The Mindy Project Season 4, Episodes 6 & 7
“Road Trip” & “Mindy and Nanny”
Posted by Sage
When last we left the Lahiri-Castellanos, they were dealing with a family emergency. Danny’s half-sister called to tell him that their dad had had a heart attack, and “Road Trip” sent Danny off to California to play the good son. Because that’s what he is, even when he wishes he weren’t.
I assumed at first that Danny wants to drive across the country because he no longer likes to fly without Mindy. (Who’s going to hold his hand during turbulence? Morgan, probably, and his hands smell like dozens of wet dogs.) But Morgan rightly guesses that Danny has a secret mission tucked into this pilgrimage, and he won’t shut up until he finds out what it is.
Danny’s secret isn’t quite as scandalous as it initially sounds. He was young, single, and no doubt already beautiful, and how was a Staten boy like that supposed to resist the siren call of the only woman at the Billy Joel concert who knew all the words to “We Didn’t Start The Fire”? (“Peter Piper, pee-pee poopy, daddy ate a squirrel!”) In fact, his reaction to being clued in finally to Eric’s existence is exactly right. (“The only reason I wasn’t here was because I didn’t know about you. But hell, we can start right now.”) Once they meet the sweet, hopeful kid and his apologetic mom, Morgan decides that his theory about Danny’s secret family isn’t exactly correct and instead turns his deductive powers to grilling Danny’s ’99 fling. (HOWEVER, THERE WAS ZERO SLUT SHAMING IN THIS EPISODE, CAN I GET AN AMEN.) It doesn’t occur to Danny to question the truth of his paternity, since Eric’s mother never asked him for a thing and Eric, well, he’s not asking much either. Just for Danny to move out to Oklahoma and marry his mom so that they can be a real family. I can almost hear Mindy’s knife sharpener now…
Danny proudly shows off photos of Mindy and Leo to Eric, who’s distraught that his nuclear family dream isn’t going to happen and is taking it out on his name, which is nowhere near as cool as Leo. (“Eric Stoltz? He was almost in Back To The Future.) Meanwhile, Morgan wants to get to the bottom of how Danny’s genes contributed to a blue-eyed kid who won the ribbon for reaching things on a tall shelf. (He would have been much less suspicious if Eric had won a prize for profuse sweating, or hating the Red Sox.) The lie is a thin one, and it falls apart right as Eric punches his not-quite dad in the face. Eric’s mom knew that Danny wasn’t the kid’s father, but his real one didn’t deserve the title either. “I just wanted you to think you came from something good,” she tells her son, and can I just? This lady had a one-night stand with Danny after locking eyes during “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and still she remembers him as worthy of her kid’s long-distance hero worship. This was pre-Christina, before Danny broke a little, and now all I can think about is this handsome med student who was so respectful during what was probably hurried backseat car sex that this lady would have chosen him as her only son’s father. This does nothing to calm down Eric, who is too square to even rebel correctly. (“If my friends ask for me, just tell them I’m up in my room, looking up how to do drugs.”) Danny feels taken advantage of and moves to leave (“I don’t know what’s worse about Castellano men: how gullible we are, or how much we hate the feel of condoms.”), but Morgan didn’t come all this way not to be a hero. And even if it’s not his queen’s honor he’s defending, he’s damn sure going to help out someone. After all, we’ve all got problems. He stays for Eric’s birthday party, Danny leaving his Thelma & Louise fantasies in the dust.
Back in the car, Danny checks in at home and hears something that makes him turn back around. “Aren’t you lucky to have such a great dad?” Mindy absentmindedly asks Baby Leo, and that sparks something in Danny. It’s not Eric’s fault that he was beckoned to Oklahoma over false pretenses, and what kind of father would he be to Leo if he abandoned any kid who needed him? He strolls into Eric’s party just in time to distract from Morgan’s fall down the stairs (“I’m back from the golf club and I’m ready to meet your friends!”), and saves the day. Eric is already a “great kid” who didn’t need him at all to grow up that way. All he needs at the moment to have that father figure itch scratched; he wants to stand tall in front of his friends with a man who’s going to clap him on the back and be proud of him. And though they only spent one afternoon together, Danny is.
Early in the episode, Mindy told Danny that she hoped he’d let go of his anger towards his father. And I think he symbolically did that when he handed over the keys to his car to Eric. None of it matters. Fuck the past. He can blame his dad all he wants for what how his leaving shaped him, but all that matters is what Danny does now. And now he’s getting on a bus with Morgan Tookers, a hell he wouldn’t have considered before he met Eric, and starts the last leg of his journey to put all that hurt and resentment to bed, for once and for all. Dr. Phil’s work here is done.
