|Ayo Edebiri as "Sydney Adamu" and Jeremy Allen White as "Carmy Berzatto"
My blood pressure is so high right now, I should be entitled to some compensation.
If Season 1 focused on showcasing inner demons, Season 2 focused on overcoming those demons. At least, it showed everybody else overcoming their demons. Carmy Berzatto is still very demon-infested.
Molly Gordon is introduced as Carmy’s ex turned love interest with a meet-cute that leans too hard on nostalgia and cheesy romanticism. (She accurately predicts the name of the new restaurant “because you’re the Bear, and I remember you.”) It’s no coincidence that these weaker points tend to involve Carmy, a character perfectly rendered by White who’s still the least interesting part of his own show. (Source)
To be fair, in Season 1, I didn't find Carmy to be the least interesting character on the show. In some ways, he was the most mysterious. The other characters were pretty easy to figure out right away, but there was something about Carmy that was intriguing and uncertain.
This season, not so much. The characters' personal lives are fleshed out, and we get more of Carmy's backstory in particular by way of the longest, most stressful episode of the entire series. I'm never watching it again; it was that much. It's not bad, but like many viewers have stated on social media, it's quite triggering.
The relationship with newcomer Claire was the show's weakest link, and not just because I ship Carmy/Sydney (which I mostly do out of spite, by the way. I don't actually care if they don't become canon). But no seriously; it was cringey from the beginning to the part where it thankfully ends, though in my humble opinion, it lasted way too long. It was a trite, wholly unremarkable snorefest.
See, one of the things which made Carmy so mysterious in Season 1 was the fact that he, and I quote, "does not fuck". Actor Jeremy Allen White has repeatedly touted his alter ego as the "least sexual person". So what happened? Why was this random love interest suddenly thrown in the mix, breaking Carmy's sexless, dateless streak?
Obviously, Claire is there to serve as a reminder that preeminent chefs who own their restaurants don't get to have romantic relationships, not if they want to be successful. But we already knew that. We've known it since Season 1.
But we need something to make Carmy shirk his duties, so while everybody else working so very hard to renovate The Bear, or studying under master chefs, or staging in award-winning restaurants, Carmy is having this cheesy, uninspired romance with a woman he refuses to call his girlfriend. They go on boring dates, have cringey conversations, and these awkward, passionless kisses that turned my stomach. The sex scene--if you can even call it that--was utterly unwatchable. It was boring and repetitive with lots of cuts, like the relationship itself. The only thing that made it survivable was when Carmy has flashbacks to sleeping with Claire, it triggers a panic attack that is only tempered once he switches to thinking about Sydney.
Oh, yeah. The writers did that.
Meanwhile, Marcus tries to ask Sydney out, which she promptly shuts down. And I was screaming at the TV, like, "See, Carmy??? Take some notes!!!"
Sydney, you see, has been holding it down along with Carmy's sister Natalie. While Sydney is interviewing chefs and doing extensive research to craft The Bear's menu, Natalie is working tirelessly through her pregnancy to get the restaurant up to code. Fak, Gary, and Richie are literally knocking down walls, stripping, painting, repairing, replacing...Tina is going to culinary school, Marcus is staging with a top chef in Denmark, and later Richie stages at a restaurant with three Michelin stars.
Everybody is working their asses off to make Carmy's restaurant a success, and everybody is evolving in the process, while Carmy himself doesn't.
The season ends with Carmy accidentally locking himself in the fridge on opening night (because he kept forgetting to call the fridge guy to fix the lock). Things were already taking a downturn--restaurant ran out of forks, food was coming out too slowly--but suddenly, while Carmy's locked away, Sydney quickly reassigns roles, and everybody steps up to the make the night a success. Richie runs the expo, Fak takes over the front of the house, Sydney and Tina run the cooks, and Natalie even steps in kitchen. And Carmy misses all of it.
He's locked away, yelling and cursing, pounding on the door, throwing a tantrum like always, while his restaurant seamlessly moves on without him. While in the fridge, where he is literally forced to cool down, he starts talking out loud about what an idiot he is for trying to get into a relationship, for dropping the ball repeatedly throughout this entire process, and how what he's got going with Claire is bullshit. Of course, by then Claire is there to hear it. Riche and Fak could only stall her for so long before she headed into the back to find out what the hell was going on.
Their relationship ends, and shortly after that, Carmy gets into another one of his signature screaming matches with Richie, but this time, I found myself rooting for Richie. Richie has finally grown up; he's not the same man we saw in Season 1. Clad in a suit and now a stickler for professionalism, he calls Carmy out for sabotaging his life. When the argument reaches a fever pitch--in which Carmy feels the need to randomly bring up Richie's child and ex-wife--Richie understandably walks off.
Once again, I cannot wait for the next season to see where this new interpersonal dynamic takes everyone, and to see the future of the restaurant. The Season 2 trailers made us think we'd get to witness Carmy's evolution, but it appears that is another story for another day.