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‘The Mindy Project’ Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: “Christmas”

It’s Christmas time at Shulman & Associates on The Mindy Project, but all Mindy (Mindy Kaling) can think about is whether Danny (Chris Messina) will pop the big question anytime soon. She goes so far as to re-tape Danny’s shredded credit card statements, but it ends up working out for her because she sees that he bought something from a place called Forever Stones. She takes this as the sign that she’s getting engaged. To further this idea, she overhears Danny talking on the phone about changing the stone and being really excited to tell his girlfriend.

The next day, Dr. Fishman (Niecy Nash) tells Mindy that she qualifies to apply for a fellowship at Stanford University. If she gets it, she’ll be learning new fertility techniques for 8 months and then coming back to teach them here. Mindy really wants to do it, but she’s hesitant to say yes because she doesn’t want to scare Danny’s engagement proposal away with this huge change.

Meanwhile, Danny lets Peter (Adam Pally) know that he has a female friend who’s a doctor, Jessica (Julia Stiles), that he’d be interested in setting Peter up with. The only catch is that she’s a hoarder, which isn’t that big of a deal for Peter, so he accepts. We meet Jessica when she calls Mindy over to ask about what Peter’s like. Mindy tells her that she should meet him herself because he’s eating popcorn in the lounge. Right before Jessica enters though, Peter finishes up his popcorn, hands the remaining kernels to Morgan (Ike Barinholtz), and walks out of the room. Jessica now thinks that Morgan is Peter. She introduces herself and tells him that they’re supposed to be going on a date, so Morgan assumes that she’s Danny’s Secret Santa gift to him. Jessica and Morgan’s date goes so well that he stays the night at her apartment, but the next morning, Morgan’s shocked to hear her say, “I can’t believe after all the stories I heard, I slept with Peter Prentice.”

That night at dinner, in a moment that seemed very much like a proposal, Danny reveals to Mindy that he bought a burial plot called Forever Stones. Apparently, Danny feels this news is deserving of a very fancy dinner.

Mindy agrees to apply to the fellowship, but she has to get 3 recommendation letters and write a personal essay. Dr. Fishman gives her advice on her career and to not let Danny interfere with this opportunity: “Be strong, Lahiri. A woman’s career and ambitions don’t age well on the shelf. Put them away because you want to, but not because you think you have to.”

She goes home to tell Danny the news, who doesn’t seem to take it that well, especially because she’ll be gone for 8 months. Danny discusses this with Peter the next day, but as he seems to have gotten used to the idea of her leaving, Peter tells him that this doesn’t sound like Mindy at all. In fact, it sounds like a ploy for her to get engaged. Danny’s in a proposal trap.

The little seed of fear Peter planted in Danny’s head starts to grow when Danny speaks to one of the doctors that is writing Mindy’s recommendation letter. “Don’t waste your energy. I don’t think she’s serious about Stanford.” Danny flat out tells him to not write it because Mindy doesn’t really want to go to Stanford. She just got very ahead of herself. (Sidenote: This is somewhat reminiscent of what happened in The Office between Jim and Pam, but while Danny’s willing to go ahead and jeopardize Mindy’s chances of leaving, Jim’s very willing for Pam to follow her dreams.)

At the Shulman & Associates holiday party, Mindy reads the email the doctor sent her, stating that he didn’t write the letter of recommendation because “other people were more deserving.” Danny asks her if she really wanted to go and she says, “Of course I wanted to go, Danny. I wanted to go so badly, that I was willing to be away from you. I was just excited to show people what I was capable of.”

In an effort to stop crying and feel better, she joins the party. I feel for Mindy so much. I think, at times, the audience sometimes forgets that this is a workplace comedy and Mindy’s goal is to be a great doctor. We know she loves Danny very much, but she loved her job first. I can’t even bear thinking that Danny would be so willing to take that away from her and I find it even more shocking that her fellow doctors didn’t think she really wanted this advancement in her career. Who do they think she is? Are they still not taking her seriously?

Anyway, Morgan fills Peter in on Julia’s thinking that Morgan is Peter and vice versa, so Peter decides to go along with it, too. This seems to be working out alright until Mindy presents her Secret Santa gift to Danny in front of everyone. She created a Ken Burns documentary-style video about Danny’s life. She interviewed several people about him, including Morgan and Peter and even worse, she wrote their names on the video. Shocked that Morgan lied to her, Jessica walks out of the party and he follows her.

In a very sweet moment in the video, Mindy reads a letter she got from Danny while she was in Haiti. As she reads his words, “I miss you, but don’t let it go to your head,” Danny comes to the realization that he’s made a horrible mistake. He leaves to make things right after Mindy in the video says, “I let it get to my head.” Mindy looks around to see his reaction, but notices he left and she assumes that he hated the video.

Danny runs all the way to Staten Island to ask his Ma (Rhea Perlman) for her engagement ring. She talks him out of it by telling him that he needs to get Mindy what she really wants — get her into the fellowship. For once, Annette Castellano is right. I still find it weird that even after he saw Mindy crying over the fact she couldn’t apply for the fellowship, Danny thinks the only way to make it right is for her to get engaged. Did she not make it clear she wants this fellowship so badly?

As this is going down, Morgan tells Julia the truth about not knowing she thought he was Peter. They agree to start over as “two strangers deeply in love with each other.” Back at the party, it seems like Peter’s still into Lauren (Tracey Wigfield), when he gives her a toy truck to give to her son. She kisses him on the cheek to thank him.

Back in Manhattan, Danny finds Dr. Fishman in an all-female Nativity scene. He hands over Mindy’s application along with her 3 letters of recommendation, one of which he wrote himself. He goes back to his apartment to find Mindy watching the video she made him. He tells her that he left the party early to write her an absolutely amazing recommendation. She reads it and loves it, but she’s not the only one. Stanford University accepts Mindy into the program, meaning she’ll be gone for 8 months.

Doctors are competitive. Doctors are selfish. Doctors tend to think of compassion as a liability, not an asset, which is what makes Dr. Mindy Lahiri so truly exceptional among her peers. Her passion to help is a constant reminder of why we all first wanted to practice medicine. Of all her skills, her most impressive is her single-minded devotion to those in her care. Her only flaw that I can think of is that sometimes she doesn’t realize what a great doctor she is.

Because this is the last episode of The Mindy Project we’ll be having until the new year, we’ll most likely be getting a time jump when we get back. The cast was also seen filming in San Francisco, so we can expect to see Mindy in and around Stanford. Until then, Merry Christmas, or rather, Happy Holidays! “It’s not anti-Semitic to say they’re Semitic. We welcome Jews.”

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

“Elegant?! Does that mean I can’t wear my mistletoe belt?” – Beverly

“The brain has no nerve endings. You poke a brain, who cares. You poke a vagina, you’re gonna hear about it.” – Danny

“You’re a beautiful angel and I’m Wreck-It-Ralph.” – Morgan

“If it wasn’t for [Danny], I’d be covered in Simpsons tattoos.” – Mindy

“There’s one shade of gray. Gray.” – Danny