I can’t believe we’re here at the end of season one of The Bear after 37 short months, but we are! What’s happening with Carmy and The Beef? Why was Jeremy Allen White cast as the second tallest Von Erich brother in The Iron Claw? We don’t know! Let’s find out the answers to some of those questions as we roll into my recap of The Bear S1:E08 Braciole!
We open on the set of an enthusiastically bright cooking show, Chef Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White, exactly as tall as he is supposed to be) whipping up the crowd to make some Braciole, a dish that his dead brother Mikey used to make every Sunday he was alive. But Michael (Jon Berenthal!) isn’t alive since he blew his brains out on a bridge, which seems like overkill. In five or six sentences Carmy explains the entire premise of the first season which would have been SUPER helpful 7 episodes or so ago. I’ve been teasing out the facts bit by bit but it’s been slow going. Things start to fall apart after a couple of minutes, but no matter what Carmy says on the show, the studio audience laughs like it’s a joke and he can’t get away and he can’t stop it.
I have new questions after this:
Why didn’t Mikey leave a suicide note? Was it a suicide? Was Mikey killed?? We know he was associating with some drug dealers *cough Richie Jerimovich (Ebon Mass-Bachrach) cough*
Why did he leave the family restaurant to Carmy if he wouldn’t ever allow Carmy to work there before?
It’s a nightmare, Carmy wakes up covered in sweat and calms himself by staring at cookbooks and imagining the intricate dishes he created at his last job: running the best restaurant on the planet.
He goes to Al-Anon and speaks for the first time, all about his complicated relationship with his brother, who he thought was his best friend. Everyone thought Mikey was their best friend, he pumped everyone up, could read a room instantly.
I know this is about Carmen’s pain at the sense of betrayal he feels, the lack of validation from his brother. The not knowing his brother was addicted to painkillers, not knowing if his brother even loved the restaurant that means so much to so many, but all I can think of is the extraordinary toll it takes to be that guy. To be everyone’s best friend. To protect your little brother from the chaos of a restaurant on the verge of disaster all the time. To get through, and through and through until you can’t any more. It’s so much.
It’s pre-service at The Beef, Richie is still complaining to anyone who will listen about Sydney Adamu (Ayo Edebiri) stabbing him just a tiny bit in the fleshy part of his bum until Carmy calls order to talk about the day. The Beef will serve lunch but be closed for dinner for a special party; a bachelor part for Cicero.
Sydney herself is serving up something tasty to desserts guy Marcus (Lionel Boyce), she can’t stop. They’re both recovering from the chaos of working in a commercial kitchen. She’s serving up Chilean sea bass with tomato confit and herbs because ‘why the f*** not?” Indeed!
Then she drowns it in EVOO.
She talks about her food journey, when she was learning at the Culinary Institute of America (the useful CIA!) everyone kept talking about all the fancy food and she knew nothing. So as soon as she had time, she ran off to New York and tried every single fancy food she could. Her favourite meal? Obviously one Carmy made.
I had a friend tell me that once; you have to try something made by someone who knows something before you attempt some of the bigger recipes; how do you know what they’re supposed to taste like?
You know Carmy must really be going through it when Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) checks in on him – he’s not been as annoying lately.
This is when people who love me are concerned: how come you’re not irritating me? Is everything okay??
Carmy asks Tina about KBL Electric, the company Mikey was paying huge amounts to every month, amounts that add up to the $330k USD (USD!) Mikey died owing Cicero of the bachelor parties.
You remember Cicero:
We know Mikey had a prescription drug problem, but $330K (USD) is no joke. Mikey was having problems paying vendors, and seemingly reached a point of no return, which surprised and alarmed Tina. She loved Mikey, everyone did.
I didn’t catch that Marcus quit the same time as Sydney, I knew he was mad about his finally perfected doughnut hitting the floor but I didn’t see him walk. He’s still deciding whether he’ll stay gone or no. So is Sydney.
The bachelor party is your standard bacchanalia with exotic dancers, coke on the napkin dispensers and blue lights everywhere. I think a guy is doing a handstand?
WHY at The Beef??? So random!
Richie beats himself up about not helping Mikey, who he knew was using but of course he was going to be alright, right? Some noise from inside draws them inside where a bunch of drunken yahoos are fighting. Richie gets some licks in and all of a sudden one of them is out cold.
Richie contemplates his sore knuckles in a holding cell, waiting to hear if the guy is going to wake up. He uses his one phone call to apologize to his ex and not mention the fact that he’s in jail, possibly looking at a manslaughter charge should Drunken Yahoo #1 not wake up.
Woooo and he’s alive! Only aggravated assault for our Richie! Carmy bails him out and it’s another day at The Beef.
Aw this is the first time Richie calls Carmy cousin like he did Mikey! Carmy’s all he’s got.
Manny (Richard Esteras), Angel (Jose M. Cervantes) and Gary ‘Sweeps’ Woods (Corey Hendrix) help Carmy and Richie clean up and get ready for another day in the life of a very exciting sandwich shoppe; Marcus is back! Carmy apologizes! Yay!
Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) finds a leftover stripper thong at his station, it’s a souvenir! Sweeps has it, then Richie and the GERMS!
During prep, Carmy finds Sydney’s recipe book for her braised short ribs and zero beef. That’s right, the Beef has no beef at all, but 200 pounds of pork and about ten minutes until lunch rush.
Carmy sets fire to the kitchen and just stands there, hypnotized by the flames until Tina and Sweeps put it out and Richie slaps some sense into him.
Finally, FINALLY, it’s time for Carmy to read the letter Mikey left behind for Carmy. Richie pulls it out of its hiding spot and leaves it with Carmy.
I hope to all that is holy that it’s a winning lottery ticket.
Take your time.
Just stare at it.
Smoke some more, no rush, look at your phone for a bit instead of opening it.
I hope that’s him texting his sister Sugar (Abby Elliot) but no, he’s texting Sydney about her dish, it’s missing acid. She tells him where to shove it.
And then he opens it.
All it says is ‘I love you duck. Let it rip’ which is what he used to say to inspire. We watch Carmy move from tears to anger to eff you to laughing when he sees the family spaghetti recipe written on the back.
It says to use the small cans of San Marzano tomatoes because they taste better, remember when Carmy was asking Ebraheim why Mikey was buying the more expensive small cans? NOW WE KNOW!
Maybe that’s why Carmy didn’t want the spaghetti on the menu, maybe because he didn’t have the recipe!
Now say what KBL Electric is about!!
Neil Fak (Matty Matheson) communes with the electronics, I think we’re going back to our roots in episode 1 with a BallBreaker tournament for extra money!
Carmy is making spaghetti for Family Style, this is also the exact dish my kids will remember me for always.
There is money in the little cans of tomatoes!!!! MONEY!! So much money!
What are they doing with the tomatoes…
This is what Sydney walks into, a backroom and crew covered in tomatoes with money on the floor. Richie tells her to stop effing around and grab a can opener. Even faster than that, Carmy and she negotiate the changes that will come and embrace her and guess WHAT.
The cans say KBL!!!!
Oh everyone is there for Family Style. Everyone. Even Marcus’ roomie Chester (Carmen Christopher), Sugar and her husband the narc: Pete (Chris Witaske).
Looks like a change is coming! From The Beef to The Bear! Wooooooo!
Okay I love a happy ending but I’m not going to try and pretend this makes any sense. Why would Mikey borrow the money from Cicero and then hide it in tomatoes and then kill himself for no reason we know of and why. Never mind, y’all, I love a happy ending. Until next time and next season! Cheers.