Friday, November 27, 2015

REVIEW: 'Master of None' - Dev and Rachel Have to Commit to Some Big Decisions About Their Lives in 'Finale'

Netflix's Master of None - Episode 1.10 "Finale"

After attending a wedding and a movie premiere, Dev and Rachel have to face up to all kinds of issues between them.

Master of None has always been so confident with its storytelling. This is a show that knew what it wanted to be from its very first episode. So much of this first season has been great. It's a very distinctive voice that is able to mine some truly fantastic laughs out of somewhat familiar situations. This show made things personal to its core characters very quickly. It's been wonderful to watch these characters live out these experiences. The show took very realistic situations and applied them to its universe. It crafted dialogue that felt very natural and paired that with situations that embraced outside perspectives. Dev as a main character can be very passive and reactionary. But he also has a very inquisitive mind. He wants to know how others see the world. He hasn't always been the best listener when he's wanted to learn. He still has so much more to grow as a character. But the show never suffered from that same problem. It embraced the differences of everyday situations and how many people can react differently. This finale is a culmination of everything that has happened this season. It brings both Dev filming The Sickening and his relationship with Rachel to a head. Both of those are things that not only he invested a lot of time in but so did the show.

Dev is so enthusiastic about his work on The Sickening. It's his first major film role. He knows it's just a fun action movie and nothing more than that. But that also excites him. He was able to do the work he had always wanted to do in this business. He talks about it passionately with everyone he comes into contact with. They may not be as excited as he is but they appreciate his passion for the project. Dev shows up to the movie premiere with so much confidence. All of his friends are there to support him - including his father. But then, Dev learns that he has been cut out of the movie completely. He emerges from the screening totally bummed and upset. All of this talk and hard work will ultimately lead to nothing. He put so much time into making this movie over the season. And now, he'll have nothing to show for it because the director needed to trim some things out and Dev's character was just too expendable.

Dev has also spent a lot of time in a relationship with Rachel. It's a very strong relationship too. When he's drowning in his sorrows over being cut from The Sickening, Rachel is fine confronting the douche director for him. It doesn't change anything but he is appreciative that she is willing to do that for him. And yet, Dev is starting to have concerns about this relationship and just how important it is going to be for the rest of his life. He takes Rachel to a wedding of another friend of his. He sees the happy couple 100% committed to each other. At first, he thinks that is crazy - as is pointed out in a fantastic fantasy sequence where Dev and Rachel exchange very practical vows that criticize the very institution of marriage. But the more he thinks about it, the more he is concerned about his life getting away from him. This is the point in time where society often dictates people get married. The person he is dating could very well be the person he spends the rest of his life with. Dev loves Rachel but he isn't certain that he can embrace that kind of a future yet.

Dev voices those concerns to Rachel which brings about one very real and heartbreaking sequence. They have been dating for over a year by now. They could get serious if they really wanted to. And yet, Dev comes up with a really horrible game that really puts things into perspective for the couple. He wants to know just how committed Rachel is to the future of this relationship. She doesn't know if this relationship will last either. Dev wants her to write down a percentage. That's a horrible idea the moment he suggests it. And yet, the two go through with it anyway. That could only go badly and it does. Dev writes down 80% while Rachel only does 70%. Neither of those are bad percentages. But Dev freaks out because neither one of them is willing to commit 100%. And at this point in their lives, they need to be making those big decisions. They can't just continue to go about living their lives with no big plans for the future.

Dev seeks out advice from nearly everyone he meets. Over the course of the season, he has had a problem in making decisions. He has so many aspects of his life. He has dreams but he has no idea how to commit to something. He became an actor because it was an opportunity that fell into his lap. He moved in with Rachel because he loves her and wanted to take the next step in their relationship. But now, Dev isn't sure if that's enough. He is scared of the future because he doesn't think he has done anything meaningful with his life. He is no longer in his twenties and able to make crazy and random decisions. He has to commit to something otherwise the rest of his life will just slip away. That's what everyone tells him he needs to do. He can't be 100% certain about anything. He just needs to pick something and then move forward with that as best he can.

Rachel uses her time away from Dev after the horrible percent game to figure out her life and her future. This conversation opened a dialogue within her as well. She emerges with a firm decision over what she wants to do. She's not done living yet either. She's not ready to settle down and start a family. She still wants to experience the world. So, she decides to move to Japan just because it's something she's always wanted to do. It raises practical concerns but she is willing to deal with them as they come because she wants to commit to this experience. It's heartbreaking that the decision effectively breaks Dev and Rachel up. But it also forces Dev to make a decision regarding his life as well.

In the end, Dev does make a decision. It seems as if he has packed his bags and is getting on a plane to go be with Rachel in Japan. And then, the show pulls a twist in its final moments by revealing that he is actually going to Italy. He has learned how to make pasta and now is going to experience the Italian culture and actually learn more from cooking school. It's a decision that he makes with excitement. On the plane, he's not nervous about what the future holds for him and his relationship. In that moment, he has clarity. He has made his decision. He is off on this adventure for himself. It leaves the future of his relationship with Rachel uncertain. But the theoretical second season could find a reason to have these two characters bump into each other again. Dev grew so much this season. This new path is exciting right now but could still be very challenging in the future. No matter what it brings though, it will be exciting. It's a pretty damn good way to end the first season of Master of None. Now, I want so much more!

Some more thoughts:
  • "Finale" was written by Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang and directed by Eric Wareheim.
  • Dev reading "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath as recommended by his father is a truly mesmerizing sequence. It's the biggest turning point of the episode and it is really effective.
  • The cold open with Dev researching where to find the best tacos in the city is very funny. It underlines just how indecisive he can be. He doesn't want the second best tacos in the city! He wants the best - even though the best ran out of tacos an hour ago.
  • The conversation between Dev and his father is so great. The novelty of Aziz Ansari casting his parents to play Dev's parents never wore off. Plus, his father is just a big scene stealer. He wants to get into the Harry Potter books now in 2015!
  • Netflix still hasn't renewed Master of None for a second season - even though it was released three weeks ago. I'm not too worried though. Netflix basically renews everything for a second season. Plus, this show has had near universal acclaim. It seems like a guarantee to me. The streaming service just needs to announce it already.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.