‘The Bear’ Recap: 9 Most Stressful Moments From Season 3

Note: This story contains spoilers from “The Bear” Season 3.

“The Bear” may have calmed down a bit in Season 3, but that doesn’t mean the FX dramedy lacked stressful moments in its latest installment.

Set in the aftermath of Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White) meltdown during opening night of The Bear, Season 3 followed the restaurant’s first couple months of service. The same toxic trends that took root in Season 2’s finale continued in Season 3: Carmy kept pouring every inch of himself into his restaurant following his breakup with Claire (Molly Gordon), the pursuit of a Michelin star led to him working his staff ragged and — worst of all — he continued to push Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) to the side.

The season also looked to the past, as the premiere episode showcased the inner workings of Carmy’s traumatized psyche, with flashback montages that helped explain all he had been through before taking over The Beef sandwich shop. We also saw the return of big guest stars like John Mulaney and Jamie Lee Curtis, while John Cena joined the fun as another Fak brother.

Here’s a breakdown of the most stressful moments from “The Bear” Season 3.

Carmy’s list of non-negotiables, which included a new menu every day (Episode 2)

Going into Season 3, every fan of “The Bear’ knew that Carmy’s expectations were high, especially with Syd’s hopes for a Michelin star on the line. But no viewer or chef was prepared for just how exacting Carmy would be. From “vibrant collaboration” to “no repeat ingredients,” each of Carmy’s “non-negotiables” felt like a sledgehammer to the already overwhelmed Syd, Natalie (Abby Elliot) and Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Yet the biggest, most painful swing was the one Carmy saved for last: changing the menu every day.

It was a bad sign that the only person who agreed with these intense demands was Marcus (Lionel Boyce), the one member of the team who spent most of the season grieving his late mom. When the guy in the middle of a grief breakdown is on your side, it’s time to rethink some things.

The rising tensions during The Bear’s first month (Episode 3)

Remember all of the stress and anxiety in Season 1’s “Review?” The never-ending drone of the printer taking to-go orders? Carmy’s increasingly louder orders as he tried to muscle through the impossible? Yeah, take that stress, multiply it by 30 and shove it into an episode, and that’s basically “Doors.” After swallowing Carmy’s list of seemingly impossible non-negotiables, the crew learned the hard way they may not be Michelin ready. Making matters worse was Carmy, who abandoned his sweet, empathetic side in the pursuit of perfection.

You’ll never feel worse for Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), who is forced to refire plate after plate of seemingly fine food.

Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu. (FX)

The Bear staff freaks when they learn a food critic already visited the restaurant (Episode 4)

Poor Neil (Matty Matheson). He can never catch a break. After being the kitchen punching bag for over two seasons, Neil and Theodore (Ricky Staffieri) had the genuinely good idea of creating a guide to the top food critics in Chicago. The only problem was that bright idea came days after a critic already visited The Bear.

Fittingly, this season the Fak brothers can’t stop talking about haunts. And after this episode, the looming judgment of a critic is yet another force haunting The Bear right alongside massive debt, questionable mob connections and the decline of the restaurant industry as a whole.

John Cena plays another chaotic Fak brother (Episode 5)

On one hand, Cena’s portrayal of Neil and Theodore’s buff-master brother Sammy continues the superb casting streak set by “The Bear.” It takes absolutely no effort to believe that Cena is a gruff, terrifying yet oddly lovable Chicago native. On the other hand, if you’re Carmy or Sydney and you’re staging your restaurant for a photoshoot that could literally make our break your restaurant, the last person you want to see is another Fak.

Cena have may delivered that patented Fak fervor, but it came at the cost of Carmy and Syd’s remaining sanity.

Tina’s bumpy road to The Beef (Episode 6)

Tina’s loyalty to The Beef and Michael (Jon Bernthal) has always been a mystery in “The Bear,” and it’s one that’s solved in Season 3. “Napkins” stood as Tina’s very own episode, and it started with her getting unceremoniously fired from a job she held for 15 years. Most of the episode (Edebiri’s directorial debut) felt like a corporate horror story as Tina drifted from business to business with her resume in tow. She was met with a never-ending list of excuses for why her hard-working attitude and stellar track record weren’t enough — she didn’t have a degree, she wasn’t what they were looking for, the position was already filled. Yet Tina suspected the real reason for her rejection was one no one was willing tell her: she was too old to be looking for a new job.

