Mark Overanalyses Film

The Bear (Pilot & Season 1)

March 04, 2024 Season 4 Episode 10
The Bear (Pilot & Season 1)
Mark Overanalyses Film
More Info
Mark Overanalyses Film
The Bear (Pilot & Season 1)
Mar 04, 2024 Season 4 Episode 10

Mark lets the overanalysis rip as he tries to figure out what makes the first season of The Bear so nerve-shredding, how it uses Sydney and Cousin Richie to express arguments within its protagonist, and if anyone else gets as excited by the term 'fractal structure' as he does.

Show Notes Transcript

Mark lets the overanalysis rip as he tries to figure out what makes the first season of The Bear so nerve-shredding, how it uses Sydney and Cousin Richie to express arguments within its protagonist, and if anyone else gets as excited by the term 'fractal structure' as he does.

Hi everybody, and welcome to Mark Overanalyses Film! Today, I will be overanalysing The Bear’s Season 1 and its pilot, entitled “System”. 

Before I begin, allow me to remind you that I am available for reading, script editing, and story coaching at And also, if you enjoy this podcast, please do share and/or recommend it. It really would be a great help. 

The Bear was created by Christopher Storer, apparently based on his experiences with a real restaurant in Chicago. 

Now, to be honest, I’m more of a film guy than a series guy, but what I really love about overanalysing a serialised drama like The Bear is 2 things: 1) how multiple characters have arcs that intertwine and combine to shape the story, and 2) seeing the concept of fractal structure so clearly  in practice. To be clear, fractal structure basically means that a pattern should repeat forever, no matter how zoomed in or zoomed out you are. So, for example, every story will have a beginning, middle, and end, but within those constituent parts, there will be smaller beginnings, middles, and ends, and within those, the pattern will continue.   

With that in mind, I’m going to take on The Bear’s Season 1 in 3 parts. One: I’m going to look at our protagonist, Carmy, and how all the other characters and their arcs relate to him. Two: I’m going to break down the pilot to see how it works and if its structure reflects that of the season in total. Three: I’m going to analyse the rest of the season to show how every episode corresponds to a different story stage and how Carmy and the other main characters’ arcs shape the overall story. 

So, in sum, first, I’ll look at the fundamental features of the protagonist and the other main players. Then, I’ll go through the main story beats of the pilot. And, finally, I’ll go through the character arcs of Season 1. Ok, keeping all that in mind, let the overanalysis rip.

So, let’s begin by defining our protagonist: Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. Carmy has a case for being one of the best chefs in the world, but has recently moved back to Chicago to take over the messy, chaotic sandwich shop his brother Michael ran before he took his own life.

Now, there are 3 ways that I like to use to define a story’s protagonist: his life dream, his Want, and his Need. 

Carmy’s Life Dream is basically what he wants when we first meet him. Now, we see throughout episode 1 that Carmy is trying everything he can to keep the restaurant going, but his life dream is never clearer than when Sugar turns up and he promises her that he is going “to fix this place”. 

Ok, so the next thing is Carmy’s Capital W Want, which is really Carmy’s tangible objective for the long second act of our season’s story. 

But just before I get into that, I do want to delineate here between the Want and the Story Engine. Essentially, the story engine is the thing which keeps producing objectives for the characters in a series episode after episode, season after season. In Succession for example, the siblings are all vying to take over their father’s company. 

So, the story engine in The Bear is really something about Carmy trying to keep this restaurant in some shape or form alive. If he wasn’t working in this particular kitchen, in this particular spot in Chicago, it just wouldn’t feel like The Bear anymore. But, within that, the challenges, or objectives, every season are going to be different. 

So, for now, Carmy’s Want is to improve and bring sanity to the workflow of The Original Beef with the help of Sydney. That is the objective that is set out at the end of Episode 2, the beginning of our 2nd act, and which will be achieved or not at the end of Episode 6, our 2nd act’s end.

So, finally, what is Carmy’s Need? Or, what is the human quality or piece of wisdom that Carmy lacks at the beginning of our story but learns by its end? Now, two things: 1) this is always a little complicated when the story is not yet complete, and 2) Carmy is not going to attain his overall Need in one season.

