If there is an episode of The Mindy Project that Rhea Perlman can't render flawless by her mere presence, I haven't met it yet. (Fun summer-rerun project for Fox: digitally insert Rhea Perlman into old episodes of Mindy.)
It all begins, this week, with Perlman's Annette Castellano planning to go to water aerobics — i.e., "synchronized seniors aqua disco." She thinks she's going to wear her son's soccer shorts and her Garfield T-shirt so the instructor won't ogle her, but Mindy won't stand for it. She volunteers to go swimsuit shopping with her potential mother-in-law.
And let's just deal with this fact right now: Rhea Perlman totally pulls off that silvery getup with all the straps that Mindy describes as "something Rihanna would wear to Hedonism." Morgan seems appreciative of this fact later, and while I would like to blame him, I can't. (Oh, how I would be thrilled if Morgan were to date Annette in future episodes. Even if that means he has to dump Tamra.) If Rhea is going to Pilates or whatever, it is working. There is no good way to transition to the next thing that comes up, which is that Mindy tells us that Danny "likes small ethnic breasts now," rather than the large, milky-skinned breasts he used to like as a child. In fact, let's just forget all that stuff ever happened and get distracted by the fact that, as Mindy capitulates to a store-credit-card offer at the cash register — "You get a fun email on your birthday!" the cashier tempts her — Mindy sees Annette stuff a leather bomber jacket into her giant purse.
Even worse, Annette gives the bomber jacket to Danny as a gift and insists that she and Mindy connected on their shopping trip. Ouch.
In this week's other story line, Peter is having a fine time with Abby, who appears to be spending her screentime trying to talk me into being her girlfriend. (It is working.) "I'm not one of those sample-sale, mani-pedi princesses," she tells Peter. "I'm like the Matthew McConaughey of the romance-novel world." She even makes a liquor-store run in the morning while instructing Peter to "melt some cheese on something." Peter later tells us that she writes two hours a day, then day-drinks and night-smokes. Please remind me again why I'm neither a romance novelist nor dating one? Mindy seems captivated by her coolness, too, and I can't blame her. She's so captivated, in fact, that she agrees to cover for Peter's hospital shift while he goes to the Electric Insanity Ball with Tamra, Morgan, and Abby.
As Danny reenacts Top Gun in his new jacket, Tamra's bracelet goes mysteriously missing after Annette was in the office. She even reports that Annette "was like, 'That's fierce as hell, no shame.'" She might, as she says, be paraphrasing.
But this is enough to send Mindy to Annette's house to confront her over her klepto ways. It's an awkward time to chat, as Annette says, because "Dot and I are watching Passion of the Christ. What they did to that man. Poor Mel." Am I the only one praying for a spinoff called Annette and Dot? Annette could do whatever and I'd be down with watching it. Even more so if Dot were nearby. "This is my favorite part," Dot cries. "Judas is getting his coins." I have never seen this film, and this is still very funny to me.
Funny thing, though: Tamra found the missing bracelet on her own ankle. This makes things a bit sensitive between Mindy and Annette, who has called Danny eight times to "invite" Mindy and him to a "guilt dinner." This is how Catholics work, he tells us. Mindy will need to wear all black. "The only thing I have that's black is my Catwoman costume," she replies.
More important, she won't be able to cover Peter's shift. He'll have to stay sober at the rave with Abby. Luckily, he does, because he gets a text that a patient is delivering. "Come back later," Abby says, "and bring the baby."
The "guilt dinner" is one of those times when we can appreciate Mindy for who she is: On the one hand, she has matured since the beginning of the show; she does seem to care about others besides herself, namely Danny and his family. On the other hand, her almost psychotic self-confidence kicks in here to great effect. She is not cowed by Annette's prayer about "the wrongful accusations leveraged against the elderly." She is not even fazed when Annette continues, "Please spare Mindy the pestilence, spoils, and famine you are surely considering right now. Although a little famine wouldn't be the worst thing in the world." Mindy simply replies, "That was a beautiful and kind of pointed prayer."
Mindy goes on to say that she saw Annette steal the jacket, and the still-attached ink tags back her up. Annette is busted. Annette admits to having just started shoplifting last year. Danny insists everyone will go and apologize to the store the following day (except Dot, who is not sorry about this).
That said, once they try to apologize the next day, they find out that Annette could be charged with a felony. Mindy won't have it; instead, she suggests they make a run for it. They do, and they make it. Family first — Mindy is maturing, in her own strange way.
Meanwhile, Peter delivers a baby while receiving a text from Abby: "Only ten more DJs until the headliner!" Peter is maturing, too, having some, as he says, "hard-core epiphanies." (I want this to be the title of one of my future memoirs.) He actually wants a girl who likes brunch, not a girl who's still high from the night before. Hmm, interesting: Do you think Peter is essentially becoming the male Mindy of this show? Will he experience the tribulations of romantic-comedy land that she once did, while she explores a monogamous relationship? Worse things could happen.