The Mindy Project Recap: Nurses Strike Back

The Mindy Project

Margaret Thatcher
Season 5 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
Bryan Greenberg as Ben, Mindy Kaling as Mindy.
Bryan Greenberg as Ben, Mindy Kaling as Mindy. Photo: Hulu

Nurse October Road is still hanging around, which confirms it, for better or worse: He is a romantic interest, and we’re doing this again.

The episode begins with Ben running in for the assist: After Mindy got stuck under her bed trying to do yoga, Leo tripped while going to get help. Ben fixes him up and offers a popsicle as a reward, but Mindy’s the one who accepts it. We also learn that the nurses’ strike hadn’t ended, so these two shouldn’t be hanging out together. In fact, Ben had been picketing for 12 hours when he rushed to Mindy’s aid.

Then he rushes back when Leo shoves a nickel into his own ear. And again when Mindy isn’t sure how to cut Leo’s nails. The strike gets extra awkward as the doctors arrive at work, only to be pelted with eggs by the picketing nurses.

Things are getting bad for the doctors inside the office, too. For instance, Mindy is questioning the office subscription to Guns and Ammo magazine. “I believe the right to bear arms begins at conception,” Jody says, reminding me that I somehow liked him better when he was just being a caricature of white Southerners rather than a serious suitor for Mindy. He gets further points in this column just a few moments later when he complains about being separated from his nurse sister, Colette, this close to her birthday: “This is the longest we’ve been apart since I caught her from betwixt Mother’s thighs.”

As we catch up with the nurses at their strategic meeting, we find Ben still trying to find his place among these one-liner-dropping Mindy characters. On his side job at Dave and Buster’s, for example: “Do you know how many drunk guys play Whack-a-Mole with their penises?” Colette can counter this so breezily: “Without Jody to curl my hair each night, I’m a monster. Yesterday, someone thought I was one of the Hemsworth brothers.” During this gathering, however, Ben gains some romantic ground by noticing that Morgan has a photo of Mindy on his fridge (and, we learn, in every room of his house). Hmm …

The doctors are showing signs of weakness, even though the nurses can’t actually know this (yet). Jeremy is smoking up in a closet while holding a picture of Margaret Thatcher. “It’s either that or completely give in to my stress-related alopecia,” he says, before a hilariously disturbing sight gag in which his eyebrows fall off. Jody, meanwhile, is looking for women’s golf-themed birthday cakes — further evidence of his weakness for his sister. And Mindy is rushing home to deal with Leo having a raisin stuck up his nose. (“This is why I like a fruit-free home,” she says.) Really, though, she’s rushing home to meet Nurse October Road, who agrees to help with yet another crisis.

Once October Road handles said crisis, he tells Mindy what we’re all thinking: He knows she keeps calling him because she likes him. She denies it, but the truth is clear when he goes in for a kiss. They sell it enough that I am starting to buy their chemistry despite my objections to yet another romantic plot. And at least it plays into the main plot once Morgan happens by Mindy’s place while walking all of his dogs and sees Ben sneaking out. GASP.

At the next nurses’ meeting, Ben is pretty clear that he thinks Jody shouldn’t go to Colette’s birthday party owing to his conflict of interest. The doctors are making their offer in a mere two days, he says, and “until then we have to be like old, white guys on Election Day: unified.” Morgan baits Ben by suggesting all the nurses vow not to start dating any of the doctors. Finally, Morgan pulls Colette aside and tells her what he knows about Mindy and Ben. Even Noodles, the cute tiny dog Morgan carries on his chest in a Baby Bjorn–type thing, confirms with a bark.

Colette is shocked, of course, but she has to get to her birthday celebration at Saddle Sisters, a cowperson-themed gay bar. Jody shows up, despite his fellow doctors’ objections. Colette quickly tells Jody about Mindy and Ben, upsetting Mindy’s recent suitor. “I’m sorry, Colette, you’re going to have to feed yourself cake tonight,” Jody says, making me realize, somehow, for the first time, that Mindy depends on disturbingly codependent relationships. “There are matters afoot.” Jody leaves the party (even though, as we later learn, Jane Lynch is there) to pay Jeremy a visit and tell him about Mindy and Ben. Jeremy responds by having a heart attack.

After this relentless chain of gossip about Mindy and Ben, Mindy cops to the kiss as she and Jody stand over Jeremy’s bedside at the hospital. It becomes clear that either Mindy or Jody must stand in for Jeremy on the negotiating committee — and it can’t be Jody going against his beloved sister. Mindy doesn’t want to do it until she hears that her only mission will be keeping quiet and letting the nurses sign the offer.

We know from that moment that the one thing she won’t do is keep quiet. Indeed, when they get to the negotiating table, Ben is about to sign the terrible deal when Mindy texts him. The doctors are about to cave, she says: “Jeremy’s heart legit exploded.” It explodes again when Mindy admits to Jeremy that she blew the deal; this only compounds the woe induced by the fact that his insurance won’t cover his heart problem. (“English frailty is a preexisting condition.”) The nurses get everything they want, and they are thrilled to be back at work. A disillusioned Tamra complains, “Unemployed people in Manhattan just talk about cold-brewed coffee and Mr. Robot all day.”

Surprising none of us, Ben meets Mindy at her apartment after work and plants another kiss on her. Surprising me, I am kind of into it. Maybe?

The Mindy Project Recap: Nurses Strike Back