This ‘The Bear’ season 2 detail portends disaster to come

Bear It’s a Cinderella tale of chefs who turn a struggling sandwich shop into a Michelin-starred restaurant. Because the post-COVID world we’re seeing is an unkind world for the hospitality industry. The crew at The Bear stumbles week after week to turn the restaurant into something Chef Carmen “Carmy” (Jeremy Allen White) and Sydney (Ayo Edbiri) dream can.

The trouble for The Bear staff is that the economy has struggled post-lockdown. Many people lost their jobs or took different jobs as a result. As a result, they may not be able to stimulate the economy as much as before. If they can barely afford the basics, they won’t spend money on extras. COVID-19 never really went away either, so when people have the opportunity to go out, they may be wary of going to crowded restaurants.

Likewise, wherever the characters go, they see restaurants that don’t make it. The Sydney friend’s restaurant closed within weeks of her visit. The friend had given her a cryptic warning that she’d better trust her partner. That’s when several chefs told her that their unscrupulous partners had run away with money on multiple occasions, but then quickly assured themselves and her that “this time will be different”.

Workers are also constantly being told why restaurants can’t do it, especially in Chicago: There’s too much red tape, too many palms to grease, and prices are skyrocketing. Add to that the paradigm shift in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s a miracle that restaurants are able to stay open.

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Sydney looks down at Tina talking, clipboard in hand, a scene from The Bear.
Image via FX

The crew talks to Top Chef, whose business has failed. Often due to ego or poor timing, talented chefs underperform in this industry. Especially Marcus (Lionel Boyce) to talk to Luka (will poulter) he singles out his arrogance as the reason he failed in the first place. Luckily, Kami the Bear doesn’t really feel guilty about himself. In fact, if there’s anything the season two episode “Fish” taught us, it’s that Kami has a habit of putting other people’s needs before her own. Plus, there are frequent flashbacks to his time serving under bad New York City cooks (Joel McHale) seems to have lost some of his proverbial sails. Kami doesn’t think it’s automatically a successful endeavor just because it has his name attached to it. Nor did Sydney, she had never done it before, nor had any illusions of grandeur.

But despite a well-curated menu and thoughtful details, a business without people is a waste of space. Uncle Jimmy (oliver pratt) La Natalie (Abby Elliott) told her that if the restaurant was closed, it would lose money. According to their agreement, if the restaurant is not profitable within eighteen months, he can sell it and make a profit on the real estate market. That’s not even a given. But the odds are better.

Sitting on the floor of the restaurant bathroom, Sugar looks lost in The Bear.

As a result, restaurants have to strive to stay open for three months, which is unheard of in the industry. They’re doing a near-total renovation of the space, so even if money wasn’t an issue (and it was), a three-month turnaround time wasn’t enough to get everything done. After all, they need almost everything. Slow contractors, mold, missed calls, and the order process gets more complicated every day. Scheduling isn’t their only problem. Inflation is killing the restaurant industry, especially The Bear. They would have to raise their prices by 5-7% just to make enough to stay alive so as not to be repossessed by Uncle Jimmy, who reluctantly but nonchalantly waited. While he hopes they do well, he seems to know they won’t. To be fair, from his perspective, one can understand why. Natalie has never run a restaurant before and is now running one. Kami is on a date and distraught because of it. He never met Richie (Ebony Moss-Bakrach) doing anything earnestly or notably for all the time he has known him.

The Bears crew did seem to have a breakdown ahead of Friends and Family Night. They didn’t get the new fridge door they needed, as Kami proved when she got stuck inside. They also run out of forks, sending Sweeps (Corey Hendricks) to the nearest store to purchase as much stock as possible. They were short of a line cook who loved meth, and then they had to fire him. However, despite the obstacles, the evening appeared to be a success. These scenes seem to have a method, everything is a mess, and the crew is scrambling to meet this fragile deadline. Viewers seem to be led to believe that the bears’ future is an uncertain future at best, or one that doesn’t want them at worst. However, there have been some positive changes.

bear’s silver lining

Standing in Copenhagen in a green beanie, Marcus looked content with The Bear.
Image via FX

Everyone starts taking on more responsibilities. Rich climbs to Chicago’s top restaurants to learn what good food is all about. He brought Uncle Jimmy a chocolate banana, as he used to do to his late father, as a gesture of kindness. Natalie discovered that she was not only good at managing a restaurant, but loved it. Even Uncle Jimmy is starting to believe it will work.

Maybe as Sydney’s dad (robert townsend) said, “That’s the thing”, after all. When Sydney talks to her father about attending friends and family nights, she expresses concern that she might not be putting her energy into the right places. She has a lot of talent and ambition, but worries that this particular venue may or may not be the right “thing” to bring it all together. But her father was taken aback. He finds her sick in the alley outside, and reassures her that she’s on the right path.

If the bears don’t succeed, they can learn from their mistakes and try again. Despite everything crumbling around them, perhaps this team has the right skills for the time and place. This is probably why Mickey (Joe Bernthal) chose Carmy over Richie for the project. He knows it takes a certain mindset to further his vision and succeed, and Kami has that mindset.

Ricky (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) in a suit in Season 2 of The Bears
Image via FX

Still, we wonder if things are falling apart for Kami so that better things can come together. Unlike the chef above, he’s trying to right the wrong timing, but it’s not working against him. He seems ready to end his relationship with Claire (molly gordon), devoting all their time and energy to the restaurant. Can Kami satisfy the restaurant owner and her boyfriend? Will his fight with Rich end Rich’s time? Richie is questioning his place in many areas of his life. This final salvo may have been a harbinger of his going on.

The crew at The Bear were willing to sacrifice and give it their all, even when they knew it might not work. Maybe that’s the silver lining they need to move on and try harder. Perhaps this gave viewers hope that the restaurant would remain open, despite all evidence suggesting otherwise.

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