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The Bear is Back 4 min read

The Bear is Back

By Cary Littlejohn

Did I watch all of the episodes in a single night?

Yes, Chef!

Should I? Probably not. I should have savored it, like an expensive tasting menu, but I gorged it like a bag of Doritos. The season is just as good as it’s ever been, but the forward momentum in the plot is minimal. The movement happens by way of depth: Each person is revealed to us a little more deeply. That’s why we watch. Sure, we want to know what happens to the restaurant because we’re rooting for this ragtag band of misfits. But we care about them beyond their roles in the kitchen: We want them to be happy and taken care of and to find peace and love and relief from a largely unrelenting world. The season provides more context and background for many of them, and it continues to document the growth of nearly every character. They feel real, as complicated and lovable as any family member or friend in our real lives. It’s a marvel.

You know those posts that say, “I watched all of such-and-such so you don’t have to”? Did I do that? Yes. Except 86 that last part. You absolutely have to watch this. It’s as good as it gets on TV.

Ep. 1: Felt a little disoriented between a largely plotless episode. That’s not a complaint. I could have watched an entire season in the montage-filled depiction of both the day immediately after the crazy season two finale. That much I expected, but I wasn’t expecting the time-travel bits that showed mostly how Carmy got to where he is. It was a masterful bit of table-setting for a new season, with little done to advance the ongoing storyline of this new restaurant. But it catches us up with this gang that we’ve come to love in such an elegant, graceful way, with a beautifully soft score throughout that all comes together to put you at ease, as if to say, “I’ve got you. You’re in good hands.”

Ep. 2: This is where the show’s comedy comes back. That first episode was so atmospheric; it was beautiful and quiet compared to the show we all know and love. And within seconds of this one starting, we’re back to laugh-out-loud hilarious line readings. The sheer volume of laugh lines per minute is off the charts.

  • The quasi-opening credits tour through various Chicago food-service locations, where many of the participants wave directly at the camera, felt a part of a different show but it was just so endearing.
  • As the scene in the kitchen grows from various two-shots to a full on ensemble is a masterclass of writing and staging.

Ep. 3: Here’s the chaos we’ve come to expect. It’s like someone said, “The feeling of PTSD—how do we make that a TV show?”

  • Uncle Jimmy steals the show, constantly worrying about where they money is.

Ep. 4: The first few minutes are a simple two-shot, just Carmy and Claire, and it’s a testament to the writing on the show. Not just on a macro level, but each individual line. Nothing happens in the scene, but you could watch it go on like that for the episode’s entire runtime. So lifelike and broken-in. It’s silly and lovebird-ish at times, but then somber and tense, and finally thematically profound. All in less than 4 minutes, without a single camera move.

  • Some top-notch Faks action.
  • Dad Richie is the best Richie.

Ep. 5: Quietly beautiful Marcus episode, which is fitting for a quietly beautiful character. From the opening scenes of clearing out his mom’s house and sitting on the steps with Syd, they bond over membership in a painful club: those who’ve lost a mother. There was such sadness in his simple statement: “I wish she’d gotten to try the food.”

  • Sammy Fak for the win.
  • Know who else loves Marcus? Nat.

Ep. 6: Great use of clocks in the early scenes. Tina’s entire world changes in just 4 hours’ time. The episode serves as an example of adding depth to a character who already feels fleshed out despite scant screen time; in just a few minutes, we understand her life more fully than any triumphs or failures in the kitchen ever showed us.

  • Time shift got me again. Fool me twice, shame on me.
  • Bernthal remains the magic fairy dust sprinkled ever so lightly throughout this show.
  • Heyo! Directed by Ayo. She’s got a great eye. Watch out, world. A real one here.

Ep.7: This show does memories as well as any I’ve ever seen. I think part of what makes us love these characters so much is that the chaos of their lives in the kitchen are just distractions from the stuff of real life, the hard things, the reality that the world keeps spinning and waits for no one. Carmy, Richie, Syd: Each of them is dancing on the edge of a memory constantly. Something else this show does better than any I can remember: Pairs its characters together in interesting and revealing ways. It doesn’t matter who gets together in a given scene, it always works.

  • What’s it like to be haunted? Uncle Fak will tell you.
  • Dueling partnerships! The drama!
  • Gary gets in on the memories: Triple-A ball. Such a touching scene.
  • Nat, you beautiful sunfish. What were you thinking?

Ep. 8: Mothers and daughters. Daughters and mothers. What more can you say?

Ep. 9: It’s not be entirely clear how the restaurant has been doing in terms of popular or critical opinion. It was a deft touch to see Syd reading profiles that all focus solely on Carmy while wearing a faded Scottie Pippen t-shirt. This episode doubles down on the excellent character pairings: Carmy and Unc, Unc and Computer, Richie and Tiff, the Fakses and Claire.

  • The number of gorgeous women who call Faks “my love” is unrivaled.

Ep. 10: I couldn’t help but wonder if funeral dinners like the one depicted here are a real thing when restaurants close. I’m guessing it is. Which is such a cool idea: one last meal, one last service, with friends and co-workers. It’s the perfect setting for the various deeply philosophical musings that happen throughout the course of the show: What experiences are most meaningful and most memorable, how to be good (or possibly great) at something, the value of food as a shared experience, the necessity for balance and restraint, the imperative to live.

  • Thomas Keller is the GOAT.
  • The guest stars in this episode are elite.
  • Looks like a mixed review where it counts. Sets up next season beautifully.