Hulu’s ‘The Bear‘ is a comedy-drama series that explores the pressures of the restaurant business through the eyes of Chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. Once a highly successful chef in New York City, Carmy returns to his home in Chicago to take over his brother’s failing restaurant. The first season sees Carmy failing to save the restaurant amidst severe challenges but forming an endearing bond with his crew.
At the end of season 1, Carmy closes down the restaurant after finding the heaps of cash left behind by his brother. The second picks up with Carmy planning to reopen the restaurant under a new name using the newly found money. However, he must juggle several responsibilities and overcome unprecedented challenges to stand the slightest chance of succeeding in the cutthroat business. Whether Carmy succeeds in his quest and takes his restaurant business to new heights forms the ending of ‘The Bear’ season 2. SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Bear Season 2 Recap
‘The Bear’ season 2 follows Chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto as he attempts to reopen his brother’s restaurant, The Original Beef of Chicagoland. After finding the money left behind by his brother, Michael “Mikey” Berzatto, Carmy teams up with Sydney and his sister, Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto, to turn the old sandwich shop into a complete fine-dining experience. However, challenges are galore in the group’s path, with the first obstacle being the lack of funds. Carmy convinces his reluctant Uncle Jimmy to lend him the money for starting the business against the deed for the restaurant’s lot. Uncle Jimmy agrees on the condition that Carmy repays his money or gives up the deed in eighteen months.
Carmy, Sydney, and Natalie quickly draw up a timeline for opening the new restaurant, “The Bear,” but realize they will have to open in 24 weeks to make the restaurant profitable and repay the debt in time. As a result, Carmy enlists Tina and Ebraheim, his senior line cooks at a local culinary school to improve their skills. While Tina thrives in the new environment, Ebraheim quickly abandons the college. Meanwhile, Sydney and Carmy work on the menu for the new restaurant and seek inspiration from the town of Chicago. However, Carmy runs into his former love interest, Claire, and they rekindle their romance. Marcus is sent to Copenhagen, Denmark, to train under Luca, a dessert chef and old acquaintance of Carmy.
On the other hand, Richard “Richie” Jerimovich struggles to find a place for himself in Carmy’s new flashy plans for the restaurant. As a result, he keeps butting heads with Sugar and Neil Fak, the handyman helping renovate the restaurant. The group faces a stern challenge as they must comply with the regulatory authorities’ guidelines and pass several safety tests. Carmy spends more time with Claire, which adds pressure on Sydney’s shoulders. A flashback details Carmy and Sugar’s difficult relationship with their mother, Donna. Richie is sent to Ever, a restaurant Carmy previously worked at, to learn management, reaffirming Carmy’s faith in Richie. Soon, the gang returns to the restaurant mere days before opening night, but Carmy still has plenty of issues to resolve.
The Bear Season 2 Ending: How Does the Opening Night Go?
The season 2 finale sees Carmy preparing his Chef’s crew for the opening night of their new restaurant. The likes of Tina, Marcus, and Richie have significantly upped their game, while Carmy seems to have stagnated. As a result, the finale leads in with the question of whether Carmy’s complacency will hurt his efforts and his freshly leveled-up crew. The topic of implosion is set up early when Suga reveals she has invited their mother, Donna, for the opening night. It is implied that Carmy left Chicago after an incident where Donna drove a car through their house, seemingly starting his anxiety issues.
On the opening night, Carmy mostly keeps himself together as service begins. Everyone knows their tasks, and things go smoothly during the mis-en place. Carmy steps into the walk-in fridge when the chaos really starts to unfold. Already a man down after a newly hired line cook flees his station, Carmy replaces him. However, Carmy gets stuck in the walk-in because he has failed to fix the door handle despite countless reminders throughout the season.
Consequently, Sydney, Tina, and Richie must rise to the occasion and steer the ship home in their captain’s absence. Things go down to the wire, with the crew having merely five minutes to plate the orders and have them on out for service. Ultimately, Carmy’s absence does not hurt the group at all. Instead, they seem to thrive in his absence, having learned everything they could from their Head Chef. Thus, the crew successfully averting a crisis situation on opening night suggests that Carmy’s restaurant might have the slightest chance of succeeding against all odds.
Do Carmy and Claire Break Up?
In the episode’s final act, Carmy’s anxiety is stirred after he is locked up in the walk-in. He speaks to Tina through the door and admits that he let down his team. While Tina tries to reassure Carmy, Sydney pulls her aside to handle her station. However, Carmy continues to speak his heart out and blames himself for being ignorant and distracted. Meanwhile, Claire, Carmy’s girlfriend, walks into the kitchen to say goodbye and congratulate her boyfriend. Instead, she hears Carmy calling their relationship a distraction and blaming it as the reason for him losing focus.
Ultimately, Carmy concludes that he should not seek enjoyment and pleasure as it only makes him poor at his job. Claire, who is arguably the most kindhearted and pure character we meet in the series, is devastated by Carmy’s scathing review of their relationship. She leaves heartbroken, and her final words to Carmy strongly hint that she can no longer continue their relationship. Hence, even though it isn’t explicitly stated, it seems like Carmy and Claire’s relationship has crumbled under the pressure of Carmy’s complex self-identity issues. The moment becomes further heartbreaking since Carmy admits that Claire is providing him more clarity in life earlier in the season.
Does Carmy Get Out of the Walk-In?
Carmy getting stuck in the walk-in freezer is a turning point in the season finale and a major twist in the otherwise straightforward journey of growth upon which the main character finds himself. The moment is foreshadowed in several instances in the season with references to sports. Carmy getting locked in the freezer is the equivalent of benching your star player during the Super Bowl. However, with Carmy sidelined, others are forced to rise to the occasion. In contrast, being locked away seems to be the undoing of Carmy as he obliterates his relationship with Clarie, which is the only source of affection and comfort in his otherwise chaotic life.
It also leads to Carmy arguing with Richie, verbally abusing and insulting Richie despite the latter’s significant efforts to contribute to the restaurant meaningfully. However, at this moment, Carmy turns into his own nightmare as he resembles his mother, Donna. The parallels between Carmy and Donna become clear when we examine Carmy’s journey throughout the season as he tries to grow by deligating more responsibly. However, a guilt-ridden Carmy crumbles at the slightest sight of chaos and regresses into his former self. The finale ends without Carmy emerging from the freezer despite a handyman sawing open the door.
Carmy being stuck in the freezer can be seen as a metaphor for him being stuck in limbo. Carmy is dealing with complex mental health issues that stem from his relationship with his family and the abuse he endured in the harsh landscape of a professional kitchen. Chefs often turn to the cold freezer when they need a moment. It signifies the lack of inspiration, motivation, or focus the chefs are facing. Hence, Carmy ending up in the freezer forces him to reflect on life choices, adding a layer of nuance to the character’s issues. It implies that Carmy needs to focus on himself first before taking the responsibility of running a professional kitchen. However, it also leads to the possibility of Carmy returning stronger in the future. Thus, the second season ends with Carmy having to reconcile with himself before facing his friends, family, and the world, symbolized by the powerful image of the Chef being stuck in the freezer as the credits roll.
Read More: The Bear Season 1 Ending, Explained