The Bear Season 3 Review: Ayo Edebiri Shines as Director in a Bold and Ambitious Season

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Are we ever ready to experience a new feeling? Probably not. Yet, the only way out is to cut right through it, to deal with it as if it doesn’t matter how big that feeling is. Season 3 of “The Bear,” now available on Disney+ Hotstar, tackles a myriad of emotions and challenges head-on. This season takes bold swings, returns to the relentless kitchen scenes, and goes all out. But how do you top a pitch-perfect Season 2? You start fresh, taking risks that sometimes pay off and sometimes don’t. Season 3 is ambitious and poignant, yet occasionally uneven and less focused.

The Season Opener: A Hyper-Realist Experiment

We catch up with Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) right after the anxious conclusion of Season 2. The first episode of Season 3 is a bold experiment, blending hyper-realism, mood pieces, and ASMR poetry. It’s a near-perfect run, showcasing Carmy’s formative years at a top-tier restaurant, and highlighting how the past shapes the present. The episode is accompanied by the mesmerizing music of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, creating a fever-dream-like experience that, while indulgent at times, works beautifully within the season’s context.

Chaos in The Bear

With the restaurant now rebranded from The Beef to The Bear, the stakes are higher than ever. There’s no room for mistakes, but plenty for nerve-wracking panic during service. Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) tries to instill order amidst the chaos, while Carmy and house manager Richie/Cousin (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) clash constantly. Carmy’s insistence on reinventing the menu daily, calling these changes “non-negotiables,” adds strain on Sydney and others, highlighting Carmy’s struggle to grow and learn compared to his colleagues.

Sydney’s Arc and Carmy’s Struggles

Despite her central role, Sydney feels sidelined in this season’s narrative. The show’s creator, Christopher Storer, introduces many new ideas and ambitions, but Carmy’s unreliability often overshadows them. The anticipation builds but leaves off unfinished, like an entrée without a main course. However, Sydney’s directing skills shine through in her directorial debut episode, “Napkins.”

Standout Episode: “Napkins”

Directed by Ayo Edebiri, “Napkins” is the standout episode of the season. It focuses on Tina’s (Liza Colón-Zayas) heartbreaking backstory, detailing her journey as a working mother navigating a harsh consumerist world. The episode is a masterclass in storytelling, with every shot counting and no severe jump-cuts. It tracks returning characters with clarity, creating a full-circle moment. Colón-Zayas delivers an unforgettable performance, solidifying Tina as a pivotal character.

Following “Napkins”: “Ice Chips”

Following “Napkins” is “Ice Chips,” another rewarding episode bringing back an unhinged character for a significant delivery. These episodes echo the brilliance of last season’s “Fishes” and “Forks,” showcasing the show’s depth beyond food. At its core, “The Bear” is about people and their complex relationships with finding purpose and value in life.

“The Bear” Season 3 continues to deliver ferocious performances and compelling narratives, capturing the hurt, anxiety, and survival instincts of its characters. Although this season feels a bit less sharp than its predecessor, it remains one of the best television shows right now. Ayo Edebiri’s directorial efforts, particularly in “Napkins,” highlight the series’ ability to evolve and push boundaries while staying true to its essence.

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