The Mindy Project TV Review: 'Santa Fe' Tests Mindy And Danny's Friendship
This week’s episode of The Mindy Project perfectly represented why I love the show—and it’s not just because creator/writer/star Mindy Kaling is one of the most brilliant women working in television. No, ‘Santa Fe,’ was a great episode because it was funny, wacky, and developed the characters beyond a silly bit. The Mindy Project, with its romantic comedy core, could easily end up being a series of cruel romantic comedy sketches. For example, every episode opens with Mindy declaring her romantic fantasies, and this week was no different. Mindy was trying to get her current boyfriend (a hot minister) to tell her that he would commit murder to avenge her death—the ultimate proof of love in Hollywood.
This is why Mindy Lahiri is one of the most amazing female characters on television: she is smart and successful. Yet, she is not ashamed to be stereotypically girly. And she certainly is not ashamed of being dramatic. This week, Mindy agonized over visiting her cheating ex-boyfriend, Josh (Tommy Dewey), while in Santa Fe for a work conference with her colleagues. Danny (Chris Messina), Jeremy (Ed Weeks), and nurse Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) accompany Mindy to the Santa Fe conference, where Jeremy is set to make an important presentation.
The flight, of course, provides the setting for spot-on bits about carry-on luggage and travel etiquette. And, as an added bonus, gave Danny and Mindy a chance to bicker like an old married couple. Once they arrive in New Mexico, Morgan and Jeremy deal with the presentation, and Danny ends up escorting Mindy on her trip to visit Josh (he won’t let her drive the rental car).
Jeremy, the charming womanizer, has his best moments when he gets to show off his emotional side while still being completely self-absorbed and beautiful. This episode explored this contradiction in Jeremy through his budding bromance with Morgan. At the office, Jeremy embraces the ex-con and general weirdo, but at the conference, in front of his esteemed colleagues, he shuns Morgan. Of course, he finds a way to make up with his buddy—in a sweat lodge.
Jeremy and Morgan are such an unlikely pair that even the slightest interaction between them is funny. Jeremy, polished, smooth, and flirtatious, is almost the complete opposite of Morgan, who is so unaware of social niceties that he can be hilariously vulgar and obscene. Their relationship allows both characters to become more than simple archetypes. Plus, Morgan is one of the best characters on the show—the more scenes he’s in, the better.
Of course the real couple to watch during this episode was Mindy and Danny, the will-they-won’t-they couple of the show. Yes, Danny still pretends to find everything Mindy does juvenile and stupid. And yes, Mindy insists that Danny is a grumpy old man who hates everything fun. But they are MADE for each other. Every scene between them is enjoyable—filled with thinly-veiled insults and sweet little moments that can be both heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny. This episode featured a particularly fun scene in which Mindy buys Danny a license plate keychain with his name on it at a gas station. When he complains, she insists that he should be happy because ‘Mindy’ is never put on merchandise. ‘I have to get Mandy,’ she says. Danny’s reply? ‘You don’t have to get anything.’ It’s a short scene that doesn’t do much to advance the plot of the episode, and yet, it is one of the most memorable because it is so simple and indicative of their love-hate relationship. (Not to mention relatable—who hasn’t looked for their names on those keychains?)
Later in the episode, when Mindy finally sees Josh, who is in rehab for cocaine addiction, she is shocked when he assumes that she is dating Danny. This, as any television fan will tell you, is a huge turning point in their romantic relationship. Once the idea of romance is planted in a character’s head, it haunts them forever (just take a look at New Girl’s Nick and Jess). From there, the episode spiraled into romantic-comedy territory so quickly, it was almost too much for me to process—yeah, it was that good.
On the flight back to New York City, Danny and Mindy ‘accidentally’ hold hands during a moment of extreme turbulence! And they don’t immediately let go after the turbulence ends! Sexual tension? Check.
And then, as if that wasn’t a big enough tease for the viewers, the episode ends with the biggest cliffhanger in the show so far: the doctors returned to their office where…Danny’s ex-wife is waiting for him!
We’ve heard a lot about the ex-wife who destroyed Danny’s life and left him bitter and disillusioned, but to see her in the flesh brings a completely new dynamic to the show. The wife, played by Chloê Sevigny, is sure to bring the drama. It’s exciting to see Danny getting a more dramatic storyline, especially because Chris Messina's Danny is really a fantastic actor, and I trust that he can pull it off without being cheesy or sappy. Needless to say, I’m excited to see Danny pushed to the edge of his sanity.
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