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Master Of None confidently closes out its first season “just like that”

Illustration for article titled Master Of None confidently closes out its first season “just like that”
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Master Of None is a deeply personal show, even as it’s dealing with sweeping concepts like breakups and uncertainty about the future. After the romantic comedy of “Mornings,” the season finale deals swiftly with the deterioration of the relationship that has been Master Of None’s beating heart. It unravels quickly, but the episode is so perfectly plotted that it feels organic. What Dev and Rachel go through in this episode feels very real, and the script, penned by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang is one of the season’s best.

Their fight over pasta, which culminates with the world’s worst game ever, is full of desperation, exhaustion, confusion. Those emotions come through in the very candid dialogue but also in how effortlessly that dialogue comes spilling out of Ansari and Noël Wells, who continue to play off each other with fierce chemistry, even when they’re arguing as opposed to joking around. And the fantasy sequence in the beginning of the finale, despite being imagined by Dev, is just as real as their fight. They’re vows stripped of bullshit. Dev works through his feelings about Rachel in his imagination, but then those feelings come bubbling to the surface as the episode progresses. Again, it all unravels so naturally, with an air of realism that Master Of None has harnessed since the pilot.

Master Of None’s realism doesn’t only apply to its character work and relationship dynamics. Even the moments in the finale that aren’t attached to the breakup are honest and real. The cold open, for example, simply features Arnold and Dev deciding what they should eat. It’s a hilarious scene—funny because it’s true. In the age of Yelp, Grub Street, and smartphones, deciding on a place to eat is something that can take as much research as a term paper. Of course, the situation doesn’t have the same weight to it as the breakup, but it’s funny and wholly embodies Master Of None’s sort of strange stream of consciousness style that allows the characters to go down seemingly inconsequential tangents. Plus, even though it seems like a random, unconnected cold open on the surface level, tracking down the best tacos in the city actually ties quite nicely to the bigger thematic picture of “Finale.” Dev, after all, can’t make a decision to save his life, when it comes to tacos, when it comes to his career, when it comes to the woman he loves but is only 80% sure about.

The taco situation is a much more straightforward concept to mine for comedy, but the rest of the episode manages to be funny, too, even as it takes Dev and Rachel to even darker places than they drift to in “Mornings.” And that earnestness that keeps the show from being too cynical is still there, too. The scene between Benjamin and Dev in the park is brutally honest, with Benjamin explaining that no one is 100% sure of their relationship 100% of the time. But H. Jon Benjamin also brings his signature deadpan to the scene, which finds subtle, funny moments to play with. The fantasy vows also layer in some sardonic jokes about the institution of marriage while still grounding the humor in the emotionally open words exchanged between Dev and Rachel. Master Of None can get very real but never really loses its playful energy, even in its darkest moments.

Unsure about what the fuck to do, Dev resorts to The Bell Jar, inspired by his dad’s reference to the Sylvia Plath novel. In the episode’s most stunning sequence, Dev reads the famous fig tree passage and images from his life—pieces we’ve already seen, as well as ones he imagines—line up across the screen. It’s on-the-nose, yes. But it works. Dev is the type of guy who would seek guidance from a book. Dev is always asking everyone else what they think he should do. Just in this episode, he seeks advice from his dad, from Arnold, from Benjamin. But in the end, Dev finally makes a real choice completely for himself. Even with his decision to move to Italy and attend pasta school, so much uncertainty hovers over Dev. But as his “just like that” suggests, he’s excited about that uncertainty, embracing it instead of letting it turn into anxiety. Dev still might not totally know who he is, but Master Of None has been very certain of its voice since day one. It’s a confident show that knows what it’s all about and yet isn’t afraid to go down little sidetracks from time to time.

Stray observations

  • We have reached the end of season one of Master Of None. Some of you probably reached the end the same night it dropped on Netflix. In any case, no matter how long it took, we all embarked on a lovely little journey with Dev, and I’m sad it’s over for now. Master Of None really has been a one-of-a-kind show, and I’m super excited to see what Ansari cooks up next.
  • Spending 45 minutes on finding the best taco spot is nothing. My brother and I once spent upwards of two hours deciding where to eat.
  • I love the detail that the guy working the taco truck is listening to a CM Punk interview.
  • Maybe Dev should have consulted Brian about that percentage game, since Brian has been established as a huge fan of grading life’s experiences. He probably would have said the same as everyone else, though: It was a horrible idea.
  • I was happy to see Shoukath Ansari return as Dev’s dad. His delivery of “as soon as I stood up, I was like oh no” got one of the biggest laughs from me of the whole episode. But there’s also just such a sweetness to all of his interactions with Dev. Plus, I love that he’s deciding to get into Harry Potter in 2015.