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Champaign Central Chronicle

The Bear Season 2 Review

The Bear Is Renovating Its Storytelling In Its Second Season
Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edibiri, and Abbey Elliot in The Bear Season 2 planning to reopen The Beef into the high dining The Bear
Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edibiri, and Abbey Elliot in The Bear Season 2 planning to reopen The Beef into the high dining The Bear

The Bear returns for a spectacular second season that continues the momentum and energy from the first season while elevating all aspects. With the temporary closing of The Beef for renovations, Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), with the help of Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), Fak (Matty Matheson), and Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) have to transform The Beef, a mom-and-pop Italian shop, to The Bear, a high-dining restaurant. There is also the help of new and more prominent characters such as Sugar (Abbey Elliot) and Claire (Molly Gordon); new storylines and tones are explored, like love and family, and with the stakes higher than ever, every second counts.

The first season focuses mainly on the kitchen and the food, but the second season takes a step back to focus on who the people making the food are and why they cook in the first place. The end of Season 1 leaves off with a positive and promising future of reopening The Beef into The Bear, but to get there, Carmy and the kitchen crew have to completely renovate in just three months. New York Times author James Poniewozik perfectly describes the show: “‘The Bear’ is about the curse and blessing of having a calling.” For the rest of the kitchen, they are going on their own personal adventures, with Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) and Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) going to culinary school while Marcus (Lionel Boyce) travels to Copenhagen to master the art of pastry. Richie temporarily stays at a high-dining restaurant to elevate his customer service habits, and Sydney takes inspiration from local Chicago eateries for The Bear’s new menu. A Central English teacher, Taryn Smith, said her favorite aspect of the season was that, “[Carmy and Sydney] still invest in people because they know that’s what a good business needs.”

One of the most memorable moments of Season 1 was the 18-minute one-take episode “Review.” In Season 2, they harken back to this one take by pulling off a 12-minute shot at the beginning of the season finale. Along with that, the editing is still one of the series’ best “unseen” aspects. It effortlessly makes you feel claustrophobic, stressed, and out of control, yet also has these moments of pure comfort and bliss, as shown with the omelet scene in episode 9.

Some of the guest stars this season include Jon Bernthal, Will Poulter, Olivia Coleman, Bob Odenkirk, and John Mulaney. Most of these guest stars are from one of the season’s highlight episodes, Episode 6, “Fishes”, an hour-long flashback that goes into Carmy and Richie’s extended family. That episode, in particular, has one of the most uncomfortable moments of the show, with Jon Bernthal and Bob Odenkirk arguing about forks. When asked about this moment, Taryn Smith said, “If a show can make you want to crawl out of your skin, you’re doing a great job.” Olivia Coleman’s minor role is everything but small for her talk with Richie at the end of Episode 7, “Forks”.

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This season’s devotion to expanding the chefs’ backgrounds leads to the character development of a once-hated character. Richie is a prime example of fantastic character work, with the entire episode of “Forks” devoted to him and his relationship with the kitchen environment. The montage of his morning routine is a wonderfully subtle way to show a character’s growth over the episode with their habits getting healthier and cleaning up their environment. By the end of the season, Richie is one of the most beloved characters.

Claire is a standout new character that Molly Gordon (Theatre Camp) plays. She portrays an old friend of the Berazzo family and a love interest to Carmy. Due to this budding romance with Claire, Carmy has to split his attention between Claire and The Bear. Their first interaction of the second season in Episode 2 took place in a grocery store’s freezer section, which perfectly ties into the walk-in scene in the final episode.

Both seasons of The Bear are currently streaming on Hulu with 18 episodes, running roughly 30 minutes each and a total runtime of a little under 10 hours. Rotten Tomatoes has given the series a 99% freshness rating, and Metacritic gave the second season a 92 rating.


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