here are my gross romcom academic feelings about what just happened in the mindy project:
most of what this episode was dealing with was closure and redemption, and i think it’s really important that the buildup to their holding hands on the plane (and the later scene revealing christina) was embedded with all these smaller discussions about giving forgiveness and redeeming yourself, and how that all ties into self-worth? so, like, obviously we had jeremy and morgan’s relationship which was about jeremy needing to redeem himself in the eyes of his family by doing well at this conference, and then having that scrapped by doing something with morgan in order to gain his forgiveness; you also had josh and mindy, with mindy showing up to give forgiveness, and josh calling her there in order to earn his own personal redemption through confession (literally); and then you also have mindy and casey, which is how this whole thing started, talking in bed at the beginning of the episode hypothetically about bad things that could happen and what’s forgivable to god (for him) or unforgivable for the relationship (to her, thus why he doesn’t get sex, right)
and i think it’s a really interesting conversation about the power dynamics of relationships and how fraught they become with things that are both what one person believes to be reflections of their individual self-worth within that relationship and also about who’s contributing more/less, etc. etc. which is what causes these relationships to have these periodic breakdowns
for the most part, these breakdowns are harmless (morgan and jeremy make up, as do mindy and casey, obviously, and josh and mindy don’t make up, but they both find their peace) and then over all of this you have the pall cast by the two largest relationships so far in the narrative - danny/mindy, which is obviously what is upcoming, which both we see as audience and which other characters notice also (josh’s whole sub-discussion about them being a thing and oh, what a tangled web we weave, etc. etc.), and danny/christina, which is obviously what’s in the past (although something that danny has never successfully managed to walk away from).
in some ways, it’s a lot about the ghosts that dominate their present relationships especially for danny because the revelation about his mother and christina coming at the same time on the plane, contrasted to josh and mindy which was a singular incident that was less defining (i’d say, overall) for her than christina is for danny, but that still gives her a lot of doubt about her dubious position as a romantic lead (in her own life) anyway
and we know that danny has masculinity issues, and we know that danny is a very bitter person who doesn’t really have closure on the christina thing. but we also know that he’s clearly having feelings for mindy. and i think the great thing about the hand-holding scene is that it’s so them? both on a narrative and a filmic (ugh sry i have to use it) level?
it’s some say anything shit. which is totally them because danny is your bruce springsteen dude who makes dated references and isn’t up to snuff in modern pop culture, and mindy is the queen of the romcom outside of it and also within it (sort of) and so it culminates in this moment that’s reminiscent of something that’s equally them - equally 80s and kind of cheesy as it is romantic-comedy-esque, you know?
so you have the hand hold, which is completely accidental/incidental, i would say. i watched the scene a few times and he goes to grip her hand (i think, but it’s hard to argue intent here) but she’s freaking out about the plane so her hands come up and they miss each other and then she takes his hand and then she feels kind of uncomfortable about it
and that’s when he makes that assertive gesture to take her hand. and he asks her if she’s okay. and i think it’s a lot about miscommunication there - symbolic of how their relationship is right now - but it’s also very expressive of even-handedness in the power dynamic of their relationship? (no god i sound like such a shit) she takes his hand and freaks out about what that means for their friendship because danny castellano does not like very many things or very many people, and he takes her hand and reassures her and then asks if she’s feeling all right. it’s just such mutual affection/caring that it’s just ;akljsdf;klajsdf;j
so then you have this leading into the last scene where we finally meet christina, right? and this is a structural romcom moment because it’s what throws the relationship out of whack. you have mindy already hyper-aware about what their relationship is/is not because of what josh said, and now you have the arrival of christina, which danny is entirely unprepared for.
and i’m so excited because we’ve seen him be dr. daniel castellano, right, and he’s so self-assured and smug and bitter and kind of a jackass but this is the woman who ruined him and when she comes back, it isn’t going to be quiet. it is going to change danny. the danny in the office, the danny everyone thought they knew. which is going to mean big things.
so to cycle back to my original point, i’m really excited because danny’s facing christina means a few things. he has to grapple with the question of whether or not he wants to forgive her for cheating on him, right, (which is already a power imbalance within their relationship), he has to deal with what she wants (plot-wise) and whether or not he’s going to be there and fulfill that, and he has to decide how christina and mindy are going to balance (or not) in his own emotional standing
now danny’s deal with christina isn’t tied to his own personal sense of redemption, i don’t think, but it is tied to this idea of the redeeming of his self-worth and i’m interested to see where that goes. and mindy, who has for most of the series been the hot mess to danny’s less of a hot mess, is going to have the upper hand for once because danny/christina is going to mess with his head and she’s going to be the stable voice there (if only because she’s going to be more impartial and have clearer judgment than he is although i don’t think mindy would end up giving great advice to begin with, although she’d maybe stumble onto one or two gems)
SHIT’S GONNA GET FUCKED UP AND IT’S GONNA BE GREAT