So when Chris Messina’s Danny departed last episode, I guess this was what everyone was afraid of. After a few seasons of the Danny-Mindy relationship basically bolstering this show with its in-depth looks at relationships and the considerable will-they/won’t-they chemistry of Mindy and Danny, now it’s all over. In a sense, Mindy is right back where she started at the beginning of the series, although now she has a baby in tow. So her first date here, with The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand, only seems like a harbinger of a string of awkward dates to come. Marquand tries hard, but this is not a good harbinger.

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Without Danny, it makes sense that other cast members are going to step up, and for good or ill, this is bound to lead to more Morgan (Ike Barinholtz co-wrote and directed this episode). He’s been a polarizing character for years, although lately he’s been on an upswing, and it’s nice that he took all of his dogs to the new apartment. Still, a subplot that has Morgan and Colette moving in together doesn’t really offer much (give or take a grade-school jazz band’s frequent renditions of the Pink Panther theme), except for a troubling parallel to Mindy’s situation in the episode’s last few moments.

Better is Tamara’s and Mindy’s wacky scheme to case out Bryant’s ex-girlfriend Theresa, with which actually sounds like a great manufacturing idea, one that Tamra should maybe pursue? The scheme is rather pointless, as it’s obvious what’s wrong with Bryant, and again, Mindy misses the parallels to her own life. She was in a relationship with Danny for a few years. Is she ready to be dating already? The fast-forwards in previous episodes imply that the breakup happened awhile ago, but she really only definitively said goodbye to Danny last episode (although I believe this particular episode was originally supposed to run later in the season). After all, Bryant only broke up two months ago, and he is deemed as not being ready for a real relationship. I guess it’s fun to see in what way this Mindy suitor will be irrevocably screwed up (just like the Joshes and Caseys of yesteryear), but only mildly so.

The other troubling development is the hint that something is brewing between Jody and Mindy, at the end of the episode, apparently spurred on by the fact that both Mindy and Jody are alone now. There have been some lines crossed with some of her co-workers before (almost sleeping with Morgan, hooking up with Jeremy in season one, a few moments of spark with Peter). Garret Dillahunt’s Jody quickly became a confidant for Mindy, eventually stepping up to become her partner in her fertility clinic. But to suggest that there’s some sort of spark there, as the last moments of this episode did, is a huge stretch, and just seems more like an attempt to make something out of nothing. There has never been a hint of this before with Jody (not even in the episode where she posed as his dinner date), and it doesn’t really work. Praying that this was just a weird knock-off instead of a shaky building block. Danny’s character may have changed a bit (ostensibly a transformation that enabled his character’s reduced presence on the show), but the smoldering chemistry between Mindy and Danny was undeniable. That comparison just makes any suggestion that she and Jody have something similar all the more inconceivable.

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All of this would be easier to take, of course, with the signature one-liners we’ve grown to love and expect from The Mindy Project. This episode, written by Barinholtz and David Stassen, is amusing enough, with a few punchlines that land (“wall-to-wall floor,” “somewhere between Rooney and Kate Mara,” and “How dare you: I have fallen off of several ships”) but could have used a few more. Mindy got a few digs in during her breakup with Bryant (“How dare you be in your late twenties?”), but why would she think that the only guys who would date her would be crazy? The reality of dating as a single mom is bound to bring up some interesting issues, and it should be valuable to see Mindy explore this in full. This episode, unfortunately, was more of a light dusting than a full-on exploration.

Stray observations

  • Even though Morgan is not a fan, he and Leo were super-cute together.
  • It’s still jarring to me that Mindy can swear on this show now that it’s on Hulu.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: A lot of great ones this episode (the dress she wore to the wedding, that green jeweled shift, the dark short-sleeved floral dress with yellow coat and matching shoes) but I need to hunt down the striped bandage dress she wore at the tapas restaurant.
  • “Hold on to him Mindy, like a flagpole in a tornado.” If another cast member needs to step up, I would like to see more of the under-utilized Jeremy.
  • Also, more Tamra schemes would obviously be welcome, because she is the person who makes the most sense in that office. But why wouldn’t she be at the housewarming party?
  • Jody is still worthwhile for one-liners like these: “Once a Kimball-Kinney has made up their mind, that horse is as good as glue.”
  • Don’t really want to know what Morgan and Colette’s singular bathrobe is about.

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