The tense culinary series returns with a revamped menu from floor to ceiling, and examines the possible appeasement of its characters in the midst of chaos. A vintage ? Yes sir !
Last year’s surprise hit, season 1 of The Bear recounted the chaotic journey of chef Carmen Berzatto (amazing Jeremy Allen White), a gifted youngster who left starred restaurants to devote himself entirely to the sandwich shop bequeathed by his late brother. Work, family, rice dishes: “Carmy” struggled to get the best out of his angry cousin and his other untrained employees. A superb batch of boiling episodes about a Stakhanovist in the kitchen on the verge of burnout, looking for meaning in his life between two midday shots. In the end, the team came across a large sum of money left behind by the deceased brother, enough to hope to revive the business by targeting haute cuisine… And after?
The ease would have been to open the new restaurant and replay all the hits of the series by pushing the knobs into the red (more tension, more shouting matches, more failed dishes, more panic attacks). This Season 2 takes the opposite direction and slightly lets the steam out of the pressure cooker. Once the countdown has started (the restaurant has to be opened within untenable deadlines), the question will be less that of success than of serenity. Can you be close to perfection without becoming toxic to yourself and your loved ones? Do we carry around our family traumas everywhere (fabulous episode 6 on a Christmas dinner all in friction)? Vast questions that Carmy stumbles over again and again, caught between opposing forces (fulfilling her Sous Chef Sydney’s dream of getting a Michelin star; becoming fully involved in a budding romantic relationship; becoming a mentor). More than ever choir, The Bear offers each member of the brigade – or almost – his own dedicated episode, thought of as an adventure in itself, an inner journey to understand himself and find his rightful place in the collective.
Pure fantasy, of course, for a culinary world where violence and stress are inherent in the job. But the series manages without forcing us to swallow this parallel world made up of cooks and waiters entirely dedicated to the pleasure of their customers, where we rebuild ourselves in the meticulousness and the service in the noble sense of the term. The magic operates through sharp writing and staggering finesse, capturing doubts and victories as close as possible to busy faces and hands. You won’t see much of this caliber on TV this year.
The Bear season 2, available on Disney+