether this was just another experimental half-hour during the heights of the show’s identity crisis.

All we can do now is look forward to seeing Chloë Sevigny as Danny’s ex-wife.

If you want to talk more Mindy, follow me on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong

Photo: Jordin Althaus/FOX