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‘The Bear’ season three review: still (deservedly) the toast of television

June 27th, 2024

“Pursuit of Excellence”. Three words that appear on a scribbled note in the season three opener (Tomorrow) of The Bear. It’s a phrase you can’t forget as creator Christopher Storer’s remarkable show whips up another terrific eight-episode run. Already over its first two Emmy-winning seasons, this nervy, buzzy, edgy tale set on the culinary scene in Chicago has proved that pursuit of excellence is what it’s all about – not just in the kitchen of The Bear, the high-end restaurant at the centre of the show, but behind the scenes too. Let’s just say, standards have not dropped.

Tomorrow alone will blow you away for its daring – an elegant opening episode that acts like an extended recap/montage/dream, as head chef Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) recalls events, people, dishes and more. By the sixth episode (Napkins), we’re being given a narrative entirely devoted to the backstory of veteran cook Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), right back to her days when she walked into The Original Beef Of Chicagoland, the sandwich store that Carmy first took over when his brother Michael (Jon Bernthal) took his own life in season one.

For the second episode (Next), we’re right in the guts of the show, as Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Carmy lead a humdinger of an argument that shows up this kitchen in all its dysfunctional glory. “This place has gotta work,” laments pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce), but you just know, it ain’t gonna be easy. This season, as other restaurants close while facing a post-pandemic sluggish economy, the realities of running an eatery are laid bare. Or as ‘Uncle’ Jimmy (Oliver Platt) so bluntly puts it: “It’s no mystery – most restaurants are allergic to success.”

the bear season three
Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in ‘The Bear’ season three. CREDIT: Disney+

Musically, the first few episodes hold back on the show’s traditional juicy needle-drops, although Radiohead’s ‘Nice Dream’ plays (a second appearance for the British band in the show). But as later EPs drop, so do the tracks, including a glorious use of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’. Meanwhile, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Mixed Emotions’ dominates the fifth episode ‘Children’, as the staff of The Bear collectively panic when a photographer from the Tribune arrives to take a snap of the restaurant for a review that’s already been written, right under their noses.

Just like last season saw Will Poulter and Olivia Colman pop up, there are some celeb cameos, including John Cena’s loudmouth, bustled in to help buff the floor ahead of the aforementioned photo shoot, and Josh Hartnett, as the new man in the life of Richie’s former wife. Theirs is a particularly strong scene, an awkward-as-hell conversation that shows again why Bachrach is one of the show’s greatest weapons.

Cracking along with its usual mix of slow-burns and fast-spurts, the balance in season three is just right. From Marcus poignantly delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral to Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) dealing with her father as she settles on a new place to live to the pregnancy of Carmy’s sister Natalie (Abby Elliott), everyone gets a moment or two to shine. Once again, The Bear has come out of the oven baked to perfection; it’s pursuit of excellence puts other shows to shame.

‘The Bear’ season three is streaming on Disney+ now

The post ‘The Bear’ season three review: still (deservedly) the toast of television appeared first on NME.

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