Season 1 of The Bear was all about dealing with the past and overcoming inner demons, surrounded by some tense kitchen wars. A more optimistic season 2 focuses on embracing new possibilities and exploring your inner potential as we watch this magnificent cast come together and prepare to transform their burger bar into a high end, fine dining restaurant.
‘Every second counts’ is a message that runs through the final few episodes, words that I found as inspiring as many of the journeys these characters took this season. It felt less claustrophobic and intense watching them all on a mission to raise their skills and have new experiences to help Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) realise his ambitions with the added help of his sister, Natalie (Abby Elliott).
As they prepare for opening night, there are some truly beautiful episodes showcasing some of the main cast with some fantastic guest appearances thrown in. Marcus (Lionel Bryce) travels to Copenhagen to complete an apprenticeship, which brings in Will Poulter as Chef Luca who definitely makes a huge impact. The food in this episode was spectacular – it was almost soul soothing watching Marcus learn how to make such culinary delights. Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) and Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) retrain and there was the most beautiful moment with Tina in episode 5 which was such a highlight for me. Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) was a joy to watch again as she searches for menu inspiration and continues to build a powerful relationship with Carmy. The biggest surprise of season 2 might have been watching Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) maturing right in front of our eyes!
Every single episode was special in its own way but I need to draw focus to episode 6, ‘Fishes’. A flashback episode with a longer runtime allowed us into the Berzatto home at Christmas with Jamie Lee Curtis as Carmy’s mum, Donna, Bob Odenkirk as Uncle Lee, Sarah Paulson as Cousin and Michelle and we are finally introduced to Mikey with Jon Bernthal putting a face to the name. ‘Fishes’ is absolute perfection – a genuine master class in television. The performances from every single cast member in this episode were spectacular. Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of Donna – a woman struggling with life, was simply breathtaking. With Jon Bernthal’s Mikey also struggling with some severe mental health issues, I just found that I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen.
At its core, The Bear is seamless and natural and real. There is still chaos and the consequences of past trauma is still evident. There are scenes of gleeful light and some of deafening shade and while some moments come at you like a gut punch, there is always an underlying glimpse of hope. Season 2 really fleshed out these characters, allowing us to take them in and build real affection for them. While it doesn’t need to rely on the addition of big names in guest roles (do watch out for Olivia Colman too), they made for an even more exciting watch.
I just feel bad for anyone not watching this because The Bear is actually one of the best things on television. Ever!