by Vikram Murthi | via Vulture
When Master of None last left Dev, his girlfriend, Rachel (Noël Wells), dumped him to move to Tokyo, he was cut out of a big sci-fi movie, and he made a rash decision to move to Italy to learn how to make pasta. For a food-obsessed, emotionally and romantically adrift 30-something, a pasta-motivated transatlantic move makes some sense.
Is it a little silly? Sure. But blowing up your old life for something potentially better always seems a little ridiculous, especially for people looking in from the outside.
Master of None picks up three months after the events of the first season with Dev living a comfortable life in Modena, a small city in northern Italy. He makes pasta by day and spends his off hours with friends, who include Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi), the granddaughter of Dev’s pasta mentor; her partner Pino (Riccardo Scamarcio); and a young boy named Mario (Nicolo Ambrosio). While Dev clearly enjoys the culinary lifestyle, “The Thief” illustrates how solitary his life has become, despite his newfound Italian buddies. He even plans to celebrate his birthday alone.
Fortunately, Dev meets Sara (Clare-Hope Ashitey), a charismatic British woman, when he arrives at the hard-to-book restaurant Hosteria Giusti for that birthday meal. After Sara realizes she accidentally booked her lunch for the next month, Dev offers to share his table so she can enjoy the food and good company. The two quickly hit it off and make plans to meet up in Puglia, where Sara and her friends have rented a house for the weekend. Sadly for Dev, things go south when a thief (Daniel De Maio) steals his phone and he loses Sara’s number.
Though the black-and-white cinematography and the art-house opening credits might give the impression of a different direction for Master of None, “The Thief” mostly functions as a standard episode of the ambling, lovelorn series. Ansari may have uprooted the series to Italy, but the song more or less remains the same. Dev is just as “lost” in his new home as he was in New York, and Master of None will follow him through his adventures in food and love. (Like on most sitcoms, this location change largely serves as a superficial transformation while holding on to what people love about the series.)
More than anything else, the low-stakes first half of “The Thief” is a comforting reintroduction to the series. Ansari and Yang usually succeed when they focus on montages and sweet banter, even if it can fall a bit too far on the saccharine side, while Ansari and Ashitey have nice enough chemistry to keep Dev and Sara’s scenes peppy and light. Ultimately those performances save the blandness of their meet-cute, which feels both too drawn out and like a strange excuse for Ansari to show off his Italian.
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