The Mindy Project is titled The Mindy Project for a reason: its main focus is typically on Mindy Lahiri and whatever challenges she’s going through at the moment. In the past couple seasons of the series, many of those obstacles have been faced by Mindy with Danny at her side; however, what happens when you flip the script and totally focus on Danny, with virtually no Mindy at all? That’s what “Road Trip” does, and while it’s an admirable effort by The Mindy Project to try to shake things up and give its creator, producer, and star a little bit of a break (there are 26 episodes of Mindy this season versus the show’s typical order of 22), the installment is ultimately a mixed bag.
The main issue with “Road Trip” is that it tries to address Danny’s own issues with his dad without them actually interacting. More recent episodes of The Mindy Project have been about delaying the conflicts that the series has set up, whether it be Mindy and Danny getting married, or Mindy telling Danny that she doesn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. Instead of dealing with these issues head on, the show hits pause on them for the time being as a way of building tension, but all it does is make these problems feel more drawn-out than they should be.
Again, that’s where “Road Trip” falters. As Danny and Morgan drive across the country to go see his father (who had a heart attack at the end of last week’s episode) in California, Danny does everything he can to try to get Morgan to leave. He has a secret stop that he needs to make on this trip that he doesn’t want anyone to know about, but despite all of Danny’s attempts to rid himself of him, Morgan ends up finding out anyway: Danny has a teenage son that he just learned about…or does he?
Eventually, it’s revealed that Eric is not Danny’s son, which isn’t shocking or interesting in anyway, but this whole plot is only here to do one thing: to make Danny deal with his absentee father issues without having him actually confront his dad about it. So, yes, while it’s nice to see Danny drive back to the house and pretend to be Eric’s father at his birthday party (and even give the kid his car, which was a sweet gesture, given the fact that Evelyn couldn’t afford to buy him one), it doesn’t work nearly as well as having Danny come face-to-face with his own father again; that’s partly because Eric comes off as way more obnoxious than Danny or Evelyn think, but mostly because both we and Danny are being denied the catharsis of him dealing with his daddy issues and becoming a stronger, better man and parent.
Perhaps Dan Hedaya will return as Alan Castellano next week, and The Mindy Project will double up on its delayed stories, forcing Danny to deal with his problems and Mindy to tell him the truth about her wanting to return to work. But even if that does happen, it doesn’t stop “Road Trip” from being an entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying experiment for the Hulu sitcom, a minor stumble in what’s been an incredibly strong fourth season so far.
- Exchanges like this between Mindy and Danny are why they’re such a fun couple to watch: “Our father who art in heaven / Halloween thy name.” “Maybe I shouldn’t go.”
- Two new facts about Castellano men: they “express their feelings through fighting or dancing. It’s either the fist or the foot,” and they’re very gullible and “hate the feeling of condoms.”
- I love the fact that it wasn’t the idea of another guy sleeping with Mindy that bothered Danny so much, but the fact that this guy would take Leo to a Red Sox game.
- Everything about Morgan and Eddie from Frasier was terrific. In fact, anything that ever has to do with Frasier is always awesome. It’s such a great show.
What did you think about this week’s episode of The Mindy Project? Did you like Danny and Morgan’s road trip, or did you miss Mindy? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC]