This episode was like a magic trick. Somehow, MMA cage fighting, tough love, gazebo planning, and poorly timed Facebook stalking all led up to a refreshingly drama-free end for Dr. Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and snobby journalist Jason (Ben Feldman).
Hurricane Mindy's course was so expertly choreographed that we had lots of time for the awesome bonus plot of Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) trying to get Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) to leave her guy, Ray Ron (Josh Peck, in peak homeboy form). Best line ever, courtesy of Ray Ron: "Girl, I'm gonna take you to a menu restaurant." Ha! Also, did we mention additional guest appearances by Kendra Wilkinson and UFC president Dana White?
Hurricane Mindy is so fast and fierce that we'd better start soon... as in now!
Level 5: Watch out! Tornado? Sharknado? Mind-ado!
Level 4: Danger! Yes, that's hail out there
Level 3: Thunder sounds worse than it is (knock on wood)
Level 2: Cloudy with 50-50 chance of drama
Level 1: Smooth sailing. Happy, healthy, and totally well-adjusted!
Dr. L walks into the office to find all the guys celebrating "wings and stings" — eating chicken wings and shooting each other with toy guys. She has every right to calmly remind the gun-toting dudes that she "just wanted all the doctors to sing one birthday video for Meredith Vieira, and suddenly it's a workplace." Good point, Dr. L.
We've been slowly getting annoyed with new guy Peter (Adam Pally), so it's exciting to see the bad vibes between him and Mindy finally come to a head, and in such a weird way. Peter has adopted an offbeat-in-the-bad-way Southern drawl and holds her hostage. He then turns the gun on himself. Mindy is right. This game is a "hugely dumb waste of time."
Peter shoots Mindy in the chest — hello, aggression! — and then shoots her again, claiming he "had to get the small one, too." She calls him out for his behavior, but her focus is in the wrong place. "How dare you?" she sasses. "They're both huge."
Morgan jumps out of the woodwork disguised as a plant and fires his gun. Mindy sighs, "I hate this. I hate working here." Yawp.
She gathers the staff in a small courtyard and unveils a Mike Brady-style mock-up of "The Schuman and Associates Gazebo Garden and Serenity Space." It's too bad she can't get through her pitch without talking about Danny's (Chris Messina) secret cigarette breaks.
She says there is no brainstorming allowed regarding the Garden. Uh-oh.
The guys object — who needs a gazebo? — and Dr. L argues, in complete earnest, that a gazebo is great because you can hide out there with your "one true love."
Peter wants a basketball court. Now Mindy gets even more pro-gazebo and shouts, "We're getting a gazebo, dammit, and maybe a maypole in the spring for dancing." And she demands that Morgan clear the trash so she can "storm out." Epic fail, much?
When Mindy innocently enters the break room and drops a perfectly good granola bar because Peter and Morgan are "ultimate fighting," she has every right to be mad. But...
When Morgan insists that she's still going to eat the bar, she says, "Yeah, I probably will." Ew! And she can't resist taking a stand as "a young, hot woman" who needs a safe place to "just walk around watching Internet videos." Peter stings, "Is there a young hot woman running around?"
She walks out instead of getting into it with Peter. Impressive demonstration of restraint.
Mindy seeks Danny's help regarding Peter's passive-aggressive attitude and wonders if it's because she walks "too loudly." Danny says he's upset over a breakup; she says that was a year ago. Danny tries to change the subject, asking, "Why do you have to get along with everyone you work with? We didn't get along when we first started."
She softens, and admits, "Yeah, I hated that." Kiss him, Dr. L, kiss him!
Alas, no, because rational Danny says, "Now I think you're a nice lady and we're friends." Ugh. They both think it's a good idea that she spends time with Peter, but…
The USA Girl Café is a hysterically bad choice. Peter is offended: "You thought this was the best way to get to know me?"
And she gives the worst possible answer: "I have kind of a cool story. When I first got my period at age 14, my mom drove us from Concord to come here." She says they have the best chicken tenders, but Peter won't have it and he wants out.
Level-headed Dr. L lets Peter talk. He accuses her of being self-involved and says that if she really wanted to get to know him, she would take him to "a place we can both enjoy." There is physical proof: His fingers don't even fit in the teacups. She mentions their next stop, which involves "death" and "Liberace."
Mindy actually processes Peter's argument that the other guys went along with her teacup adventures because they didn't have a guy like him who plans events. She is adorably willing and pleads that she can "do cool bro things! I am not girly!" And here comes physical proof to disqualify her testimony: a giant cupcake with a sparkler.
Naturally, she tells Danny that this is his fault, but he knows her well and asks if she took him to the girly place. She wants Peter fired. Danny tells her to "take an interest in what he cares about."