With regards to that overall Need, Carmy’s deep underlying issue to my mind is, to paraphrase Sugar, that he keeps not processing trauma. He says himself that he feels trapped because he can’t express how he feels. And if he’s going to ever find a way to do that, he’s going to need a family that loves him. Someone smarter than me could probably find an elegant way to sum that up more precisely, but to my mind, there are these two elements at play: the need to open up, and the need to belong. But like I say, he’s not going to get here in one leap. So, in Season 1, he needs to start talking to someone, and he needs to stop trying to connect with his brother on his brother’s terms, and really do things his way. He has to let go of The Original Beef and release The Bear.  

Ok, now that I’ve defined our protagonist for our story, let’s have a look at the other main characters around him and how they relate to the protagonist and his journey. 


The Characters

I’m not going to get into every character here, but what I find particularly interesting in the construction of The Bear is that our protagonist finds himself in the middle of two overlapping trios. 

When I was overanalysing The Godfather, I talked about a video where Stephen Fry discusses his love of Star Trek. He points out that in Star Trek: the original series, Kirk had the intensely reason-based Spock on one side, and the mercurial, emotional Bones on the other. Kirk, as the audience avatar, had to contend with that oh-so human struggle to balance reason and emotion, and this could generate story after story after story. And here, Sydney is our Spock and Richie is our Bones. They will have 3 story purposes: 1) They will pull our protagonist in different directions, providing conflict internally within him. 2) They will rarely agree with each other, providing constant external conflict for the story. And 3) They, along with Carmy, will have season long arcs that, as we will see, shape the story. 

So first, let’s take Richie, as he’s probably the main source of antagonism in our story. And that’s because Richie does not want anything to change, and he represents an attachment to Mikey. If The Original Beef changes, it will be like losing the last of Mikey. Richie represents the argument of keeping things the same and tradition. His strength is the strength of tradition: community, being in his element, and understanding the people. The Original Beef as it is in episode 1 is where Richie feels he belongs. His weakness though is that he is not willing to let go of the past because he’s afraid that, without Mikey, he has no place in the future. So, in Season 1, his arc is going to be from wanting everything to stay the same to finally giving Carmy Mikey’s note, and truly letting his friend go.

Second, on the other side of almost every issue, we have Sydney. And Sydney wants everything to change too quickly. She is young, has no attachment to Mikey at all, and loves the work of cheffing. So, Sydney represents changing things completely and the love of cooking. Her strength is that she is very good at what she does. Her weakness though is that she’s a workaholic and feels like a disaster in every other aspect of life. This is especially manifested in her struggles to fit in with the staff of The Original Beef. So, her arc this season is going to be from being an outsider to becoming one of the family. 

So, Richie belongs here but struggles to move on, and Sydney is excellent at this but struggles to communicate and fit in with others. You can hear it right? They are kind of refractions of Carmy’s strengths and weaknesses, and their arcs are distillations of Carmy’s arc. So, you might notice as we go through the season that if Carmy is letting his worst instincts overrun him, Richie will be pushing for things to go back the way they were and Sydney will feel like an outsider. But when Carmy is beginning to communicate and move on, Richie will also be letting go of the past, and Syd will be feeling like one of the family.

 But: I also want to quickly note that Carmy is also one of three siblings. Now, I find this interesting because the nature of this trio is slightly different. Mikey and Sugar are in the show far less, have no arcs themselves, and serve far less of an episode-to-episode plot device. However, Mikey essentially represents Carmy’s flaw, which also drives his Season 1 Want, while Sugar represents his Need. Throughout Season 1, Carmy is chasing Mikey, the cooler older brother who made him feel rejected and like a loser. And just like Carmy, Mikey couldn’t communicate with those he cared most about, especially about his feelings. He certainly can’t now that he’s dead. Unless of course, there’s a note he left somewhere that’s yet to be found… Conversely, Sugar is profoundly caring, empathetic, and open. In fact, the Christmas episode of Season 2 turns disastrous precisely because Sugar cannot help but ask if her mother is ok. So, while the elusive Mikey is applying pressure from beyond the grave for Carmy to shut up and work harder and harder, Sugar is applying pressure for Carmy to accept that his brother is gone, open up, and deal with his trauma. 

