“The Other Dr. L,” the second episode of The Mindy Project’s already frazzled season, is a return to the status quo. At the end of The Mindy Project’s first season, Mindy was on her way to Haiti with her boyfriend Casey, Danny was reconnecting with his ex-wife and I can only assume everyone else at the office just lived at the office over the summer and waited for interesting things to happen around them. By the end of this episode though, very little of what happened at the end of last season is relevant, with the only remainder being Casey who is being pushed quickly out of sight and out of mind.
Much to the chagrin of Mindy, James Franco’s Dr. Paul Leotard is refusing to leave her former office and the practice in general. No one in the office wants him gone because as Dr. Reed says “you don’t return a gift from heaven.” Nor should they, since Paul has been nothing but great for them. So Mindy sets out to get her office back and move out of the janitor’s closet where Morgan dries out his wet Speedos.
Also apparently Danny and Christina’s fight in the last episode wasn’t just a fight; now they’re broken up. Every day, Danny is sneaking off to play basketball with the Getting Over It Gang, a group of men getting over women that have broken their heart that includes Mindy’s old flame Tom, a returning Bill Hader, and Kris Humphries.
Mindy challenged Paul to a “shot-off” at a local bar, where winner gets the office. Paul is a lightweight and since Mindy eats an entire loaf of bread every night, she clearly wins. Mindy drops Paul off outside his apartment, but not before sneaking a kiss. It’s Christina, though, who takes things further with him. Danny finds out about the affair and punches Paul, leading Paul to quit the practice, allowing Mindy to reclaim her office.
Let’s start off with the obvious: Mindy comes out looking like a horrible person in “The Other Dr. L.” I know that the writers need to get rid of James Franco and return things to normal, but getting him drunk, where he’s seemingly taken advantage of by two women, before getting punched and forced to leave his job might not have been the best way. While Mindy and Paul’s kiss is clearly supposed to be taken as a joke, it’s really taken as her cheating on her fiancée.
It’s been clear for a while now that Mindy and Casey won’t end up together, but he’s really the only remnant of the last few episodes that still matters. At this point though, it would be much better for the show to just rip off that bandage fast and get rid of Casey so Mindy can run free, the way we know she will in a few weeks anyways.
The Mindy Project seems to be working under the assumption that every few episodes, it needs to have a reset button. Very few story points have mattered in the long run from the first season, with no real continuing elements sticking for too long. It’s a shame because The Mindy Project clearly wants to be a modern-style comedy, yet it exists in this vacuum that seems to forget that momentum can be used successfully in comedies (see The Office, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, every great comedy of the last decade.) The Mindy Project has the talent, it has the capabilities and it has the ability to have that momentum, but “The Other Dr. L” is the type of episode that doesn’t make that quite as clear as it should be.