The Mindy Project Season 4 Episode 13 Review: “When Mindy Met Danny”

The Mindy Project

People sometimes forget that there are all different types of love in the world. There’s familial love, the love shared between two friends, romantic love, and, of course, self-love. Where the biggest mix-up for people (including myself) occurs is between romantic love and self love; too often, we are all so desperate for connection with another person that we forget to take care of ourselves, hoping that this other individual will finally “fix” what’s broken inside of us and provide some type of validation for the person that we are. But as The Mindy Project shows us in the heartbreaking but fantastic episode that is “When Mindy Met Danny,” there is no more important love than self-love, because it is from there where all other expressions of love stem; without caring for ourselves and our own wants, needs, and dreams, there can be no room for healthy and happy relationships.

At the end of The Mindy Project‘s midseason finale, Mindy finally makes the incredibly difficult decision to put herself first and leave Danny, as she reflects on their first meeting and where they are now, realizing that the words he once spoke to her still ring true, even when he’s not living up to them. “Don’t ever let anyone try to stop you from doing what you want. Not even me,” Danny tells Mindy as they begin to bond after their first day at work together. That line, which comes near the end of the episode, serves as a mantra for this first half of The Mindy Project‘s fourth season: no one should ever stop you from being the fullest, best version of yourself.

While Danny can’t seem to remember his words right now, he’s still the guy who said them. Underneath the snide remarks about Scrooge and gingerbread cookies, Danny still has the ability to be that man, the guy who was able to find those kind, inspiring words and say them to Mindy despite his awful treatment of her just hours before. That line, which is perfectly delivered by Chris Messina, reminds all Mindy Project fans who the best version of Danny truly is.

However, the rest of the flashbacks also cause us to remember Danny’s many faults: his stubbornness, his selfishness, and his sexist tendencies. Those problems have always been a part of him and still remain, but thanks to his connection with Mindy, they’ve dissipated over the years, only rearing their ugly heads occasionally. The fact that Danny’s worst qualities are back in full-force right now is purely a response to the birth of his child. He’s a person who had no father growing up and who wants the best life possible for his son, a stable and happy home life that he never had himself; unfortunately, those good intentions have become warped into a harmful mentality, a way of thinking and behaving that has only damaged his family instead of securing and strengthening it.

But just because Danny is at his worst right now doesn’t mean he can’t become his best self again. The truest and greatest loves, as cheesy as it sounds, are when two people bring out the best versions of each other; these types of love act as stronger, more fortified versions of self-love, a beautiful harmony of self-care and selflessness. Mindy and Danny were once at this place before, and underneath all the current ugliness, they still possess that same type of love. There’s a very strong chance that it will reappear again, but only after some space, time, and, most importantly, effort.

Because as much as Mindy and Danny may love each other, it’s not the love that either of them needs right now, which is why it’s so sad but fitting that Mindy decides to leave her fiance at the end of the episode, after measuring the space in her apartment to see if Leo’s crib will fit. That’s the moment where The Mindy Project really got me: Mindy’s still using her and Danny’s method from their first day of work together, the same type of “sign from the universe” that helped make her decide to stay at Shulman and Associates. Even though the best of Danny might not be lying in bed next to Mindy, he’s still a part of her, intertwined with the best bits of herself, and it’s what help motivates her to make the right decision at the end of the episode, despite how scary and heartbreaking it is.

After this emotional half hour, it looks like The Mindy Project will be heading into uncharted waters in 2016. A broken-up Mindy and Danny may not be where many fans of the series expected the show to go in its first-ever Hulu season, but there’s no denying how honest and beautiful many of these episodes have been, despite the sadness that has hung over them. Here’s hoping that The Mindy Project continues this approach to storytelling throughout the rest of Season 4, whether it’s making us laugh or cry, and that, somewhere along the way, the best version of Danny Castellano returns again, ready to remind Mindy and the audience of who he truly can be.

Other thoughts:

  • The flashbacks throughout this episode are terrific. I especially loved the fact that Stephen Tobolowsky returned as Dr. Shulman, and that we got to see Jeremy being a ladies man again. Oh, such simpler times for him.
  • I can’t be the only one who hopes that Mindy Laharo makes a cameo at some point in a future episode.
  • Mindy’s description of Jeremy (“Very handsome in a Sunglass Hut kind of way”), her breakdown of Danny’s office, and her objections to Wicked were all fantastic and so very Mindy.
  • The origin story of Danny’s red glasses was absolutely wonderful.
  • Also, the “selfer” that Mindy and Danny take together in the flashbacks freaking wrecked me. I was tearing up.
  • Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina are both incredible throughout this episode, but I especially have to give credit to Kaling, who not only co-wrote “When Mindy Met Danny” but says so much without any words in the episode’s closing moments. It’s easily her best performance since the amazing work she did in the Season 3 finale, and she’s been killing it all season long.
  • That’s it for The Mindy Project in 2015. Thanks for checking out these reviews, everyone. I hope you all have been enjoying my thoughts on the series throughout the first half of the show’s first Hulu season, and I’ll be back when The Mindy Project returns with new episodes in 2016. Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you all!

What did everyone else think about The Mindy Project‘s midseason finale? And what are your thoughts on this season as a whole so far? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Jordan Althaus/NBC]

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