The Bear season 2 review: Disney+ kitchen drama is as unflinching as ever

The FX show returns to Disney+ on 19 July

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)
Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)
  • 📺 Where to watch The Bear: Premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, 19 July

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 5/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: Boiling Point, Hunger, Succession

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Lionel Boyce, Will Poulter

  • How long is it? 10 episodes, approximately 30 minutes each

  • 📖 What’s it about? After finding the money his brother hid at the end of season one, Carmy is set on revamping The Beef into a new trendy spot known as The Bear, but things soon get tough.

The Bear came out of the gate with all guns blazing in 2022, demanding attention and unexpectedly grabbing hold of the public conscious thanks to its intense nature and compelling characters.

Read more: The best TV shows of 2022 from Heartstopper to The Bear

Season 2 will do the same, as it returns to the city of Chicago with a blistering follow-up that opens with Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) launching a complete renovation of his late brother's restaurant with the aim of creating the hottest spot in town.

With the impact of the Covid pandemic causing restaurant after restaurant to close, the pressure is on to make everything come together within the space of six months.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)
Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)

The show is as unflinching as ever in its first four episodes, with the story ranging from the drama that comes with revamping a business, to the individual quests of each chef who are all on their own journeys of self-improvement.

But it's the quiet moments that hit the hardest, like when Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and Carmy experiment in the kitchen, or when Marcus (Lionel Boyce) reveals why he became a pastry chef while learning from the best in Denmark.

Will Poulter and Lionel Boyce in The Bear (Disney+)
Will Poulter and Lionel Boyce in The Bear (Disney+)

What's smart about The Bear's second season is that it takes the story outside of the confined space of its high-pressure kitchen, giving viewers time to breathe whilst also doing something new to season one.

It allows us to better understand the characters and connect with them on a different level to how we've been able to before.

Read more: The Bear: Inside Sydney’s Food Tour and Season 2’s Love Letter to Chicago

For Sydney, we begin to appreciate the amount of time and effort she puts into trying to build a legacy both for the restaurant and herself.

Edebiri once again lends her character a compassion that makes her the emotional heart of the show, and this is particularly moving when she struggles with the pressure of creating a dish she feels worthy of The Bear, and potentially failing to do so.

What other critics thought of The Bear

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)
Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Disney+)

Carmy's fragile mental health is once again an important part of the show, and White proves his ability to take a small scene and utterly transfix the viewer.

Episode 6, titled Fishes, gives an explanation of how Carmy came to be the man he is today by exploring his family life through a tableau of his family's last Christmas together when his brother (played by Jon Bernthal) was alive.

Clocking in at over an hour long, the episode never lets up as the Berzatto matriarch Donna (played by the sublime Jamie Lee Curtis) becomes increasingly more erratic as the evening wears on. It is an intense watch and it leaves viewers with a feeling of unsettlement, the audience is made to feel as unbalanced and shaken as Carmy is by its end.

Bernthal is also a wonder as Mikey, channelling both his rage and vulnerability in such nuanced ways that just a subtle shift of his eyes gives the audience enough insight into his character's mindset to show how he came to take his own life. And even when the credits roll the episode will sit with viewers for a long time.

Given how intense this show is, and continues to be, it won't take long for viewers to dig into this second course before demanding to see the menu for a third round.

The Bear premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, 19 July.

Watch the trailer for The Bear