I don’t know any other show where I scour all the names from the writers’ room like The Mindy Project. I’m sure on some level these episodes are all still group efforts, but there are some episode authors I just gravitate toward more than others, when I’m really enjoying these twentysome minutes and suspect a writer I really like is behind them (like Charlie Grandy last season—and what happened to him, anyway?—or Mindy Kaling herself). For example, the author of a few of my recent favorites, Lang Fisher, has just pulled off another winner with “The Departed.”

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The episode fortunately gives The Mindy Project a chance to put right what was once went wrong. A guest spot from Adam Pally is too valuable an opportunity to waste, and “The Departed” gives us and Mindy what we need, which is more time with Peter Prentice. With Danny gone for several weeks now, Mindy hasn’t had too many confidants, and Peter was one of her best. He had a gift for sliding past his frat-boy persona to offer real insight, and here he, like all good friends, points out something painful but true at the end: Why should Danny be calling all the shots? Mindy and Danny are definitely two Type A personalities (hey, I have a marriage like that myself), and often instead of constant battling, one person may cave in. Mindy is so formidable, we just never thought it would happen to her. Yes, she’s being supportive as Danny is off taking care of the father he doesn’t really care about (and Chris Messina is off filming whatever), but enough is enough. But this week, Mindy, and we, finally reach a breaking point.

Thanks to the second Wings brother to invade this show, both of whom have aged amazingly well, with Steven Weber as James, the fantastically successful Nike executive who draws Mindy into his bereavement group. Yes, it’s a hackneyed plot point as old as time for Mindy to use the grieving group to sell her apartment (worse than the time that she helped out at Hurricane Katrina to get in her alumni magazine, as Peter points out). And yes, sometimes these efforts paint our heroine in an unfortunate light, and it’s a credit to the charm of Kaling and the character that we can’t help but root for her anyway. We obviously know where this is going, as she’s going to have to come clean at some point, but the wisecracks along the way are too good to miss, and Weber is downright dreamy. And as she so often does, Kaling saves the plot from being too outlandish by tossing in some real emotion at the end: She really does miss Danny, and really does expect him to be home every night when she returns to an empty apartment. The previous episodes have done a nice job of setting up how Mindy has been struggling with single motherhood, and this one finally lays everything on the line.

It’s not often that two disjointed A and B plots both work so well, but I credit the success of the Morgan/Colette/Tamra storyline mainly to the hilarious Morgan-inspired lyrics in Tamra’s songs: “I still smell your grandmother’s house sometimes when I’m walking by wet cardboard.” Or the non-rhyming genius of: “You came into my life / And left me just as quick / Who knew your heart was small / Like your tiny beady eyes.” If the Tamra/Morgan relationship takes off again, I’m fine with that. In his small doses he’s been awesome this season, in his chili pepper shirt, tripping over the drum set. And he’s all over that medical waste canal.

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The loss of Danny over these several weeks has allowed us to focus back on Mindy, after so many episodes of “The Danny And Mindy Project” last season. As the cold open shows us, she’s okay by herself, changing light bulbs and shaving her legs while making pancakes. Peter so astutely points out what she’s lost of herself while being with Danny, which, again, is a valuable exploration of relationship a bit deeper than we usually see in sitcom setups. If, as the Queen ringtone tells us, he’s actually back, this only bodes well for future developments next week. In the meantime, we’re lucky to have so many laugh-out-loud lines (“Who would Danny be a stunt double for? Anna Kendrick?”) entertaining us as The Mindy Project keeps moving forward.

Stray observations

  • Followup to Jeremy’s gauze lecture: swabs.
  • That motorcycle stunt never even made it into The Intern!
  • I forget what being on Hulu means for The Mindy Project, and then I hear lines like “This place is the tits” last week and Peter’s “Shit just got real” this episode.
  • Love the throwback to Kevin Smith from the L.A. plane ride.
  • “I have never seen anything so shameful, and I come from the combined worlds of corporate finance and professional sports.”
  • This week in Mindy Project plot leaps: Lauren just shows up on Mindy’s doorstep to take Peter all the way back to Austin!
  • Mindy’s best outfit: Mindy’s wavy-line dress with matching turquoise pumps up on the desk. Swoon.
  • Also swoon-worthy: The bright sneakers Peter gave Mindy (“They reminded me of you: They’re bold, tough, and totally inappropriate for work.”)
  • Mindy can’t go out: She’s 27 and has a baby!
  • Honestly, this episode was bound to rate high for me anyway due to the inspired use of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” which is my go-to karaoke song. I defy you to find anything catchier. I DEFY YOU.

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