In recent weeks, I've said The Mindy Project is at its best when it pokes fun at modern life: snooty preschools, mommy bloggers, that sort of thing. But I've realized — or I've been reminded — that the show's main strength is its roots: skewering the ridiculous expectations that romantic comedy sets for relationships. Its best fallback plan, when it's out of stuff to do on the rom-com front, is parody. For the past two episodes, Mindy has been getting serious by returning to those roots. Essentially, it's telling us what happens after the happy ending.
So far, that's a lot of unhappiness.
This week's episode is a flashback to when Danny and Mindy met at work in 2007 — they vaguely recognized each other from their residency years — which allows us to remember their roots while also moving forward. They actually meet in an elevator leading up to the office on Mindy's first day of work. Danny even makes a When Harry Met Sally reference by asking how they know each other, then adding a suggestive, "You and I ever … ?" (Harry said this when he ended up on a flight with Sally.)
This is contrasted with Danny and Mindy's passive-aggressive snips at each other in the present, as they fight about whether to have more kids or not. Mindy believes the Peanuts kids are doing just fine even though their parents are never around. Danny believes differently: "Charlie Brown's ten years old and he's bald and he has no friends. Yeah, he's doing fine." Danny thinks more children could more efficiently consume a batch of cookies; Mindy thinks maybe they should just make fewer cookies. Danny says that the Virgin Mary didn't need to maintain a separate apartment all to herself in the West Village. Mindy says, "If Mary had an apartment as cool as mine, she probably wouldn't have been a virgin."
The flashback begins when Mindy comes across a Christmas ornament, which frames a photo of her and Danny smiling together on her first day of work. We get to see the Shulman of Shulman and Associates again, which is a nice touch. There's no mention of those other randoms who worked in the office back when the show started, though. (Remember Betsy and Shauna?) I do appreciate that Jeremy seems to have reverted back to his horndog character of a few years ago, and there's still a hint of his future leadership. (He got Shulman into a hospital newsletter!) Luckily, the episode goes easy on the not-so-timely 2007 references, limiting it to a joke about Mindy joining a "new dating website" called Ashley Madison, and another about a photo being called a "selfer."
Danny instantly dislikes Mindy for almost no reason — though it might just be because she obviously dislikes him. When he asks Shulman why he hired Mindy, it turns out he'd mixed her up with Mandy Lohoro, a med student from the Sudan who put himself through school by appearing in The Lion King. Danny goes on a campaign to force Mindy to quit, which does Present Danny no favors in my eyes. I was already hating him, and now he seems extra mean. Maybe Mindy should have known from the beginning.
It does soften Danny a little when Mindy overhears him fighting with his then-wife, Christina, begging her to go to couples therapy. But then, he's back to being a jerk when he won't let Mindy take his C-section so he can go to therapy. He insists Jeremy do it, and Mindy — while pretending to be Jeremy with his computer — agrees to do it. (Her attempt to write in British is particularly funny.) Of course, Mindy shows up to the C-section without telling Jeremy about it, and instead tells the patient that Danny had an emergency: "His aunt stabbed him for being a jerk." (I felt like stabbing him for most of this episode.) Then Mindy basically one-ups Danny as the patient's doctor, offering an alternative to the C-section she didn't really want. Instead, Mindy says, she can deliver the baby, whose umbilical cord is wrapped around its neck, by using "the somersault technique." It's totally a real thing, but you might not want to check it out unless you're prepared to see some stuff.
Revelation time: Is Mindy a better doctor than Danny?
After he gets mad at Mindy for swiping his delivery, Danny is forced to apologize when the patient tells him how happy she was with the procedure. He goes so far as to presciently say: "Don't ever let anyone try to stop you from doing what you want. Not even me." (Okay, maybe it was a bit too prescient.) It's also pretty cute to see the origin story of Danny's red-framed glasses that connect at the nose. (Mindy broke his normal black ones.) And when Danny helps her move into her office, he tells her it's meant to be if her giant armoire actually fits — and then shows her how to measure for it. It fits, of course.
They take the photo that triggered the flashback, and the episode snaps back to the present, where Mindy is suffering from insomnia. In a major tearjerker sequence, she measures Leo's crib, goes to her old apartment, and sees that the crib will fit there. She takes down the "For Sale" sign in the window.
It seems like we're really doing this.