The Mindy Project seems dedicated to producing more inventive episodes for this season. The quality of the episodes throughout The Mindy Project’s four seasons has always been great, but this season seems to mess around and have fun with the status quo. Most of the first episode was spent in a dream, Mindy and Danny’s life changed drastically due to Leo in just the second episode, and now we have an episode entirely about Danny. The episode was so focused on his road trip with Morgan that we barely saw Mindy. We only checked in on her when Danny did. For this episode, it was Danny’s show and we saw everything from his perspective.
While I love the idea of an episode revolving entirely around Danny, I wish the plot of “Road Trip” had been better. On paper, this must have looked like a home run. Chris Messina has the acting chops and Danny is a well defined enough character to easily have an episode all about him. Both the actor and the character were up to the challenge, but it was the plot that hurt this episode.
The entire episode revolves around Danny visiting a former fling and her son, believing the son to be his. The problem is I couldn’t really bring myself to care about Danny trying to become a father to Eric. First of all, the twist of Eric not actually being Danny’s son was obvious. The second that Eric’s mother became mortified when she saw Danny, I guessed that Eric had believed a lie about Danny being his real father. But I could have gotten past it, if Eric had been more sympathetic.
I understand that Eric was a teenager and had conflicted feelings about meeting his father, but his moods swung back and forth. He scheduled his birthday party weeks in advance for Danny to come, and initially seemed thrilled to meet him. Danny takes this much more calmly than he would have in the earlier seasons, trying to bond with Eric and attempting to help him out with anything he needs. But when Danny reasonably turns down Eric’s request to move out to Oklahoma and marry a woman he barely knows, Eric turns on him. He claims he wasn’t a great father (disregarding the fact that Danny didn’t even know that he existed until a month ago), and then slugs him.
So much of this episode revolves around Danny seeing his own father issues reflected in Eric. He identifies with Eric so deeply that he pretends he’s Eric’s father and then gives him his car. But the audience can’t identify with Eric the way they can with Danny. Eric simply isn’t written in a way that makes him relatable. He switches moods so quickly that it’s confusing. It makes sense that Eric would be angry and hurt with Danny, but I would have liked to seen a gradual building of his bitterness, rather than his feelings just coming out of the blue.
I’m conflicted on this episode. I don’t want The Mindy Project to stop doing creative episodes; heck, I think another Danny-centric episode would be great. But I want the next Danny episode to be centered even more around Danny, and less around the guest stars he meets. Just focus on the cranky, lovable Danny we all look forward to watching each week.
Notes and Observations
- Among Morgan’s urgent questions: “Are you gay? Are you attracted to me? Why not?”
- Castellano family values: “Castellano men express their feelings through fighting or dancing.”
- “Before Leo came along we would make plans! And yes, you would always cancel them…” Poor Morgan.
- Mindy’s attempt at the “Our Father” is hilarious and seasonal: “Our Father who art in heaven, Halloween thy name…”
- That Danny mobile is both cute and creepy.