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The Bear Season 3, Episode 1: The Carmy And Sugar Flashback, Explained

This article contains discussions of suicide.

Contains spoilers for "The Bear" Season 3 Episode 1 — "Tomorrow"

In the aftermath of the Season 2 finale of "The Bear" — which shares a name with the show itself and focuses on the fictional restaurant's disaster-ridden soft opening for friends and family — our protagonist, Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) is left personally and professionally shattered. After getting locked into the restaurant's walk-in fridge for most of the dinner service and insulting his girlfriend Claire (Molly Gordon) through the door without realizing it, Carmy spends the night in the restaurant revamping the menu as the audience is treated to a series of intense flashbacks from throughout his life and career. It's a stunning achievement by director Christopher Storer (the showrunner and creator) and his co-writer Matty Matheson (who plays Neil Fak), but viewers might be left with some questions. One example: what's the significance of the flashback that shows Carmy and his sister Natalie "Sugar" Berzatto (Abby Elliott) talking right before he boards a flight to New York?

White and Elliott spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the emotional flashback scenes between Natalie and Carmy, and according to Elliott, the scene is deeper (and much sadder) than you might realize. "Sugar is so desperate for Carmy to stay and not abandon her," Elliott said. "That level of abandonment, which I knew was always there ... she missed her brother so much, starting in episode one — but there's this level of: He's really leaving me here with these people."

Abby Elliott and Jeremy Allen White say the Carmy-Sugar flashbacks explain a lot about their characters

Not only that, but Abby Elliott continued to share something incredibly heartbreaking — that she knows Natalie senses, in those flashback, that Carmy and their brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal) might both leave her in one way or another. "She loves Mikey, but she's seeing his spiral," Elliott said — as viewers know, the entire narrative begins when Mikey dies from suicide. "It's very apparent she's just going to call him and call him and he might not pick up — and she knows that, and that's so scary for her. The fear is a new thing for Natalie."

So how does Jeremy Allen White see the conversation shown in the flashbacks, and what does he think is going on with Carmy in that moment? Considering that Carmy is, as White puts it, "so often inside of his own experience," the Emmy winner says he doesn't even notice that Natalie is scared. "He has a hard time understanding other people's experiences," White continued. "I don't think at all times, or at any time really, he's meaning to be hurtful in the way he exists. But I do think in this season, there is this realization, specifically with Sugar and Carm, that they did have this shared experience. They grew up in the same place. Carmy ran, and Sugar stayed. Carmy is starting to make room for others' experiences and really see and listen to other people for the first time."

Ultimately, Carmy does come back to Chicago after Mikey's death, and he and Natalie go into business together to run The Bear (the transformed version of Mikey's sandwich shop The Original Beef), but it's all kicked off by an enormous tragedy. So what did White and Elliott have to say about the rest of this stunning premiere?

The premiere of The Bear Season 3 is another ambitious episode from the show's team — and it works

"Tomorrow" is a pretty intense episode, even for "The Bear" — beyond his conversation with Natalie, Carmy seems to journey through the most difficult parts of his life leading up to the opening of his restaurant, including his time working with major chefs in the culinary world. We also see him getting soundly abused by the unnamed New York chef depicted by a brutal, vicious Joel McHale, watch as he trains under the famed Chef Terry (Olivia Colman) alongside fellow Season 2 standout Luca (Will Poulter), and watch as he remembers several difficult family moments we've seen on the series before. 

"It felt like walking around in somebody's mind," Jeremy Allen White revealed to the outlet of the episode's unconventional structure, which features very little dialogue and often feels surreal. "It felt very fresh and new. It felt very exciting in its structure and style. It felt different, while also being very much at the heart of the same tone as the show."

"It felt like a puzzle piece," Abby Elliott added. "It felt like it was here the whole time. This was the Bear, and his story was always right here."

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

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