Of course, a discussion of what worked in this episode can’t happen without talking about Chris Messina. He’s been so consistently brilliant as Danny throughout this season, and this episode was no exception. From his fear of scary campfire stories to his stress smoking (and getting caught by Mindy), every physical detail and reaction was played perfectly. Messina is blessed with a great gift for walking that fine line between gruff and gentle, and that gift was showcased in a great way in this episode. His easy, warm chemistry with Kaling is one of the best things about this show and has been for most of this season—I believe in their friendship and not just their potential as romantic partners, and that’s important.
However, Mindy and Danny’s potential as romantic partners was never more believable than at the end of the episode. I loved how quickly the mood of that scene changed from the normal tone of their scenes to something more intense but also more subdued. From the second Danny leaned in to grab her glasses, I could feel myself holding my breath—and that’s the best way to feel during a scene like this. Messina played every beat of that scene to perfection. The naked vulnerability on his face was gorgeous, and I loved that he wasn’t looking at her with lust; it was something more intimate than even that. And then when Mindy told him about Casey, you could see the way the openness in his eyes shifted so quickly to regret, You could almost hear him berating himself for showing his hand like he did, and it absolutely broke my heart. Everything about that scene was restrained and quiet; it was mature in a way that I didn’t know this show was capable of being. And now I’m even more excited for the day (far in the future) when they finally get together.