"The Mindy Project" gets unexpectedly Danny-centric this week, and it's not a bad thing.

“The Mindy Project” gets unexpectedly Danny-centric this week, and it’s not a bad thing.

★★★★☆

Well, that was an improvement over last week! “Danny’s Friend” felt closer to the quality I had just started getting used to: the physical comedy was well-timed, they used their guest stars well, and there were plenty of one-liners that actually landed. Plus, the cold open was mercifully short; last week’s debacle with Jeremy’s overweight patient dragged on and on.

The opening chin-up contest between Danny and Jeremy was highly entertaining to watch thanks to the contrast between the eternal Castellano struggle face (see also: this week’s chosen photo) and Jeremy’s easy breezy beautiful victory. I know that’s the CoverGirl slogan, but seriously, has any male character deserved that description more? He’s always so perfectly coiffed, it’s ridiculous.

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The first subplot of the evening involves Mindy and her ex-boyfriend’s ex, Heather (Ellie Kemper). Remember Heather, Josh’s other girlfriend from the Christmas party episode? Well if you didn’t, they supply a helpful flashback of her terrorizing the place in her rage, a lovely foil to her standing in Mindy’s apartment offering humble pie as a peace offering. She’s applied to live in Mindy’s building, and came asking for her blessing. Mindy grants it but naturally starts plotting how to keep Heather from getting the apartment as soon as she leaves. Eventually she settles for dictating to Betsey an anonymous letter for the landlord, denouncing Heather as a potential renter.

The real meat of tonight’s story comes with Jeremy confessing to Mindy that he’s found evidence of – insert dramatic pause literally every time he says this – prescription fraud. It’s coming from Danny, so they assume he’s addicted to painkillers. Obviously, the logical thing to do is throw a wine and cheese intervention for him in the break room where he immediately denies being a drug addict and leaves.

Morgan spills the real story (well, after several digressions) that Danny’s been committing prescription fraud, but not for himself. He saw Danny in the office late at night treating a rough-looking criminal type off the books and prescribing him pain meds for his injuries. Morgan often doesn’t sit right with me as a character since the writers can get too heavy-handed with his oddities, but this scene felt like the perfect Morgan scene, and Ike Barinholtz delivers it well. He rambles with his story, interrupts himself constantly, and accidentally admits to giving friends late night tours of the office.

Jeremy and Mindy don’t have time to worry about Morgan’s after-hours shenanigans, they’re more concerned about the “mobsters” Danny is treating under the table. It turns out it’s his friend from back on Staten Island, Stevie (Bill Tangradi), who gets himself into trouble occasionally and Danny helps him out. I’m guessing he literally doesn’t have health insurance, but Danny’s equally sound reasoning is that if he went straight to the hospital they’d have to call the cops.

Mindy and Jeremy insist that Danny stop supplying Stevie, since that could get their whole practice into a legal mess, so Danny takes him out to lunch to do just that. Or at least, he makes a halfhearted attempt to cut Stevie off but wimps out. Stevie gets mad that Danny’s letting the other doctors push him around and tell him what to do… right before he demands Danny prescribe him more Vicodin. Who’s the pushy one now, Stevie? It’s his blissful ignorance of his own hypocrisy that makes this character who he is, and Bill Tangradi plays his well-meaning brashness perfectly.

Meanwhile, Mindy is trying on new running shoes and horrifying the sales associate with her terrible form when who should walk in but Stevie, She has no idea who he is, obviously, but he’s come to confront her and they have a thoroughly odd conversation. Stevie is being antagonistic about how “fancy” she is, and Mindy’s trying to respond politely and it all somehow ends with the two of them going on an ice cream date.

Back at the office, Mindy brags about her impromptu new guy, even showing a picture of him to Morgan. At his insistence, Danny finally peeks at the picture too, but neither of them feel that now is the appropriate time to tell Mindy who he is. As her friends, I feel like this would have been an opportune moment to clue her in, but most of the characters on this show are fundamentally selfish. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I just think that when in doubt, almost everyone (maybe not Betsey) tends to choose what is better for them over anyone else.

Danny does tell Mindy in practically the next scene, after he fails at convincing Stevie to leave her alone. Stevie’s too busy scalping tickets to the Disney Princess ice show to listen or care much, so Danny takes it on himself to tell Mindy who “her Steven” really is. I don’t know, if I had just gone on a date with the sketchy guy I was trying to prevent my coworker from supplying with drugs, I’d want to have known immediately. Mindy understandably gets a little freaked out, and that only doubles when Danny admits to not having cut him off yet.

Frustrated, Mindy takes both Danny and Morgan back to her place so they can accompany her to Staten Island where she will confront Stevie. Morgan does pushups to prepare for his role as bodyguard while Danny has more trouble than he’d like to admit averting his eyes from bra-clad Mindy. The whole scene is interrupted by Heather, who came over with what was “new neighbor cake” but she was rejected from the apartment suddenly.

Danny, having been nagged by Mindy all episode about truth, gets her to fess up to her letter and apologize. It doesn’t go over well, which I think we all predicted, and Heather shoves the entire cake in Mindy’s face before attacking her. Morgan and Danny haul her into the shower to calm her down while Mindy wipes frosting off her face. The group, now a little more bedraggled, troops down to the landlord (Dan Castallaneta) to get the whole mess straightened out. After a mini-speech from Mindy about the perfect tenant not existing, he agrees to reevaluate Heather’s application.

Danny, Mindy, and Morgan head out to Staten Island to sort out the Stevie side of things. Danny admits he’s afraid he’ll forget where he came from and become one of those “too good for the island guys” they all hate. And true, when he first cuts Stevie off, he gets called exactly that. It takes a physical fight between the two of them to prompt a mutual apology. Stevie says he’s proud of Danny for all he’s done, and Danny looks as touched as I’ve ever seen him. Mindy and Morgan help Stevie’s mom with her overly complex pill box, and everyone parts as friends. Well, except Mindy and Stevie, she nipped that relationship in the bud.

It was great for this episode to subtly explore Danny’s character without being heavy-handed about it. I want to know more about him, but I’d hate to wallow in his self-made misery to do it. The guest stars worked well, and the majority of the jokes landed. With six more to go before the season ends, here’s hoping they all continue in this same vein.

Favorite Lines from “Danny’s Friend”

Heather: “It’s raspberry, actually, but I was very humble throughout the whole baking process.”

Danny: “Who serves wine at an intervention?”

Stevie: “Wow, you got real wide feet.” Mindy: “Thanks, I almost never fall down.”

Heather: “I have a really bad temper. My psychologist blames it on my red hair.”

 

About The Author

Danielle Gillette is a Blast correspondent

One Response

  1. Hazel

    Don’t forget about Danny as a kid; I could never imagine Danny being a fat kid, but this definitely gives Mindy leverage if he ever mentions her weight again! I love your description of “Jeremy’s easy breezy beautiful victory,” and I can’t wait to go into my office at DISH tomorrow and tell my coworkers. The Mindy Project may have started out slow, but it’s seriously developing into a show I look forward to watching each week. I never get home in time to watch Mindy live, but thanks to DISH Anywhere, I can watch live TV on my phone. I’m typically on the train when Mindy comes on, so people usually think that I’m crazy that I’m laughing aloud!

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