The Mindy Project Season 4, Episodes 2 & 3
“C Is For Coward” & Leo Castellano Is My Son
Posted by Sage
I’m so sorry, you guys. Leo Castellano arrives and I just abandon you! I’m a deadbeat recapper. I’m so ashamed.
I wasn’t having a baby on a subway car or anything, but there was some travel and life stuff going on. But I’ve returned with my sincere apologies, and a double recap for the second and third episodes of The Mindy Project season 4. These were big ones, with our characters making more huge strides, so let’s get straight to it.
This show just rolled right through that pregnancy, didn’t it? Mindy is ready to burst at the beginning of “C Is For Coward, both with child and with crazy-making sexual frustration. Because Danny is an old-school dad, he’s got an old-school sitcom dad problem with sticking his little guy into his other little guy’s uterine oasis. ( “How would you like it if you were minding your own business and a big penis just came and hit you in the face?” “That’s my life you’re describing.”) That weird insecurity gets a grudging pass, even though it had Mindy cheating on him “with a banister.” The real dick moves come later, when Danny gets a load of Mindy’s birthing plan: Step 1) check into the most luxurious birthing suite in the city; 2) get injected with all the drugs; and 3) wake up when baby is placed in her arms. So far, I’m not seeing any problems.
No mother of his child is “checking out” for the birth, so Danny empties his arsenal of birth-inducing techniques to get the kid on the way before Mindy’s appointment for the “5-Day C-Section Knockout Package” comes around. I don’t buy that Danny had to tip Brendan Deslaurier for this information; granted, everything I know about-pregnancy and birth has been gleaned from sitcoms, but wouldn’t a regular-person OBGYN who knows that “paleo birth” is a ridiculous scam also know the spicy foods trick? Plot hole aside, that detour got us Brendan suggesting that Danny “initiate a conversation on race” and insinuating again that the dad-to-be’s control issues stem from an inappropriate relationship with a priest in his past, plus Danny’s reaction to both of those things, so it’s fine.
As soon as Danny makes a move on Mindy on the couch (“Did you just tweak my tit”? Thanks, Hulu!), she wises up to what’s going on. And it’s another opportunity to enjoy The Mindy Project‘s imperfect feminism in all its shoddy, hungover glory. Yeah, Mindy’s ideal birth is indulgent and outrageous, but is it any more so than the Earth Mother package sponsored by the Deslauriers, the smuggest of the smug? In this episode, there are two camps of dudes advocating for an idea of this process that they’ve romanticized on their own – and in the midwives’ case, commercialized too. Mindy Lahiri doesn’t wake up every morning planning to be a feminist crusader, but sometimes she stumbles over it, just by arguing for what she wants. “Why should only women have to suffer through pain?” she asks her fiance. “Why don’t you get your next cavity filled without Novocaine?” SHOTS FIRED. The idea that a mother needs to experience every ache and cramp and (I’m sorry but it’s true) poop on the birthing table in order to be considered a member of some warrior sisterhood is stupid and damaging, and also just another way to pit women against each other in some arbitrary Olympics of having a vagina. I’d drop the mic, but they’re expensive.
But just because Mindy doesn’t choose pain doesn’t mean she can’t take it. And Danny wouldn’t be Danny if his misguided attempts to steer Mindy’s birth plan over to the stoic Catholic lane didn’t come from a place of pure love for his future child and its mother. In the season premiere, we saw what Mindy’s life would be like if she was with someone who never once tried to challenge her. It’s no good. “She’s scared,” Danny tells Jeremy about Mindy’s plot to essentially skip the birth. And he doesn’t realize that that paralyzing fear is what’s driving her until that moment. Instead of sharing that fear and taking some of it off her shoulders, he told her what to do. But the baby is on his way, and with a fast enough Castellano sprint, he still has time to fix it. (“My girl’s havin’ a baby.”) God, I love it when he runs.
