In season three, The Mindy Project blessedly swung the will-they/won’t-they camp all the way over into they-will. The first episode was called “We’re A Couple Now, Haters!” and to its credit, the show has stuck with the relationship throughout. And it found some entertaining things to explore within the context of that relationship, especially as Mindy progressed at work and accepted the Stanford fellowship.

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But Danny’s reluctance to get married this episode did have some precedence. As early as that first season-three episode, he didn’t want to tell people at work about their relationship. By episode eight, “Diary Of A Mad Indian Woman,” the reveal in Mindy’s diary that she wants to get married almost makes him walk out of the relationship, but he comes back in the end. Danny was going to expand his apartment in “What About Peter?” but to live with his mom, not Mindy. In “Christmas,” he faked Mindy out with the purchase of a burial plot, again to be with his mother. In “Dinner At The Castellanos,” he doesn’t want Mindy to come to dinner because she’s not really family. Just a few weeks ago, he tried to hide her religion and pregnancy from his parish priest. This entire season, there’s been a pattern: Danny disses Mindy and/or their relationship somehow, then makes it right at the end, usually in their bedroom, but also on the fire escape, in her Stanford dorm room, etc.

Mindy’s pregnancy was a game-changer, but the show seems to play it pretty loose with Danny‘s Catholicism. The guy who wanted to marry Mindy at City Hall (out of a sense of obligation, as it turns out), now says he doesn’t want to get married.

Maybe it makes sense: In any relationship, there would be some ebb and flow of commitment. But confined to weekly 23-minute segments, this familiar series of events got rather formulaic over the course of a season. Pulling it out yet again for the finale (or bringing it to its logical conclusion, depending on how you look at it), you could see where this was going a mile away (well, maybe not Mumbai).

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I don’t think marriage is the be-all end-all and I’m not saying that Mindy and Danny couldn’t be happy with their little family and not be married. But Danny knows this is what Mindy wants. It’s never even been a question. The conversation these two have this episode was extremely overdue, and in light of it (and all the above history that came before it), who could blame Mindy for not telling her parents about Danny in the first place?

Let’s move on to some good stuff: Remember when we (okay, probably I) used to get so mad at The Mindy Project for stunt-casting? The guest stars here were my absolute favorite part of the finale. The baby-daddy panel of course made no sense, calendarwise, but since this is coming from Morgan, it didn’t really bother me (although any of the men involved should have known that the couldn’t be the father of the baby of someone they hadn’t slept with in over a year). Illogical as it was, it was still fun to see Casey, Josh, Jamie, and Lee, as Casey still makes gym shoes and Jamie drops some Latin. And the meager female attendance at Mindy’s baby shower (besides Tamra and Beverly, it’s Annette’s walking group and her mailperson Regina) hilariously highlighted the show’s reliance on male supporting characters. Also, I know it was beyond-stereotype, but Laura Dern killed it as Mindy’s Ukranian new ob-gyn.

With Peter’s wedding looming, I guess I was expecting more from Adam Pally’s return, although he again ably stepped into the role of Mindy’s confidant. Making Jeremy his best man and doing the best-man dance at the wedding was the highlight of the Peter plotline for me. If that’s the last we ever see of Peter, that’s an excellent way to go out.

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But back on Staten Island, Danny again withdraws from Mindy, then receives wise words from someone to change his mind. Even as many times we’ve seen Danny and Mindy in similar scenarios, or having major relationship talks (like at the Christmas party before Stanford), Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina sell it every single time. Often it’s been Peter or even Morgan to clue Danny in, but here it’s his own mother in a very nice scene that again shows why Rhea Perlman is perfectly cast as Danny’s ma. (Best exchange: Danny: “I don’t believe in fairy tales.” Annette: “No? Then you really picked the wrong girl to knock up!” ) As maddening as Danny’s fear of marriage is, when he discusses how he felt as a kid without a father, you may not agree with him, but you can understand him, as Messina almost tearfully portrays the anger Danny still feels.

Fortunately, Annette convinces Danny that maybe it wasn’t the institution that was messed up. Maybe it was the people they chose. This one conversation is enough to fly Danny all the way to India, leaving his hypertensive pregnant girlfriend behind. For Mindy, Danny is the best man of the episode title, and she finally writes her parents about him, but tellingly, doesn’t send it.

Despite these hurdles, we all could have predicted that the season would end with some grand romantic gesture for Mindy, and can equally predict that the two will end up together eventually. Hopefully in season four, The Mindy Project can move past Danny’s commitment fears onto the two building a life together in their fixed-up brownstone. Still, this season did bring us some valuable milestones for Mindy and Danny, as, for the most part, it showed that a couple that’s actually together can be vastly entertaining on a show like The Mindy Project. For all the doubts when Mindy and Danny first got together, that’s no small sitcom feat.

Season finale: B

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Season three overall: B

Stray observations:

  • No one at Mindy’s entire practice could check her blood pressure? One of the nurses could do it!
  • Also, Mindy’s parents are going to India for an entire year, just as she’s about to give birth?
  • “For the baby is mansion you give!”
  • Best outfits: Annette and Dot in matching reversible vests for the win. The other side has birds!
  • Meta: “And why are they all white?”
  • Josh, owning his former addiction: “I remember every minute of it because I was high on crystal.” “Is that why you peed yourself?’ “That is why I peed myself.”
  • “Thanks for nothing, Ryan Murphy!”
  • I love you Adam Pally, but get a haircut.
  • Even though it hasn’t been announced yet, I suspect The Mindy Project will be back for a fourth season. I’m not sure if I will be, but I still want to thank you for reading over the past few seasons.

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