Master of None
“Le Nozze” primarily features the return of Arnold (Eric Wareheim), as he and Dev travel to Tuscany to attend the wedding of Arnold’s ex-girlfriend. However, the episode also features something else that’s arguably more prominent and unique to Master of None: the most indulgent montages of food and travel porn in the series to date.
Let’s be clear: There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Food and fine dining clearly hold a special place in Ansari’s heart, so it makes sense that Master of None would carve out time for that passion. At this point in the series, it isn’t a surprise that “Le Nozze” contains upwards of three sequences that highlight Ansari and Wareheim going to town on Italian cuisine. If you take seriously the idea of Ansari as an auteur — and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t — then episodes like “Le Nozze” are part and parcel of Master of None.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a seamless fit. While I don’t object to the inclusion of these sequences (I’ll admit that the scene at Osteria Francescana, one of the world’s best restaurants, made my mouth water), they’re just not that compelling on their own. They especially pale in comparison to the episode’s main story — Arnold reckoning with a formative past relationship and the different paths he and his ex-girlfriend have taken — and can’t help but feel like extra padding. Even if it looks delicious.
Arnold remains first and foremost a comic-relief character, but Ansari and Yang provide him with a solid dramatic story line in “Le Nozze.” Wareheim sells his more serious scenes well, and the treatment of his ex (Clara Renée) and her Arnold-doppelgänger fiancé (Barak Hardley) succeed comedically. Of course, Arnold’s plight largely serves Dev’s internal conflict, as is the case with all token best-friend characters, and yet Ansari and Yang don’t take Arnold’s plight lightly. When your goofy friend who relishes being single starts worrying about the future, even for a moment, it forces you to worry as well.
Arnold’s impromptu wedding speech functions as a more sincere riff on the classic “objection” speech — it starts off with Arnold confessing to his plan to stop their union and ends with a heartfelt blessing — but more importantly for Dev, it gives him the final push he needs to let go of Rachel. It’s clear that they aren’t going down the same road, so trying to force a relationship of any kind will only lead to more pain. Dev constantly sends flirty texts to Rachel in “Le Nozze,” but he’s never thrilled about it because he’s trying to avoid the fact that they aren’t going to end up together. After Arnold’s speech, he eventually sends her a polite text suggesting they stop texting and it feels like the genuinely right thing to do.
Arnold’s trip also gives Dev the final push he needs to return to New York. He says good-byes to Francesca and Mario and promises to keep making pasta, and yet it’s clear Dev wasn’t really serious about going into the culinary business. Was he ever? He might not be that serious about acting anymore, but the pasta venture mostly served to help him get over a breakup. When Dev arrives back in the U.S., he calls his agent to see if there’s any work and he immediately lands the perfect cushy gig: the host of a cooking competition show called Clash of the Cupcakes. It essentially provides him with what he wants: exposure, money, and free time to play the field. Italy was a vacation, but New York remains home.
Jack of All Trades
• The scene when Dev and Arnold drive down a narrow alley and get stuck stands as one of the funniest in the series. It also feels very true to life, especially when they see a huge truck navigate the same alley with ease.
• Arnold’s college band was called Cheesesteak Armageddon, because of course it was.
• If you don’t enjoy the food/travel porn montages, you’ll really dislike the scenes when Dev and Arnold are just taking photos and complimenting each other. I’m sure there’s a way to make that stuff interesting, but here it feels a little forced.