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The Bear is Back! And the Kitchen is Messier Than Ever

The Bear is back and open for business as every second counts this season. FX’s original series The Bear released Season 2 over the summer and it’s back and better than ever. The new season follows the reopening of The Bear, previously known as The Beef, as it is now a new and improved establishment. The classic Chicago subs and dishes are still there for the regulars, but this season ventures toward higher-end dishes.

All our favorite characters have returned, including Jeremy Allen White as Carmen, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney, and Ebon-Moss Bachrach as Richie. This season we learned more about these characters and what happened in their past that led them all to their commitment to The Bear. This season further explored the obstacle of the clock, a struggle everyone can relate to. We may not all know about cooking, but most of us are familiar what it’s like to race against time.

Time and numbers are the center of this season. Phone numbers, money, deadlines, and the lives of these characters are no stretch from ours, causing the audience to side with these characters and root for them.
In Season 1, it was evident that time was the enemy. Scenes occur with eerie overhead clocks watching everyone in the kitchen from all angles. In Season 2, it was clear from the beginning that this wasn’t going to stop. The Season 2 poster launched and in it, almost as evidence, Carmen hangs over a plate covered by pieces of a clock. Immediately, we are thrown back into the world of The Bear and the kitchen getting torn down along with the clock.

We watch scenes of Carmen in therapy with a red clock hanging over him and scenes with a clock placed in front of his new love interest Claire. Claire, played by Molly Gordon, seems to be something good for Carmen in his rushed, kitchen-focused life, but of course, nothing good comes easy. Before kissing her for the first time in the restaurant, he looks at her from across the room. The shot focus is barely on her, but rather the clock in front of him. His whole life is in that kitchen. Not only does having their first romantic interaction there underscore the significance of Carmen letting someone into his own life, but it also foreshadows that no love interest will come between him and his work. The scenes between these two are always up close and personal, something we aren’t used to. We have never seen this side of Carmen and it almost makes the audience feel as though we are encroaching on his personal space.

It wouldn’t be right to talk about Season 2 without focusing on the incredible Episode 6 titled “Fishes.” After mere hints of the Berzatto family’s past, we are finally faced with the faces beyond the immediate family. We meet extended members of the family, such as Stevie, played by John Mulaney, cousin Michelle, played by Sarah Paulson, Tiffany, played by Gillian Jacobs, Uncle Lee, played by Bob Odenkirk, and last but certainly not least, mother Donna Berzatto, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in this incredibly stacked cast.

This episode was painful and stressful to watch, placing us at the Berzatto dinner table ourselves. It clocked in a little over an hour but felt just as intense as a real-life holiday gathering. Taking place five years earlier during Christmas dinner, we discover why the characters of The Bear are the way they are. We learn about Tiff and Richie’s relationship before their daughter and their place in the Berzatto family. Most importantly, we see Michael before his hiatus with Carmen and his death. Michael is seen clearly struggling in these episodes and with his family in the mix, he breaks under the pressure. This causes his increased tension with Uncle Lee and the fight over the dinner table that leads to flying forks and broken tables.

Natalie is seen caring too much about her mother’s emotions to avoid an explosion, but in the end it’s her caring that leads to the explosion. And behind everything is Carmen. Just having returned home from Copenhagen, he has to deal with the craziness that continues to effect his mental health.

While the clocks usually linger silently in the back during this series, in this episode, they are in your face and loud; louder than the family fighting in the back. How this is possible, I don’t know. While the clocks usually count time up, we see the clock in the kitchen count down until the seven meals are ready, but also as if it is ticking down until the episode’s ultimate meltdown. The episode ends with raised tension between Michael and Uncle Lee, as well as Donna driving her car through the house, ultimately ending the Christmas dinner and the episode.

The season ends with Episode 10 titled “The Bear.” The restaurant is finally opened after a stressful five months, and we are again shown another 12-minute one-shot sequence that follows the environment of the kitchen and the outside restaurant. We see how the guests react to the food being served and how the chefs are able to make everything happen in time. The eating area is peaceful, but in The Bear fashion, the kitchen is anything but. The series ends with all its main characters facing different conflicting emotions; Carmen’s regret, Richie’s pride and anger, and Sydney’s satisfaction.

I wish I had more words to write because I could truly talk about this show forever. So much is packed into 18 episodes. Everything about this show is perfect— the writing, the casting, the directing, the soundtrack, everything. If you haven’t given this show a watch, I beg you to do so. Come, join the family… but only if you can take it.