Dr. L is in top form when she says, "No Phish. Songs should be three minutes long, and Nicki Minaj raps in the middle." Danny invites her out with the guys tonight. She agrees. Hello, easy, breezy, beautiful Dr. Lahiri!
She calls Jason from a cab to tell him she will be "30 to 45 minutes late." He is on his third bowl of edamame because she is already 15 minutes late, and he wishes she had called sooner.
After you bail on a guy, it is not wise to mention another guy. She tells Jason to order Danny's favorite dish — yikes — and then she tells him she has to go because Danny is texting. And there it is: How Not to Date, by Dr. L.
Her jaw drops upon her arrival at the fight arena, but she still tries to understand Peter's interest in this. And when he says he's been a fan since childhood, she nods and understands that martial arts are his way of dealing with being bullied. Peter is horrified; he was the bully! We don't blame her for being generally put off by the whole thing.
OK, so she is silly to think that she would have been able to get mojitos, and she does whine about the venue's lack of "muddling equipment," but she gets a round of beers for the guys, and that's sheer sweetness.
The guys are ogling the hot blond chick, Marie (Wilkinson), who carries the signs across the stage. And Dr. L knows her!
But… Dr. L starts with a simple question for Marie: "How are your stitches?" And the guys are grossed out. We learn the girl is a grandmother. And the guys are really grossed out.
The guys are helping Peter warm up, talking smack so that he gets revved up. She is trying to help — noble!
She "helps" by going on Facebook and informing Peter that his ex Becca just got engaged. Peter practically hits the floor. She keeps going: "You're such a loser and she moved on. Get angry!" Danny is angry with her for screwing up — so angry that he goes all 1990s on her: "I'm really glad you made it... not!"
When she sees Peter face a giant guy with tattoos, she calls 911: "I would like to report a death that hasn't happened yet. No, I didn't do it, but I am responsible." Well, if she's going to play with her phone, this is better than Facebook.
Mindy's reaction to seeing Peter get his butt kicked is priceless: "He's taking it like he's the wife in a country-music video." Jeremy (Ed Weeks) is still mad about the ex factor and wonders how Mindy could work with Peter for months and "not know that any mention of Becca would destroy him." Danny calls this "Textbook Lahiri." And again, Mindy doesn't blow up. Impressive!
She begs Marie to let her go in the ring. Marie is hesitant because "the only people allowed in there are people willing to die or flash their boobs." Mindy promises her a celebrity suite for her next pregnancy. And Marie is sold.
Peter is still up there getting his butt kicked, and Mindy sails off for a moment into Mindy-Land, musing about Ice-T and Coco: "I'm only now realizing that both of their names are drinks."
She crosses the stage with a Round 2 sign. A dude heckles, "Take your top off!" She remains calm: "Excuse me, sir, but I'm just here to convey numerical information about which round it is." Well played... but the real test is yet to come.
She finally gets to Peter and tells him that he can't worry about seeming like a "wuss" because being a wuss is "better than being killed or paralyzed."
Mindy almost blows it with Peter by telling him to "buckle down." He snaps, "What am I doing? Homework?"
She finally finds a way to make her own self-centered way of life useful to Peter and advises him to pretend that he's beating up his ex's fiancé. She reveals and relates like a true pro coach: "The only way I get through spin class is by pretending I'm running over Michael Jackson's doctor, the one that stole Michael Jackson from us!" And just like that, Peter is cured!
Oh, Mindy. Peter is still in the ring when Danny compliments her coaching, and she can't help but go all greedy: "This is why I think I should be one of those highly-paid motivational speakers." Or maybe not.
After the fight, Peter opens up about his romantic troubles, and she says she's not into the "broiest" of things, but that relationship talk is her "MMA." And Peter plans to take her up on her offer to talk because the most he gets from Danny is platitudes like "Not for nothing, but it is what it is." Which is, obviously, why Danny and Dr. L are such a great match.
She compliments Peter: "When you're not around other guys, you're not that bad." He sort of compliments her: "When I'm high on painkillers, your voice isn't that shrill." She smiles. She can take a joke. Yay!
Jason shows up — she totally forgot about dinner — and tells her that she's clearly too into her job. He cares about his boss, but he doesn't "memorize her sushi order." She lets him go. Just like that. No unnecessary rationalizations or tears. Amazing.
The gang celebrates in the brand-new "Pete the Punisher Apprentice Memorial Park." No gazebo, either. Why, you ask? "There's a gazebo in my heart," she says, with just the right amount of sarcasm and whimsy.
She takes a shot with the basketball, and Peter blocks it, and she snips, "What the hell?" And we're relieved because for a moment there, Dr. L was almost too down to earth, and we need her a little off-balance — otherwise, the hurricane gets downgraded to a tropical storm, and what fun is that?
"The Mindy Project" airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.
- Mindy Kaling