The Bear Season 3 review: Ayo Edebiri directs the best episode of the best show on air right now | Web Series

The Bear Season 3 review: Ayo Edebiri directs the best episode of the best show on air right now | Web Series

Are we ever ready to experience a new feeling? Probably that doesn’t arrive with a disclaimer, but somehow like a jolt from the dark. Probably not. Yet, the only way out is to cut right through it, to deal with it as if it doesn’t matter how big that feeling is. Season 3 of The Bear, now available to watch in Disney+ Hotstar, is about a thousand different things at once, but it is predominantly about dealing with these feelings head on. This season takes big swings, returns to those relentless kitchen scenes, and goes for broke. How do you top a pitch-perfect season 2? The answer is that you really can’t, so you start over again. You either land or you do not. The strategy, more often than not, works. Season 3 is bold, ambitious and poignant, but also uneven and a lot less focused. (Also read: OTT releases this week: Bigg Boss OTT, Bad Cop, The Bear, Kota Factory and more)

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in a still from The Bear Season 3.
Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in a still from The Bear Season 3.

We catch up with Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), right after that anxious end to Season 2 in the tremendously ballsy first episode, one that will be talked about for the rest of the year. It is a hyper-realist experiment of an episode; a mood piece, an ASMR poem, and a montage all at once. The vignette-styled bits detail the formative years of Carmy, as we see him training at one of the finest restaurants, and learning a thing or two about working under pressure. It shows how the mind remembers the past, and contextualizes the moments into the present. The accompanying lull of the music composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross rushes in like a fever dream. It is a near-perfect run, which might feel a little indulgent at times, but works extraordinarily in the theme of the rest of the season.

From here on, there is a dive right into the chaos within the newly opened restaurant. The Beef is now The Bear. The stakes are higher. There is no room for mistakes, but always some time for some nerve-shredding panic during service. Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) is caught up trying to instil some sense of order, but Carmy and house manager Richie/Cousin (a terrific Ebon Mass-Bacarach) butt heads constantly, and the acidic stain that leaves for the rest of the batch makes up for one of the earlier episodes of the show. Carmy wants to reinvent the menu every single day, a decision that feels more like a compliance for Sydney. He calls them the ‘non-negotiables’. Sure, Sydney says. Sure.

It leaves little room for Sydney to feel included, even though she is equally there with Carmy in this game. The same can be said for the show as well, because it is Sydney- potentially the most interesting character of the show, who ends up getting a little sidelined in the arc of this season. In the hands of creator Christopher Storer, the latest run tends to piece in a lot of new ideas and ambitions, yet there’s too much shoe-in for Carmy’s unreliability to make it agreeable. Carmy seems to have learnt and grown the least out of all his colleagues thus far. The anticipation builds and leaves off unfinished, perhaps because the show wants us to wait longer? It runs like a entrée without a main course.

Still, if not the actor then it is the directing chops of star Ayo Edebiri that deliver big time here. She directs the standout episode of the season, titled Napkins, focused on the heartbreaking backstory of Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), and how she found her way to that Beef place one day. The episode works so well because how deftly it details the journey of a working mother in the unforgiving climate of consumerism. There are no severe jump-cuts, and every shot counts. It also tracks returning characters with wonderful clarity and creates a full-circle moment in one big sweep. What’s more? It gives Colón-Zayas the spotlight to deliver, and she gives an unforgettable performance here. Tina is the real deal.

Right after Napkins, there is Ice Chips, another rewarding episode that brings back an unhinged character to make a case for a big delivery. Interestingly, it also reminds of that lethal combination of Fishes and Forks that peaked from last season. These two episodes are the sharpest of the lot, quietly reminding of the brilliance of the show that is more than just about food. At its best, it is about people and their complicated relationship with finding purpose and value in life. Packed with ferocious performances from across the board, The Bear still gets the hurt, the anxiety, and the perchance for survival. Admittedly Season 3 hits a little less sharply, but there’s no room to deny that this one of the best shows on television right now. Devour it.


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