This review covers the plot points of FX’s “The Bear” Season 2, which airs in full on Hulu.
Last year, I described Season 1 of The Bear as “a war story that happens to happen in a kitchen.” Every cooking scene in a Chicago restaurant was chaotic D-Day: screams, chaos, clanging metal, gout of fire.
A few things have remained the same for Season 2. Kitchen words (“Corner!” “Hands!” “Yes, Chef!”), shots of chewy food, Dad Rock soundtracks, and more. (Rem’s “Strange Currency” But ‘The Bear’ is no longer a war story that takes place in the kitchen. It is a sports story set in the kitchen.
I say that not only because basketball coach Mike Krzyszewski’s book, Leading with the Heart, plays a surprisingly totemic role. The first season focused on elite chef Carmie Belzatto (Jeremy Allen White) as he struggles to save and rebuild the family business after the suicide of his brother Michael (Jon Bernthal), but season 2 gets even better. , has become the story of the team. .
Like a classic sports movie, it depicts an underdog team going through a rebuilding season. The reconstruction here is literal. Transforming your neighborhood hot sandwich joint, The Beef, into an upmarket Bear with Michelin-star ambitions requires gut repair on an ulcer-producing schedule. A tense cooking show has become a tense show about construction.
And like any great sports story, this season will send key players on a journey of skill development and personal growth. There’s a montage of conflicts, doubts, and training, all built for the big game of opening a restaurant, the big game of them being on the plate (in this case, dinner) while the stars are away. .
still white loom Carmie is still central to the story over season 2 promo art like Salt Bay, chugging down Pepto-Bismol and trying to reconcile having a girlfriend (Molly Gordon) with a career without a good time. . But creator Christopher Stoller gives Carmie’s sleepy-eyed charisma an appetizer that gives the cast room to grow and the story to breathe.
In many ways, season two tells the story of Carmie’s collaborator Sydney (Ayo Edeviri). She is a quietly smoldering worrier, afraid that her career will go awry before it even takes off. She also fears the judgment of her father (Robert Townsend). Carmie jokes with her that her father is hard to be supportive of, she says. It doesn’t make much sense. (Carmie and Sydney’s creative relationship has a platonic intimacy.)
“The Bear” is a story about the curse and blessing of having a vocation. Earlier episodes of this season show Sydney on a research trip across the city, ordering food, inspecting beef carcasses, and hearing tales of the war to survive in a low-profit business. Drawn. Directed by executive producer Joanna Caro, the episode uses editorial cuts and gorgeous cinematography to explore eating not just as food porn, but as a form of thought, a way to bring the world into you. is visualized.
In another standout episode, pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce) is taken to Copenhagen to train at the precision cooking hall of fame, Norma. Yet another follows the lovable and messed up Richie (Evon Moss-Bachlach) as he spends a week at bootcamp polishing his forks and working in the dining room of a three-star Chicago restaurant.
Both episodes have a kind of wax-on-wax-off philosophy of growth through repetition. Marcus learns that being good in the kitchen is about embracing experience, not just skills. Richie found that a ridiculous amount of meticulousness had no streak in the fork. — Respect who you eat with and yourself.
“The Bear” might take the easy route of ridiculing tweezers-eaten pretentious food, but its taste is more Catholic. In the Richie’s Apprentice episode, an alarm server hears an out-of-towner regretting not having deep-dish pizza and visiting Chicago. The kitchen sends Richie out to eat. Peekod’s takeaway pieSlice it into rounds, upgrade with basil gel and garnish with micro basil.
This dish is a hit. It’s also a fair trope for “Bear’s” high and low aesthetics, putting indie-film artistry and slapstick sitcom tropes on the same level. (Carmie actually ends the season) trapped in a walk-in refrigeratorLike an old episode of “Happy Days.” )
It’s an odd time to make a TV season that celebrates the ambition and work ethic of fine dining. While the culinary world continues to face revelations of sexual harassment and abuse, the recently announced closure of Noma has raised questions about whether such stark ambitions (and reliance on volunteer labor) are sustainable. .
To use the sports metaphor again, with its emphasis on teamwork and compassion, “The Bear” is in some ways a version of “Ted Lasso,” albeit with less syrup and more acid. Suggesting that there is a better way to play this game. You can win without becoming toxic. You can be a genius without being stupid.
The show makes it clear that this is not easy. The season ends with Carmie sabotaging his relationship and seemingly accepting the myth that you need to be unhappy to succeed. Sidney wants Bear to get a Michelin star in the face of everything he’s seen, and Carmie warns her of the cost. “Above all else, you have to take care of everything.”
A business that feeds people eats people. “The Bear” has no illusions about it, but it’s also not ashamed to find value in it. Great restaurants claim to care. Caring for customers and making guests feel cared for — Characters talk about service as if it were a religious mission. Sydney does this in a great scene in which she makes an omelet for Carmie’s pregnant and nauseous sister Sugar (Abby Elliott), sieves eggs, sprinkles with chopped chives, and pours crushed sour cream on a plate. actually express that. and onion potato chips.
but there is also take Take care, learn discipline, and do things the hard way because that’s the right way. During our time in Denmark, we watch Marcus try to scoop up the perfect food. quenelle On the other hand, his mentor tells him over and over that it’s not enough. This kind of surveillance can be abusive. This was seen in a season 1 flashback where Carmie is terrorized by his past boss (Joel McHale). But here it is simply resolutely honest. Try again, try again. It’s generous, but it comes with the belief that you’re better and you can do better.
‘The Bear’ is so serious about believing this could be transformative. That’s the case with Richie, who in less than a week went from a sad divorced life to a man who respects himself in a suit, from an unskilled loud nagging man, to a tongue twister on the doorstep where he can read. Transform into a sorcerer. Matrix code-like instructions.
Will everything happen incredibly quickly? absolutely. But it makes sense in the spirit of “The Bear,” who believe that everyone is a restoration project, but no one is irreparable.
However, in some cases the damage extends to the foundation. This is seen in a flashback set in the season’s longest episode, the acerbic Belzat family celebration of the Italian-American Christmas tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fish. Similar to the fork, insults are thrown at you. The plate is broken. Finally, Carmie’s mother Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis) tells her that she is drunk and preparing an elaborate fish dinner and that she feels unappreciated, leaving her family behind. He yells at her and drives her car into the wall of her house. At the last moment, Carmie stares at a towering, disproportionately festive cannoli platter.
That pastry returns as Bear prepares to open. Marcus presents Carmie and Sydney with a new menu. It is a flavorful cannoli born from Carmy’s desire to “recover” the food that was ruined by the Christmas disaster. “This is just a small part of who we all are,” says Marcus. He calls it “The Michael”.
The restaurant opening unfolds over the last two episodes, with the kitchen team falling behind and being knocked out of the park, like Bad News Bears in chef white. But Cannoli’s announcement feels like the idea the season was heading towards.
Every experience you ingest, every memory, every wound becomes a part of you, whether you like it or not. what are you eating You can take bad things into your body and solidify in your intestines, causing you to tingle in a back alley. Alternatively, you can externalize it into something new, perhaps not sweet anymore, but with sourness and richness, depth of umami. Leave the trauma behind. take a cannoli.