It’s cool, right?! Well, I think it is. Now, I’d love to talk about Marcus and Tina as well, but I think it’s about time we get on with things. So, at that, let’s look at the pilot of The Bear to see how it sets everything up, and then look at the structure of Season 1. 


The Pilot

Now, if I were talking about a film here, I would say that there are traditionally, but not always, 3 acts and 8 sequences, or stages, in a film. I’d also say that a sequence is a combination of scenes that are tied together by having a single overriding dramatic question or tension, and they tend to be between 10 and 15 minutes in length. So, a good way to think about it is that every 10-15 minutes, the audience should be on some level asking themselves a different dramatic question. 

And all of that is very applicable here. The Bear’s Season 1 has 8 episodes, each of which function clearly as a different stage of our story. However, rather than sequences, there are episodes which each have their own tensions or objectives. And because this is TV and the episodes are between 21 and 48 minutes, there is generally an A plot and a B plot in each episode. I’m not going to worry about that too much, but as much as possible, I’ll cover it.

One more final point before I get into the pilot. I’m a fervent believer in what John Yorke, in his brilliant book Into The Woods, calls Fractal Structure. What that essentially means here is that an episode’s structure should be basically the same as the structure of the season, which in turn should be basically the same as the structure of the whole series overall. So, as I go through the pilot, I’ll be mentioning story beats that should theoretically mirror story beats across the season. So, for example, there should be some kind of clear relationship between the midpoint of this episode and the end of episode 4, and between the climax of this episode and the climax at the end of the season overall. So, let’s see.

Episode 1 of The Bear is called “System” and it begins with a dream sequence of Carmy freeing and then failing to soothe a bear. We will soon find out that Carmy himself is often called Bear, as his family name is Berzatto. So, it sure would seem that there’s something potentially vicious and dangerous inside him, and that by returning to this family restaurant, he is testing his worst impulses. But we don’t have time to dwell on it, because we are straight into our episode’s mini Act I. We discover that Carmy has only received a fraction of the beef he needs, so our first tension of the series, appropriately, is “Can Carmy get the beef he needs to open for the day?” So Carmy tries to smooth it over on the phone and fails. He goes to shut down the Ballbreaker machine, and instead discovers there’s money in the machines. But not enough. So he runs home and grabs some denim. Eventually, 4 and a half minutes into our pilot episode, Carmy does get his beef. But, it’s important to note: Carmy achieves his first act goal by selling off a jacket that he got from Mikey. In other words, he does so by letting go of his brother just a little bit. Which is exactly what he will do at the end of this first episode. And it’s exactly what he will do at the end of this first season. First act: taking a tiny step towards his need. First episode: taking a significant step towards his need. First season: taking a huge step towards his need. That is fractal structure! Anyways, we know that this is what he’s doing because he has to call Sugar and ask her to bring him the jacket. And now that the first act tension has been resolved, we need a new one. So, no sooner is he off the phone to Sugar than Sydney arrives to stage for the day. Now, Sydney is really important here as a character, because she’s the one who’s totally new. As such, she can ask questions for the audience, like, for instance: “what the hell is Carmy doing here?” And this scene sets up two plots for the 2nd act of our episode: the B plot is that Sydney is going to be making the family meal. The A plot is really all about Carmy fighting to put his stamp on the restaurant, but you might notice that when Sydney asks him what he’s doing here, he responds “making sandwiches”. It’s a flippant line, but it’s also true. Carmy’s 2nd act will actually end with him successfully making his first sandwich.

So, from minutes 5 to 10, we have what we can call our first attempts to solve the problem. Sydney has to actually find the food to cook family, and Carmy has to argue and fight with the staff. And you can see the argument-counterargument relationship here throughout. He fights with everyone, but then he reasons with Marcus. Sydney screws up with Tina, but then Ebra helps her out. And then, despite the fact that Carmy has been fighting constantly so far, as soon as he shows someone the new beef, Marcus cannot help but be impressed, exclaiming “Yo, this shit looks different.” 

