The Bear Season 2 Review: Makes every second count with its relentless and profound drama

Season 2

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 5/5


“Every second counts” should be the motto of all our lives. Even though it seems preachy and altruistic on the face of it, it has a profound meaning and wisdom. It is especially applicable to our work lives. Although the significance can be lost in translation while making the jump, it nonetheless remains relevant.

When you work in the fast-paced cut-throat service industry where problems stack up if you don’t make every second count, it takes a bearing – on the professional and personal fronts. The Bear’s remarkable second season jostles with this balance for the majority of its duration. The realization is slow to catch on but when it does, it does so with a hard-hitting whip of catharsis.

If you are watching the show for the first time, you will likely be mesmerized by the second instalment, even though it takes a little while to get used to the narrative language and the lingo of the kitchen that makes The Bear so special and precise. Of course, those who have seen this series already will have more familiarity. Even then, The Bear manages to spring surprises for the viewers.

Season 2 of The Bear begins with the start of the renovation of the old restaurant. Carmy, Sugar, and Sydney convince Uncle Jimmy to lend them some more money to start the process. But as you can imagine, the deeper they dig, the deeper the trail of problems goes. This is the overarching plot for the season but each episode also takes a closer look at the personal lives of the “kitchen chefs.”

Carmy has a new love in his life in the form of an old sweetheart, Claire. Marcus and Tina leave no stone unturned to escalate their learning curve and skills. Sydney becomes obsessed with the idea of a “chaos menu” for The Bear and puts everything she has into making it perfect.  Richie is in mission mode to seek his purpose in life. And a pregnant Sugar is caught in the midst of it all, focused on laying down the groundwork and handling the “business” side of things.

Barring the magnum opus episode 6, “Fishes,” all the other episodes have a similar runtime of a little more than thirty minutes. With the first season, the creators and writers proved that this amount of time was enough to include stuff worth a hundred pages. They approach season 2 from a different angle. The staging is not exactly the same and they do well to retreat and adjust their fine-tuned sense of story accordingly. While the controlled chaos is still manifested, much of the noise is drained out to offer us quieter, level-headed moments grounded in raw, gritty drama.

This season doesn’t use season 1’s format of using long shots and a still frame to characterize the different conceits. The Bear’s new season endorses a more traditional style of storytelling to collate its various subplots. That definitely makes the storytelling more cohesive and increases the interconnectedness of the universe. But it takes away the element of unpredictability to an extent. For instance, a moment like Richie talking to his daughter in front of Sydney for a few minutes straight with none of the cuts recognized from season 1 doesn’t have the same dynamic here.

One cannot pinpoint this and criticize the choice to mix things up. In its present form, the second season is emboldened with its own strengths. So, it’s a mix of gain and loss with no material impact on our experience of absorbing the craziness. Speaking of, in a few pockets, everything in the restaurant still teeters on the edge of disaster and glory. One foot amiss and it all goes downhill. New problems just keep on stacking and make life hard for the chefs. That is where workplace virtues like teamwork and communication play an important role and there is emphasis from all sides in the show.

Season 2 boasts an A-list guest star cast including Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Odenkirk, Olivia Coleman, Jon Bernthal, and Sarah Paulson. I can’t remember any show in recent memory having such big names gathered together in smaller parts. It is not like they spend too much time on the screen. Coleman appears in episode 8 for a grand total of five minutes. Odenkirk and Paulson have similar screen time. But the impact they have is undeniable. The entire guest cast elevates the dramatic curve of The Bear’s season 2 and matches the standard of the core cast’s efforts.

The ensemble is consistently compelling and comfortable in their characters. Given that everyone reprises their roles in this season, the actors grow with their characters, adapting and changing accordingly to the new circumstances. The Bear’s season 2 is a marginal improvement over the first. But given the already high standard the first season had set, that is an understatement.

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  • Verdict - 9/10

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