Is The Mindy Project Setting Us Up For A Mindy-Danny Reunion?

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.
As a loyal Mindy Project viewer, I don’t believe the FOX-turned-Hulu series has made a lot of wrong steps. I’ve forgiven the comedy for Mindy Lahiri's (Mindy Kaling) confusing lack of female friends whom she doesn’t employe — oh, wherefore art thou, Anna Camp? — and turned a blind eye towards the ridiculousness of an expert OB-GYN accidentally getting pregnant. But, the great disappointment of Mindy is the assassination of Danny Castello’s character to help explain why his portrayer, actor Chris Messina, would be scaled back from his original role as a series regular. Yet, the latest episode of the sitcom, "May Divorce Be With You," reveals Danny (Messina) might be returned to his former glory as Mindy Project heads towards its series finale. And, in traditional rom-com fashion, all of this theorizing stems from the possibility of a Mindy-Danny reconciliation.
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The final seconds of "Divorce" gives viewers the biggest signal Leo Castellano’s parents just might get back together. The entire installment is dedicated to Mindy dealing with the fact she’s getting a divorce from a "perfect guy" like Ben "I Didn’t Have A Last Name Until My Apparent Final Episode" Miller. Although the split went amicably, with no philandering to be found, Ben has now decided he wants half of Mindy’s money and possessions as their months-long marriage ends. But, Mindy has a sweet heart-to-heart with Ben’s daughter Lindsey (Brianna Reed) and the day is saved, as is our titular doctor’s bank account. "I’m glad I was able to help," Mindy's lawyer-slash-ex-boyfriend Cliff Gilbert (Glenn Howerton) says at the close of the episode. "I just wish Danny’s divorce was going as easily as yours." Bombshell, consider yourself dropped.
The writing is right there on the wall when it comes to a Mindy-Danny reunion. I mean, really, why ruin both of these characters marriages just to leave the series’ defining relationship unresolved in its final season? It’s not like the Mindy Project had to breakup Danny’s ill-advised marriage just because its eponymous heroine's is over. While I may be rooting for a completely single Doctor Lahiri at the end of her show’s run, we can all agree that doesn’t exactly sound like the romance-obsessed lead’s dream endgame, nor the writers’ usual M.O.
Actually, if you look at Mindy Project’s history, this next episode feels like a classic setup for a looming Mindy-Danny reunion. Now that Mindy is aware Danny is single, he will coincidentally appear in the upcoming, “Leo’s Girlfriend.” These kinds of small character coincidences have always pushed along the will-they-or-won’t-they tension of the sometimes-couple better than Danny’s bizarre fits of demeaning misogyny, which often disappear once they move the plot forward. Following Danny’s big return, it’s confirmed he'll appear in multiple episodes after that. Kaling's Instagram account also promises Danny will be in series finale, the unnamed tenth episode of season 6. That kind of installment just so happens to be the perfect moment for a big, classic, romantic Mindy Project gesture like the time Danny ran through the streets of New York for the eventual mother of his child in the season 2 ender, "Danny And Mindy."
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The reason Danny's rehabilitation feels imminent is because the character and Mindy cannot work in the recent iterations we’ve seen him in. If fans are supposed to feel satisfied with a prospective romantic resolution between the co-parents, Danny needs a major tune-up. The Danny who Mindy eventually left in season 4 is trash. He tried to trick Mindy into getting pregnant a second time, wanted her to quit her two massive careers, and disappeared for weeks on end, leaving her alone with their newborn. Gone was the difficult-yet-endlessly charming Danny we all grew to love, Mindy included. No one likes that Danny. No one can root for Mindy to be with that Danny.
The last time we actually saw Danny, in season 5 opener "Decision 2016," he dealt with the aftermath of sleeping with Mindy while also being engaged. That fact was a minor detail he managed to leave out during the hours they were trapped in an elevator together. His response to Mindy realizing her ex-fiancé turned her into an adulterer? "Oh, you got the [wedding] invite, cool." Again, this iteration of the character is trash.
That’s why it’s imperative to remember Danny now has those "multiple episodes" to redeem himself, starting with the upcoming "Leo’s Girlfriend." In the small glimpse we get of the salt-and-pepper, bearded Danny, he’s back to his old, lovably-crotchety traditionalism, as opposed to his unsettling judgement of Mindy or his complete disregard for her feelings. “Annette you’re early,” she says after the doorbell rings, assuming Leo’s grandma (Rhea Perlman) is at the door. Instead, it’s Danny, there to announce, "Fifteen minutes early is on time. On time is late." Classic Danny! And, without a hint of, "Mindy, you literal idiot."
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In the very last seconds of "May Divorce Be With You," Mindy quietly smirks to herself over the news her former fiancé is officially back on the market. If Danny really is back to his old self this season, and throws in a few of those classic dance moves to Aaliyah, we’ll all have a reason to smile again. Thankfully, we have seven whole episodes to see exactly where The Mindy Project will take Mindy and Danny as the series wraps for good.
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