Now in this world, that’s a big move, so the counterargument needs reinforcement. Enter: Richie Jerimovich. And this ups the stakes considerably, because while all of the others are just employees, Richie has been the manager here. That means that Richie has some genuine authority to challenge the young chef. And so, at minute 10, Carmy makes his first unconscious move towards his Need for the episode. At the climax, Carmy is going to double down and refuse to go back to Mikey’s way of doing things. So, here, Richie tells Carmy that this is his brother’s house and that Richie was running it fine. To which Carmy coldly responds “Why didn’t he leave it to you then?” Snap! Carmy has taken his first big step to where he needs to go, and so we enter the next stage of our story: the greater attempts to solve the problem. 

So, the arguing and the anger actually goes up a notch, with Richie very much in Carmy’s face, and all the old crew complaining about Carmy’s decision to remove the spaghetti from the menu. It’s also important to note that it’s here where Carmy says he calls everyone “Chef”, as it is a mark of respect. And that’s important. If they’re going to rise above their past and their various traumas, they’re going to have to respect themselves, each other, and what they do. But it’s also here where we learn that Carmy didn’t make it to his own brother’s funeral, so there’s that traumatic past rearing its head. Then, he discovers he’s cut himself from using the dull knives. Mikey’s mess has drawn blood. The anger is brewing in Carmy, so he takes a moment in the bathroom to collect himself, and we can hear the wild roar of the bear somewhere deep within him. But: he’s not going to act on it, because we are now at this episode’s midpoint: or, the protagonist’s first conscious move towards his Need. Carmy comes out, and tries to take charge by redefining roles. But Richie won’t let him get a word in edgeways. Now, this is a really important difference between the finished episode and a screenplay you can find online, and it shows how writing can really improve and deepen with work and development. At this point in the earlier script, Carmy goes absolutely berserk, trashes the place, and intimidates Richie. Which would be a bit one-note really, and not that interesting. But here, in the actual filmed episode, there is a much more sad, soulful moment. Carmy spots his knife, carelessly dropped on the floor. And suddenly, he becomes ruminative, and starts to think of what happened to his dead brother Mikey. At the end of the season, Carmy will tell us that what connected them was their love of cooking together. So, rather than seeing Carmy explode, we next see Carmy soulfully cooking beef. 

Carmy has chosen to use the good parts of his family to rise above the trauma, and with that, we enter the honeymoon stage. The honeymoon stage is so called because our protagonist has acted in accordance with his Need, and so things are going to go well for a while. And you can totally feel that here. Suddenly, a much slower, sombre soundtrack kicks in, and the representation of Carmy’s Need, the endlessly loving and empathetic Sugar, appears. And you’ll notice, now that we’re in the honeymoon stage, the story starts to undermine Richie. He complains that he can’t find the chilli flakes, before Marcus points out that they are right in front of him, clearly labelled. And this is where Carmy tells Sugar that he is going to fix this place, and Sugar points out that nobody is asking him to. It’s going to be episode 8 before Carmy can really take this in and realise what he’s doing, but it’s right here in the opening episode’s honeymoon stage. But, Carmy isn’t ready to hear it, so he heads back inside, and at minute 18, it’s time for the next story stage: the bridge from the honeymoon to the lowpoint. 

And if you watch the pilot, you can hear it in the music immediately. The Bear’s signature tension music kicks in, and we now have really strong arguments on both sides going at each other. On one hand, Carmy’s ready to dish out the new sandwiches. On the other, the bread is flaky and Marcus doesn’t want to be told what to do. On one hand, the sandwiches impress everyone. On the other, the Ballbreaker crowd outside look… rambunctious to say the least. But Carmy has completed his objective of making his sandwiches, and now Sydney has completed her B plot of making family. Our 2nd act is almost over, but at family, Carmy can’t relax and he asks Richie to come help him with the crowd outside. And Richie refuses, telling Carmy that if he’s going to seize his house, he’s on his own. So, Carmy has taken charge, but he hasn’t been able to bring Richie with him. Without Richie, this place will never run right. So, like at so many low points, the protagonist has dispelled with the counterargument, but the argument seems impossible. So, at minute 22, with 5 minutes remaining, we enter System’s Act III.

