The Mindy Project
Season 2, Episode 22: Danny and Mindy
Posted by Sage
“I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.” – You’ve Got Mail
Score one for postmodern romantic comedy.
Over the past season, The Mindy Project has managed to do what no film in recent memory has even dared try to accomplish. It’s captured the fluttery, fairytale quality of the classic rom com without sacrificing character or laughs. (If it strikes your fancy, check out Kim and my Top 15 Romantic Comedy list posts to see which we consider “the classics.”) “Danny and Mindy” was a tribute to the genre in general and the Nora Ephron canon in particular, but Mindy stayed Mindy and Danny stayed Danny. Because grand gestures and bold declarations aside, the real magic between them lives right smack in the middle of that “nothing.”
Would that Danny got that. Undeterred by Mindy’s rejection in “Girl Next Door,” he develops a half-cocked You’ve-Got-Mail-inspired plan to place an ad in The Mindy Project‘s soundstage New York version of Missed Connections. He gleefully types away as Andy, a pen pal who Mindy assumes is a handsome, book-reading gent who smiled at her on the train. Worse than being a serial killer or a serial killer who only murders serial killers, it’s Dr. Rapey from Mad Men! Run, Mindy. RUN.
There are the requisite shenanigans. Fresh after a quick and painless break-up with Detective Hot Man (similar to Meg Ryan’s cheerful dumpage of the Pullman and the Kinnear in their respective nice-but-wrong-guy roles), Mindy unknowingly barges into Danny’s apartment as he handsomes up for the big reveal. And from either side of Danny’s bathroom door, they have a conversation that steals all the wind from his sails.
“You were right about us not being together,” she says, and his face falls. “You said that guys don’t break up with girls that you secretly want to be with. And then I knew for certain that you didn’t want me.” Mindy says she’s fine now, and she genuinely seems to be. If he wants to be friends, that’s what they’ll be. Through their friendship, Mindy’s gained some of Danny’s practicality. Her romantic idealism has rubbed off on him. They’ve changed each other, and at this moment, it makes them both so, so screwed. “Are you drowning?” she asks the man in the 20-piece Bradley Cooper suit who, 10 seconds ago, was raring to sweep her off her feet. And he looks like he might just be.
Wounded Danny leaves Mindy waiting on top of the Empire State Building all night (seriously, couldn’t “Andy” have sent a cancellation email, at the very least?), so he best be at her apartment the next day with the foolproof Castellano cures for the common cold. He half-heartedly tries to tell her the truth about his dumb strategy, but clams up when Mindy admits that she would have had a way better night staying in and hanging out with him. What can he do? He’s only human.
“Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. Especially when you really, really don’t want to. But maybe it’s okay. Anyone can say, ‘I’m sorry Mindy for cat-fishing you with the man of your dreams.’ It takes a real man to march around Manhattan visiting every place Meg Ryan ever laugh-cried. And I get to see New York through her eyes, and man, was it white. But it wasn’t so bad; it was kinda nice. And I got to show her a little bit of my New York. And I think she liked it.”
How necessary was it to get these characters off of the Fox lot and on location? And how GOOD DO THEY LOOK TOGETHER? Brief as it was, the New York montage was, for my money, the crux of the whole episode. “This is why I moved to New York!” Mindy says when she finds herself in Was It You? and I so get it. Work, school, whatever. Everyone who lives here, to some degree, came to wake up every morning to feel that you’re just small enough and the city’s just big enough that absolutely anything is possible. And on perfect days where the weather is exactly what you want it to be and the company is easy and the Walk signs at every crosswalk seem to be under your control, you know that you’re editing your own sunkissed montage in your mind, right as it happens. The montage is always my favorite part in any rom-com. It’s the everyday business. The regular passage of time. How even cutting chewed gum out of someone’s hair can be sexually charged if the potential is there. And if the chemistry’s not there in the little moments, then the third act set-piece doesn’t have a prayer of being effective.
The montage has done its job, and we roll out of it and into a commute scene where Danny and Mindy are all hooded eyelids and low-register flirting and let’s-get-breakfast-and-be-late-for-work, thank you very much. If not for the loose thread of Danny’s plan – a handsome foreign grad student unaware that his likeness has been used to woo back an ex – we get the feeling that they would have eased back into a relationship anyway. That’s how it SHOULD be, y’all. We shouldn’t be relying on the big moment to do the work for us.
