Review: The Bear Series Three


The Bear hasn’t yet, in its three series across an equal number of years, needed any extra publicity to keep its viewers engaged. Anyone who’s read our glowing review of the fabled second series of the surprise FX hit will know about the hype and the surprising subsequent cultural impact it’s had. But I regret to say that, despite so much build-up, series three feels much more like repurposed offcuts than a fresh or innovative new dish. For all its poignant moments, much of the series feels like it’s used deleted footage from the second series and so feels less impactful. The story just doesn’t have the same sense of jeopardy as the previous series and, while still beautifully shot by a talented crew of storytellers and powerfully performed by its core ensemble, I’d venture to say that the overall experience is much less enjoyable. 

This review contains spoilers for The Bear series three – please read at your discretion.

The Bear | Season 3 Official Trailer | Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri, Ebon Moss-Bachrach | FX

The Bear: Series Three
Directors: Christopher Storer, Ayo Edebiri
Release date: 27 June 2024 (US and UK)
Rating: TV-MA

The beginning of series three finds us sitting with the restaurant’s staff directly after their triumphant (disastrous?) opening night. We’ve barely a moment to process what’s happened before they’re back to the grind the next morning, under the neurotic eye of Carmen (Jeremy Allen White). As in reality, the show goes on. While the series opener is shot earnestly with beautiful montages around Chicago, glimpsing the lives of the staff orbiting the fine-dining establishment (a heartbreak, a bereavement, a personal triumph) it’s the rest of the series that somehow struggles to take off. One’s left feeling that something’s missing, but it’s difficult to pin down exactly what that is.

As always, the series shines when it focuses on some of its strongest characters. Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is left navigating single dad-hood when Tiff (Gillian Jacobs) announces her engagement; Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) helps Marcus (Lionel Boyce) tidy his late mother’s apartment; even Donna (a stunningly bittersweet Jamie-Lee Curtis) comes back to help Nat (Abby Elliott) during a moment of crisis when all else fails her. We see the reprise of stars Will Poulter and Olivia Colman, with the tiniest cameo from John Mulaney, who’d have made an excellent side character if developed. The series feels built around two-person setpieces – not structured around one central conceit. There are some unusual pairings, but like a well-thought-out dish, they form something greater than the sum of their parts. 

Ayo Edebiri in The Bear Series Three (2024)

Ayo Edebiri in The Bear Series Three (2024)

Later in this series, Sydney is presented with an unexpected opportunity, and this serves to bring some of the tension we’ve been missing. While she deliberates over this decision – torn between leaving the vice-like grip of Carmy’s perfectionism and surrounding herself with the found family she’s nurtured – she’s left panic-stricken and unclear, which feels unnerving for someone usually so sure of herself. One’s almost tempted to argue the pros and cons with her, knowing her obvious talent and ambition while going on a journey where she’s bonded with the rest of the staff. But, alas, we don’t have that access to the fictional world, and so we’re left wondering what she’ll decide.

Nevertheless, there are moments when this series really shines. My favourite was in episode six (‘Napkins’), which was directed by Ayo Edebiri herself, trying her hand at directing – and it’s at once soulful, impactful, and compassionate. It fleshes out Tina’s (Liza Colón-Zayas) backstory: unemployed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with rising rents and a young son in tow, she’s determined to find her feet and help support her husband. She slogs through a daily routine, constantly turned down for roles, humiliatingly belittled or simply ignored by her younger, much more online counterparts. The final straw on her fruitless and demoralising search leads her to a candid conversation with Michael (John Bernthal) in his then-failing-sandwich-joint, where, struck by her tenacity, he strikes up an unexpected deal.

This episode may well be the most satisfying but throws the rest of the series into sharp relief and shows just how good the writing could be. I enjoyed the subtle and heartfelt story between Tina and Michael, but this wonderful person, always an enigma from the beginning, was much more compelling when we only knew about him from snatches of conversation. The appeal of earlier episodes always lay in what was left unsaid.

Of course, a series can take on very tonally different set pieces because of the sheer number of writers involved and their distinct styles, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other stand-out moments. It’s just that some don’t work as well as others. With the still-raw affair between Carmy and Claire (Molly Gordon), the storyline feels a little too forced. It’d be nice to hope, but we simply don’t believe it would be as easy as sending the Laurel-and-Hardy Fak brothers (the ever-endearing Matty Matheson and Ricky Staffieri) to reconcile her with Carmy. In fact, this wound feels better off left alone to heal with time, but the writers must have felt the plotline too important to leave it to obscurity.

The visual style follows carefully in the footsteps of previous episodes, expertly choreographed and precise. Yet for all its magazine-glossy voyeurism into the world of fine dining, the series still has its more relatable moments. Appalled at the diminutive size and comparative cost of a Chicago apartment, Syd’s dad (Robert Townsend) laments that his daughter has already signed the lease on her new home based on the shaky foundations of a partnership agreement she’s yet to sign. Or, returning to an apartment for a hasty house party following a big event, the crew discovers that their head chef exclusively holds oven pizzas and cheddar in her fridge. While the cinematography can feel overly stylised, it’s refreshing to see these moments of normality every now and then. 

Jeremy Allen White in The Bear Series Three (2024)

Jeremy Allen White in The Bear Series Three (2024)

Perhaps the most underwhelming plotline in the series – I’m sorry to say – was Carmy’s. I don’t feel as though he had much new or different to offer, other than the fact that he’d neatly compartmentalised the trauma that erupted in the final episode of series two and got straight back to business the next day. Of course, this is symptomatic of his character, but it also felt like a trope that had been overused, and that all his development in the preceding episodes had been wasted as he regressed into old patterns. We get glimpses into the kind of chef he could have turned out to be, had he been trained under different circumstances, but even a heart-stopping encounter near the end of the series hints that redemption might be out of reach.

While there were some poignant moments in series three and some standout performances from the talented ensemble, overall it felt akin to the reviews of the fine-dining establishment within the story: muddled, with elements of the sublime submerged by the mundane. We’re left hanging onto the redundant ‘to be continued’ title card in the final frame: as ever, it’s what’s left unsaid that always creates the greatest thrill.




While there were some really poignant moments in series three, and some standout performances from the clearly talented actors, the latest series felt a tad self-indulgent and needs to leave more unsaid.

Sian Francis Cox
Sian is Flixist’s UK Editor and has written for sites including Escapist Magazine, Destructoid, and Film Enthusiast.