Act III has a false resolution and a true resolution. So, here, Carmy goes out and gets in way over his head with the crowd that he himself brought in. He ends up having to be saved by Richie, whose counterargument suddenly takes the ascendency. Richie knows how this world works: you make sure you have enough food, and you keep your head down. So, he tells Carmy to get inside and make some fucking spaghetti. And it suddenly feels like Carmy and his argument have been defeated. But then, at minute 25, with a mere 2 minutes left, there’s yet another turn. We discover that Richie actually finds Carmy’s new sandwich delicious. And then, finally, Marcus approaches Carmy and is impressed by the results of Carmy’s advice. As he walks away, Marcus calls him “Chef”, and Carmy’s belief in what he’s doing is suddenly reinforced. He can actually make a difference to this place. He can make it his own. So, he takes the half opened can of tomato paste, and tosses it in the bin. In System’s climactic action, Carmy shows us: he is doing it his way. Unfortunately, if Marcus had just called him Chef like 30 seconds later, Carmy would have discovered about 5 grand in that tomato can, and this whole season would not happen. But as creator Christopher Storer says, Carmy won’t discover the money until he’s ready to.  

So, that’s a lot of detail for one episode, but hopefully we can see how it has all of these story stages that will also play out over the season. There are 3 acts, a first unconscious about a 3/8ths of the way in, a first conscious move at the midpoint, a low point, a false resolution, and a true resolution. And as we’ll see, these stages are going to relate to the larger story told across the season. The other thing to point out before I move on is that the first episode really has to have our inciting incident, or the event without which our story as it is would not happen. If it doesn’t, the pilot would not sufficiently tell the audience what the story is going to be. So, really here the inciting incident happened before the series even started, when Mikey killed himself and left the restaurant to Carmy. But the pilot generally ends with a kind of second inciting incident, or at least a turn in the story. In Succession, it’s when the patriarch suddenly goes into a coma. Here, it’s when Marcus calls Carmy “chef”, and Carmy is reinspired to turn this place around: to do things his way, not Richie’s way, and more importantly, not his brother’s way.

But that’s episode 1, so let’s quickly run through the rest of The Bear’s Season 1 to show how the same story stages play out on a grander scale, and how Carmy’s, Richie’s, and Sydney’s arcs all intertwine and combine to shape them.

Episode 2 is a classic second stage of the story, where the status quo has been disturbed, but the protagonist hasn’t quite set off on his main mission yet. So, you might notice that we are given a lot of information here. We learn that Carmy is really suffering from trauma, struggling to breathe at times and setting fire to his apartment by cooking in his sleep. We also learn that he now owes his uncle Cicero 300 grand because of Mikey. And on that note, we also learn that Mikey shot himself. But in terms of story shape, two vital things happen right at the end. One: Carmy is being hassled by Sugar to attend Al Anon to deal with his trauma. So, this is a call to his Need. Two: it is only at the end of this episode that he hires Sydney as his pass chef. I don’t know what a pass chef does, but I do know that Carmy and Sydney are going to work together to make this an actual functioning restaurant. This, at the end of Episode 2, sets up our 2nd act objective, and so at that, we end Act I and we enter Act II.

Our 2nd Act begins with Episode 3: the first attempts to solve the problem. And like so many 2nd acts, it begins with what we can call the “What’s the plan?” scene. This is where the story tells us what our long 2nd act is going to look like. So, episode 3 begins with Carmy sitting at the back of an Al Anon meeting, before cutting to an absolutely chaotic work environment. And you’ll notice here that it specifically depicts Carmy caught between old school Richie barking orders and Sydney shouting back that he needs to learn how to use a computer. This is the past vs change, personified, with Carmy in between. And so, we can see that Carmy is trying to improve the place but also trying to keep Sydney in line, and also beginning to attend Al Anon. This is our season’s 2nd act in a nutshell. 

