Happy Wine Wednesday, Multiverse of Color fans! I had the pleasure of discussing The Bear’s second season with Reverend Solomon Missouri on the latest podcast episode. I asked Solomon to give me three words to describe the experience of watching the stellar second season of the FX series – he gave me one and it was perfect: transcendent.
The Bear is undoubtedly one of the year’s best shows, so in honor of this transcendent season of television, we’re highlighting some of the standout moments:
Richie’s Character Development
A little Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) went a LONG way in The Bear’s first season. Richie’s reluctance to change was well established, so how he would handle a complete renovation of The Original Beef was a question that was definitely top of mind heading into the new season.
Unsurprisingly, we find Richie struggling to find his purpose on the team and his character feels a little more defeated and definitely more paranoid than ever about his teammates conspiring to push him out. That sets up a beautifully written and acted journey for the character in which Richie discovers new talents that will make him an invaluable member of the restaurant’s vision going forward.
Unlike the first season of The Bear, I couldn’t get enough Richie this season. His evolution felt well earned and I appreciated the writers allowing Richie to see his own value but also allowing him to see that he is valued by his team, Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) in particular. That felt true to the character and his needs. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Richie in future seasons and I hope we get more scenes of him getting hyped up to Taylor Swift.
Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto (Abby Elliott) was one of the characters I hoped would be fleshed out more when the first season of The Bear ended. The writers gave me everything I could ask for and more in getting better acquainted with Natalie. Her character was given much needed depth this season that was wonderfully executed on screen by Abby Elliott.
We knew from season one that Natalie was clearly a constant caretaker of her siblings and a character who felt like she had a long history of making herself smaller in support of others. In season two, the writers help us understand how and why Natalie finds herself in that role – especially in the standout episode “Fishes.”
The writers leave us in a very interesting place with Natalie as the season ends. She, like many characters, has this newfound confidence in herself thanks to the immense labor she (and Syd) undertook to get the new restaurant open while Carmy was often distracted. She’s also set to become a new mother, which will undoubtedly be an interesting journey for her given the complicated relationship with her mother Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis). Despite having so much to be proud of, Natalie still yearns for her mother’s approval and to have a better relationship with her. We see in the finale that Donna is not ready for that yet, so it will be interesting to see how that shapes Natalie’s arc going forward.
I had no doubt the writers would deliver another high pressure, stressful to watch episode of The Bear in season two after they delivered the unforgettable “Review” in season one. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the frenzied hour of food and family trauma that unfolds in “Fishes.” During my podcast discussion with Solomon, I shared that “Fishes” was a strong episode – but not my favorite of the season. That distinction – for me – would go to either “Forks” or “Honeydew.” As a viewer, I struggled with: (1) the discomfort of watching the non-stop buildup of tension and stress and (2) the very obvious and understandable reason for the discomfort I felt. The discomfort was by design and absolutely necessary.
And although “Fishes” is arguably one of the best acted hours of television this year, the endless parade of cameos were a bit distracting at times and I would not have minded a little more restraint in the casting choices. There’s no question that the episode needed Jamie Lee Curtis’s Donna, Jon Bernthal’s Mickey, and Bob Odenkirk’s Uncle Lee – I’m not sure if the rest of the cameos were needed as much. Putting those very minor gripes aside, “Fishes” is an extremely important episode for the entire series because of how it helps viewers understand Carmy, Natalie, and Richie on a much deeper level. The backdrop of “Fishes” gives us so much insight into who these characters are and gives important context into what we’ve seen of their journeys thus far.
Let Me Upgrade You
Although “Fishes” highlights the Berzatto family dynamics and how they shape the characters, we are also reminded this season of the beauty of chosen family as we watch the Original Beef team invest and pour into each other. The Syd/Tina (Aye Edebiri/Liza Colon-Zayas) friendship continues to be one of my favorites of the series. Watching Syd ask Tina to be her sous-chef was hands down one of my favorite scenes of the new season. It was the perfect start to the next phase of Tina’s arc in which we watch her continue to bravely embrace change, expand her skillset, and further cement her role as a crucial team member.
Although I was a little disappointed that characters like Ebra (Edwin Lee Gibson) and Sweeps (Corey Hendrix) were put on the background, having Tina not lose sight of Ebra in the midst of all the changes was nice to see and a great show of the bonds of chosen family by the writers. Each gesture in which we saw one of the team members being invested in – Marcus (Lionel Boyce) in Copenhagen, sending Tina and Ebra to culinary school – even if it didn’t workout for Ebra, and Richie’s placement at an upscale restaurant in “Forks” – felt like acts of love among a chosen family. Although the writers brilliantly scripted family trauma in “Fishes,” it’s the moments when we see the chosen family pouring love into each other that I’ve come to enjoy the most in The Bear.
Join Solomon and I as we talk about these highlights and more from The Bear’s second season. Out now!