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The Mindy Project Recap: L.A. Stories

THE MINDY PROJECT:  Mindy (Mindy Kaling, R) asks Danny (Chris Messina, L) for help writing an important letter in the "The Desert" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Tuesday, Jan. 21 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Jordin Althaus/FOX Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project.

The gang heads to a “Southland Injectibles Conference” (which we won’t analyze too deeply for its relevance to obstetrics and gynecology), presumably so they can actually shoot on location instead of using their middling-to-solid subway sets. Also, obviously, so they can do old turned suddenly sort of timely Entourage jokes.

I’m not really complaining, though. For starters, this plotline gave us Mindy’s reference to her fresh Brazilian and her Star Maps, which was possibly worth the price of admission on its own: “So look out, George Hamilton, I hope you like your trespassers completely hairless.” Also, though I’m normally based in New York, I happen to be in Los Angeles on a business trip as I watch this, which gives me an eerie feeling that The Mindy Project is watching me, rather than vice versa.

I can tell you, from my experience, that Danny is correct — reading is not a huge priority here. (As Mindy says, though, “Okay, Joan Didion, because you’ve read three airport dad novels?”) And Mindy is also correct in packing her Hawaiian Slut Tanning Oil; it’s seriously reaching the eighties right now (sorry, rest of the country), and she’s so white lately so she needs to take advantage: “Yesterday,” she says, “I found myself watching lacrosse … and liking it.”

That, however, is the least of her worries as she finds herself asking Cliff to move in with her when he finds out he’s losing his apartment — a moment that comes, prophetically, only seconds before Cliff is also hyperventilating over her mention of her past with Casey. “Don’t make me waste a joke prescription on you for a chill pill,” she jokes, though kind of not. “I already wasted one on you for infinite cuteness.”

That’s not the only plotline coming back to haunt the gang from previous episodes (and somehow following them to Los Angeles). Danny’s dad, it turns out, lives in L.A., and Peter wants to track down Maria Menounos. Oh, right, and funny story: Casey is now in L.A. running his own trendy shoe store, Dope Feat, where all the employees are so cool, Mindy notes, “everyone here is like a minimum of two different races.” He not only owns the place, which makes him way cooler than Al Bundy, but he also had “an adult onset growth spurt” traced to people who are simply very happy. Just like Mindy’s previous run-in with an ex — when she saw Josh at rehab in Santa Fe — this felt like a set-up to reassure us that Casey definitely wasn’t The One Who Got Away. I felt even before this episode ended that Cliff was definitely not The One, either. We know, of course, who is.

But we still have some relational finagling to do before this episode comes to a close, and that will be executed at a launch party for a new line of Casey’s shoes: “They’re ugly … but on purpose. It’s crazy.” Mindy tries to beg off, claiming that she has to study up on her Vaginal Rejuvenation for the Obese class because she’s promised Cliff she won’t see Casey. (“He’s way too tan right now,” she says, setting us up for a nod to criticisms of her tendencies toward rather pale love interests. “You know I like my men milky white.”) But we all know where that sort of thing ends up.

It’s not good: Kevin Smith bonding with Mindy over weight issues at Casey’s party is the highlight. In short, Casey makes a move on Mindy while they’re in the pool together, and though she rebuffs him, Cliff sees a photo of the two together online — you know, because the whole world is waiting to see images of the Dope Feat launch party — and promptly ends things with her, just hours after having mentally committed to moving in with her. He’s a divorce lawyer, he can’t trust, she needs to move closer to living happily ever after with Danny, etc.

Peter, meanwhile, photo bombs an Entertainment Now shoot in hopes of winning back Maria Menounos. (For those of you keeping track, she’s actually on Extra.) Pat O’Brien — former host of Access Hollywood, now on Fox Sports Radio — gamely cameos as a version of his former self: He is reporting, God love him and The Mindy Project, on Jamie-Lynn Sigler getting her baby body back. (So much Entourage here for an episode with no actual Entourage cameos!) Needless to say, Peter fails to get his romantic message across to Maria by disrupting the shoot and asking O’Brien to give her the "M" necklace Peter bought for her. Instead, he’s detained by some kind of peace officers and forced to end his plotline.

In a plot that surely will continue over at least another episode, Morgan and Danny have a “last” night out in Los Angeles together that ends with Morgan revealing that, in a very Morgan-like move, he called Danny’s dad. (Remember when Morgan sent Danny’s letter to his ex for him?) Danny’s been in social media contact with Danny’s brother, Richie, who’s unapologetic when reached for comment at a “Taylor Lautner Appreciation Party” (which looks surprisingly fun). I can feel the approach of the great Dan Hedaya from here.

Photo: Jordin Althaus/FOX