With Danny on a Greyhound with Morgan drooling on his shoulder, Mindy is an interim single parent in “Mindy and Nanny.” And she can’t even enjoy her “boner pesticide” flannel pajamas or her bedtime sour cream and onion chips or any of the other SSBs (Secret Single Behaviors, copyright Sex and the City) that she usually indulges when her man is out of town. Annette is helping out, and putting protective plastic over every part of Mindy’s domain. Though to be honest, Mindy is probably just mad she didn’t think of hanging cured meats from her ceiling herself.
But wait, Morgan is already back! (I want the deleted scene where Danny has to set up an elaborate ruse to get Morgan out of his dad’s house, because I’m sure getting rid of him wasn’t easy.) He’s back to serving as Mindy’s personal secretary, and has set up several interviews with prospective nannies so Annette can be hustled back to Staten, Dot, and their Passion Of The Christ girls nights. (Ever seen that episode of Seinfeld when Kramer gets an intern? That’s Morgan, but all the time.) Of course, Southern Fried Misogynist Jody has something to say about this, and his lead on a candidate who loves the baby, is cheap, and is also “ethnic,” turns out to be a dead end. (“It’s yoouuuuuuu.”) Instead, Mindy is faced with a revolving door of very un-viable candidates, who are either too expensive, too creepy (“I just got an Amber Alert on my phone.” “Get him out of here.”), or too Morgan-dressed-as-Mrs-Doubtfire. Or was it Mrs. Featherbottom? Either way.
Until Clara shows up. She’s heaven sent, it would seem – young, eager, and too flat-chested to create some sort of Ben Affleck situation with Danny. And she’s played by Maya Kazan who we’ve been seeing a lot of lately since she’s also Zoe, an American history nerd with #CraneOnTheBrain on Sleepy Hollow. Mindy rushes through the interview, relieved to have no red flags waving in her face, and hires Clara without checking to see if she follows Jenny McCarthy on Twitter. Clara is an anti-vaxxer, and Mindy doesn’t find out until Danny calls raving about his son’s cute little mug being plastered all over the anti-vaxxer blogs. (With a positive comment from @TVWritersWife.) Annette’s invasiveness and baked penne dinners are looking pretty good in comparison.
But soon there won’t be a box big enough, and also maybe Annette wasn’t so bad after all. The guilt is strong when she finds a sweet note on one of her mother-in-law’s pre-made pastas (“Be nice to your Ma. She works hard. Love, Grandma.”), and sets about wooing her back to Manhattan. Mindy worried that her mother-in-law judged her for staying at work, but that was just her own residual guilt showing. What Annette was really doing was showing her love for the both of them in the manner approved by Italian-Americans all over this great country: food and smothering. And she does love Mindy too, much as she insists that the only people with that honor are “Danny, Ritchie, Leo, Dot, and the handsome one from Suits.” (WHICH ONE IS THAT.) “You’re not just taking care of him,” Mindy tells her. “You’re taking care of me. And I can’t do this by myself.” Danny would be all crinkly eyes and and smug smile, watching his best girls get along like this. (“This is assault!”)
Jody takes his evidence to Jeremy anyway, but doesn’t get his desired outcome. Jeremy is satisfied that Whitney is planning on keeping “an eye on it” as far as her cocaine consumption is concerned. I usually hate this term, but here it applies. Jeremy is too whipped to save himself; Jody decides to take matters into his own hands. The main problem with Whitney isn’t her penchant for uppers, it’s that she’s just not very nice to Jeremy. For some reason, Jeremy is convinced that he deserves this. And though he is, in a lot of ways, the worst, he’s got to break free and let his weird light shine.
Jody shows up at Whitney’s office (as expected, Miranda Priestley realness) with a checkbook and a light suggestion that she leave Jeremy be. (“What are you, the dad in a Nicholas Sparks movie?”) His savior plan falls through (or does it?) when Whitney’s corner office arrogance turns him on and they end up “laying together.”
Using Leo as a human shield, Jody delivers more tough news about Whitney to Jeremy. It’s not his finest friendship hour, but his transgression does what the coke gossip couldn’t: it forces Jeremy to realize that he can’t talk himself into believing this is a healthy relationship any more. I wonder where Jeremy goes from here, now that the Whitney storyline is also put to bed. He’s been all over the map as a character, from being Mindy’s rogue-ish Daniel Cleaver hook-up in the early days to being Peter’s stuffy rival for Lauren’s affections and now to being more of a buffoon than even Morgan. Ed Weeks shines in those moments when Jeremy is at his most pathetic, but right about now, I’m just feeling sorry for the guy. Here’s hoping that Jeremy Reed gets his due as an ensemble member this year, and recovers a little dignity while he’s at it.
Random Thoughts & B-Stories:
- “Dear sweet Jesus Christ: if Dr. C keeps this up, I ask that you kill me.”
- “It’s been a while since I sat with some teens and talked about Christ.” “That part was weird.”
- Annette crossing herself when she sees Mindy’s vagina.
- “Good luck with your transition.” “Thank you.”
I miss Messina already, y’all. Let’s discuss his face in the comments. And anything else that pops into your mind.