In part one of Ann's defense of Danny Castellano, she discussed his characterization throughout the first season. The second part of her discussion covers season two and - in particular - Danny's growing relationship with Mindy. Ann is passionate and so very smart; I'm fortunate to have her guest posting about The Mindy Project, so without further ado, welcome her back to the blog by reading the final part of her defense!Wow, it’s been a while! Sorry for spending so much time away, but now that I am back at school and The Mindy Project returns in less than three weeks (!) I am ready to defend my favorite character ever, Danny Castellano, just in time for season 3.
In my first post about Dr. C, I talked about how his past made his present understandable. Because the show did such a great and quiet job of establishing the sadness behind Danny, we understood his flawed behavior in season 1—why he was mean, stand-offish, and resistant (though not immune) to Mindy’s charms. Everything he did had a greater context that could make him, even at his most despicable, a sympathetic figure.
With the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2—and as you will see in this post—there’s little use in defending Danny’s actions through only his past. That is because the focus of season 2 is much different than the focus of season 1. Whereas season 1 cracks Danny’s “gristle and icy exterior,” season 2 is where that exterior shatters and we see where his “warm heart” beats.
I’ve always believed the two season finales could have operated very well as series finales, as they tied up their seasonal arc so well. Season 1 ended with two people in a doctor’s lounge who, with the other’s help, had opened up: Mindy to a serious and committed relationship, Danny to the possibility of closure. If the series had ended there, we would have felt secure that Mindy and Danny, at least, had bettered themselves in major ways.
But we would have also felt an underlying melancholy, or at least I would have. It’s ballsy to me that the show could have potentially ended on so subtle a sadness, of these two people helping each other so much but not quite being on the same frequency as the other. Someone wrote on Tumblr once a very, very long time ago about the song “Midnight City” and its use in this scene and how the repeating motif of the song (from Mindy and Casey to the actual climax of Mindy and Danny) makes you realize how connected these two people could be. “What are you waiting for?” the song asks. If the show had ended there, we would have never been able to see that they were really waiting for each other. It would have just been an echo from a failed almost-kiss.
I mention all of this because I want to make this point first: in the first season I could defend Danny without making Mindy the central focus. In the second season, this is impossible, because the second season takes that question—“What are you, Danny Castellano, waiting for?”—and explores it until we end up on the top of the Empire State Building. The first season was mostly about moving on from neglect and hate; the second season is moving onto love.
Another difference you’ll see in this defense is that, while I was defending a general pattern of behavior from Danny in season 1, in season 2 I am defending specific actions that Danny took. I’ll partition it into, I think, five parts: the opening arc (“All My Problems” to “Sext”), the pre-kiss (“Racist” to “The Desert”), the short-lived relationship (“French Me, You Idiot” to “Be Cool), the aftermath (“Girl Crush” to “The Girl Next Door”) and the finale, during which so much happens that there’s a lot of ‘splainin to do. Within these four parts, Danny does certain actions that can make sense with help of the surrounding episodes or scenes.
Let’s begin! Did you miss me?!