Almost exactly a year after its first season released, The Bear is back with more frenetic kitchen drama and its trademark splash of dark comedy. Season 2 will return on June 22 to Hulu, this time with 10 episodes.
The first season—which became the most-watched comedy series in FX history—introduced viewers to a motley cast of characters: Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), an award-winning chef who returns to his hometown, Chicago, to run his late brother Mikey’s struggling restaurant, The Beef; Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Mikey’s rough-around-the-edges best friend; Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), a sous chef who joins The Beef to study under Carmy; Marcus (Lionel Boyce), a bread baker with a knack for making pastries; Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), a tough but loveable line cook; and Sugar (Abby Elliott), Carmy and Mikey’s well-adjusted older sister.
The setting, too, became a character: The Beef, an appropriately named Italian beef sandwich shop, is located in the River North neighborhood of Chicago. B-roll of Chicago’s North Side is spliced between high tension scenes in The Beef’s kitchen. (The restaurant’s interior is a replica of Mr. Beef, a real-life Chicago sandwich shop and favorite of the show’s creator, Christopher Storer.)
Here’s what to remember about the show before you come back for seconds.
Where did we leave the characters?
The Season 1 finale—titled “Braciole,” for the dish Mikey used to make for the family every Sunday—begins with Carmy attending an Alcoholics Anonymous support meeting. Over the course of the first season, it is gradually revealed that, unbeknownst to the estranged Carmy, Mikey had been addicted to painkillers, and ultimately died by suicide four months prior, leaving The Beef to his little brother. After seeing Carmy spiral, Sugar recommends the Al-Anon Family Group that she attends with her overly earnest husband, Pete (Chris Witaske). Carmy goes to a meeting early in the first season, but it’s not until the finale that he finally shares what’s been eating him up inside.
“I think it’s very clear that me trying to fix the restaurant was me trying to fix whatever was happening with my brother,” Carmy says. “And I don’t know, maybe fix the whole family because that restaurant—it has and it does mean a lot to people.”
Back at The Beef, while trying to break up a fight, Richie punches a man, accidentally putting him in a coma. He goes to jail and stays there while waiting to hear whether the man has woken up. With his one phone call, he calls his daughter’s mother and reaches his own emotional resolution.
“I was just thinking about all that sh-t that went down with your dad, and how I called him what I called him,” Richie says in a voicemail. “You were right: That was not OK. And I’m sorry.”
Sign up for Worth Your Time for weekly recommendations on what to read, watch, and listen to.
In the previous episode, Carmy blows up at Sydney and Marcus. Carmy, typically never one to communicate maturely, apologizes to both of them, and they both return to The Beef.
Tina, ever stubborn, comes around to the changes Sydney had tried to implement in the kitchen and finally dons a proper apron and uniform.
What happened in the finale?
The Beef is saddled with back taxes and $300,000 worth of unrepaid loans to Mikey from his vaguely menacing uncle, Cicero (Oliver Platts). Early in the finale, Carmy is sifting through unorganized records: Mikey had made payment installments to something called KBL Electric that added up to $300,000—but Carmy couldn’t figure out what KBL Electric was.
Later on, Richie fishes an envelope addressed from Mikey to Carmy out from behind the staff lockers. “I love you dude,” the note reads. “Let it rip.” On the backside is, inexplicably, a recipe for spaghetti that calls for San Marzano Tomatoes.
Baffled, Carmy decides to make the spaghetti anyway. When he opens a can of San Marzano Tomatoes from the storeroom, shrink-wrapped wads of cash fall out. He enlists the kitchen crew to open the rest of the cans, and more and more cash appears. The bottoms of the cans are stamped with letters: KBL. The Beef, it seems, is out of the financial woods.
In the kitchen, Carmy and Sydney lock eyes, already cooking up a concept for a new restaurant. “Family style? Two tops, booths?” Carmy asks. “Danish design,” Syd responds. “Tasting menu at the bar.” “Window on the side,” Carmy says. “For sandwiches,” Syd says. “What do we call it?”
Carmy walks over to the storefront and gingerly tapes a sign to the window: “The Beef is closed. Thank you for your patronage. The Bear is coming.”
What can we expect in Season 2?
The trailer for the second season sees Carmy, Sydney, and Sugar asking Cicero for another loan to give The Beef a “facelift” and turn it into The Bear—which will take six months minimum to open. Carmy and Sydney experiment in the kitchen to build out The Bear’s “chaos menu”—a type of fusion cooking that combines seemingly disparate ingredients.
Carmy returns to the Al-Anon support meetings, Carmy and Sydney send Marcus to culinary school, and Tina accompanies him. Richie and company renovate the building, and a mysterious new character appears, played by Molly Gordon. Perhaps a love interest for Carmy? But The Bear’s core remains the same: food, family, humor, and an incessant sense of urgency.
- What a Photographer Saw in the West Bank
- Accenture’s Chief AI Officer on Why This Is a Defining Moment
- Inside COP28's Big 'Experiment'
- U.S. Doctors Can't Be Silent About Gaza: Column
- The Movie Wives Would Like a Word
- The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023
- The Top 100 Photos of 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time