But episode 3 is also defined by what we can term the refusal of the call, or the protagonist’s retrenchment from their Need. Carmy has begun his adventure, but it’s hard, so he initially takes a step backwards. So, here, Carmy’s first attempt to solve the problem is to get Sydney to institute a French Brigade system in the kitchen. But he refuses the call because he doesn’t listen to her concerns and then rushes off right when she needs him most. This stage always ends though with the protagonist’s first unconscious move towards their Need. So, at the end of episode 3, after Sydney has had a terrible day, Carmy sits with her and reveals that his brother was an addict and that he was attending an Al Anon meeting. And when he says that he knows that that is not an excuse, Sydney responds “But now I know that you know.” Which is really important. She’s not asking him to be cured, she’s just asking for him to communicate.

But of course, Sydney also has her own retrenchment and unconscious move towards being part of the family here. She puts everyone’s nose out of joint implementing the French Brigade and gets screwed over by an embittered Tina because she can’t let anyone help her. But then, when she yells at Marcus about offering to help her with the veal stock and then goes on to drop said veal stock everywhere, Marcus comes in and helps her anyways.

Similarly, at the end of episode 2, Richie discovers a note from Mikey but can’t bring himself to give it to Carmy. Here though, when Carmy tells him that for one moment, it felt like Mikey was alive, he is confronted with the fact that Mikey is really gone. And you might notice as well that there’s a consistent theme to Richie’s arc movements. Here, he refers to the guy who calls looking for Mikey as “some idiot”, and he will find himself again and again having to wrestle with the fact that his troubled best friend kept letting him down and getting him into trouble.

For now though, with all their first unconscious moves made, we move on to episode 4: the greater attempts to solve the problem. So, while Carmy would rather bury himself in the restaurant, he now has to deal with family at Cicero’s kid’s birthday party. Meanwhile, Sydney has to now try to manage the kitchen alone. But all of the characters are going to make real moves towards their eventual Need here. Richie discovers that Cicero has been blaming him for something that was Mikey’s fault, which both makes him consider the loss of Mikey and helps him mend a relationship. And note, this is a clear foreshadowing of episode 8, when he will blame Mikey again for their predicament, right before knocking a guy out, going to prison, and making up with Carmy as a result. Sydney, meanwhile, is helping Marcus with his inspiration, and eventually wins over Tina when she helps her with the new potato recipe and then gives her some much needed gratification for her hard work. Finally though, we have Carmy, and I have to admit, I find it hard to pin down a definitive decision here from Carmy that would qualify as a really good, clear first conscious move. But that being said, there’s a lot here to suggest it. He ends this episode talking about his family with Cicero, and having connected on some level at least with Sugar’s partner Pete. But the episode then ends with him returning to The Original Beef. Now, it’s really common for the midpoint, as a significant movement towards the character’s Need, to foreshadow our ending. And so, you might notice that both Episodes 4 and 8 end with everyone eating together in the restaurant as a big family. In episode 8, it’s literally Mikey’s family meal recipe they’re eating. Here, everyone sits around eating the chocolate cake that Marcus has been inspired by Carmy and Sydney to create. Carmy may not be totally opening up just yet, but there’s a clear sense that he’s beginning to connect with those around him. 

And so, that leads us to Episode 5, the Honeymoon stage. Again, the honeymoon stage is so called because everyone has taken a step towards their Need and so they are rewarded. Of course, this is The Bear, so “things going well” also include a toilet exploding, the fuses blowing, and deciding to sell coke in an alley out of desperation. But despite those events, this is also an episode where Richie agrees to stop selling coke, and Sydney uses her catering experience to lead the crew and save The Beef from missing a service, which would kill them. But, more importantly, if Carmy’s midpoint was a little diffuse, his honeymoon stage is crystal clear. He now contacts Pete when he needs a favour, and when Sugar chastises him for doing so, Carmy reveals that he has actually been attending Al Anon 3 times a week. Finally though, when Carmy gets back to the restaurant, he discovers an ashamed Marcus hiding out behind a fence. And in order to make him feel better, he tells a story of how he almost burnt down a restaurant by accident once, and how he had a moment where he considered letting the fire burn the whole place down and taking his anxiety with it. But Carmy decided then not to give in to his anxiety and his trauma, to put the fire out, and to keep going. If only he could tell that to the stressed out maniac he’s going to become in episode 7…

