I can’t believe how quickly I’ve warmed to Ben, but I have. Our little Mindy Project has finally grown up! It has found its new leading man and please don’t let this be another flash-in-the-pan romance. I yearn for stability right now. #subtweet
Things look promising for Ben in the sense that no other beau — not even Danny — got this Ghosts of Boyfriends Past treatment. Granted, “Revenge of the Nurse” is also a celebration of the show’s 100th episode. But the parade of exes seems as if it’s a critical test Ben must pass. First up, because of course, is B.J. Novak’s character, Jamie. He and Mindy have such great chemistry, obviously, that I’m thrilled he is the ex who gets to drive this story line.
The setup is that Mindy and Morgan run into Jamie on the subway, and this made me realize that The Mindy Project uses the subway to great effect. Run-ins and surprise conversations happen often in this context, and they feel authentic even without the show shooting in New York. In any case, it turns out Jamie stopped teaching Latin so he could become a full-time novelist, and he became a New York Times best-selling author with his book The Cicero Paradox. It is, of course, about an ex-Latin teacher who travels the world solving religious mysteries, puzzles, and ciphers (but no codes). There’s even an ad for it right there on the subway car! I totally don’t buy that Mindy would have a famous ex and not know it — even if she’s not up on her literary news, she’d notice that. But it’s still funny. We also casually learn that Jamie broke up with the girlfriend he ditched Mindy for, and that Mindy is apparently embarrassed to say Ben is a nurse. Instead, she mutters something vague to Jamie about working with her new boyfriend at the hospital. This, friends, is a reasonable and interesting dilemma for our career woman to explore.
Also: Yay, we’re going to a book party! This season, The Mindy Project has totally owned its satirical powers, taking on Britishisms, theater culture, and suburban life, among other targets. The book party allows the show a great new playground for its barbs. Oh, to be as excited as Mindy and Morgan are at the prospect of a book party! We get a so-old-it’s-funny joke about Salman Rushdie being on the guest list. (Mindy: “Isn’t there a financial reward for whoever turns him … Morgan, get me information for the ayatollah.”) We get Mindy’s so-wrong-it’s-right misrepresentation of Jamie’s book’s title: “It’s called The Sicily Parachute.” We get Jeremy quoting one of the reviews: “Time Out London called it ‘a spine-tingling journey through the language of our past.’” And we get Tamra’s literary criticism: “That book sounds hella white, and I read all of Updike. More like, Rabbit Run Out of Ideas.” Jeremy is going to the party dressed as the book character who’s an evil cardinal with a milky right eye. Anna’s already been invited by her friend, New York Times book critic Janet Maslin. Tamra doesn’t think Mindy should bring Ben, though: “It’s like when I took Ray Ron to my ex’s inauguration. It wasn’t cute.”
The fun continues at the party. There’s a Graydon Carter name-drop and a cameo from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. We find out Anna has a husband when she suddenly starts mentioning him all the time. Wait, wasn’t she just kissing Jody not that long ago? And where is Jody? Anyway, throughout the episode, we learn such details from Anna as, “My husband tells me that at office gatherings I should accept a slice of cake as if I were going to eat it,” and “Tim and I own a five-story townhouse in Notting Hill that sits empty.”
Jamie and Ben seem to be getting along swell, though Jamie lets on that Mindy kinda implied Ben was a doctor, not a nurse. And the plot really thickens when Mindy meets a guy named Cameron Leonard from the Today show. (Perfect name! So perfect I thought this was a cameo by a real Today person. Which it’s not, right? I don’t watch all the hours of Today.) Cameron is looking for a new nurse to appear on medical segments. He invites Tamra, but Mindy wants Ben to do it. He agrees, but reluctantly — only because it means so much to her.
Turns out he’s a natural. Mindy’s so excited about his performance that she wants to celebrate at the Guggenheim with Champagne and sex in the bathroom, which sounds like a very specific and amazing way to celebrate something. Alas, it’s like 7 a.m. and the museum isn’t open yet. Soon we learn that Ben was so good, he even goes viral online. “It’s your dream,” Morgan tells Mindy. “You’re dating a meme!”
But things take a turn for the worse that night when Mindy and Ben are out at Boulton and Watt, which is a real place in the East Village. (I don’t remember the show going to real New York places before, or at least all that often.) There, they run into Casey, another ghost of Mindy’s past. To recap: “Casey and I were engaged, and we used to live together in Haiti.” I did enjoy Casey’s journey from pastor to sneaker impresario, so this is a fun walk down memory lane. Mindy explains to Ben that Casey’s company makes the sneakers she gave him. “I can’t wear them to work because there’s a naked lady on them,” Ben says affably, “but they’re super-comfortable.” Once again, Mindy also fails to say that Ben is a nurse. She introduces him as a “television personality.” Mindy is impressed that Casey is impressed, because he knows Kanye. But Ben is clearly not happy.
Ben is so unhappy that he ghosts on his Today appearance the next morning, requiring Mindy to get Morgan to sub. He’s a disaster, which means Mindy is now “banned from the Today show, just after they lifted the last ban.” On the other hand, Morgan’s clumsiness trends even more than Ben’s appearance, earning Morgan the national nickname “Nurse Moron.” He’s totally psyched about it. He and Colette decide to throw him a celebratory party, complete with wine and ginger ale mixed to make Champagne.
At the party, Jamie hits on Mindy in earnest: “There’s nothing sadder than a beautiful girl who can’t find glassware,” he says, seeing her doing shots out of a plastic liquor bottle top. Then he speaks to her in Latin, saying what the subtitles tell us is, “I’m going to have sex with you tonight.” He tells her, “It means, ‘You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.” Then he goes in for a kiss, which, unsurprisingly, is when Ben walks into the party.
Your standard “Ben flees, Mindy races after him” sequence ensues. When she finally catches him on the street, they start arguing — moving quickly from the Jamie kiss to the nurse issue — only to run into Josh, yet another of Mindy’s exes. “Mindy and I used to date,” he explains to Ben. “But I don’t remember most of it. I was super-high all the time.” I don’t remember it either, and I wasn’t super-high. (If you reach way back through the haze, you’ll remember him from very early in the first season, so early that Mindy met him in a club with Betsy and Shauna! You know, those office characters who disappeared right quick.) This time, Mindy angrily but clearly introduces Ben as a nurse, “which is apparently as important as being the president,” she adds. Josh has two killer lines in parting: “Me and Rihanna just had our own fight about fidelity issues, so we’re just gonna head on out,” and “Mindy, as always, it was awkward and confusing to see you.”
Sadly, Ben has a killer line of his own: “All this time you’ve been wondering if I’m good enough for you, huh? But you know what, Mindy? I don’t think you’re good enough for me.” Nevertheless, I still have faith that these two crazy kids will work it out.