The Bear S1:E01 System Recap

I’m starting a new series called The Bear because I can’t resist the combination of Jeremy Allen White’s eyes and a story about cooking. Okay, it’s really about the high end knives, big big fan. Let’s find out what else we’ve got going for us in my recap of The Bear S1:E01 System after the break!

We open with the sounds of gas jets being lit, this is either a kitchen or some kind of space shuttle launch. Or it’s Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) letting a bear out of its cage…

Carm wakes up, it’s 6 am and 25 pounds of beef he ordered is here. Technically he ordered 200 lbs but only 25 was paid for. We find out in the space of one phone call that he’s taken over this restaurant for a family member who died, and alllll the unpaid debt too.

Carmy is tattooed, short and sweaty with two limpid pools of dreaminess that pass for eyes. He hasn’t just inherited a business, he’s also got several extremely loud old-school upright video games that can never ever be shut down, lest they never start again.

That feels like a metaphor.

But! They are full of quarters so maybe he can pay for the rest of the beef he needs!

He takes out his knives and I need a minute. I do love a beautiful arsenal.

He expertly flenses an existing cut of beef and sears it off while fellow chef Tina (Liza Col√≥n-Zayas) mocks his cutting style and clearly is not usually referred to as “chef”.

Carm races to an apartment stuffed full of bluejeans. even the oven! Which he barters for the beef, throwing in the video game quarters.

Pictures of Chicago, children and food are interspersed with Carmy posting specials on social media and sweating profusely.

This is interrupted by the arrival of Sydney Adamo (Ayo Edebiri) who is there for the sous chef position with a killer resume and an even better reason to work there: her dad loved this place and took her here every Sunday.

Sydney is who tells us that Carmy himself is the top of the top of culinary artists – what is he doing there?

The kitchen is a vibrating hum of noise, we meet Marcus (Lionel Boyce) who does the bread and needs a new mixer, Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) of the beef sides and holeeeee shite, it’s Richard ‘Richie’ Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach who I know from Girls because of course I do).

Well. Richie is Carmy’s cousin because nobody has big boy names in this family, apparently and a big old chip on his shoulder for helping Carmy’s family while Carmy was away being a culinary rockstar. The staff is all complaining to Richie that Carm is changing The System so I guess being a culinary genius and 25 cents will get you one play on those old timey video games.

Carm is distracted because it’s almost twelve and erm, shouldn’t Richie understand also this is not the best time to heal old wounds?

Also, Carm canned the spaghetti and literally the whole kitchen is mad at him. He keeps using terms like ‘behind’ (I’m walking behind you so don’t back up), housekeeping (clean up your station because it’s gross) but only Sydney and I understand. Those are totally standard terms you hear in any commercial kitchen but it’s marked Carmy as some bourgeoisie asshole who has lost touch with how to make a sandwich.

Tina has stolen Carm’s gorgeous knife and everything else is dull.

Richie disapproves of everything Carmy is doing.

Carmy is placing all his hopes on a nerd herd invading to play vintage and outlawed video game Ball Breaker, there’s a tiny technical glitch but the show must go on! He gathers himself and we see our first bear reference in The Bear, a Grizzly face in a picture.

A calm Carm returns to the kitchen an hour before Go Time to do a pep talk with the staff but Richie is holding forth about some stupid joke and won’t stop. Carm looks down and sees his glorious, extremely expensive knife made of Japanese steel worth maybe a thousand US dollars shoved half under a cabinet.

Carm’s sister, blonde Natalie ‘Sugar’ Berzatto (Abby Elliot), shows up with a vintage jean jacket(for bartering the beef), she wants to sell the place to their uncle but nope. Carmy wants to make something of it. After all, it was left to him. And his nickname is Bear.

So…if he is The Bear in the beginning, is he warring with himself?: Afraid of himself? Afraid of unleashing himself?

Everyone tastes the new sandwiches Carm has been working on, they’re fire! And the nerd herd is out in full LARP gear, time to sell some sammies!

After Family Style for the staff of course. One round of gratitude and we’re on to sell sandwiches!

Richie refuses to help so Carm goes outside to calm the unruly mob himself and ends up getting swarmed by incel furries before Richie fires a gun in the air and everyone shuts the hell up.

Turns out Richie is an environmentalist under all that!

Richie is right in that they’re not prepared to feed this crowd winding around the block, he yells and yells at Carmy about not messing with The System even though Carm did try to get everyone to prep for more. Richie sends Carm back to the kitchen to make the spaghetti that Carm cancelled, which makes no sense as Carm said it took seven hours to prep.

The show ends with Carm throwing canned tomatoes in the garbage in an act of rebellion and we’re done our first episode of The Bear

I love seeing the inner workings of a kitchen, it’s where I worked for many years and I still get goosebumps looking at a walk-in cooler.The show’s pacing perfectly captures the frenetic energy of a kitchen with it’s lags here and there with always time for shittalking. I don’t love the music and I find the score distracting and ill-used but maybe that’s the point? It’s hard to tell from just one episode.

Also. It’s weird that our protagonist has zero presence. Is that intentional? Is that Jeremy Allen White? Is this going to change? It can’t just be all eyes and sticking up hair, can it? I guess we’ll find out! Cheers