The Mindy Project Recap: Laverne and Sheena

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Laverne Cox (left) steals the show. Photo: Jennifer Clasen/FOX
The Mindy Project
Episode Title
What to Expect When You’re Expanding
Season
3
Episode
20
Editor’s Rating
3/5

This episode of The Mindy Project perfectly encapsulates this season, if not the entire series: There are so many people and things and plotlines in it. Some of it is great. Some of it is hilarious. Some of it may or may not have any purpose. Some of it is just crazy. I have no idea if this show is going to last past this season. I have no idea what it’s going to do if it does. To its credit, I think it’s probably re-creating the emotional roller-coaster of being involved with Mindy Lahiri, whether on purpose or not.

Mindy’s brother Rishi shows up for like 90 seconds, and while he’s always welcome, this is a bit random. (Maybe a setup to bring him onto the show full-time if it goes another season?) We learn that Peter is getting married to Lauren at Lauren’s family ranch, which we think is going to be the point of this episode, but then it isn’t. (That’s likely next week, for the season finale.) Julia Stiles is back as Jessica, who is apparently still Morgan’s girlfriend when this episode begins, even though we haven’t heard about her for weeks. We even get a reference to that brownstone Danny bought many episodes back but we haven’t heard about since.

Then we seem to settle on an idea for this episode, which is that the practice needs a new staff photo — points for using an old cast photo from when Betsy was still around — and Mindy is feeling fat and unsexy now that she’s showing. Laverne Cox at last arrives, and she is the guest star holding it all together this week, a testament to her presence. She’s the one person here who’s never been on this show before, and yet she is the shining star and guiding force. She brings all the cray-cray together in the best possible way.

And … oh my God … she is the much-referenced, never-before-seen Sheena, Tamra’s cousin. Spectacular. She is going to make Mindy over after Mindy ripped her favorite skinny dress. (P.S.: The orange bra is super-hot, though, for real.) As Mindy eats an entire rotisserie chicken at her and Danny’s apartment and Tamra looks on, Sheena suddenly appears. When a startled Mindy asks where she came from, Sheena says, mysteriously, “In a sense, I’ve always been here.” Where was she three months ago? “On a cruise.” She further warns Mindy, fairy-godmother-style, “Babies are shady. They’ll steal your youth and beauty and keep it for their own damn selves.” Then the capper: Confidence does not come from within. “Within? Who the hell told you that? Confidence comes from amazing outfits and perfect makeup.” She’s doing some kind of mash-up of every female character who was ever on 227, with a heavy emphasis on Jackée, but I’ll take it.

Because the only other thing I have to work with here is a singles pajama party that Jeremy drags Danny and Morgan to because plotline/Julia Stiles. They run into Jessica there, and she reveals to Danny that she’s thinking of breaking up with Morgan. He’s “let himself go,” gaining 30 pounds. (Was this at all apparent, or are we just going to go with it?) Danny tells Jessica that Jeremy’s going to fire Morgan, hoping to inspire some sympathy in her.

Also, we have another new guest star, Cristin Milioti, who is always wonderful and continues to inspire this very strange, bittersweet feeling in anyone who watched How I Met Your Mother to the end. (Oh, good, the mother isn’t dead after all! Wait, I still hate that they killed the mother!) Her character does this great thing we’ve all wanted to do at some point in our lives while living in New York City, which is to stomp into a noisy party at a neighbor’s apartment and announce that it’s over because she has to get up very early for work. She also has amazing bangs and upsets Jeremy, which means they’ll be dating by the end of the episode. Another possible setup for a possible next season? Also, Jessica and Morgan may or may not have broken up now; it’s hard to tell.

Back at Mindy and Danny’s, Mindy is greeting Danny in the most amazing gold catsuit ever. (If Mindy Kaling didn’t wear that in the “Male Prima Donna” video back in her Office days, she should have.) He laughs, upsetting her confidence even more. It does not help when he backtracks: “I really like that thing! It looks like slutty Spider-Man!” She mutters something touchingly self-aware about “dating someone who’s so much better-looking than me.” We somehow quickly veer into Danny trying to convince Mindy that Rosemary Clooney is, in fact, very sexy.

The next day, Tamra and Sheena ambush Danny at the hospital to set him straight because, as Tamra wisely says, “It is never okay for a man to laugh at a woman. I don’t care if he’s at a Mo’Nique show. He better politely smile and nod.” And Sheena does not play; she made Chris Christie cry at a parade once. She does the same to Danny: “Making her feel pretty is your only damn job.” Then Tamra “Bye, Felicia”s Danny. More Tamra always, please.

When Danny and Mindy are finally reunited at home that night, they do their make-up of the week. “A real man makes his woman feel beautiful,” Danny says. “I like how urban you’re being right now,” Mindy replies. He goes on to tell her that her confidence is what makes her beautiful to him, which is lovely and totally on-point for their characters. We are at least back on track heading into this season’s finale — which could, gulp, be a series finale.