The Mindy Project Recap: Good Evening, Fine Pupils

Photo: Fox
The Mindy Project
Episode Title
Diary of a Mad Indian Woman
Editor’s Rating

I actually have been wondering why Danny and Mindy always stay at Danny’s place and never at hers — to the point where I forgot whose place that is with the sleek kitchen and wooden floors that we see so often. Now we know: Danny has a hang-up. I think we might also know that the mid-season finale — or maybe this season’s finale in the spring — could build toward a possible proposal.

But for now, we’ll take the progress indicated by Danny staying over at Mindy’s.

In this week’s secondary plotline, Dr. Jean Fishman, the boss whom Mindy “made out with,” as Beverly describes her, wants to see Mindy: It turns out Mindy’s been getting Peter and Jeremy to cover for her at the hospital with her interns. (Jeremy can even forge her handwriting accurately.) Mindy, not one to be too swayed by potential career ruin, has other thoughts: “Hey, Jean. Have you seen the show black-ish? I think you’d like it.” Love the casual sorta-racism. Love the shout-out to a show on a different network. (Who out there is watching black-ish? I tried but lost interest. Should I go back?)

Like on Grey’s Anatomy, but with like 97 percent less drama, Mindy is supposed to be working with interns because this is a teaching hospital. She doesn’t believe the interns will take her seriously because she looks so young she should have her own Disney Channel show. “I’m not going to listen to her,” she imagines them saying. “She’s too hot.”

The dilemma, as much as there is one in this episode, is that Mindy's supposed to start her teaching shift the same night Danny is supposed to finally stay over. Because Danny and Mindy’s relationship has turned into such a serialized drama, these two things are only coincidentally related here, and the intern plot gives us that sense of resolve sitcoms usually have. Danny’s thing will clearly stretch longer.

What I really notice, however, is how much I’ve missed Mindy’s cheerful, colorful apartment. Danny’s place is nice, but I barely remembered what Mindy’s looked like until this episode. We’re probably at least heading for imminent cohabitation soon, right?

Tamra is always golden, and she’s been on a roll lately — once again, she delivers, even in a minor appearance this week as Mindy’s stand-in at the hospital. She is, as “Dr. Tamra Webb,” doing a British accent (because why not?) and pretending to be leading the students: “Good evening, fine pupils … I am honored, elated — nay, overjoyed — to man the helm of this exquisite ship of your education.” She never stops delivering the surprises, our Tamra. I guess if her best friend can be a best-selling romance novelist, why can’t she have an impeccable British accent ready to go? I like to imagine her helping with dramatic readings of Abby’s early drafts.

Jean is onto Mindy at once, however, and calls her to demand she report to duty. If Mindy doesn’t come immediately, Jean threatens, “the only thing you’ll be delivering are boxes. Why? Because you’ll be working at the post office.” Because Mindy is Mindy, she comes to work, but not before scoffing, “Very elaborate burn, Jean.”

Mindy leaves Danny at her place with nothing to do but read her special-edition magazine, Prince George’s Hottest Diaper Looks. He snoops a bit in his boredom, first finding her “Mother’s Milk Breast Cleanser” and then her neck massager, which, coincidentally, is the same one Ma has! He does all of this while nursing a very full glass of wine, until he finds — “Oh, Nelly!” as he says — Mindy’s diary. Danny, of course, can’t help but start reading.

Soon he’s hooked, especially when he starts reading about Mindy’s sex dreams involving him, all the way back in 2012. Even more so when he learns she was so excited by his kiss on the airplane back from Los Angeles that she didn’t even finish watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua when she got home.

At the hospital, Mindy faces down an overconfident student named TJ who was No. 1 in his class at Harvard: “His confidence reminds me of a young, black Burt Reynolds,” Mindy’s patient says. Also among the students is a meek young woman named Candice, who knows the answers to Mindy’s questions even though she’s insecure.

TJ Harvard wants to take the lead on the patient’s surgery, and the patient wants that, too. Mindy, however, is set on teaching now, dammit, and lectures him about his excessive hubris: “It might’ve worked in whatever enclave of entitlement you came from.” If you know anything about The Mindy Project, you can guess his response: “I’m from Harlem, and my parents are from the Sudan.”

In the end, things at the hospital progress quickly, though in predictably unpredictable fashion, as is The Mindy Project’s wont. TJ files a sexism lawsuit against Mindy. “I am not going to be bullied by the matriarchal establishment!” he defiantly declares when Mindy tries to talk him out of it. After all, he got where he is with nothing but hard work — washing dishes and selling an app to Microsoft.

The ongoing soap-opera of Danny and Mindy, however, ends this week without a resolution. Danny spills some of that large glass of wine on Mindy’s diary, then goes to elaborate lengths to get Jeremy to make a copy of it in her forged handwriting. He also frets to Ma over a diary entry that implies Mindy’s ready for Danny to propose, even though they’ve been together only seven months. No one seems as shocked by this as Danny is: After all, as Morgan points out, they’re both turning 57. And Ma is actually not that far off when she says Danny should break it off if he’s not heading in that direction — while Mindy’s not that old, she’s a grown woman with plans. She should know if Danny doesn’t plan to stick around.

Mindy says in her diary that she wants a proposal before Christmas; I’m guessing we’re in for a cliff-hanger at the mid-season mark.