Master Of None

It’s easy to oversimplify life’s big choices, to view decision-making as a process of choosing between this and that. But as the title of this episode of Master Of None suggests, there’s usually a “Door #3.” Television often presents characters with clear-cut choices between doors one and two. Master Of None digs deeper into the way we choose between options. Sylvia Plath’s fig tree metaphor continues to inform the series long beyond its introduction at the end of last season.

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Insecure director Melina Matsoukas directs this collage of indecision, bringing her fluid eye to the story. In all her work, Matsoukas unearths emotions through her direction. It’s tough to film an actually good video-chat scene, and yet she does so in the final scene of the episode, which continues this season’s pattern of ending on really strong shots. Dev smiles and his head nods mechanically as if it’s what he thinks he’s supposed to do and not what he actually wants. The camera moves closer, evoking a trapped feeling, and his eyes show brief flickers of what he’s actually feeling.

But before all that, Dev faces a tough decision in his professional life. Chef Jeff tells him the network wants to give him a seven-season contract for Cupcake Wars. But as we can clearly see in the opening scene, when Dev can barely get through recording a few quick promos for the show without looking like he hates his whole life, Dev’s heart isn’t in Cupcake Wars. That passion and precision we saw fill up his entire body when he’s making pasta in the season premiere? Cupcake Wars doesn’t inspire that.

Jeff convinces Dev to think it over, and Dev eventually seeks out advice from his dad. Ramesh, like the true immigrant father he is, argues in favor of staying, ranking job security over passion. Plus, he argues, all jobs suck. He has Dev come along with him to his work as a doctor, which leads to some dependably great Ramesh moments (he keeps a collection of the best things he pulls out of people’s stomachs, and he initially convinces Dev to join him by selling the experience as “just like Grey’s Anatomy but this time, it’s with me, I’m the McDreamy,” which is easily the best line of the episode.

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There’s also some father-son bonding in the episode’s B plot featuring Brian and Peter, but in this case, the son offers advice to the father instead of the other way around. Peter’s apparently dating two women at once and can’t decide which one he really wants to be with. Brian tells him to contemplate who he thinks of more, who he genuinely wants to be around all the time. Peter thinks he has it figured out, but when he tries to break up with one woman, he gets distracted by how good the food she cooked for him is that he changes his mind. Then, when he tries to break up with the other, her dog Coco bounds into the room, and he remembers how much he likes her dog (listen, I know way too many people who had trouble ending a relationship because of their attachment to the person’s pet). Clem Cheung is delightful in these scenes, especially when his face lights up at the sight of Coco.

In the end, both Dev and Peter find the elusive door #3, the option that will make them happy despite not being initially obvious. Dev pitches Jeff on a new series for the network called Best Food Friends, in which he and Jeff travel around the world trying foods and learning about culture. His idea is something that he feels actually inspired by, and it also keeps the network happy. Jeff’s on board immediately, accepting with his usual flamboyant flair. And Peter decides that the answer to his loneliness doesn’t have to be found in either of the women he’s dating. He gets a dog (that looks a lot like Coco) and names it…Coco. Dev and Peter eventually arrive at the decisions that will make them happy, turning their gaze inward as they seize control of their lives. They find the answers within themselves instead of seeking them out from others, and that message gives the otherwise seemingly scattered “Door #3” its story backbone. It’s not a particularly groundbreaking or thought-provoking episode of Master Of None, but it serves as a solid snack—not too much to chew on but still tasty.

Stray observations

  • Dev doesn’t want white people to find out about the great Indian restaurant where he takes Jeff. Relatable.
  • “Is that a wedding ring?” “I should not have kept that one.”
  • Cheung’s delivery of “that’s Brian” to Coco is too adorable.
  • I’m really enjoying Bobby Cannavale on this show.
  • Ramesh’s excitement over little things is so infectious.

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