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The Bear Season 3 Review: Kitchen Chaos That Remains Deliciously Addictive

  • The cast is still incredible
  • Impeccable writing
  • The show remains addictive
  • Sometimes the episodes are so lightning-fast that you can't help wishing for more character detail

"The Bear" is a show that thrives in chaos. The more unpredictable, loud, and tense that the Chicago kitchen run by the extended Berzatto family gets, the more audiences seem to eat the show up. For two seasons now, the mixture of dysfunction, trauma, and unbridled creativity has made it one of the most acclaimed shows on TV, but as the third season dawns, "The Bear" reminds us all that chaos was never the show's true secret ingredient.

Yes, it's the drama and the pain that propels the show forward with the white-hot intensity of a stove with all its burners turned to high, but "The Bear" has always been a character drama first — a show that, like a great chef, always knows when to offer a hint of sweetness and comfort amid the frenzied experimentation and heat. We care about that heat, and all the pressure it brings, because we care about the people in that kitchen, and with its third season, "The Bear" reminds us of that, and retains its place as one of the best shows out there.

The team is back in the fire

Season 3 begins in the wake of the mixed emotions of The Bear's grand re-opening that closed out the second season. The opening itself felt like a triumph, but of course, the various key players within The Bear's kitchen have issues of their own. Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) is stinging after a falling out with both his girlfriend Claire (Molly Gordon) and his cousin Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) on the same night; Sydney (Ayo Edibiri) is left to pick up the pieces as the only clear head in the kitchen; pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce) is grieving; and Carmy's sister Sugar (Abby Elliott) is facing both the stress of the business and an impending baby.

But despite all of that and more, Carmy is determined to press on, to make The Bear not just a great restaurant, but an exceptional one worthy of stars in the Michelin Guide. To do this, he sets out an ambitious new plan for the restaurant's future, one that rattles the kitchen, frustrates Sydney, leaves Sugar constantly checking the books, and keeps him at arm's length from Richie as the latter tries to make the front of the house just as exceptional as the back.

These character concerns (and many more) are all solid, promising groundwork for the new season, left over from Season 2's powder keg conclusion, but what's perhaps most striking about Season 3's return is the way it chooses to approach these ideas. Creator, writer, and director Christopher Storer does not throw us right into another pot of boiling story. The season premiere has the grace, and the good sense, to take things just a little slower — to give us a moment to breathe, to contemplate everything that's led to this moment in which so many characters have what they always thought they wanted. With the delicacy of a chef placing ingredients on a plate with tweezers, Storer re-sets the scene, makes sure everything is exactly where it should be, and then, in true "The Bear" fashion, it's time to cook.

Chasing perfection

On a pure craft level, it's like "The Bear" never left. Christopher Storer and his writers, cast, and crew retain all the quality and attention to detail that made this show one of the best on TV through its first two seasons. And now, it just keeps reaching, like Carmy himself; always chasing the next great frontier in this particular journey. The pacing, the dialogue, the intensity of performance, and even the moments of reflection that have always punctuated the show's wildest moments are all still here, so if you're looking for a simple exercise in returning to the form you love, you're going to find it.

Where Season 3 really succeeds, though, is in the ways it seeks to build out its characters after Season 2's triumphant conclusion. It's long been established that most of the key players on "The Bear" are people who've been wounded by something, and who find solace in food, family, creativity, or simple belonging. That's the character power we've been watching for three seasons now, and it's not going anywhere. What Season 3 does, thanks to continued excellence in writing and the presence of a stellar cast led once again by Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edibiri's searing dueling performances, is ask us as an audience to ponder when, if ever, it will be enough for any of these people. Will Carmy ever actually be satisfied with the food he's making? Will Sydney ever truly rise to her full potential, if she even can within the confines of The Bear? Can Sugar hold her family together? Can Richie not just prove his worth, but feel it in his bones? These are heavy, compelling, deeply satisfying questions, and "The Bear" Season 3 never strays from them. It also, crucially, never loses the sensitivity and warmth that has so informed it from the beginning.

So yes, "The Bear" is back, and it remains one of TV's most satisfying, thrilling, and remarkably human stories. Its complexity has not wavered, its humanity has not faded, and its melancholic humor has not dimmed. In short, one of the best shows has not lost a step.

"The Bear" Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.