Episode 7 of ‘The Bear’ begins in the present day with only a few weeks left to go for The Bear’s opening. We hear an excerpt from an interview by Coach K, the famous basketball coach, whose book Sydney has been reading. He talks about the value of recognizing our mistakes, stepping back, and then taking the mantle again. K also emphasizes the fruitful gains of teamwork and the importance of listening to each other and accomplishing something. We then see Sydney making satisfactory progress with her chaos menu.
Richie has been sent by Carmen to his previous workplace – the best restaurant in America, apparently. The cousin thinks this is punishment and assumes Carmy has sent him there to get rid of him. He will be here for a week. On the first day, he gets up unwillingly from his bed. The alarm clock gets him before he can get it. He curses every second he spends in the new restaurant, which is gorgeous from the inside. So too is the spotless kitchen in the back, where Richie sees “Every second counts” plastered on the wall.
Garrett, one of the back wait staff, asks Richie to change. He will be on “fork” duty for now. For all the fancy lingo of the service industry, “forks” means Richie is in charge of washing and wiping forks. Richie dreads doing the labour and it’s this dread that makes it harder for him to get out of bed. The organization and rhythm of this kitchen stem from its leader, Chef Terry. She was Carmy’s mentor before this. The restaurant got three stars in 2012 in its first year of opening.
A montage has remnants of everything that Carmy tries to instil at his own restaurant, exemplifying how committed he has been to learning the craft, and how much The Bear means to him.
Richie and Garrett get into a scuffle. The latter remains calm and grounded in his argument. He tries to explain to Richard that the restaurant does not need him. People wait for months to dine there. It is indeed their privilege to host them and make their experience meaningful. He tries to remind Richie that he needs to respect the work he does and by extension, respect himself.
During a break, Tiffany calls Richie and tells him teary-eyed that Frank has proposed to her. And that she has said yes. That seems to bring about a change in Richie’s perspective. We also notice a picture of Luca and Carmy hung on the kitchen walls. That is why we kept hearing the same ideas about teamwork and surrounding oneself with good people throughout this season!
The next day at work, Richie finally takes the focus off himself when he overhears the manager telling a couple, who have wanted to dine at the restaurant for years, that their dinner has been taken care of by them. The couple is elated.
Richie is given the floor duties and that is where he starts to thrive. He carefully observes how smoothly the staff works on the floor. It is like clockwork – regular and free of mistakes. He is impressed by Jessica, whose job it is to pull the strings for the customers.
One instance involves him overhearing a table wanting a “Deep dish” before they leave. Richie runs across the street to get pizza, brings it to the chef, and then takes out the newly prepared deep dish for the customers. It is almost as if their satisfaction becomes his purpose. The joy he feels – taking the plate behind his back like it is present – is a feeling that may make you happy when you see it.
Richie finally understands his strengths. He gets better at his job, develops a camaraderie with Garrett and Jessica, and finally feels like he belongs. The former reveals to Richie that he was an alcoholic before this. But this job taught him how to care about others and service their needs. That gave him peace and satisfaction.
This marks the end of the road for Richie. He calls Carmy and reprimands him for sending him to the restaurant to get rid of him. Carmy tries his best to explain himself but is distracted by Neil almost electrocuting himself in the kitchen.
On his final night, Richie runs into Chef Terry (Olivia Coleman). Their conversation is something unreal, which you should hear for yourself. It revolves around how Terry started the restaurant, how this changed her perspective, and how it made her understand others better.
Carmy believes in Richie, which is why he sent him to the restaurant. As a result of this, Richie also seems a changed man, determined to make “every second count.”
The Episode Review
You forget how good the writing in The Bear is when everything is chaotic. Even though that chaos is orchestrated with precision and purpose, the quieter moments like those in episode 7 between Richie and Chef Garret/Chef Terry really pop out. Watching Richie transform over the course of this one week which he thought to be punishment is arguably the best character arc this season. There was certainly a serenity to this setting, perhaps because the setting was the “best restaurant in America.”
It is never too late to turn things around. Richie learnt this first-hand at the restaurant and given his change after Tiffany told him about Frank, things look more hopeful for him now.
The slew of cameos in this season continues with Olivia Coleman. Her appearance was brief but profound. She did make “every second count.” Hearing her voice and perspective about life really levelled Richie. Peeling mushrooms and talking to an extraordinary person ordinarily might just bring the best out of him. I had a quaint smile plastered across my face as I watched that scene.
This episode can be taken to heart even when detached from the central conceit. Although ‘The Bear’ has made it difficult to appreciate and respect an otherwise toxic workplace, this episode brought some credit to the hospitality business. The real meaning of service came across as a little idealistic but it surely had merit. This is how honest words from a scriptwriter’s pen can move hills. They certainly moved hearts!
|You can read our full season review of The Bear here|