FX’s original series “The Bear” dropped its second season this past June. For readers who are unfamiliar, “The Bear” follows Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), a young chef once immersed in the fine dining industry who returns home to the city of Chicago to take over his brother’s sandwich shop following his recent passing.
Upon returning, he hires Sydney “Syd” Adamu (Ayo Edebiri) as his sous chef and together, they build a tight-knit kitchen staff all while making plans to transform the shop to a fine dining spot. Season one perfectly embodies the chaos of running a restaurant while establishing the nuances within each character who has a role at the shop. Season two takes this groundwork and begins to mold it into something concrete in terms of allowing characters to grow and further explore their lives outside the kitchen.
Season two episode three, titled “Sundae,” follows Syd’s journey across Chicago as she tries a variety of restaurants in the hopes of gaining inspiration for their menu. The episode consists of a beautiful sequence of shots of the city spliced in with the different foods Syd eats from a classic slice of pizza at Pizza Lobo to a platter of small dishes and bakery goods at Kasama. With zoom-in shots of Syd, the food and her interactions with local chefs, it creates these quiet and intimate moments in an otherwise hectic and fast-paced show.
Syd’s last stop is at Margie’s Candies — a classic dinner where, you guessed it, she orders a sundae. What makes this scene so poignant is how it starts with a shot of Syd digging into the mountainous ice cream and as she takes in the creamy goodness, her eyes flit over to another booth where she sees a mother and daughter having a sundae of their own.
There are a few seconds in between where the viewer does not know what or who Syd is looking at, but they can see the shift in her emotions and when the scene is eventually revealed, the viewer can feel the longing Syd has for a relationship she never got to experience due to her mom passing when she was only four years old.
The following episode, titled “Honeydew,” revolves around Marcus (Lionel Boyce), who is the resident baker at The Beef. Carmy and Syd decide to send him to Copenhagen, Denmark for an immersive experience in the pastry industry so that he can bring that knowledge back and implement it at The Bear.
“Honeydew” is similar to “Sundae” in that it leans into a softer tone. With its gorgeous cinematography of Copenhagen, the quiet lull between cuts and the consistent shots of Marcus’ daily routine, this episode encapsulates all aspects of Marcus’ personality in a refreshing setting.
During his time in Copenhagen, Marcus learns new techniques and dishes by Chef Luca (Will Poulter). The scenes between the two are quite simple. From kneading dough to learning how to perfectly plate a dessert and mixing different sauces, the dynamic between the two flows so nicely. At the core of “Honeydew,” there is an air of delicacy that is always apparent in Marcus’s scenes but now has its time to shine.
Possibly the show’s greatest triumph thus far is season two episode six — “Fishes.” Compared to the usual 30-minute episode, it runs for a little over an hour. Set several years in the past at a Berzatto Christmas dinner, the viewer is instantly thrown into the dramatics of this Italian family.
With the culmination of continuous panning shots into different rooms of the house, close-ups of arguments and the messiness of the kitchen, this episode pushes the level of tension and anxiety to new heights.
A multitude of stellar guest stars are also featured in this episode like Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk and John Mulaney, who all play different familial roles that further flesh out the Berzatto family dynamic.
Though the standout guest performance has to go to Jamie Lee Curtis who plays Donna Berzatto — Carmy and Natalie “Sugar” Rose Berzatto’s dysfunctional mother. Her scenes are the center of the episode and Curtis brings a level of authenticity to her character that makes the viewer feel like they are right there in the kitchen alongside her.
Overall, season two continues the intense dramatics and heartwarming conversations that season one has while also making room to flesh out side characters and shed light on cooking as an art and form of love.