This episode was all about kinfolk, upheavals and more bombshells. The title alone reeks with the promise of drama, and that’s exactly what viewers got.
Mindy (Mindy Kaling) has learned she’s pregnant. She tries really hard to un-learn it, though. She takes 30 pregnancy tests – although one was just a popsicle stick she’d drawn on – and they all turn out positive. I don’t know why she didn’t quit after the 20th test, but it’s Mindy, and this is her kind of crazy. She’s eventually forced to acknowledge that her body is growing the latest addition to the Castellano family.
Again, she tries to find the right time to tell Danny (Chris Messina), but runs into all kinds of obstacles. Or maybe she’s just a chicken? Anyway, she decides to fly out for a second time to tell him in person. Of course, it doesn’t happen easily.
Mindy arrives in New York with a plan to whisk Danny away to a romantic hideout and drop the latest bombshell on him. This objective, however, has to be shelved because Danny’s dad, Alan (Dan Hedaya), and younger sister, Little Danny (Madison Moellers), have just arrived at his home.
Alan brought Little Danny to New York because she keeps getting into trouble at school and he’s at his wits’ end. So he does what every responsible father would do: drags his teenage daughter to his eldest son so he can talk some sense into her. Mindy is naturally disappointed that her plans have to be postponed, but she grudgingly agrees that Danny’s family needs him right now, and family comes first.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it appears that Danny’s mum, Annette (Rhea Perlman), can sense her ex-husband’s presence in New York. She just happens to call Mindy about her romantic getaway, but by the end of the conversation, Mindy has blurted out that Alan is in town.
Annette, to show just how much she’s moved on and everything with Alan is water under the bridge and blah blah blah, invites everyone to dinner. It’s all very suspicious. When Danny finds out, he is livid with Mindy and justifiably terrified. “Why don’t you invite a lion?” he rages to Mindy. “There’ll be less carnage.”
His next statement is so devastating that Mindy is immediately thrust into feeling very vulnerable. He tells her to stay away from the dinner, that this is something only family should have to see – the mayhem will be that bad. For the first time, it really hits her that she is indeed pregnant, and the child’s father has more or less declared that he doesn’t consider her part of his family.
I must say this was not Danny Castellano’s finest hour – 22 minutes, to be exact – until the last few scenes of the episode. He was particularly coarse with Mindy this week. After taking Peter’s (Adam Pally) advice and deciding to gatecrash the dinner, she chases after Danny’s car in the street. He almost runs her over, and then yells: “What are you doing? You can’t run in the streets! This isn’t Calcutta!”
The Castellano dinner is a bombshell in itself – no wonder it’s the title of this episode. Mindy, Alan, Little Danny and a very jittery Big Danny arrive at Annette’s, who opens the door in a blonde wig, cooing like Marilyn Monroe and pretending not to recognise Alan. It makes for an extremely comical setup for the dinner drama, which kicks off straight away when Dot (Jenny O’Hara), Annette’s best friend, curses at Alan.
Mindy tries to earn her place as one of the Castellanos and kills some eels for dinner. Annette gleefully introduces her new beau, Dr. Robert Ledreau (Fred Grandy), to Alan, who refuses the champagne Ledreau offers him. “I don’t drink anymore,” he says. “I’m six weeks sober. I only drink beer.”
Mindy walks in on Danny granting Alan’s request to allow Little Danny to stay in New York. Mindy is really upset and calls the teenager’s bluff, and they all discover there is nothing wrong with her. She’s pretending to have behavioural problems because she wants to get away from her father, who embarrasses her because he’s ‘2000 years old and yells at the newspaper’.
Mindy’s moment of triumph is short-lived, though. Little Danny graces Mindy’s cheek with a resounding whack and Mindy, of course, retaliates. And so the drama goes on.
Danny jumps to his sister’s defense and all but throws Mindy out, making that statement about family again. She rubs her belly sadly and walks off into the night.
When Annette discovers the arrangement between Alan and Danny, she is incredulous that they planned something so outrageous and Little Danny was the one who got slapped. Indignant, she runs out after Mindy, and they have a deep and revealing conversation which ends with Annette saying: “Listen, I got to nail some stugots to the cross and I don’t want my grandson to see this. I’m going to be a grandma!”
Annette runs back inside, removes her wig and whips Alan with it, before breaking the news to Danny, whose reaction is priceless.
Director David Rogers did an incredible job. I am fairly certain Chris Messina’s dazed eyes had every viewer feeling sorry for him. I started to like Danny again. He bolts off in search of his lady and his new baby, but has a pretty tough time finding them. I love the twist at this point. Danny was definitely lacking in tenderness most of this episode and when he can’t find Mindy, it’s his turn to be totally vulnerable.
A couple of apple pie wrappers give him a clue as to where Mindy might be. Sure enough, he finds her asleep next to the vending machine in the Saint Brendan Hospital doctors’ lounge, the only place in all of New York which has the apple pies Mindy craves like crazy.
Danny wakes her up and they finally have the talk. “We are a family,” he realises. It’s a tissue-grabbing moment. I particularly appreciate how this whole dynamic was tied up. It was effective and skillfully moved us to the next level in this couple’s story.
The family theme was so significant that it dominated the entire episode. Even the minor storylines centred on the Castellanos. The only decent airtime anyone else received was good old Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and his cheerfully clueless foot-in-mouth scene. He made the best of it, giving a speech to Danny’s father that was so squirm-worthy even Mindy couldn’t take it and had to stop him.
We didn’t see Tamra (Xosha Roquemore), Beverly (Beth Grant) – thank God – or Jeremy (Ed Weeks). We did get a bonus slice of Peter though, whose thirty seconds on screen was enough to make me happy.
So Dinner At The Castellanos turned out to be We are Family after all. I’m just glad it didn’t end up with a Castellano funeral!