The Bear successfully scores bigger fish in second season with more compelling and moving episodes

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In 2022, the first season of The Bear caught most people by surprise when all eight episodes dropped on Hulu and proceeded to gain popularity via word-of-mouth. Following wins for Jeremy Allen White for Best Actor in a Comedy Series at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Critics’ Choice Awards, fans of the show eagerly anticipated a second season, hoping it can at least match the first. Let it now be said: the second season of The Bear is even better.  

What happened before 

At the conclusion of the first season, Carmy Berzatto (White), his sous-chef Sydney Adamu (Ayo Edebiri), and the rest of the staff of The Original Beef of Chicagoland have just found money hidden by Carmy’s late brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal). They decide to shut down “The Beef” and relaunch it as a fine dining establishment known as “The Bear” to serve a more discerning audience. 

While the influx of money is a big deal, Carmy, Syd, and Carmy’s reluctant project manager and sister Sugar (Abby Elliott) still have to get more for renovations. They turn, as usual, to Uncle Jimmy “Cicero” Kalinowski (Oliver Platt) for a $500,000 loan with the promise to pay him back in 18 months. Initially thinking of opening in six months, the trio instead develop a new plan to open in three months. 


Growth for Marcus, Tina… and Richie? 

Even as Carmy seemingly rekindles an old relationship with medical resident Claire (Molly Gordon), preparations for the opening of the restaurant go full throttle. Sydney’s elevation to chef de cuisine allows her to ask line cook Tina (Liza Colon-Sayas) to be her own sous-chef, but the whole staff is not going to be left behind. Both Tina and Ebra (Edwin Lee Gibson) are sent to culinary school while Marcus (Lionel Boyce) goes to Copenhagen with an endorsement from Carmy. Marcus takes the trip while also caring for his terminally ill mother in Chicago. 

Amid all these efforts of the staff to improve themselves, even the perpetually confrontational Cousin Richie (Eben Moss-Bachrach) is sent to learn at an upscale fine dining restaurant. From being skeptical about the minutiae of cleaning forks, Richie learns to appreciate the attention to detail and dedication of the staff. He then takes these lessons back to Carmy, Syd, and their crew.  

As the date of the restaurant’s opening comes ever closer, the pressure is on to meet city and state regulations including passing a fire suppression test and securing a business license for The Bear. Through all of this, Carmy gets closer to Claire, taking his focus away from the restaurant and Syd becomes worried that she made the wrong decision to invest so much of herself in this venture. 

Fishes and Forks set the bar high 

It would have been so easy for creator Christopher Storer to just rest on his laurels and just rehash what had worked so well in the first season of The Bear. What he does, however, is add depth to the stories of central characters Carmy and Syd while managing to shine a light on Marcus and Tina. Even as many (this writer included) were blown away by the hour-long sixth episode, Fishes, with its many surprising guest stars, unbelievable tension, and pulse-pounding climax, it is the seventh episode, Forks that does the unbelievable task of making Richie a sympathetic character. 

Four years prior to the current timeline, the ensemble of Carmy, Sugar, and Mikey chafing under the pressure of the Christmas dinner that their mother Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis) is preparing is blown out of proportion by the other guests throughout Fishes. Cicero is there, as is Richie, handyman and childhood friend Neil Fak (Matty Matheson), and Sugar’s husband Pete (Chris Witaske), but the addition of other combustible elements like Cousin Michelle (Sarah Paulson), her boyfriend Steven (John Mulaney), Richie’s then-wife Tiff (Gillian Jacobs), Neil’s brother Theodore (Ricky Staffieri), and especially the unpopular Uncle Lee (Bob Odenkirk) take the tension to the stratosphere.  

Following that explosive episode is a massive undertaking, yet for some reason, Storer as director of seven of this season’s 10 episodes, turns around with Forks to deliver arguably one of the best episodes of television over the past few years. Richie Jerimovich has been one of the most annoying TV characters since his introduction, constantly grating on every character he encounters and seemingly causing or adding to conflict any time he’s seen. Fishes and Forks finally gives us the backstory, motivation, and sympathy that the character has so badly needed. 

From his desperate attempts to make his doomed marriage to Tiff work in the Fishes flashback to the begrudging respect he develops for the dedicated staff, to his painful wishing Tiff well on her new engagement while still wearing his wedding ring, and slicing mushrooms with Chef Terry (Olivia Colman) to appreciate taking pride in the most tedious work, Richie goes through a gamut of emotions. Seeing him belting out a Taylor Swift song at the end becomes a fitting release even as he tries to turn a new leaf with his colleagues at The Bear. 

Carmy and Syd: “I’m sorry” 

While the other characters are given the spotlight in this second season of The Bear, the struggle to open their new restaurant weighs heaviest on Carmy and Syd. For the latter, she wants to show her father, Emmanuel (Robert Townsend) that she really has found “the thing” that she wants to professionally do. Syd and Carmy are trying to be better partners and not destroy each other like they did last year, agreeing on sign language to apologize to each other. It’s a commendable effort with the best of intentions, but all does not exactly go well. 

Carmy seeing Claire again takes his attention off taking care of details for the restaurant’s launch, something he tells Sydney would not happen. The revelation that it wasn’t just Mikey who had self-destructive tendencies when Donna rams her car through their home at Christmas explains Carmy’s fear that he inherited the Berzatto rage that they both possessed.  

In the final episode, while the entire staff pulls together to deliver delicious meals for friends and family, Carmy finds himself trapped in the freezer because he kept putting off getting it fixed like he promised. Behind the freezer door and with no way out, he admits his shortcomings with the restaurant because of being with Claire, not realizing that he’s confessing to her on the other side. 

The self-destructive nature of these characters, as well as their clear desire to want to be better than what they are, make The Bear even more compelling and irresistible in this second season. Just when success seems within reach, something happens that they inadvertently caused to keep that success just out of reach.  

The second season of The Bear starts streaming on Disney+ Philippines on July 19. Season One is already streaming. 

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