The Bear – Season 2 Episode 6 “Fishes” Recap & Review


Pete: “Merry Christmas, everyone!”

Uncle Lee: “Yeah, maybe somewhere.”

That is episode 6 of The Bear’s new season in a nutshell. It is the wildest, kindest, most compassionate and most disturbing rendition of family dynamics I have ever seen. The lengths and breath of this episode will take you by surprise. Everyone involved deserves a shout-out. Due to the nature of “Fishes,” in this recap, we have tried to give you a basic outline of what happened, instead of mentioning every detail because that would make the recap too long. And boring. It is best you first watch the episode and come back here.

Episode 6 of The Bear begins in the past, roughly 5 years before the present-day events. It is Christmas in the Berzatto family, unlike anything you have ever seen. Carmy is back from Copenhagen for the holidays. We begin with an important motif: Sugar asking Donna Berzatto if she is “OK.” Mike tries to dissuade her from doing it again. But Sugar doesn’t mean any harm and has genuine concerns.  The moment we step into the house, it is chaotic, more than anything we have ever seen on The Bear.

This brand of chaos, though, seems spiralling in many different directions. The undeniable pull rests with Donna, played by recently crowned Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis. She is preparing what is called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It is a grounded Italian tradition but takes a jolting effort from Donna, who constantly feels overburdened. She doesn’t ask for help either. Uncle Lee (Bob Odenkirk), a pregnant Tiffany (Gillian Jacobs), Cousin Michelle (Sarah Paulson), and her partner Steven (Jacob Mulaney) are the other unknowns in the episode. Tiffany is Richie’s ex-wife, who has Eva in her womb. Neil Fak’s brother Theodore also joins the family for dinner.

Carmy’s position is really tricky. He is called “too fancy” by Donna for only visiting them once a year. Michael and Richie are on his case about Claire, whom he is still in love with. And the former wouldn’t let him work at The Beef, which Carmy wants more than anything.

Carmy tries to help out Donna in the kitchen and she is briefly in sync with the idea. But something awakens in her that makes it impossible. Amidst the loud and numerous buzzers going off, Tiffany and Richie separate themselves in Donna’s bedroom upstairs. They talk about becoming parents and how their newborn will like them.

Richie feels calm, loved, and uncharacteristically quiet in her company. He tells Tiffany that Uncle Jimmy (who is also at the dinner) has offered him a job. They would need a stable paycheck coming in every week for the child so this is a relief for Tiffany. It turns out that Jimmy hasn’t said anything definitive about the job. He is inclined not to do it, despite having a healthy business going for him.

Michelle lives in New York and cannot stop regaling the Fak brothers about her elite lifestyle. She is definitely the cool one in the family with a fancy haircut and body-hugging expensive clothes.

Mike seems disturbed and chokes up when Carmy brings up his intention to work with him. But Mike knows this place will be toxic for Carmy. He knows what he goes through living in that atmosphere of stress and disappointment and constant nagging. That is why he did not want to give the restaurant to Carmy before committing suicide. Michelle alluded to the same thing when she invited Carmy to stay with her in New York for some time.

Donna is rapidly going downhill. Her mental state is fraught and teetering on the edge of a collapse. She breaks down and confesses to Sugar that she feels like no one loves her. She has been stuck in the kitchen all day long and no one has come to help her – even though she herself marched everyone out.

Pete arrives in time for dinner. But he has brought another dish – tuna casserole – which Sugar instantly throws out. She knows if Donna sees it, she will lose her bearings.

The Fak brothers keep pitching their baseball card idea to different members. First, it is Uncle Jimmy, who is too smart to be caught up in this scheme. Next, it is Steven, who has considerably less business acumen and agrees to the plan. While many of us thought it would get better at the dinner table, it just gets worse.

All the food is sitting out. Everyone has sat themselves at the table except Donna. While Carmy goes to check on her, Tiffany thanks Jimmy for the job he gave to Richie. His lie is almost caught when Jimmy hesitates but saves the day when he realizes Richie had lied to Tiff. Donna snaps at Carmy when he tries to enquire about her well-being. She doesn’t want to be treated “like a child” and sends him away.

The tension between Lee and Mike is quite tangible. It is clear that Uncle Lee isn’t related to them by blood (like Michelle) and that plays into Mike’s abhorrence for him. We need more context to place this dynamic more firmly in the Berzatto family chain. But the episode falls short of giving that.

As Lee tries to explain the Seven Fishes, Mike starts throwing forks at him. It is revenge for when Lee shut him down before. It turns into a standoff as Lee bursts into a rant about how Mike has done nothing on his own and keeps draining money from his family. He dares Mike to throw another fork at him as everyone at the table tries to play peacemaker. Donna finally emerges, which brings some normalcy. Steven gives an awkward yet comforting toast to the family dinner, which calms everyone down.

Donna breaks into tears and Sugar once again asks her if she is “OK.” This is the final nail in the coffin as Donna has an outburst. She loses her wits completely and smashes a plate on the floor, pulling up everyone for not “loving and respecting” her. She leaves and Lee makes a comment about how this is not the worst Donna has behaved.

Mike cannot take it anymore and throws another knife at Lee. They almost come to blows before Donna drives a car through the front door to the staircase. Mike pounds on the car’s window, asking what she has done, as Sugar and Carmy cannot believe what they have just witnessed.

The Episode Review

The discombobulation in this episode was a trademark style of the show but with even more meaning to it. Even though the chaos spiralled, it was as precise as the first season where people kept talking over one another.

The episode gave us a compelling and uncomfortable insight into the Berzatto family. It resembled the goings-on of the restaurant, with Carmy, Mike, and everything around it. The hour-long episode kept us on the edge of our seats but also invited us to look closely at the family dynamics. It is unlike any other family dinner we have ever witnessed.

This is the best episode of The Bear so far and arguably the most complete episode in TV today with the way everything was put together. Those who have seen Succession will realize the similarities into what made this episode so great.

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