In Season 2 of The Bear, Every Second Counts.

Phoebe Doyle ‘26 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The initial release of season 1 of The Bear in June 2022 garnered a lot of attention and praise. The nominations from the Golden Globes and the Emmy awards built up the anticipation for the release of season 2 which did not disappoint. The first season ended on a hopeful note for healing and building a dream restaurant out of The Beef with the money left by Mikey (Jon Bernthal). Season 2 picks up not long after the first season left off, finding the kitchen staff in the midst of demolition and renovation of the restaurant as they transform it into The Bear. With two more episodes than season 1 and some longer runtimes, The Bear does not waste a moment as the series plays to its strengths in a changed environment. The show keeps its white-knuckle pace, standout soundtrack, and intensely character-driven plots. 

Spoilers ahead.

What makes the sophomore season stand out is its ability to give time to flesh out characters that were not able to shine in season 1. The fourth episode, “Honeydew”, focuses on the patisserie, Marcus (Lionel Boyce), as he heads to Denmark to work with Chef Luca (Will Poulter) to hone his baking skills. Where Marcus’ passion for baking was an aspect of season 1, his fervor did not get to be developed much further than his interest in trying new types of baking with the donuts. What makes this episode great is that it contrasts the often fast-paced, chaotic tone of the series by taking a slow, deep breath. Through Marcus the audience is able to experience the precision and focus required for the professionality the characters strive for. 

As Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) began as one of the more resistant of the kitchen staff to change before starting to embrace change by the end of season 1, the new season offers her a chance to continue to grow and take on more responsibility. Tina’s character arc is heartwarming as her fierce determination to be a better chef is fostered in her journey at culinary school, allowing her to step into the leadership role of a sous chef and make a substantial contribution in the reopening of the restaurant. Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) pursues a similar arc in this season as he seeks to find his purpose. Richie’s character needed a shift towards character change in order for the natural progression of the restaurant to occur. He could not have stayed as resistant and hostile towards the changes as he was in the first season, so the exigency of his feeling lost in the lead up to the reopening pushes his character to new limits. The seventh episode of the season,“Forks,” documents Richies growth and self actualization in such a way that makes him such a loveable character. 

The second season includes the longest episode of The Bear: “Fishes,” with a runtime of one hour and six minutes, is a flashback bottle episode of a Berzatto family Christmas dinner. Even though the runtime doubles many of the show’s episodes, it does not feel drawn out or unnecessary. “Fishes” highlights The Bear’s strength in combative dialogue as the episode is fraught with arguments among its large cast. The familial focus provides insight into why Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), Natalie (Abby Elliott), and Mikey are the way they are with the family members that shaped their youth. The episode has an impressive billing for the extended family which includes Bob Odenkirk, Gillian Jacobs, John Mulaney, Sarah Paulson, and a standout performance by Jamie Lee Curtis as matriarch Donna Berzatto. The constant bickering between family members, the ever-growing tension, and the eventual climactic burst at the end of the episode make it captivating from start to finish. 

The season ends on a fast-paced episode accounting the first real service of The Bear. The season finale does not disappoint by getting the audience to feel the sense of urgency that the characters are feeling. The episode manages to balance the various characters’ journeys amongst the stress of opening a new restaurant. The performances of White and Moss-Bachrach stand out in this episode as they passionately fight through the door of the walk-in freezer. Unlike season 1, the conflicts are not all neatly resolved by the time the credits roll. There are some plots that do not get wrapped up, but they are left open for further exploration in the third season. 

With its tonal shifts, strong characters, and well-paced episodes, season 2 of The Bear is a must-watch for 2023. 

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