Roush Review: ‘The Bear’ Season 3 Serves Up a Savory Smorgasbord of Angst

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in 'The Bear' Season 3

The Bear

Matt's Rating: rating: 5.0 stars

The art of creation can be exhilarating, also terrifying, and when it comes to the combative kitchen of The Bear, undeniably exhausting. Which is why, although Hulu has chosen once again to drop all 10 episodes at once of the Emmy-winning dramedy’s third season, you might want to space out your binge so as not to get indigestion from this savory smorgasbord of angst.

Heavy on hypnotic and brilliantly edited montages, especially as the new season opens, FX’s The Bear plunges us back into the psyche of the Chicago restaurant’s exacting top chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Emmy winner Jeremy Allen White). Having transformed his family’s beef-sandwich joint into a fine dining destination (The Bear), Carmy is forever experimenting, never satisfied. He carries a cargo hold’s worth of emotional baggage in flashes of memory: a professional journey marked by mentors both inspiring and monstrous, a traumatic personal arc of familial dysfunction and tragedy that culminated in his break-up with childhood crush Claire (Molly Gordon), now an ER doctor who for a time seemed the antidote to his perpetual anxiety.

With The Bear now open for business, Carmy isn’t letting up. He creates a laundry list of non-negotiable high standards that includes “Respect Tradition,” “Push Boundaries,” “No Surprises” (good luck with that one!), and “Constantly Evolve Through Passion and Creativity.” This, he insists, is how “restaurants of the highest caliber operate.”

Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard “Richie” Jerimovich, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu, Matty Matheson as Neil Fak, Ricky Staffieri as Ted Fak, Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto in 'The Bear' Season 3 Episode 2 "Next"


And while we pause to consider the meta ramifications of “Passion and Creativity,” which describes the series’ own dynamic blend of intense drama and wry, darkly human comedy, we watch in horror and empathy as Carmy puts his plan into action.

His perfectionism manifests in a single-minded desire to earn a coveted Michelin star no matter the cost to his remarkable staff, each a fully developed character, or (even more realistically) to the shaky bottom line of this ambitious new enterprise. Carmy’s ever-changing menu stretches the patience of his co-workers and the resources of his chief investor, “Uncle” Jimmy (Oliver Platt, never better). When Jimmy notes, “It is no mystery, restaurants are allergic to success,” no one argues.

As in past seasons, the kitchen often feels like more of a war zone, with curses (and sometimes more) flying between Carmy and his easily triggered “cousin” Richie (Emmy winner Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who manages the front of the house. Acting as mediator: Carmy’s pensive sous chef and prospective business partner Sydney (Emmy winner Ayo Edebiri, sense a trend?), who’s as overwhelmed as anyone by Carmy’s capricious ways.

But it’s also a cauldron for inspiration, and there are fleeting moments of grace, including for pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce), whose grief over his mother’s passing is leavened by his embrace of wonder and magic. Some episodes are likely to bring you to tears, including the sixth episode, “Napkins” (directed by Edebiri), which offers profound insight into why this chaotic workplace means so much to line cook Tina (the wonderful Liza Colón-Zayas). Matty Matheson and Ricky Staffieri provide essential comic relief as bombastic brothers Neil and Ted Fak (a third Fak brother appears midseason, one of several surprise star cameos). And Abby Elliott comes into her own this season as Carmy’s very pregnant sister Natalie, whose impending motherhood promises a welcome distraction from the cacophony of calamity that is The Bear.

“Why do we do this to ourselves?” a chef from another elite restaurant wonders aloud to Sydney. The answer comes in a beautiful season finale in which accomplished chefs, both real and fictional, gather to honor one of their own. “People don’t remember the food. It’s the people that they remember,” says one of Carmy’s particularly impactful mentors.

It’s the people inhabiting this series who make it impossible to forget. While they sweat out the publication of a potentially make-or-break review, series creator (and frequent director) Christopher Storer can sleep easily. The Bear is a beast, a treasure, better than ever. I can’t wait for the doors to reopen.

The Bear, Streaming Now, Hulu

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