The Mindy Project
This week’s Mindy Project may not be the most emotional or memorable episode in the show’s five seasons, but it accomplishes something else: It feels quietly, perfectly crafted. It’s the feeling of finding the right person instead of the most exciting person, and it underscores my hunch that Mindy’s new beau Ben may be The One. I’m missing Danny less and less by the minute.
Mindy, thank goodness, is still Mindy, plunging into her night at the theater with Jeremy by asking, “What old bag is starring in Chicago this week?” She’s also wearing the most amazing cotton-candy-pink pillbox hat and matching dress with a fur coat, so wrong that it’s so right for Mindy.
No Chicago for them, however: They’re seeing, you know, a regular play. It stars none other than Leland Breakfast (nice work, Mindy Project), the “bad boy of the London theater scene,” in his one-man adaptation of The Miracle Worker (also nice work, Mindy Project). Leland is (naturally) an old chum of Jeremy’s from university drama club, and he’s the one who hazed Jeremy into hospital. (The Britishisms in this episode are next-level.) He’s played by … oh, that guy! The guy from Flashforward and Smash! (Yes, I watched Flashforward and Smash.) Jack Davenport.
In another perfect move for Mindy, she’s texting from the front row throughout the performance, causing Leland to stop the show to scold her, an interaction that recalls real-life theater incidents. “You’ve been on that bloody mobile for the entire show,” the British star spats. She tries to use the “I’m a doctor” defense, but when he snatches her phone from her, he sees that she’s been on Instagram commenting on photos of Amanda Seyfried’s dog. “She’s just so into that dog!” Mindy protests. (That dog does, in fact, have his own Instagram.)
Still, Jeremy and Mindy go backstage to visit Leland after the show. First, Leland pretends he doesn’t remember Jeremy, despite Jeremy’s hints that he played “Princess Wanker” in their college productions. Then, clearly intrigued by Mindy’s indifference to him, Leland hits on her. He returns her phone only after entering his number into it: “It’s a British number, so it will cost you $15 per text, but trust me, I’m worth it.” Jeremy, still trying to kiss up to his former bully, offers to throw Leland a party at his apartment later in the week.
This episode may be the best use of Jeremy in the series’ history. After struggling to figure out whether he is a womanizer or a schlub, he has landed somewhere appealingly in between. Leland’s arrival is a much-needed reason to appreciate him. When Jeremy announces his impending party to the staff, we also learn that aside from his nuanced theater work, Leland also plays Dr. Universe in Marvel movies. (FYI, there is no Dr. Universe in Marvel’s IRL movies.) Dr. Universe is a “superhero with the power to manipulate the universe.” Jody says what we’re all thinking: “Kind of an unspecific power, isn’t it? It could mean anything. It could mean nothing.” And yet Dr. Universe used it to such great effect in Avengers 3: Civil War 2: Requiem. See what I mean? Mindy’s parody powers are on warp. Or something like that.
Mindy is sufficiently impressed because Cobie Smulders was apparently in that movie with him: “I didn’t know he knew Cobie Smulders. I like him now. He’s cool.” But she still doesn’t want to go out with him. (Beverly, for one, is not impressed that a celebrity asked Mindy out. After all, they’re all sex addicts: “It took me forever to get rid of Robert Blake. But when I did, did I ever.”) Mindy reminds everyone that she now has a boyfriend, Ben. This seems to hit Jody hard, since he’s still getting over Mindy. In fact, Ben even got Mindy a book of poems as a gift, and Mindy invited Ben to be her date to Jeremy’s party. (Ben is super excited, as he was Dr. Universe twice for Halloween.) They’re as good as married, right?
Not so fast: Soon enough, all of our love triangles are even more messed up. We learn that Jody may be going on a date when Tamra notes, “You’re more put-together than usual. Were you arguing against evolution in court again?” And then Tamra peeks at his calendar after he leaves, only to discover that he’s having dinner with someone named Jen Trang. That someone turns out to be a married doctor, according to Colette and Morgan. Even worse: A lab tech comes into the office to pick up samples for testing and inadvertently reveals that Ben is her “boyfriend.”
There’s an all-for-one spirit among the staff in this episode that I find really endearing, and I hope we see more of it: First, Tamra and Morgan quickly escort Mindy’s rival out of the office. Then, Colette confronts Jen Trang (VyVy Nguyen) at the hospital, pulling her out of the delivery room to harangue her for dating her brother. Turns out, however, that Jody wasn’t on a date with Jen Trang; he was interviewing to join her practice. (Jen Trang is awesome, for what it’s worth. Nguyen’s delivery is spot-on when she snaps, “Do I look like I want drug-resistant crabs?”) When Colette talks to Jody about this, he admits that he wants to leave so he doesn’t have to work with Mindy anymore.
In the hospital lounge, meanwhile, Mindy confronts Ben about Lisa the Lab Tech. He reveals that they were “just hanging out,” not unlike Mindy and him. Mindy, of course, had assumed they were exclusive because they were sleeping together. “You gave me a book of poetry,” she gasps. “I almost read it.” She uninvites him to Jeremy’s party, then cries on her office floor with a package of Sour Tubes candy. While comforting her, Jeremy also begs her to go out with Leland to get her mind off Ben. She texts Leland and receives an immediate reply: “You’re that cheeky bint with more curves than the Swindon Roundabout, aren’t you?” In other words, yes, he will go to Jeremy’s party as her date.
At the party, we learn that Dr. Trang wouldn’t hire Jody because of Colette’s outburst. Instead, they gave the job to a Korean medical robot. (Anyone else immediately think of the recurring robot on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?) While they engage in their heated discussion on this topic, Leland is chagrined to note that they are not paying attention to him, the honored celebrity. When Jeremy explains that their co-worker Jody is having a hard time with his love life, Leland launches into a speech to cheer up this “young woman Jody” by telling a story about how he once rejected Margot Robbie. Then he sings “And I Am Telling You” while playing it on the piano. Oh, Smash memories.
Ben shows up to apologize to Mindy, and they hash out their differences quite cutely. It turns out he wasn’t sure she wanted to be exclusive with him: After all, he says, “You’re you, and I buy my groceries and jeans at the same store.” (Hey, Super Target is the best thing about living in the suburbs.) Besides, he adds, “The other girl never met my daughter.” Yay, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend now!
And then we quickly dispose of the other remaining portion of our love triangle when New Doctor Anna corners Jody after he tries to leave the party. “You’re the most normal one here,” she says, “which is weird because you’re a spooky ghost from a Faulkner novel.” She kisses him, then leaves him in shock. “Now you kissed someone else,” she says. “Be normal again!”
For a bonus round, Ben gets to win his girlfriend from Dr. Universe. When Leland breezes into the room where they just made up, bragging that he passed a hat around during his song and raised $10,000 for Broadway Cares, Ben says, “This is my girlfriend now, so I’m afraid that your date is over.” Leland hits Ben, seemingly just for the heck of it, then announces to the party, “I’m making my Brexit if anyone cares to join.” Even though he specifically invites Anna and Tamra — “you two, the fit ones, let’s go” — the office gang stays behind to listen to Jeremy play “Easy Like Sunday Morning” on the piano. Aww.