Movies

The Bear Season 3 Will Struggle To Top Season 2’s Greatest Accomplishment

Summary

  • The highly anticipated season 3 of The Bear may struggle to top season 2’s intense Christmas episode, “Fishes.”
  • The Christmas episode of The Bear season 2 stood out for its realistic portrayal of dysfunctional families during the holidays, subverting traditional tropes and expectations associated with holiday episodes.
  • To achieve the success of “Fishes” in season 3, The Bear could include a flashback episode featuring Carmy’s dad, providing answers to lingering questions about his absence and delving deeper into the Berzatto family dynamic.


The Bear season 3 is sure to bring back the chaos both in and out of the kitchen, but the upcoming season of the Emmy-winning Hulu series may not be able to top one of season 2’s greatest accomplishments. Following the release of season 1 in 2022, The Bear was a huge success, receiving praise from critics and audiences alike for its authentic portrayal of restaurant culture and familial trauma. The hit comedy-drama series raised the bar even higher with season 2 by expanding the story in new and unexpected ways.

The Bear season 3 is officially in the works and set to be released sometime in 2024. The Bear season 2 ending with the successful yet chaotic opening night of the titular restaurant left a lot of burning questions that The Bear season 3 needs to answer. After an impressive 2023 awards season run which saw The Bear earn a ton of Golden Globe and Emmy wins including Best Comedy Series, The Bear season 3 is highly anticipated, but there’s one season 2 moment that The Bear season 3 will struggle to top.

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The Bear Season 3 Probably Won’t Top Season 2’s Dramatic Christmas Episode

The Bear’s Christmas episode, “Fishes,” was the highlight of season 2

While the whole season was full of suspense, the most intense and stressful episode of The Bear season 2 was episode 6, “Fishes.” The flashback episode set during Christmas five years earlier provides a ton of insight into the Berzatto family’s deep-rooted trauma and will be particularly tough for The Bear season 3 to top. Continuing the slew of unexpected guest stars in The Bear season 2, “Fishes” introduces a bunch of new Berzatto family members, including the long-awaited introduction of the Berzatto matriarch, Donna, (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Each subplot throughout The Bear season 2’s Christmas episode reveals the underlying issues and trauma responses of each character. Donna is seen frantically preparing dinner, simultaneously seeking and rejecting offers to help. As Donna grows more and more stressed, Sugar worries about her well-being, showcasing her tendency to take on the weight of everyone else’s problems. Eventually, Donna’s self-imposed high standards for the evening and her perception of everyone else’s lack of gratitude escalate into her drunkenly snapping at the dinner table and crashing her car into the house.

Jon Bernthal returns as Mikey, who butts heads with his “Uncle” Lee (Bob Odenkirk) about Mikey’s drug problem and past failures. Mikey becomes more and more infuriated, which eventually culminates in a childish display of anger as they throw forks at each other at the dinner table. Richie is seen still happily married to his wife Tiffany (Gillian Jacobs), who is pregnant with their daughter, a display that is soured given their eventual separation, the seeds of which are planted in this episode as Richie lies about gaining employment.

Additional guest appearances include Sarah Paulson as Michelle, a Berzatto cousin, and John Mulaney as Michelle’s partner, Steven. Though they’re still part of the Berzatto family tree in The Bear, these new outside characters provide a more detached perspective on the state of the Berzatto family and how it affects Carmy in particular. By showing Carmy endure and internalize all the turmoil produced by his family members, The Bear’s “Fishes” episode provides the clearest explanation yet for Carmy’s anger issues, why he avoided coming home for so long, and why he has trouble nurturing relationships.

The Bear’s Christmas Episode Was One Of The Best In TV History

Season 2’s “Fishes” is far from a typical Christmas episode

Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), Natalie

In terms of special holiday episodes throughout TV history, The Bear season 2’s Christmas episode stands out for its poignant and realistic portrayal of dysfunctional families during the holidays. The Bear subverted tropes and expectations associated with traditional holiday episodes by refusing to sugarcoat the reality of how existing familial tension and conflict are often heightened by the pressure of these events. Instead of indulging in a healthy dose of festivity and sentimentality, The Bear showed a darker and more honest side of Christmas that resonated more deeply.

The Bear didn’t just set an episode during Christmas just for the sake of having a special holiday episode in its catalogue. Rather, the Christmas setting in “Fishes” allowed The Bear to put all the unresolved familial trauma on display that has been impacting Carmy in the present. The brilliance of “Fishes” is how it utilizes this occasion in which the whole family has come together to allow these interconnected issues that have been festering for years to boil to the surface.

How The Hulu Show Can Recapture The Success Of “Fishes” Without Copying It

Season 3 can’t just flash back to another family holiday

Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and Mikey (Jon Bernthal) talk in a pantry closet in The Bear season 2, episode 6,

In order for The Bear season 3 to even stand a chance of topping “Fishes,” it can’t rely on the exact same premise. While the Christmas setting provided the perfect backdrop and vehicle to explore and uncover the roots of Carmy’s family’s issues, simply flashing back to another Berzatto Christmas from the past will not be enough to recreate the magic of “Fishes” in season 3. Even setting a flashback episode during a different family holiday like Thanksgiving would risk repeating the same conflicts that occurred in “Fishes” and thus regurgitating the same themes and messages.

One way The Bear season 3 could rival season 2’s Christmas episode is by incorporating the missing Berzatto patriarch into one episode’s storyline. Though hints have been dropped about what happened to Carmy’s father in The Bear, his looming absence has never been properly explained. A flashback to a time when he was still around or shortly after he disappeared could answer a lot of questions about his fate in The Bear as well as reveal more about the Berzatto family dynamic and their relationships with one another, just like “Fishes” did.

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

Writers
Christopher Storer

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