‘The Mindy Project’s’ Nora Ephron Pastiche

The Mindy Project FinaleFOX Broadcasting Co.

The Mindy Project‘s finale episode was quite an ambitious 22 minutes – it was filled to the brim with Nora Ephron references; enough references, in fact, to make previous episodes “Harry and Sally,” and “You’ve Got Sext” look like child’s play.

We start off with a little catfishing, Tom Hanks style. Remember how, in the second half of You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks totally knows who he’s dealing with, but Meg Ryan is still completely in the dark? And he semi-manipulatively uses it to do the strangest (yet ultimately romantic) combination of confusing and wooing her? Well, Danny does his best attempt at that and fails horribly, and the whole mess eventually culminates in him standing her up on top of the Empire State Building in untenable weather conditions.

He atones by going on an Ephron-inspired tour of the city (visiting every place Meg Ryan ever “laugh-cried”), and things are looking up, until his crime is revealed. He pleads for a second chance; a second chance to meet at the top of the Empire State Building, but she flat-out refuses – after all, fool me once, right? Things aren’t looking good, but the entire Shulman and Associates team (sans Danny) convinces Mindy that Danny really does love her – in fact, it’s those Cinderella earrings she planted at his house that provide the proof of his love. Neither has an easy time getting to their romantic rendezvouz point (she has to take the 100+ flights of stairs to the top; he gets hit by a cab), but against all odds they have the romantic comedy moment of their dreams (her dreams, anyway), and to the delight of fans the world over, the episode ends with talk of children and – it has to be said – another mid-makeout a**-grab.

Yes, the episode was a veritable shrine worshipping at the feet of Her Holiness, Nora Ephron, but it also kept its policy of subverting romantic comedy by portraying it as fantasy. Case in point: as Danny runs through the city like Billy Crystal on New Year’s Eve, it’s not “It Had To Be You” playing wistfully in the background, but “Dancing in the Dark.” Oh, and he gets hit by a cab – small details, people. And instead of a romantic-yet-chaste kiss atop the Empire State Building, they sloppily makeout on the floor, much to the distaste to the tourists surrounding them.

But in the end, after all of that artful Ephron-subverting, we end up right back where we started from: smack-dab in the middle of Mindy’s (Lahiri and Kaling, in this case) dream-fever amalgamation of Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail, resulting in a great episode that never took its eye off the ball. (I’m not complaining, but if I could change anything, I would make sure Danny delivered his version of the speech Harry gives Sally on New Years’ Eve – but you can’t have everything).

A finale like this makes us happier than ever that Mindy is getting its much-deserved third season – we can’t wait to see where Danny and Mindy are in September!