But for now, that leads us into episode 6, the bridge from the honeymoon to the low point. Now, this is the end of our 2nd act, so you’ll notice that at the end of this episode, we confirm that Carmy and Sydney have been successful in the objective they set out with at the end of episode 2. When Richie now feels like an outcast and acts up, Tina pulls him outside and chastises him. She recognises how much they’ve improved the place. The penultimate scene then shows a newly harmonious kitchen working in sync. They’ve done it. But not everything is as well as it might seem, because this is also the low point, and at the low point, the protagonist no longer believes the counterargument, but the argument seems impossible. So, when Sugar comes to The Beef looking for tax documents, she also comes looking for a fight with Carmy. And Carmy admits that he never asks her how she’s feeling because he feels trapped and unable to express how he himself feels. So, he is no longer trying to avoid talking about feelings, but he cannot access his own. He no longer believes the counterargument, but the argument seems impossible. 

Similarly, Richie is at his most despondent in this episode, as he sees the neighbourhood around him change, and his role in and out of the restaurant dissipate. He threatens to quit, but Tina reminds him that he has no place else to go. He no longer believes that he can hold onto the past, but he has no idea how to move on. 

Finally, rather than embracing her place in the restaurant as it is, Sydney is becoming impatient and reckless again. So, she pushes a new dish on Carmy, and when he tells her it’s not ready yet, she has to accept his decision through gritted teeth before giving the dish out to a customer anyways. So, she no longer believes that she can change everything in the restaurant as fast as she’d like, but she also can’t stop herself and accept her place as it is. One more quick note on this: we discover in episode 8 that Carmy knows what’s wrong with it, but he’s not communicating that here, for some reason.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see that kind of story structure in action, and the various threads of the character arcs come together to shape the story like that, it never ceases to amaze me! 

But anyways, we’ve finished episode 6 and hit our low point. And so, at that, we end Act II and we enter Act III.

Again, Act III has a false resolution and a true resolution. And here, in our false resolution of episode 7, everyone’s worst instincts kick in. Now, there’s a lot to note here in this standout episode. First, stress and anxiety trigger Carmy’s worst impulses to scream and shout rather than communicate his feelings. Second, this stress and anxiety is caused at least partly by the fact that Sydney has been too pushy and impatient. Carmy is clearly nervous about the new to-go system even before it screws up, and this is compounded by the fact that he finds out that she went behind his back to give the risotto dish out to a customer. Of course, rather than discuss his disappointment or sense of betrayal with her, he begins by being passive aggressive and ends by screaming and shouting in her face. Third, the issue with Sydney’s to-go tablet is the issue with Sydney herself: there’s no pause button. She left it open, so it kept going and going and going when it should have known when to break. That is just clever writing. Fourth, as you might expect when everything goes wrong, the relationship between Sydney and Richie — the personifications of these two arguments within Carmy — totally breaks down. They bicker, argue, and chide each other all the way through this episode. Now, in this season, Sydney’s argument proves to win out over Richie’s, so here in our false resolution, it makes total sense that Sydney and her argument are at their weakest. She has made her biggest change to the restaurant yet, but they aren’t ready, and so suddenly Richie actually seems far more reasonable. Richie gives Sydney a hard time, but he is also the one managing Carmy much better and keeping his head. Meanwhile, Sydney gets way too aggressive and personal and crosses a line way more than Richie does. She mocks his ‘working man’ shtick before freaking out when he tries to help out in the kitchen. Then, when he tells her she’s being mean, she calls him a fucking loser, and even says that his daughter knows he’s a fucking loser. To add injury to insult, she then accidentally stabs him in the ass with a knife. So, ya, it’s not been a great day for Sydney or her need to become part of the family. So, suddenly Richie is looking far more like a voice of reason… or at least he is by, y’know, Richie standards. And as Ebra tends to his wound, Richie asks the old cook to tell the thematically redolent story of how various fighting factions ended up making Somalia a failed state. Finally, the episode careers to its tumultuous end with Carmy destroying Marcus’s doughnut because both of them have basically lost their minds. Then Sydney quits on the spot, before Carmy — a walking ball of inarticulate stress-rage — storms out of the kitchen.

