Tuesday, January 6, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project' - Mindy Starts Her Fellowship Program While Morgan & Tamra Play Basketball in 'Stanford'

FOX's The Mindy Project - Episode 3.12 "Stanford"

Mindy heads to Stanford University, where she makes a less-than-stellar first impression in her fellowship class. Meanwhile, back in New York, the practice is determined to win a basketball tournament.

The desire to be able to do something alone mixed with the fear of having to do something by yourself is always an intense inner conflict. That idea is presented in The Mindy Project when Mindy goes to Stanford University to begin her new fellowship. She's so happy that Danny is supportive of her and willing to do so much to help her succeed. And yet, she also knows that she needs to be the one to motivate herself into doing well in this fellowship. It's something she really wants but she also stands out in a major way from the rest of her fellowship class. Mindy's skills as a doctor have never been the driving force of her character. But this opportunity presents a whole new set of challenges and personal growth.

Mindy easily could have quit the fellowship program and returned to New York and the universe she knows and is comfortable in. While everyone else in her class is preparing to learn and doing the necessary work, she is getting ready for a party and going on a double date with her professor, Dr. Rob Gurglar. Receiving special treatment because of the relationship Danny has with Rob (they went to med school together) is the only way she sees herself getting ahead in the program. And yes, that is good for a little bit. The dinner date allows her the chance to change Dr. Gurglar's perception of her. But by bringing Danny and his connections into this, it also opens it up to more possibilities to go wrong. Of course, it does. Dr. Gurglar's wife is an unhappy woman who really admires Danny's self-sacrifice for Mindy's career and starts having foot sex with him underneath the table. That scene is just incredible. I loved Ana Gasteyer's intense facial expressions.

But that night forced Mindy and Danny into a big fight and almost killed Dr. Gurglar. That's not the way that Mindy wants to get ahead in this fellowship. Danny abandons her for a little bit and that's when she really gets to show the personal growth and humility that has lying underneath the surface. She tells Dr. Gurglar the truth and stitches him up following his accident. She shows him how great she is as a doctor and later she recognizes that she hasn't put the time in to be worthy of doing the surgery in his place. That's just a great moment. Sure, the only reason she gives it to the other Indian doctor in the class is because she's the only other one Mindy knows. But it is a great moment nevertheless.

And it's a great moment that she comes to all on her own. Danny needed to leave in order for her to truly embrace doing this fellowship by herself. In terms of their relationship, that isn't so good. But they do reunite by episode's end. They bring out each other's best qualities and being there for one another lately is just the kind of thing that makes them worthwhile as a couple. If the show wants to be about Mindy and Danny living at Stanford for the next few episodes, with a few subplots checking in on the rest of the cast in New York, I'm perfectly fine with it after this episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stanford" was written by Tracey Wigfield and directed by Michael Spiller.
  • Speaking of everyone back in New York, the basketball team subplot was just sorta there. It was never something Danny took seriously and thusly almost felt like a distraction from the main plot. I'm glad Tamra is allowed to have a reaction to Morgan dating someone new (as I was murky on where they stood as a couple in the last episode). None of it felt all that special though.
  • As Mindy returns to a college campus, she wonders if things will be like Felicity and who will be the corresponding men in her life. To which, Danny proclaims he's everyman.
  • Mindy can't decide if she wants to join an a cappella group or a comedy improv. We never hear her sing but does space on the ending to "light on my feet."