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Here’s what you didn’t know about Danny Castellano (Chris Messina): he’s still treated like a teenager at church, he’s eaten with guilt at screening his mother’s phone calls, and he thinks Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is an exotic sorceress who wears bright colours and uses X-rated language.
Danny is throwing all these details hard and fast at his priest during confession, seeking absolution for getting Mindy pregnant. Perhaps the facts came too hard and fast for poor Father Francis (Jack Wallace), who keels over while trying to digest all the information. Danny, Catholic that he is, blames himself for the death.
At the daily staff meeting, Jeremy (Ed Weeks) tells Mindy there’s a form to fill out if she insists on using her ultrasound photos as the screensaver for all the office computers. Of course, she takes exception to that, indignant that Jeremy would dare ‘insult my unborn son’s first tasteful nudes’. Yay, it’s a boy! We also learn that she wasn’t even responsible for the screensavers; Danny was, having been taken over by a sudden obsession with fatherhood.
Jeremy has an announcement of his own. His one-man show, An American Tale, about ‘a young mousy boy who escapes to the States for a better life’, has been accepted into the Midtown Fringe Festival. His co-workers start coming up with excuses not to attend. Danny’s entrance is quite spectacular though, and brings the meeting to an abrupt end.
Any group of people, anywhere, would have the same reaction if someone walked in and blurted: “I just killed my priest.” It’s also a terrific cliffhanger for the next segment.
Mindy doesn’t have Danny’s sense of scandal and brushes off his guilt-ridden moaning. When he asks her to go with him to the memorial service, she realises this is one of the things she has to do for love: “To church? You kill someone and now I have to die of boredom?”
Danny is adamant, though. He never got the absolution he sought from Father Francis and now wants to find another priest to confess all over again. He also throws in another incentive – the new priest is the guy who’ll baptise their baby. “Who said he’s going to get baptized?” Mindy asks. “I kind of want to raise him Jewish so he can get ahead in life.”
Mindy discovers that priests can be hot. At Father Francis’ funeral, the officiating priest is Danny’s old acquaintance Michael O’Donnell (Stephen Colbert), whom Mindy finds very attractive. She thinks he’s even hotter within seconds of his sermon, which he opens by providing torrid details about his past, including an extremely active sex life, tattoos and drug habits.
As the sermon progresses, Danny gets more and more uncomfortable, and he’s squirming by the time the priest switches gears and launches into a list of ‘small sins’ which are ‘just as straight a path to hellfire as all that really cool stuff I used to do’. Way to go, Father Michael.
Danny is guilty of every last one of those small sins, from birth control, cohabitating before marriage to dating outside the Christian faith. Now even Mindy is perturbed.
Danny unsuccessfully tries to sneak out after the service, determined to join another parish. He ends up introducing Mindy to Father Michael, who reveals he’s heard a lot about Mindy and Danny and their cohabitating. So, of course, Danny lies. Yes, they live together but there is nothing immoral going on; they’re waiting until they get married. And Mindy is Catholic too. Ha!
Danny discusses all this with Annette (Rhea Perlman), who tells him to think about why he’s feeling so guilty about his situation. Mindy also has a chat with Jeremy and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) about the encounter with Father Michael, and confesses that she thinks Danny is embarrassed by her. Jeremy advises her to befriend the priest, so she invites Father Michael to dinner, but not before asking him if it’s okay to donate some slutty bras to the church.
Before Father Michael arrives for supper, an extremely nervous Danny tries to quiz Mindy on all things Catholic. It’s totally futile, as Mindy tries to name the twelve disciples by listing The Beatles – John, Paul, George – and another one called Mary Margarine. Danny throws up his hands, saying they should’ve gone to Jeremy’s play with Morgan, and Mindy has a great idea. She has Morgan on standby during Jeremy’s play, asking him look up Catholic information and text it to her when she needs it. By now Danny is so jumpy when the doorbell rings, he crushes a glass vase with his bare hands. Father Michael, who’s been told Mindy’s last name is McPhereson, strolls in, ready to sniff out a lie.
Thus begins the hilarious charade also known as ‘Dinner at Danny’s with Father Michael O’Donnell’. I thought Dinner At The Castellanos was a hoot; I was wrong.
Father Michael starts by chanting grace, which ends with: “…and may all the sinners burn in hell forever.” Mindy then shows her Catholic prowess by quoting scripture, a verse from Job. Impressed, Father Michael asks if she has a favourite verse from the New Testament. After Mindy’s response – “The New Testament? There’s a sequel to the Bible and not Gone Girl?” – Father Michael should’ve realised what was going on.
Instead, the party continues, with Danny sweating bullets and Mindy quoting an unusual verse from the New Testament: “Jeremy, you spilled my scotch. Go sit in your cupboard.” Ah, Morgan, the ever-reliable Morgan who’ll inevitably put his foot in his mouth. He apparently had another texting deal with Jeremy and sent Jeremy’s lines to Mindy’s phone.
Morgan dashes outside to correct the error and trips over Beverly (Beth Grant), who’s smoking a cigarette in the windowless auditorium. She’s sitting next to a sleeping Adrian (Dan Bakkedahl), who, for reasons that will forever remain mysterious, is wearing a toupee. Beverly’s cigarette lands in Adrian’s toupee and sets it alight. Pandemonium ensues, and Jeremy’s play ends before its final act.
Meanwhile, dinner with Father Michael has settled down, until he needs to use the loo. Mindy remembers there are contraceptives in the bathroom and has to go in there and get them out. “Everybody snoops,” she explains to Danny. “When I first went to your mom’s house, I tried on her wedding dress.”
So she sneaks into the bathroom while Father Michael is still in there, and manages to snag the condoms. Danny, relieved, tries to call it a night, but Father Michael is in a great mood: “Let’s get some dessert. Let’s play some board games. I’m a priest! This is my crack!”
That would have gone okay too, but Father Michael reveals his real reason for coming over: to investigate rumours that Danny is dating a godless sex maniac. Father Michael thinks it might be an ex, because Mindy is one of the finest women he’s ever met.
Everything should’ve ended there. But it’s Mindy, and she jumps to the “ex’s” defense. Danny tries to neutralise things by asserting that the ex is unimportant; he wasn’t going to marry her, anyway. Hurt, Mindy heads for bed.
Danny finally gets Father Michael to leave, but as they’re looking up the ferry schedule on the computer, the priest sees the ultrasound screensaver.
The truth is out. Danny tells all, adding that he doesn’t feel guilty about anything. In fact, he’s never been happier. Mindy overhears this and cheers up. Father Michael declares it the worst night of his life, and tells Danny to expect his excommunication letter in the mail.
At this point, Mindy dashes out to defend Danny, but the priest has had enough. He tells them not to lie any more, and points out another fib they told about not having any dessert. He plunges his hand right into a cookie jar on the table – the same one into which Danny hurriedly stuffed the condoms – and fishes out a long string of super magnums: “Oh my God, this is the lair of Lucifer!”
Mindy calms Father Michael down and assures him that Danny’s Catholicism is one of the things that makes him a good man, and as such, she wants to raise her son to be like Danny, a good Catholic. Father Michael is pacified.
The things Mindy does for love.