For its fourth-season finale, The Mindy Project brings out all the rom-com tropes. You name it, it’s in there: a major secret someone can’t bring himself to reveal, ex-lovers stuck in an elevator overnight, even an apology closet. (Okay, that last one is pretty unique.) And because the show is doing what it does best, all these tropes feel new again.
We begin with Danny practicing to tell Mindy he’s getting married. Of course he flubs when the moment is real, ducking out of his confession by scolding her for her messy apartment. (Interesting character insight: Those times when they were together and he lashed out at her faults, was he avoiding his feelings about something else?) To force the issue of his impending wedding, he puts an invitation addressed to Mindy down the mail shoot on his way out of her apartment building.
Mindy’s planning a weekend trip with her girlfriends, Chelsea and Whitney, which is a trip I would genuinely have liked to see. But from the start, it’s pretty clear that they’d never make it. Too much is going on back home: Jody is leaving Mindy apology gifts, like a gun so she could shoot him in the leg to make herself feel better. He also announces that he no longer has chlamydia, via an apology letter that begins with an allusion to the Declaration of Independence: “When in the course of romantic events … ” Thanks for acknowledging the holiday, Mindy. Meanwhile, the office almost burns down because Mindy is storing her clothes in supply closets near heat sources. What about her closet at home, you ask? Well, that’s Leo’s nursery now.
There’s a lot of crazy happening, but one gets the sense that it will — or at least should — all come together in the end. For a few minutes, I wasn’t even sure what to pay attention to: Tamra’s upset that Jeremy won’t let her make her scrubs into a crop top, so she writes #scrubsshaming on her full-length scrubs. (It’s got nothing to do with the plot.) Bleecker Friends Quaker School for Pre-toddlers calls to tell Mindy that Leo has been suspended. (This is the important one.) It’s all another day’s work at Shulman and Associates.
When Danny and Mindy show up at the school, they find out Leo bit a classmate. “She’s wearing a cupcake onesie,” Mindy protests. “She looks delicious. I would’ve bitten her.” The headmaster (or whoever it is) tells them, “When a child lashes out, it’s a sign that there is trouble at home.”
They each agree … that the other one is the problem. Danny blames Leo’s “mother’s hectic work schedule.” Mindy blames his “father’s anger problem.” What does Danny have to be angry about, according to Mindy? “Your mom, your dad, me leaving you, your guilt-based religion, doping in baseball, Mayor DeBlasio … ” Danny hits back: “She’s the biter.” They head to the elevator to leave, still fighting. Danny takes a shot at Mindy trying to look good for the headmaster. “Don’t cute-shame me,” she snaps. “My sexuality has gotten us a lot.” Moments later — you guessed it! — they get stuck in the elevator together. Alas, the trip to Miami will never happen.
Meanwhile, Colette, Jody, and Morgan are building Jody’s “apology closet” for Mindy. Jody is sure they can do it quickly: “It only took father one night to board mother up in the attic.” But when they complete step one — removing the decorative staircase that stands where Jody plans to put the closet — they end up tearing a giant hole in the ceiling. And Mindy’s cranky upstairs neighbor is not happy. So Jody does the only reasonable thing: He buys the apartment for Mindy.
With nothing to do in the elevator, Danny and Mindy naturally start bonding. Mindy tries to tell Danny about her relationship with Jody, but he doesn’t want to hear it. When she encourages him to tell her about his dating life, he shares a funny story about a woman whose husband had died. (Mindy: “So what! I tell people you’re dead all the time.”) A Google search showed the husband had died of possible arsenic poisoning; Danny fled via fire escape when the woman tried to feed him. Another of Danny’s dating prospects changed his computer background photo from Leo to herself — an obvious deal-breaker.
Then Mindy confesses to having followed Danny once when she spotted him outside “that gay protein-powder store on Christopher Street.” Watching him from afar, she says, “made me remember why I loved you.” As confessions get deeper, Danny finally tells her about that love letter from Jody that he accidentally intercepted. She says she and Jody weren’t a good match, and suddenly — oh no! — Danny kisses her. It’s a genuine surprise, and it’s confusing. We don’t want this for Mindy, do we? I mean, they were just having the same old argument about her work schedule yet again! I wonder if Danny kissed Mindy just to avoid telling her about his future wife, Sarah. And, yes, Danny and Mindy do have sex right there on the spot, because elevators are pretty much their thing. Even worse, they both say, “I love you,” once they’re freed in the morning.
When Mindy gets inside her apartment, she finds Jody and a super-strong dose of romance waiting for her. He presents her with the apartment he impulse-bought for her and says, “It’s time someone takes care of you for a change.” He also says he “might possibly be in love with” her.
She utters the appropriate response: “Holy shit.”
Such a great ending, right down to the use of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” as the camera scans that very Mindy tableau on the counter: her floral-print jacket, the gun Jody gave her, and the unopened invitation to Danny’s wedding. Eeeee!