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Cast Of The Bear: What Do Season 2's New Characters Bring To The Table?

After a hit first season that racked up tons of acclaim for everyone involved, "The Bear" returned for its sophomore season in June of 2023 — and there was no slump to be found. The main crew, of course, came back along with the show; Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edibiri, Ebon Moss-Bacharach, Lionel Boyce, Liza Colón-Zayas, and Abby Elliott were back on our screens as Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto, Sydney Adamu, Richard "Richie" Jerimovich, Marcus Brooks, Tina Marrero, and Natalie "Sugar" Berzatto, respectively. They were also joined by some new faces... who turned out to be some pretty fantastic additions to "The Bear."

Adding new characters once a show is already ongoing is pretty tricky, but "The Bear" pulled it off; whether these new characters were challenging or helping the team we already know and love, these new additions deepened our understanding of characters we already love and made the world of "The Bear" that much fuller. From Carmy's unhinged mother to a celebrity chef to a London transplant living and working in Copenhagen, here's why these new characters on "The Bear" totally worked.

Luca helped a beloved character grow as a chef

In the season's outstanding fourth episode, "Honeydew," Marcus, an aspiring pastry chef, gets the chance of a lifetime and travels to Copenhagen to learn from one of the best in the business. That industry veteran turns out to be Luca, played by "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" and "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" star Will Poulter. Based on the acidic, stressful tone "The Bear" often takes, it's all too easy to assume that Luca, like so many other industry bigwigs, is going to be a complete jerk, and Marcus clearly feels the same way. When Luca asks if he knows a recipe by heart, Marcus says he does and starts to sweat... until Luca quietly hands Marcus the recipe without any judgment.

As the two bond over their love of their craft, Luca and Marcus realize they have a lot in common, and it's a genuinely touching moment between two people who want to make food almost too beautiful to even consume. Luca is a perfect mentor for the gentle, kind Marcus, and they clearly remain in touch, as Luca sends a gift to Marcus as the in-universe restaurant The Bear opens at the end of the season. Scenes with Luca are a welcome breath, as opposed to some of the other new characters.

Donna explains a lot about the Berzatto family

As played by recently minted Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis, Donna Berzatto is a hurricane. Seen in flashback as she makes the Feast of the Seven Fishes for her enormous family at Christmas, she's dropping cigarette ash in the food, smearing garlic butter onto loaves of bread with her bare hands, chugging glasses of wine, and generally being a complete terror to everyone around her. Donna loves Mikey (Jon Bernthal), seems suspicious of Carmy, and outright despises Natalie, whom she verbally abuses throughout the entire evening, and she's also convinced that nobody in her family even likes her, a sentiment she expresses more or less constantly. This all builds in a particularly horrible way right up until the point where Natalie dares to ask if her mother is okay, and Donna responds by breaking a plate and then driving her car into the side of the house. (So, no, she's not.)

Donna's absolutely unhinged behavior explains so much about the dynamic between the late Mikey and his remaining siblings Carmy and Natalie. There's a reason Carmy feels like he has to take care of people and provide for them; his mother needed so much. Natalie is fully allied with her brother by Season 2, but in Season 1, Carmy needs to earn her trust again, because clearly, Natalie wasn't given a safe space within her family. And then there's Mikey... but his whole deal is actually exposed by a different family member entirely.

Uncle Lee taught us more about Mikey

Donna's dynamic with Natalie and Carmy is one thing — at the end of the season, she briefly shows up to The Bear's opening but then runs away, realizing she'll just ruin it for her children — but Mikey's dynamic with Uncle Lee, played by Bob Odenkirk, is something else entirely. (Whether Lee is actually Mikey's uncle is up for debate; it seems like more of an honorific than anything else.) Lee and Mikey, to put it lightly, do not get along, and this all comes to a head during a particularly nasty blowout argument just as everyone sits down to dinner.

Mikey, to be fair, won't stop throwing forks at Lee, who's criticizing the fact that Donna is off somewhere crying rather than eating dinner. This causes an immediate problem for pretty obvious reasons, but when Lee — who really clearly just doesn't like Mikey one bit — lays into the young man about leeching off of Donna and the fact that he's unsuccessful in both his personal and professional life, Mikey loses it, even flipping the table. Mikey, as fans know, dies by suicide shortly before the events of Season 1... and if his interactions with people like Lee are any indication, he tragically didn't get the mental health support he needed, instead subjected to abject cruelty and outright scorn. It's a truly sad revelation about Mikey, and it's tough to watch an actor as beloved as Odenkirk in a role like this.

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Molly Gordon helped us see Carmy's softer side — and his worst self

A former flame who comes back into Carmy's life, Claire, portrayed by Molly Gordon, brings a gentle kindness to Carmy's story that was definitely missing in Season 1. The two strike up a romantic relationship pretty quickly, and it's clear that Claire is an indispensable source of support and comfort as he tries to do one of the most ambitious things a chef can do in his or her lifetime: open a new restaurant. Carmy, when he's alone with Claire, is as gentle and open as we ever see him... until things reach a stomach-churning conclusion during opening night at The Bear.

Claire is, of course, in attendance — and when she finds out that Carmy has been locked in the walk-in freezer thanks to a faulty door handle, she rushes back to the kitchen only to find Carmy mid-rant about their relationship. As he puts it, he never should have been distracted by something as trivial as a relationship, because he can't have it all... and considering that Claire left a voicemail on Carmy's phone earlier telling him that she loves him. When Carmy loses Claire in the series finale, it's a blow to both his character and the audience, because he does deserve happiness, but he won't allow himself to really feel that.

Chef Terry helped Richie find his way

Similar to "Honeydew," "Forks" is a standalone episode that highlights kindness and collaboration in the restaurant industry — but in "Forks," you don't meet the extremely special guest until the episode's final moments. After staging — or training — at a high-end Chicago restaurant which boasts a months-long waiting list, Richie starts to understand the essence of fine dining; it's an experience servers, bartenders, and managers carefully provide to people that can prove to be extraordinarily memorable. Though he's not immediately convinced, Richie takes to the experience beautifully, crushing his training and showing real sadness when it's time for him to leave and return to the fledgling Bear to help it open.

On his last day, Richie meets the mysterious, famous Chef Terry everyone's been talking about — and she's played by acclaimed actress Olivia Colman. The two share a gorgeous moment hand-trimming mushrooms — a ritual Chef Terry says she performs herself because it's a kind extra step for the restaurant's guests — and comparing notes on their upbringing and lives. As she walks away, Chef Terry tells Richie that Carmy told her Richie was essentially good, and that is definitely is, reminding Richie that he doesn't have to be such a brash jerk all the time (and he definitely can be). It's a vital moment for Richie's development, and Colman's stillness and gravitas is a perfect touch.