When FOX' The Mindy Project returns for its second season, it's snappier, faster-paced, and more clear-headed than ever before. After spending much of season one working out kinks in characters, cast, and balance between Mindy's (Mindy Kaling) office life and romantic life, the show comes back strong knowing who everyone is, what the show is, and how to best highlight its colorful group and still somewhat out-there scenarios. But you shouldn't take that to mean that Mindy herself, or any of the characters that surround her, have made as much progress on themselves in our time away; they are still the same slightly rag-tag team as ever, and for quite a few of them, things have actually taken a downtrend, proving new avenues for comedy.
"All My Problems Solved Forever", the second season premiere of The Mindy Project sees Mindy and her preacher boyfriend Casey (Anders Holm) living it up in an extremely sunny and remarkably clean Haiti. They're not in a tent as Mindy and much of the audience feared at the end of last season but actually a hut that is much bigger than most affordable New York City apartments. And as Mindy puts it, it smells better in Haiti than New York, too. Things seem to be going perfectly for Mindy there; even when Casey wakes her up ridiculously early, it's because he wants to have a very special romantic moment with her. But then things take a turn when she starts to experience severe stomach cramps. Admittedly, I thought the cramps were her body's way of manifesting it's madness over so much change-- after all, they do come about after a big life moment for Mindy-- but it turns out she actually is sick and has to be returned to New York for an operation.
It's not as serious as it may sound. The premiere episode zips through Haiti and the hospital to get Mindy back on her feet and moving forward with her plans with Casey to plan an impromptu wedding in her apartment for later in the week/episode. Like we said, this premiere covers a lot of ground in order to avoid leaving any loose plot threads but ultimately get Mindy back to where she belongs: annoying the crap out of Danny (Chris Messina) as she rambles on and on in the office.
With Mindy's absence, Danny has returned to a relationship with his ex-wife (Chloe Sevigny), but it is one in which he is keeping great distance from her-- emotionally and physically, and it becomes apparent that it's not just residual ill-feelings about how they left things the last time but a longing for Mindy that is the culprit. He may not realize how deep his feelings for Mindy run, but being unable to see her everyday has certainly taken its toll on him. He worries about her; he writes to her; he saves her letters (and probably re-reads them again and again, I don't know, that much isn't explicit, but if I'd have to guess...).
Danny isn't the only one not doing so well, either. Jeremy (Ed Weeks) has lost his peak physique, turning to stress-eating to handle the new responsibilities he's absorbed at the practice. Though he, too, doesn't come right out and say it, the new doctor in the office (James Franco) might have a little something to do with it since he's a former model who now easily wins for "crazy bangable" doctor in the office. Mindy says it herself upon meeting him, even though she then promptly feels a bit threatened by his place and Morgan's (Ike Barinholtz) affectionate nickname for him. Franco, of course, is his usual over-grinning self here, but that actually helps to sell this impossibly accomplished and lovable guy. And at the end of the episode, he and Mindy share a moment that shows he may be just as concerned about her stealing his thunder as she was about him. It's nice to see some of her similar vulnerabilities reflected in another character who you know is bound to exhibit them differently and probably even less controlled than she.
Though all of these things (and some quippy one-liners from Beth Grant and Xosha Roquemore) certainly provide the comedy in the episode, the heart comes directly from Mindy and Danny's re-bonding. Even as Mindy and Casey are preparing to walk down a last minute, crowded aisle, it is the unlikely friendship between the tried and true romantic and the jaded cynic that provides the clarity the characters need and the warmth the audience does. Whether or not you want to see these two hook up romantically, you can't ignore that their relationship is key, not only to the show but to these two as individuals feeling a sense of balance and being able to make the proper big, important decisions the right way.
The Mindy Project returns to FOX on September 17 2013 at 9:30 p.m. but you can watch the season two premiere on Hulu right now.
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