The Bear Season 2 [10/10]

Season 1 of The Bear was a rambunctious revelation (see my review). What staggers me is that Season 2 surpasses it in every respect and must count as this year’s most outstanding TV show, even ahead of the final season of Succession. You all know the idea behind Season 1: Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (played in transcendent style by Jeremy Allen White) (I’m told young folks think he’s amazingly sexy in his hangdog way) returns from New York, where he was a top chef, to run the family Chicago sandwich joint (“The Beef”) after his brother suicides. Season 1 is profane, relentless chaos. Well, Season 2 uses its ten episodes (two more than Season 1’s) to tell a slightly different story, how Carmy and Syd, that is, Sydney his sou-chef (also wonderfully played by Ayo Edebiri), team up and extract an uncle’s capital to launch a fine dining restaurant, one they hope to be of Michelin star level. The season sees a countdown toward launch night, mostly a series of disasters or obstacles. The food scenes and menus, no doubt heavily influenced the show’s “culinary producer,” Christopher Storer’s sister, Courtney, are presented in loving glory. Christopher Storey is not afraid to slow down and, for example, spend a full hour (most episodes are half that length) on an explosive family flashback scene. Each scene counts down, with screeching tension, toward the climax of opening night, and the final scene … no spoilers, but it shocks and startles and concludes in true fashion. This viewer, who is decidedly unsentimental, began to view Season 2 as a paean to obsessive, magnificent achievement, and my tears flowed throughout but so, so freely in Episode 10. You heard it: The Bear is this year’s go-to season.

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