At that, thank the universe, the panic attack is over, and it’s time for episode 8: Season 1’s true resolution. And so, you’ll notice that everyone now moves past their counterargument and finally embraces their Need. Having avoided talking about it for 7 episodes, Carmy now gives a 7 minute monologue about his brother’s death and why he’s been trying to fix the restaurant. [] Importantly, Carmy talks about how Mikey used to encourage him to face his fears with the expression “Let it rip”. Now, you might notice that once again, at the episode’s midpoint, our ending is foreshadowed. Marcus tells Sydney that it was really cool seeing her and Carmy work together, and she clearly agrees despite herself. Then, with The Beef hosting an obnoxious bachelor party inside, Richie and Carmy have a heart to heart, where Richie expresses frustration and heartbreak over what happened to Mikey, and Carmy admits that Mikey had locked him out of his life. If only there was some way to show that Mikey was thinking of Carmy all along… Anyways, for now, Richie knocks a guy out and it briefly looks like he might end up being charged with manslaughter. But, when the guy wakes up, Carmy spends the restaurant’s parachute money on Richie’s bail. Now, this is where Carmy and Richie really bond as a family. But it’s worth noting that this is because 1) Richie almost went to jail because of the long tail of Mikey’s actions but was then saved by Carmy, and 2) Carmy is willing to put the restaurant, his tie to Mikey, at risk for the good of the living he remains close to. This is what both men need to realise. But there’s one more turn, because we need some conflict, and this true resolution episode still needs its own mini-false resolution. As such, it turns out The Original Beef runs out of beef, and between the bachelor party and no Sydney, the place has returned to its old messy, dangerous state. So, Carmy once again causes a fire… and he doesn’t put it out. Has he failed to fix the restaurant, and so failed to fix his brother? And if so, would he just let it all burn down? In episode 1, we learnt that Carmy had stopped coming home and didn’t attend Mikey’s funeral. Would he cauterise this wound rather than deal with the trauma? Who knows, but his new family is not about to let that happen. And this is the trigger for the true resolution’s mini-true resolution, which is in turn a cascade of main character’s completing their season long arcs. So, the chosen family put out Carmy’s fire, and as the young chef recovers in the locker room, Richie finally brings him the note Mikey left behind. He says he didn’t want to give it to him, because it would feel like Mikey was really gone. And this is Richie’s season arc complete: from refusing to change anything to giving Carmy this note. Carmy goes outside, and even just with the knowledge of the note, he now texts Sydney, explains that her dish needs acid, and apologises. At that, he opens the note, and discovers that his brother did love him, and was thinking of him all the time. And, you might notice, this note does 2 things at once: it tells Carmy to “let it rip”, or to just face what he’s afraid of, and to cook a family meal. Again, it’s these twin needs in Carmy that are distilled in Richie and Sydney: let him go, and belong to this family. So, Carmy follows his instructions, and finally discovers the final twist: Mikey left him 300k in the tomato cans. And when he discovers this, you might notice the first thing he does is ask Richie for help. And we’re almost there, but the family is not quite complete just yet. So, Sydney appears, and importantly, she feels awkward and excluded, and it is Richie who tells her to get in here. At that, Carmy’s competing arguments have resolved each other. Richie is ready to move on. Sydney is one of the family. And Carmy can now make The Original Beef The Bear, and remember his brother on his own terms. 

This has been Mark Overanalyses Film on The Bear Season 1. Next time, for the season finale, and the two year anniversary of the podcast, it’s about damn time I stopped screwing around studied maybe the greatest film of all time: Back To The Future! If you enjoyed this episode, please do recommend it to anyone you know who might like it too! It really would be a great help! A special thanks to Mary Kate O’Flanagan who taught me everything I know about film, including these methods. Thanks for listening. Take care of yourselves, and see you soon.