Mindy (Mindy Kaling) drags an enormous Christmas tree all over the city and into the office. Unfortunately, there’s already a perfectly lovely and decorated tree. So she does what any sane person would do. She throws it out the door onto the roof. The Mindy Project cold opens are wacky.
There’s a small, silver lining now that Cliff (Glenn Howerton) is dating Heather: Mindy has a new commuter buddy! She’s even more excited when Cliff tells her that things aren’t going so well and that if they didn’t have concert tickets, he thinks they’d have broken up by now. Of course this means that Mindy has to throw an office holiday party so she can invite Cliff. She tells the office and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) tells her it has to be gluten-free for Tamara (Xosha Roquemore) since she has celiac’s disease. Tamara’s pleased and thrown that he’s noticed that about her. Peter (Adam Pally) then tells the office that he’s not drinking at holiday parties any longer, and Jeremy (Ed Weeks) thinks the party should be dry in solidarity. Incidentally? Fat Jeremy is gone. On Peter’s suggestion, he went to a weight loss spa and got hot again–per Betsy (Zoe Jarmon). He also picked up some flavor sprays that will theoretically make him feel full. Peter and Jeremy decide to be sober/hungry companions. Jeremy seems to be doing okay though. He even throws out a secret Santa gift of a box of English toffee that isn’t available in America since it’s all fat and sugar.
Mindy tells Danny (Chris Messina) all about her three step man trap plan. Basically, she’s going to ignore him all night. Then she’s going to sing “Santa Baby” and then she’s going to go out for some fresh air. Cliff will follow her and voilà. Danny thinks it’s a terrible plan. Oh, and Brendan (Mark Duplass) is dating Maria Menounos, which Mindy finds out in the elevator when she and Danny get on and find the pair together. Brendan is all fake concern about Mindy’s feelings as he tells Maria that Mindy’s engagement went kablooey. Danny tries to stick up for Mindy and tells Brendan that Mindy’s fine. She been dating tons of guys! Mindy could’ve done without that, but she does tell Brendan (and Maria) that she’s dating a lawyer from the building. Brendan seems jealous.
At the party, Danny walks in to find Mindy filling up her booze bra (they exist! Really! See?) and helps her finish the job. He’s mesmerized by the changing contours of Mindy’s bustline and suggests she always wear it. She’s not amused. She’s also not amused by Danny’s anti-consumerism rant since he’s her secret Santa and basically he’s given her gauze. She points out that she got Peter a model of the General Lee. And she doesn’t even really like Peter!
At the party, Peter bemoans his decision to forgo alcohol because without it, he can’t seem to talk to women, and there’s Maria, his dream girl! Maria and Brendan are not getting along so it’d be perfect to swoop in, but no Dutch courage, no flirting. Meanwhile, Mindy is discouraged in step 1 of her plan since she can’t seem to settle on a cool guy to flirt with. She goes to the supplies closet to get herself together before her performance and finds Danny working on this year’s ginger bread house masterpiece: Monticello (not Justin Timberlake’s childhood home). Unfortunately, when it comes time for her performance, Cliff’s gone. Brendan told him that Mindy was dating a lawyer in the building and he left.
Mindy decides not to sing and Maria takes up the torch. Brendan doesn’t approve though and they have a fight about it. He’s a feminist and doesn’t approve of the song on principal. He dumps her. Mindy meanwhile retreats to an office to drain her bra. Danny comes in to cheer her up and gives her his real gift. He turns on the radio and does a choreographed dance to “Try Again“. It’s as awesome as it sounds, and Mindy loves it. They hug it out, and they’re just about to kiss when Peter bursts in to drink from the bra (Beth Grant) spilled the beans. Jeremy also stumbles in. He’s holding the wrecked ruins of Monticello. He binged. Danny takes it to try and fix it, and lets Mindy leave to get fresh air on her own.
Out on the roof, Mindy talks a pigeon into flight. Cliff walks out and tells her he wants to throw his hat in the ring. When he found out she was dating someone else he rushed over to Heather’s to break up with her so that he could ask Mindy out. First Josh and now Cliff. And of course Danny’s looking out the window and sees the whole thing. Cliff’s great, but aw! Poor Danny!
Oh, and Peter’s soberness comes in handy because he winds up giving Maria a ride to Connecticut. He’s pretty stoked.
Photo credit: The Mindy Project