The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ‘The Bear’ Season 3 struggles to find direction

Strong character development and a few standout episodes make ‘The Bear’ season three worth watching, but the story feels disappointing.
Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY
Feb 24, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White, winners of the Outstanding Performance by a Female and Male Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for ‘The Bear’ at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 at The Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.. Mandatory Credit: Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY

“The Bear” has exploded with popularity since its release in 2022, winning a score of Emmy awards for its first season. It’s one of my personal favorite TV shows, too, so in the days leading up to the third season’s release of all episodes at once on Hulu on June 27, I was ecstatic.

However, that excitement didn’t entirely pay off.

Season three of “The Bear” is a pretty drastic departure from the tone of the previous season. Where the previous season felt bursting with energy, season three felt to grind to a halt.

Immediately within the excellent first episode of the season, the atmosphere shifts. The world of the show feels much more somber and grim. The shift doesn’t come out of nowhere as fans of the show will remember the second season ends with a pretty devastating final few scenes.

But as mentioned, the first episode of season three handles the aftermath of those events creatively and compellingly. The entire episode is shot like a montage, sending the audience on a twisty, dreamlike journey through Carmy’s inner turmoil. As someone who is obsessed with how things get made, the way the first episode is crafted is some of the best filmmaking the show has put together.

Everything after that first episode is underwhelming, though. The performances from the entire ensemble are still excellent. Jeremy Allen White as Carmy leads the show perfectly, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney steals the show, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richie continues to be my favorite character.

The problem is that the ensemble has become a huge part of the show. With so many characters to balance, I felt I didn’t get enough time with the trio of leads. What makes this so noticeable is that this season feels the most character-driven yet. The urgency of the previous seasons is mostly absent, instead offering a mellow contemplation on everything that has happened in the show so far and what is to come.

In the grand scheme of the show, this season could get better with age. We don’t know what future stories will hold, so a season of characters recovering from the fallout of the previous seasons may be necessary. Even if the events of the season aren’t as exciting as previous ones, I can’t deny I did learn more about the characters and never got bored.

Considering how technically masterful the show is, it feels impossible to get bored. “The Bear” has always had some of the most innovative and effective sound design I’ve ever heard, and this season is no different. Similarly, the soundtrack is just as much of a banger as the previous seasons, full of dad-rock grunge that felt handpicked for me to jam out to every episode.

Ayo Edibiri makes her directorial debut this season with episode six: “Napkins.” Alongside the first episode, this episode is a standout this season. It focuses on Tina and explores how she started working with Carmy’s brother. Not only does the episode work as a standalone story about a character we knew little about, but it also provides insight into how Mikey ran the restaurant before Carmy took over.

With all of these incredible moments and pieces, “The Bear” season three is still absolutely worth the watch — it’s still one of the best shows on TV. However, the slower structure of the story after such a whirlwind second does take some getting used to. By the end of the season, the show feels slightly off and much darker as substantiated by what the characters go through.

As we the audience feel the show has changed, the characters in the show feel the same thing about their restaurant. It’s a challenging way to structure a TV show, but I felt the emotional journey was ultimately satisfying.

Sticking through some of the more tedious moments pays off by the final few episodes as what the season sets up for the future is incredibly exciting. Even in its worst season so far, “The Bear” continues to be one of the most entertaining shows I have ever seen.

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About the Contributor
Charlie Hickman
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.