Exhausted, Tina wound up at The Beef where she had a breakdown and sobbed over her sandwich. That was when she first met Michael, the one person in the episode (other than her partner) who empathized with Tina and treated her like a person. By the end of their venting session, Michael offered Tina a job. That’s the long story of how The Bear got its sous chef.

Sydney gets a job offer (Episode 7)

The fearless and determined Sydney was due for an existential crisis, and in this season, boy, does she gets one. Following the announcement that Chef Terry’s (Olivia Colman) restaurant Ever will be closing its doors, one of its chefs approached Sydney with a dream job opportunity. He asked to go in with her on their own restaurant, and offered to give her 50/50 control over everything. If that offer sounds familiar, that’s because it’s nearly the exact one Carmy gave her and that he, in his obsessively controlling way, failed to deliver.

Throughout the back half of the season, Sydney was torn between the partner and restaurant she knew and the one she didn’t, as her partnership offer from The Bear continued to sit in her inbox

Liza Colon Zayas on "The Bear" (Credit: FX)
Liza Colón-Zayas on “The Bear” (Credit: FX)

Natalie goes into labor, and calls Donna for help (Episode 8)

Scratch that. The last person you want to see when you’re stressed isn’t another Fak brother; it’s Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis). Unfortunately for Natalie, she was the only person who answered the phone when Natalie went into labor. “Ice Chips” was a mixed bag for this estranged mother-daughter duo. At some points, Natalie and Donna actually managed to bond, like when Natalie took her mom’s advice and repeatedly shouted “hee” through her contractions or when they snacked on ice together. But, as is often the case when it comes to Donna, those nice moments were clouded by complicated emotions and unresolved pain. Natalie admitted that the people pleasing tendencies she learned from dealing with her mom haven’t been healthy. Also, it didn’t take long before Donna’s birthing stories switched from being relatable and soothing to a horrific glimpse of what’s to come for Natalie.

By the time Donna walked away from her daughter’s room, there was a sense that their relationship was forever changed. Whether that change was for better or worse remains unclear.

Uncle Jimmy gives Carmy an ultimatum: If he gets a bad review, he will close the doors (Episode 9)

Even if The Bear was thriving, Carmy would be panicking about the critic review hanging over his future. But in “Apologies,” Uncle Jimmy (Oliver Platt) gave his (pseudo) nephew another reason to panic. Uncle Jimmy told Carmy that if the restaurant got a bad review, he will close the place down. It was a deal that wasn’t quite as heartless as it seemed on the surface.

In the same episode Unc learned from The Computer (Brian Koppelman), the family friend brought in to sort out the restaurant’s finances, that The Bear’s finances were even more dire than he initially believed. Even a glowing review may not be enough to save this eatery.

Carmy confronts his big trauma before facing his big fear (Episode 10)

One of the biggest haunts lingering over “The Bear” has always been David Fields (Joel McHale), Carmy’s emotionally abusive former boss. During the funeral dinner for Ever, Carmy saw and confronted his old mentor, telling David “F—k you” and explaining to David how he ruined Carmy’s mental health. David shrugged off Carmy’s tirade, acknowledging that he may have been hard on his former pupil, but that endless scrutiny turned Carmy into a great chef.

Not long after Carmy confronted a terror from his past, he was faced with the biggest one in his present. On the same night of Ever’s funeral, the review for The Bear was posted.  Though the article used adjectives like “innovative,” “complex,” “excellent” and “brilliant,” it also used words like “confusing,” “sloppy,” “inconsistent” and “disappointed.”

The episode, and the season, ended with Carmy screaming “Mother–” into the night. What exactly the review said will remain a secret until Season 4, but for now it sure looks like Carmy, Syd, Richie, Natalie and the gang have a mixed review on their hands.

All episodes of “The Bear” are now streaming on Hulu.

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