Danny is catching flack for ditching the ESB for a New York slice, even after he promised Mindy he’d wait all night. When Messina was asked about it by the LA Times, he responded, “I don’t know. He’s a hungry guy? He’s a hungry guy. Love makes you very hungry.” This is no deep dive into Danny’s psyche. He loses faith after an hour. Mindy almost turns around and goes home because the elevator is broken. But then she takes on the 104 floors anyway. And he runs down the street to a Springsteen track. This meeting was a stupid idea. He could have taken Mindy out of the Shulman ladies’ room by the hand, took her into his office, closed the door, and explained how she woke him up after his divorce and showed him how to have fun again. About how long he’s felt this way about her. About why he got scared. It certainly would have been much more efficient. But he’s just a guy, and he’s confused about what she wants. “I want something real,” she says right to his beautiful, dumb face. And he still charges ahead with trying to win her by recreating a moment from a 21-year-old movie. (May I remind you that the most successful grand gesture Danny ever pulled off was the one that was 100% him – not cribbed from any film?) It’s a testament to the bones of their bond that they’re able to survive this inept attempt at a Lloyd Dobler moment. They find each other in spite of it.
Plus, you know, if Danny hadn’t left his post, we wouldn’t have gotten the big romantic run or the An Affair to Remember taxi cab reference.
His invitation to the observation deck doesn’t mean a thing to Mindy, and why should it? (Again: really, really dumb idea.) I’m so proud of Dr. Lahiri for staying strong throughout this episode and to Mindy Kaling and her writers for refusing to have her melt at the first (or second, or third) indication that Danny still wants her. The show continues to struggle to incorporate the full ensemble into what’s largely been The Mindy and Danny Show (another reason behind Danny’s pizza pit stop, I believe), but it was sweet to see them rally around the couple here. And so fitting that it was Peter, the ultimate Dandy shipper, who gave Mindy the one piece of evidence she couldn’t deny.
Mindy’s box is full of tchtochkes and pictures and remembrances. She collects the collateral of her life to remind herself that she’s lived it. All the exes, even those who broke her heart, are there. And she’s willing to open it up and share it with anyone who wants to see. Danny’s box (and his heart) are spare and secret. It’s just Richie, Giuliani, God, and her. There are a lot of spaces for Mindy to fill.
Mindy didn’t tell Danny that she loved him back, and that’s fine. He’s been there longer than her – this we know. And it’s been established over the last several episodes that despite her wide open heart, she can’t and won’t turn her feelings on a dime. She’ll get there. And it’s another score for as real as a reality where a New York woman would willingly drag her candy-pink quilted Chanel bag on the floor of one of the most filthy, high-traffic spots in the city can be.
May future Pope Anthony Francis and all nine of the Muses bless this show, this finale, and a TV couple who should be rewriting rom com clichés for years to come. The season didn’t end, as I hopefully predicted, with Danny reaching out a hand to Mindy and delivering Tom Hanks’s last line from Sleepless. Instead, it ended on another patented Castellano ass grab. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- “I haven’t seen you smile this much since you found out you were younger than Katie Holmes.” “That old bag.”
- “I had a thing with Salinger. He based the prostitute in Catcher in the Rye on me.”
- DID I OR DID I NOT ACCURATELY PREDICT THAT MINDY AND DANNY TAKE THE 1?
- Love love love that “Andy’s” first email to Mindy said, “I can’t believe I found you,” and Danny’s first words to her on the ESB were, “I thought I lost you.”
- “I thought it was email@example.com.”
- “She is my best friend. If you hurt her, I will end you. Sent from my smart phone, which i have. Case, charger, everything.”
- There are plenty of other pieces that list this episode’s many references to rom coms past, but my personal favorite was Danny’s version of Joe Fox’s, “Oh, how I wish you would” line from You’ve Got Mail. Hence the title of this post.
- Peter is such a secret stand-up dude – he was so adamant about Mindy breaking things off with Charlie before pursuing her admirer.
- “I tried it with a rotisserie chicken. Ate the whole thing immediately.”
- “A ringtone. It was the ‘Monster Mash.’ It was our song. It was my song. She hates it.”
- “My advice to you is-” “Nah, I’m good.”
- “I’ll order whatever gave her an orgasm!”
- “You know who directed this, right? Meathead.”
- “Ashes? You’re not getting cremated. St. Peter doesn’t want a pile of dust in the pearly gates. And I’m gonna have to vouch for you. But I will.”
- “Why you hit me? I left my country to escape this!”
- Hey, it’s Gomie!
- “What the nips?”
- Snaps everywhere for this episode’s soundtrack.
What did you think of the finale, Mindy-ans? Share every little thought and feeling in the comments, please.