Despite what the beginning of the episode led us to believe, there was no proposal tonight. And thank goodness for that.
Mindy and Danny getting engaged wouldn’t be a bad thing—they’ve proven to be funny (and adorable) as a couple, entertaining enough to sustain an entire half-hour of TV each week. But if Danny proposed to Mindy at this point in the show, it’d be because that’s what he thinks she wants and not because he’s sure it’s what he wants. He read her diary, he knows she wants a ring by Christmas—knowledge that understandably put a lot of pressure on him. But, as we saw last week when he waffled about moving in with her, Danny isn’t completely certain he wants to spend the rest of his days with Mindy. And that’s fine. But it also means he’s in no place to get down on one knee, at least not yet—for his and her sake.
While Danny still might not be ready to wed again, he is maturing—kinda. Fishman proposes Mindy (so, yes, there technically is a proposal in this episode) apply for an eight-month Stanford fellowship, and Mindy decides to go for it. Only problem? She has limited—very limited—time to write a personal essay and nab three recommendation letters. But Danny gets freaked out by the thought of Mindy leaving, telling himself it’s another one of her outlandish ideas that is bound to pass; he gets so freaked out that he ends up advising a doctor not to write a rec letter for Mindy, and therefore ruins her application (and, as a result, destroys the possibility of her heading to Stanford).
This is perhaps Danny’s lowest point… ever. Even I, someone who is extremely pro-Danny, was ready to tell Mindy to kick him to the curb. Sure, Mindy is indecisive and does have fleeting fantasies that are often better left as fantasies, and Danny has every right to acknowledge that. But what he doesn’t have a right to do is get in the way of those fantasies, especially professional ones—and especially if he’s getting in the way just to benefit himself. Like, really, Danny: Mindy’s really great, but eight months is no big.
Meanwhile, Morgan’s having a bit more luck in love—at Peter’s expense. Danny tries to set Peter up with Jessica (played by the delightful Julia Stiles in a guest role), a hoarder, but there’s a mix-up and Jessica ends up taking Morgan to bed thinking he’s Peter. This B-plot is, as usual, not as engrossing as the main one, but Stiles turns it into something funny and lighthearted—and a good contrast to the sorta-seriousness of Mindy and Danny’s situation.
Then, because it’s the Christmas episode, there’s a holiday party (and, sadly, Danny does not dance this year). This is where Mindy finds out the doctor skipped out on writing the rec letter, and where she then proceeds to present Danny with a documentary in the style of Ken Burns featuring an interview with Ken Burns. Mid-showing, Danny has an epiphany and runs to his mom’s house to get her ring so he can propose. This is when the stomach flip-flops began: It wouldn’t work out if he proposed right now for the aforementioned reasons, and because Mindy would eventually find out that he was proposing just to cover up that he did something really messed up to her professionally. Even the prettiest ring can’t fix mistakes that big.
After good ol’ Ma talks some sense into Danny, he comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t want the ring—she wants the fellowship, and it’s in his hands to get her considered for the job. He ends up writing the third letter himself and submitting it to Fishman, who takes a break from her women-only nativity scene to take the application. Danny goes from being the Grinch who stole (Mindy’s) Christmas to the Grinch who saved it in a matter of an evening.
Flash-forward two weeks, and Mindy finds out that she got the fellowship because, duh, she’s Mindy Lahiri. All this exciting news doesn’t negate the fact that Mindy is still really into Danny and that Danny is more enthusiastic about buying a burial plot (so weird) than buying her a ring, but it does mean they’re about to—if all goes well—have an eight-month span apart to figure some things out. Let’s just hope that, for Danny’s sake, she doesn’t fall for any California cuties in the meantime.
“I’m not an easy man to impress—unless I’m watching a magic show.” —Danny
“If it wasn’t for him, I’d be covered in Simpsons tattoos.” —Mindy
“It’s only eight months. I’ll be back in time to ruin football season for you.” —Mindy
“She ran for city council just to get more trans fats in her food.” —Danny
“Stanford will be another dead professional dream, like being an astronaut or an African dictator.” —Mindy
“Ma, if I could marry you, I would.” —Danny
“You stop being weird. Go.” —Annette
“I just bought a 50-pound bag of kitty litter. I don’t even have a cat.” —Jessica
By the numbers
Mindy’s outfits: 13
Amount Danny spends on burial plot: $20,000
Phones Jessica is hoarding: 10
Length of Mindy’s Stanford fellowship: 8
Dogs Morgan has: 40
Year Danny was born: 1974