Both Mindy and Danny’s birthing plans are in the shitter, and Mindy’s water has broken onto Brendan’s feet on the (let’s assume) 1 train, scattering bed bugs everywhere. Public births are well-worn sitcom territory, but not like this. Mindy begs Brendan to knock her out with the only tools he has (besides sage: nature’s anesthetic): his bare hands. (“Mindy, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face for so very long.”) With her ‘Yonce mix inaccessible, she has to settle for Duncan’s ukelele rendition of “I Been Workin’ On The Railroad.” And she even courts the Beygency in order to provoke Tamra into an attack that will hopefully end in Mindy unconscious. (“Beyonce’s really 44…that did nothing, and I betrayed Beyonce.”) Finally, Danny makes his way onto the car. Because as annoying as he is when he thinks his word is law in this family, at least he fucking cares. (Stay tuned: that’s the theme of the next episode too.) And when the chips are down, and baby Lahiri-Castellano just won’t wait any longer, Danny knows the exact right things to say. He believes them. It’s a nice bonus.
All my romantic dreams for the rest of my life will be of some man calling me a “stone cold bitch” with this much fearsome love in his eyes. Well done, Ma and Pop. And welcome to the world, Leo Castellano.
Next in line in my favorite episode naming convention since “The One Where…,” comes “Leo Castellano Is My Son.” And don’t ask Danny to read that title aloud to you, because he will deeeeeefinitely start crying. (“No, you’re getting very Italian and emotional.”) Now that the birth has been handled with nobody getting their way, Danny has turned his overbearing attentions to baby-proofing what was once his bachelor pad. (“More like fun-proofed.”) He hadn’t found Mindy’s secret gun yet, but he does swear off the Weather Channel in “an El Nino year.” Everybody’s making sacrifices. And who can stay mad at this face??
So yes, Danny should have picked his battles instead of forbidding Mindy from going outside and taking away her TMZ. (“Did you know that Leo’s not even going to talk until he’s 12 months old?” “Yes, we’re doctors.”) And yes, Danny’s emotional reaction to the sight of his firstborn son and his mother on the first day he has to leave them is played for laughs. But remember that every relationship that Danny Castellano has ever had has been shaped by the holes that his dad’s ambivalence left. Being a dad is the biggest, hardest thing that Danny can imagine. It was so hard that his own dad just walked away. He’s being so careful, and unfortunately, Mindy’s plugged-in lifestyle is a casualty of his quest to be little Leo’s hero.
Fortunately, Mindy’s maternity leave lock-in leaves her home to make friends with her sex-positive neighbor Chelsea. Eliza Coupe slots right into this show like she’s always been here. I’ve been a fan of her smirking, Type-A comedy since the Scrubs reboot and obviously through Happy Endings too. Ask Anna Camp how difficult it’s been to cast a believable girlfriend for Mindy – one who won’t stall the momentum of the office scenes and the Dandy stuff. I feel like Chelsea could be it. She’s sort of a souped-up old Mindy, though even Old Mindy only wished her apartment would have been a stop on a pro basketball team’s road trip. If “wacky neighbor” is on the list of tropes that The Mindy Project is going to tackle this year, then I’m glad Eliza Coupe is the one to do it.
Anyway: hijinks, hijinks, hijinks: Mindy locks the baby in the apartment and has to scale across Chelsea’s balcony; she lies to Danny about reading a Hardy Boys book to Leo (“Which one?” “The one with the…cave?” “That’s a good one.”); the Gyllenhaal siblings get involved against their will; and then Danny’s righteous fury over Mindy leaving the apartment in the first place is torpedoed by Morgan’s discovery that he’s set up a nanny cam in the bedroom. (“I just want what’s best for Leo.” “And I don’t?”)
- Danny, on Mindy “drawing her own erotica”= me in any attempt to write fic: “You’re just writing the number 69.”
- “Masks? Really, doctors? What are you hiding?”
- “I tried to have a sip of your beer last month, you called me ‘Casey Anthony.'”
- “I can’t stop lookin’ at him.” “Hey…he looks Latino, and you know what that means.” “He’s really gonna clean up.”
- Um, bye Adrian. It was…uneventful?
- Mindy, reading “Jack Spratt” to the baby: “Okay, this is hitting a little too close to home.”
- “I had my first job at 6. I was a lookout for the Puerto Rican Diablos.”
- “I’m happy as a prawn in sauce!”
- You know what? I would feel a lot better if Laverne Cox had Situation Room privileges.
- Oh, Jeremy. One step forward and three steps back. Remember when he was the Daniel Cleaver of the show? Now he’s Daniel Cleaver in the 3rd book that nobody liked.
How’s the baby integration working out for you guys? Thoughts on the name? Leave it in the comments!