The Bear Season 3 Review – A good season that fails to reach previous heights

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 4/5

There is a reason that The Bear took the TV world by storm over the last two years and that is because in the midst of overdone remakes and shoddily written shows, it served up two seasons of impeccable storytelling. Each season told a story of its own. There was a clear narrative structure leading to a specific goal and within those narratives, creator Christopher Storer brought up themes of grief and death and family and intertwined them with powerful character arcs.

We watched relationships evolve and characters go on meaningful journeys and it was all presented in what became The Bear’s trademark style — deft writing, snappy editing, and gorgeous shots that both, highlighted the chaos of the kitchen and brought out the intimacy of quieter moments. The first and, to a larger extent the second, seasons of The Bear were, in short, a cinematic experience.

While The Bear Season 3 still has some of the show’s previous magic, it does not achieve the same level of excellence. It lacks the distinct structure that the previous seasons had and its episodes often feel like filler episodes rather than the crisp, mini-stories earlier episodes offered.

This could be because the third and fourth seasons were shot together (explaining why the season finale comes across as a mid-point more than anything) but it still doesn’t excuse how out of focus the season as a whole is.

The Bear Season 3 follows the aftermath of Carmy’s anxiety-ridden episode in the Season 2 finale which prompts him to put emotion aside and rigorously work the team in order to make the restaurant a success. Of course, this only ends up testing his bonds with his team. Throughout most of the season, Carmy is on a train wreck path but nobody confronts him.

He and Richie are having an unwarranted season-long feud that simply doesn’t make sense. The Faks get too much screen time while Marcus and Ebra don’t get enough. And Sydney finds herself sidelined but uncharacteristically says nothing about it.

The latter is a particular disservice to Ayo Edebiri who is a fantastic actor but wasn’t given much substance to work with. All through Carmy’s new regime, Sydney sighs and frowns and purses her lips but she barely even tries to bring the issue up with Carmy. Meanwhile, we get flashbacks from the past that serve to explain Carmy’s behaviour but we don’t see him engage with these thoughts and beliefs in the present at all.

Put together, this is a huge blow to Sydney and Carmy’s relationship which is like the show’s centrepiece. I’d be happy to watch a rift between the two but it needs to be convincing and The Bear Season 3’s take on these characters is anything but. Where is the Carmy-Syd bond from that Season 2 Episode 9 scene where they sat under a table and agreed they made each other better? Where Carmy said he wouldn’t even want to do this without her? And yet…  

Of course, there are redeeming moments as well — Tina has a lovely episode that dives into her past where we get a gorgeous scene of dialogue between her and Mikey, and Richie has some heartwarming scenes with his daughter and his ex that explore what divorced families can be like, and Episode 8 is an incredible exploration of the bittersweet mother-daughter relationship between Donna and Natalie. That last one, titled “Ice Chips”, is easily the season’s best episode and features phenomenal performances from Curtis and Elliott.

All of the dialogues still hit the mark and when Season 3 does remember its stylistic flairs, it executes them well. Episode 1 is a beautiful montage, with different moments from Carmy’s life cut and pasted over thirty minutes. Episode 3’s frantic energy uses the physical mess of dropped food and broken plates to convey how dysfunctional the team currently is.

But despite those brilliant shots, compelling characters and profound conversations, the season misses the mark. The Bear is still a good watch and better written than a lot of other shows out there. But Season 3 doesn’t measure up to its own standards.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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