What makes The Bear so captivating? Besides the obvious fact that the scrumptious dishes make our mouths water and require us to eat a snack while watching the show, this comedy-drama is delectable due to its characters, direction, music, and tone. What started as a series about one man’s journey to discovering his dead brother’s suicide intentions turned into a grand portrayal of human triumph and perseverance. We’re here to rank the top episodes of The Bear after season 2 has had a couple of months to simmer and stew!
1. Season 1, Episode 7: “Review”
Shot almost entirely in one take without cuts, “Review” marks one of the biggest cinematic television triumphs of the 21st century. Carmy has an anxiety attack during an especially busy day at the restaurant because of hundreds of online orders that weren’t supposed to happen. The episode runs barely 20 minutes, and we can’t imagine living vicariously through these characters’ stresses and emotional turmoil for any longer than that. It encapsulates The Bear at its unmatched high-octane apex!
2. Season 2, Episode 7: “Forks”
If done right, episodes that focus on only one character can contend for the best in an entire series. “Forks” shows just how far Richie has come from being Carmy’s lackie in the kitchen when he interns at one of Chicago’s fanciest restaurants. Tear-jerking and hilarious, Richie stands out as one of everyone’s favorite characters after this episode; also, if you didn’t have a grin as wide as a canyon while watching Ebon Moss-Bachrach belt some Taylor Swift, please seek help!
3. Season 2, Episode 6: “Fishes”
Perhaps the biggest critical darling of season 2, “Fishes” is a stereotypical big Italian Christmas dinner episode, but cranked up to 100. Cameos by Bob Odenkirk, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jon Bernthal in the roles of the Berzatto extended family make the longest episode in the series very special, if a little headache-inducing.
4. Season 2, Episode 10: “The Bear”
Right when it seems like everything will look up for the crew of Carmy’s renovated restaurant, the head chef gets locked in the freezer. Seeing the fine dining establishment continue to impress guests on opening night without him isn’t shocking, but the hints that Carmy may have intentionally sabotaged his big day make us wonder just how big of a mental black hole the character has headed to season 3.
5. Season 2, Episode 4: “Honeydew”
Another episode that focuses on only one character’s journey, “Honeydew” gives baker Marcus a chance to expand his horizons under the tutelage of a veteran pastry chef played by Will Poulter. The opening scene in which Natalie reveals her pregnancy to Carmy with construction bearing down on their heads at the restaurant stands out as one of the best comedy moments of the year, and one of the best episodes of The Bear.
6. Season 1, Episode 8: “Braciole”
The first season finale reveals that Michael left Carmy a massive sum of money hidden inside canned ingredients, to which the workers decide to transform the restaurant into something greater than a deli sandwich shop. The scene in which Carmy talks about his upbringing with his brother at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with a masterful display of the lead acting skills of Jeremy Allen White.
7. Season 2, Episode 9: “Omellete”
The penultimate episode of season 2 gets slammed full of intimate character development, with the bond between Carmy and Sydney growing tighter and Richie starting to mature. The best scene of the episode comes when Oliver Platt’s Uncle Cicero giving baseball analogies to Carmy for opening night at the restaurant. Nothing could go wrong with an old man getting in a young chef’s head . . .
8. Season 2, Episode 3: “Sundae”
For those who want a burgeoning romance between Carmy and Sydney to start blossoming, this episode introduces the “will they or won’t they” aspect of the relationship manifests. Sydney exploring her taste buds around the city instead of cooking also juxtaposes how her character usually appears in other episodes of The Bear. Instead of always serving others, Sydney needs to let others help her out.
9. Season 1, Episode 4: “Dogs”
This early-series romp builds chemistry for Carmy and Richie, and also for Jeremy Allen White and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. The bickering friends cater a birthday party with what should be disastrous results, but the adults enjoy the fact that Carmy and Richie accidentally drugged all of the little rugrats to sleep.
10. Season 1, Episode 6: “Ceres”
The fascinating rivalry between Sydney and Richie consumes the most significant part of this episode, as the co-workers have an interesting difference of opinion on how to handle riotous drug dealers outside of The Beef. Sometimes there are two correct ways to handle the same situation, but in episodes of The Bear, it’s often “my way or the highway.”
11. Season 1, Episode 5: “Sheridan”
The way The Bear examines the dichotomy of Carmy wanting the restaurant to end up and where Michael left it when he died leads to some of the show's best moments. Richie represents the bridge between the two iterations of The Original Beef of Chicagoland, though selling crack in the back alley of a business is certainly not what Carmy envisioned when taking over for his brother. This episode is a funny depiction of the tug-of-war between the two men's ideologies.
12. Season 2, Episode 2: “Pasta”
A lot goes into the restaurant business besides just cooking food. As the crew tries to transform The Original Beef into The Bear, the characters have a lot more underneath the surface than what meets the eye. Richie and Fak struggling with mold in the ceiling is hilarious, and Syndey trying to convince her father of the credence behind a cooking career is equally poignant.