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The Bear Season 2 Ending Explained

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Bear season 2.


Summary

  • Carmy’s grand opening of The Bear is filled with incredible highs and terrible lows.
  • Sydney purges herself of toxicity and self-doubt, symbolized by her vomiting after the opening night.
  • The finale sets up The Bear season 3, exploring Carmy’s attempt to heal himself and experience life outside the kitchen.

The Bear has its grand opening at the end of season 2 in a finale that contains some incredible highs and terrible lows for Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and his team. The Bear season 2 follows the rocky road from turning The Original Beef of Chicagoland into The Bear, to the restaurant’s “friends and family” soft opening. Tackling issues like permits, rising food costs, falling walls, mold, and a faulty fire suppression system, it’s amazing that The Bear even opens within its hugely ambitious timetable.

The opening of The Bear should have been Carmy’s finest hour, but he finds himself buckling under the pressure of being a boyfriend to Claire and being Head Chef of his own restaurant. As his personal and professional commitments threaten to overwhelm him, the excitement of opening night soon turns into a nightmare. Coupled with his complex relationship with teammates like Sydney and Richie, the pressure of the situation predictably means that things don’t go at all according to plan for The Bear’s crew. With various The Bear season 2 plot threads coming together, the season finale is as frenetic as it is farcical.

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The Bear season 2 is filled with new and classic songs in every episode, primarily rock hits from bands like REM, Pearl Jam, and Counting Crows.


Why Carmy Missed The Restaurant’s Grand Opening: What Went Wrong In The Bear Season 2’s Ending

Jeremy Allen White as Carmy in The Bear's season 2 finale

Given the stakes involved, it’s hardly surprising that Carmy cracks under the pressure. His crisis is personified by a hallucination of his abusive former Chef de Cuisine (Joel McHale), whom he believes is sitting among the invited guests. As the diners arrive and the orders start backing up, he flies off the handle at Sydney. She successfully calms Carmy down, and they get on with the service until he walks into the chiller and gets locked inside. Barred from working his opening night by a faulty door, he begins spiraling, believing that he’s not good or dedicated enough to succeed. Despite Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) assuring him that everything went well, he still can’t accept it and becomes fixated on his failures.

It’s a deeply unhealthy mindset that proves the loss of his brother Mikey isn’t the main source of Carmy’s poor mental health. Instead, it’s his determination to be the best, and his PTSD from working under his abusive Chef de Cuisine that has made him unable to strike a work-life balance and maintain a healthy relationship. Carmy castigates himself for thinking that he could have had a romantic relationship with Claire, mistakenly identifying his previous lack of the “distractions” of a relationship as the key to his success. This is compounded, both by Claire hearing his true feelings about their relationship, and by Carmy’s furious reaction to Richie’s misguided attempt at consolation.

The Bear‘s walk-in chiller becomes a metaphor for Carmy’s negligence and inability to let others in. The repeated focus on the faulty fridge throughout The Bear season 2 makes it clear that Carmy’s failure to fix it will become a major problem. Ultimately, because he refused to let either Sydney or Natalie call the “fridge guy” on his behalf, he paid the ultimate penalty, becoming trapped by his inability to let go and cede control. The Bear is a very personal dream for Carmy. Unfortunately, that dream is so all-consuming that it literally imprisons him at the moment of his triumph. It’s a powerful image and makes the series’ final haunting shot of Carmy being cut loose all the more meaningful.

Why Sydney Was Throwing Up In The Bear Season 2 Finale

Throughout The Bear season 2, Sydney has put everything into the restaurant, to the concern of her Dad, and some previous restaurant colleagues. In the finale, Sydney proves that it was all worth it, as she’s forced to step up in Carmy’s absence. However, the impact of months of pressure and stress becomes graphically clear when she throws up following service.

On one level, Sydney throwing up is just a physical response to the demands of opening night. Metaphorically, however, the moment also symbolizes Sydney purging herself of the toxicity and self-doubt that has sometimes held her back. It could be that Sydney’s reaction indicates her ridding herself of uncertainty and finally feeling comfortable accepting who she is and wants to be. This is typified by her interactions with her father. Meeting after the friends and family night, he tells Sydney that, despite his worries about her previous projects, and how much commitment she put into The Bear that the restaurant is “the thing.” It’s a touching moment that validates Sydney’s sacrifices, and also proves that her Dad only ever wanted the best for her.

Why Carmy & Natalie’s Mom Really Leaves The Bear’s Grand Opening Explained

Jamie Lee Curtis as Donna Berzatto sitting at the dinner table in The Bear season 2

Jamie-Lee Curtis gave an incredibly raw performance as Carmy and Natalie’s mom, Donna in the hour-long Christmas flashback, “Seven Fishes.” She returns for The Bear season 2 finale when Natalie invites her to the friends and family night. She remains outside the restaurant throughout, her anxieties holding her back. When Natalie’s husband Pete catches sight of her, he tries to get Donna inside, but she refuses. Donna believes that she doesn’t deserve to enjoy her kids’ success because she feels they’re in spite of, rather than because of their upbringing. It’s a heartbreaking moment that speaks volumes about the self-doubt that defines not just Donna, but the whole of the Berzatto family.

