In June of 2023, the popular FX television series “The Bear” released the second season on the streaming service Hulu.With nine 30 minute episodes and a single one-hour episode reminiscent of a Terry Gilliam film, “The Bear” crawled from the ruins of a failed business and inched its way to becoming a fine dining establishment by the very end of the season. The second season digs a bit deeper into the characters’ complex stories, but only manages to pass the topsoil of a massive archaeological site that is ready to be unearthed.
The audience follows the mayhem and chaos behind the scenes in the food industry. This time we are thrown into the shambles of a fictional attempt to turn a local hole-in-the-wall into a fine dining establishment. With government certification after government certification and failed fire suppression tests, not to mention black mold and the loss of self here and there, it is a wonder that anything gets done.
Over time I’ve gotten used to the common television tropes that occur in climactic moments of popular TV shows and I’ve been able to predict what happens in scenes when they begin to lay out the evidence clearly in front of you. There have been a few instances where I haven’t been able to do that: the entirety of “Breaking Bad” and season 2 of “The Bear.”
It was exciting to see Cousin Richie’s character development throughout the season. Initially stubborn about any change to be made to his best friend’s establishment, he finally found his place in the restaurant family. Sydney, on the other hand, who albeit had to carry a lot of weight from a project that wasn’t all hers, simply became more annoying. Tina and Ebra headed back to culinary school where they soon found out they knew nothing. Matty Matterson got more screen time as Neil Fak, and it was nice to have comedic relief from the Canadian chef. Marcus headed off to Copenhagen to master his dessert craft. The show dived deeper into the stories of characters that started off as supporting roles and are now main characters, allowing for the stress and anger among the characters to seem more believable and properly human.
The familiar faces of Will Poulter, Olivia Coleman, Gillian Jacobs and John Mulaney had cameo appearances that served as lovely bites of relief from whatever the characters were yelling about that time. Bob Odenkirk was a delightful sight to see at first and his role quickly became one deserving of praise.
Even though I can’t get past how episodes end right when the restaurant opens because the whole point of the show is about the chefs, it will be interesting to see what route the writers take with the restaurant, especially if they brought COVID-19 into the equation of how to have a successful restaurant. I’m just going to have to get over it. Since they seemed to have ruined any chance of Carmy having a successful love life, along with a glimpse of some mental turmoil manifesting into a problem, his story is up in the air. More of Richie would be interesting to see. He has got something going for him, but due to this last season, I’ve lost my ability to predict what happens next on television.