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What to Remember for Season 3

What to Remember for Season 3

What to Remember for Season 3

The Bear is coming.”

These four words were among the very last featured in the first season of FX’s The Bear, the Emmy-winning “comedy” about a highly accomplished chef who returns home to Chicago to take over his family’s sandwich shop after the death of his brother. And while season two fulfilled the promise of those four words, turning the shop into a full-on restaurant, they remain as relevant as ever now as the third season of the critically acclaimed (and extremely stressful) series looms large over the rest of this summer.

All 10 episodes of The Bear binge drop at 9 p.m. ET on June 26, as Hulu edged up the release by three hours. It’s easy enough to just pop back into the show and eat all servings in one shot, right? Wrong.

Technically, you could hit play and let it go until three or four in the morning. You could spend opening weekend watching all the new installments and let that be that. But doing so without revisiting the 18 existing episodes of The Bear would be a mistake — one almost as severe as leaving a pack of cigarettes on an oven during a health inspection. Don’t get the reference? Then you need to brush up on your Bear lore. Lord knows, there’s a bunch of it.

The Bear begins with series lead Jeremy Allen White‘s Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto sifting through the wreckage left behind by his brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal), who died by suicide some months earlier. Carmy is determined to take his late sibling’s hole-in-the-wall spot from a neighborhood Italian beef sandwich institution to a whole new level of restaurant, one more consistent with his experience in the fine-dining world. He has poured every bit of his blood, sweat and tears into the restaurant industry for the past few years and that same tireless energy is coming home with him to Chicago, whether anybody else likes it or not.

Jeremy Allen White, Abby Elliot and Jon Bernthal in season two episode “Fishes.”

FX

Several people fall decidedly in the “like it not” category, including “Cousin” Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Mikey’s filter-free best friend whose local attitude conflicts directly with Carmy’s buttoned-up instincts. Most of the rest of The Beef’s staff falls somewhere on Richie’s side of the line, including line cook Tina (Liza Colon-Zayas), while others are more interested in Carmy’s approach, like baker and aspiring pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce).

Then there’s Sydney (Ayo Edibiri), an accomplished chef in her own right, one who wants more from herself and has followed Carmy’s career closely. She steps into The Beef and follows Carmy’s lead, but not without a whole lot of questions once she gets to see the chef’s chaotic mind up close. Season one’s journey largely centers on Syd’s increasing frustration with Carmy, whose desire for perfection comes up against Syd’s own obvious talents. What’s more, both Carmy and Syd find themselves frequently at odds with the occasionally gun-toting Richie, who is striving to keep The Beef exactly as it was when Mikey was still alive.

While Mikey’s gone, his ghost lingers over the show, both in flashbacks featuring Bernthal and with the lack of answers left behind after his death. One answer comes right at the end of season one, when Carmy discovers Mikey was hiding cash in oddly small cans of tomato puree (“they taste better”), opening up the possibilities for The Beef to actually become the highly respected restaurant of Carm and Syd’s dreams. The season ends with those aforementioned words, noting that The Beef is closing down, but “The Bear is coming.”

Season two sees a team effort in that direction in several exciting ways. For one, Syd empowers Tina to become her sous chef, a dramatic leap forward in the relationship and friendship between the two women. For another, Carm sends Marcus off to Copenhagen to learn more about pastry work from a former colleague named Luca, played by Will Poulter; it’s highly implied that Luca and Carmy had a competitive relationship once upon a time, but their mutual desire to push each other made them both better chefs. Even Richie gets an upgrade, training at another of Carmy’s old haunts, a restaurant called Ever, run by executive chef and owner Terry, played fabulously in one scene by Olivia Colman. Everyone’s upping their game this season.

Ayo Ebebiri and Lionel Boyce in The Bear season two.

For his part, Carmy’s hustle to open The Bear meets an unexpected obstacle in the form of Claire (Molly Gordon), an old flame from his past, who he reconnects with at the start of season two. Much of Carmy’s second season journey follows the chef’s quest to open himself up to the joys of life outside of the kitchen, with Claire leading the way. Sometimes, it works out. By the end, it very much does not. 

The season climaxes with the friends-and-family night at The Bear, on the eve of opening the restaurant. While most of the figures involved rise to the occasion and deliver a beautiful meal to their loved ones, Carmy himself ends up locked inside of the walk-in refrigerator, spiraling into an existential crisis, during which he calls his relationship with Claire a waste of time — all while Claire is listening from the other side of the fridge door. Richie witnesses the emotional wreck, and he gets into it with Carmy as well, the two of them releasing a torrent of insults at each other, inflicting verbal abuse you can’t just take back. Heading out of season two and into season three, two of Carmy’s most important relationships are broken, perhaps beyond repair.

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Jeremy Allen White and Ebon Moss-Bachrach in the season two finale.

FX

That’s the basic state heading into season three: The Bear is officially opening up for business, and the restaurant has a limited window to become profitable, otherwise main investor Uncle Cicero (Oliver Platt) will close it up and take over the lot. While folks like Syd, Tina and Marcus are all operating at the top of their games, Carmy himself is as low as we’ve seen him across the two seasons. 

There’s other drama to consider as well. For instance, Carmy’s mother Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has been in the throes of addiction for years, is a wild card looming over season three; Marcus’ sick mother, who he visits as often as possible in his off-hours, dies at the end of the season while he’s at work, mere minutes after he’s all-but asked Syd out on a date; and Carmy’s sister and business partner Sugar (Abby Elliott) is very pregnant and very sad about the state of her family’s relationship with their mother. 

Got all that?

Even if your answer is “Yes, chef,” it’s highly advised you go back and watch the preceding episodes before hopping straight back into The Bear season three. (Season four, meanwhile, films back to back.) Half the pleasure of the show is watching all of the cookery and absorbing the incredible soundtrack, the series as much a vibes show as a plot-driven one. But the lore is also incredibly deep, and while the above recap gives you the gist, it’s incomplete, if not in information, then certainly in feeling. As Sean Bean might say: One cannot simply read about The Bear. It’s a show that must be tasted and savored, even as it’s offered in a binge.

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