The Bear’s 13 2024 Emmy nominations only relate to season 1, explaining Jamie Lee Curtis and other guest stars’ absence.

Does Marcus’s Mom Die In The Bear’s Season 2 Finale?

Marcus Lionel Boyce in The Bear season 2

When Marcus (Lionel Boyce) was in Copenhagen, he had anxiety dreams that his terminally ill mother would die while he was abroad, and he wouldn’t be around to say goodbye. In The Bear‘s season 2 finale, this heartbreaking dream appears to come true. Having completed a successful service, reconciled with Sydney and fired Josh for smoking crack on shift, Marcus has missed several calls and an ominous text from his mom’s nurse, heavily implying that she’s died.

Richie’s Purpose In The Bear Season 2 Explained

Richie tastes something in the kitchen in The Bear

The character who goes on the biggest journey in The Bear season 2 is Richie, who begins by questioning his purpose in the new restaurant, before finding it in the world of hospitality. He’s great with people and moves around the restaurant with ease, chatting with guests and ensuring they have an unforgettable experience. He runs the kitchen pass for Sydney to ensure a smooth service and movingly gains the approval of Uncle Jimmy (Oliver Platt) by serving him a surprise dessert – the chocolate-coated banana that he used to love as a kid. This journey is another example of a character in The Bear accepting and understanding who they are – working through trauma to get there.

What The Bear’s Cast & Creator Have Said About Season 2’s Ending

With so many individual character journeys coming to an end in The Bear‘s season 2 finale, there is a lot of hidden meaning under the surface of the action. Interestingly, however, with so many plates literally and metaphorically spinning, some of the most poignant moments were relatively late additions. For example, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Claire-actor Mollie Gordon revealed how her character’s heartbreaking voice note confessing her love for Carmy wasn’t even in the original script. This proves that however intricately plotted the show may be, there are always unforeseen elements that can help enhance the drama.

There’s also a clear sense from some cast members that, while many characters end The Bear season 2 in triumph, the finale is a negative turning point for others. Carmy actor Jeremy Allen White, for instance, explained in an interview with Deadline that he feels his argument with Richie is much more significant than their previous flare-ups, with Richie’s mentioning of Carmy’s mother signifying “the beginning of the end“. This echoes the sentiment of creator Christopher Storer, who has previously explained to Esquire how Carmy simultaneously “wants to save this place, but maybe he also wants to wreck it.” This tension and dichotomy between light and dark is expertly conveyed in the season 2 finale.

The Real Meaning Of The Bear Season 2’s Ending

Jeremy Allen White as Carmen

The Bear season 1 was about grief, as the Berzatto family and the staff at The Beef struggled to cope with the loss of Mikey (Jon Bernthal). However, season 2 confirms that the loss of his brother wasn’t behind Carmy’s mental health crisis. As Richie reminds Carmy in the finale, he wasn’t there to bury his brother, and the Christmas flashback also reveals that he was never keen to come home. Carmy can’t bear to be taken away from his passion – running a restaurant. However, this is a problem that affects many creatives, including the real-life professionals who inspired The Bear.

By re-introducing Claire into Carmy’s life, The Bear reveals that it’s not just his combustible family that he’s avoiding through his career, it’s a lasting romantic partnership too. The real tragedy of The Bear’s season 2 finale is that everyone’s lives have been improved by Carmy’s vision, except for Carmy’s. Tina is now a sous chef and using her formidable personality to run the kitchen, Sydney has finally achieved her dream of running a restaurant, Marcus has been to Europe and is developing his passion for pastry, and Richie has become a genuinely positive influence on the restaurant’s customers and staff. Meanwhile, Carmy is still obsessively pursuing perfection, with the voice of his abusive former employer still echoing in his ear.

The Bear Season 3 Is Confirmed: How Season 2’s Ending Sets It Up

Lionel Boyce Talks Filming In Copenhagen For The Bear Season 2

With a queue of stars lining up for cameos in The Bear season 2, season 3 always felt like a foregone conclusion. This has proven to be the case, with The Bear season 3 confirmed in November 2023, paving the way for several season 2 storylines to be resolved. The death of Marcus’ mom at such a high point in his career will be devastating, but it may bring him closer to Sydney. However, there’s a strange frisson between Sydney and Carmy toward the end of The Bear season 2 that may explain why she turns down Marcus when he asks her out on a date. However, it’s Carmy’s breakdown in the chiller that really sets up the story of The Bear season 3.

Carmy can only make The Bear a success by allowing himself time to experience other aspects of life. It’s the advice that Will Poulter’s pastry chef gave Marcus in episode 4 – that being a really great chef requires life experience, “out there“. However, to do that he needs to reconcile the trauma of his previous restaurant jobs first. Hopefully, The Bear season 3 will explore Carmy’s attempts to heal himself by experiencing life outside the kitchen, leaving his beloved restaurant in the very capable hands of his team.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Esquire

The Bear TV Poster

The Bear

Release Date
June 23, 2022

Cast
Jeremy Allen White , Ebon Moss-Bachrach , Ayo Edebiri , Lionel Boyce , Liza Colón-Zayas , Abby Elliott , Oliver Platt

Seasons
2

Showrunner
Christopher Storer

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