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The most stressful show on TV is back this week. Here’s where ‘The Bear’ left off

<i>Chuck Hodes/FX via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Will Carmy Berzatto ever get his act together? His search for mental stability amid culinary cacophony continues in
Chuck Hodes/FX via CNN Newsource
Will Carmy Berzatto ever get his act together? His search for mental stability amid culinary cacophony continues in "The Bear's" third season.

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

(CNN) — Plug your ears: TV’s screamiest series is back.

“The Bear,” the FX-on-Hulu kitchen-set dramedy, returns Wednesday night for its third season. No doubt it’ll be just as stressful, loud and appetizing as ever.

When we last left Carmy and co. a year ago, it was friends-and-family night at The Bear, the new restaurant made from the ashes of the sandwich joint that Carmy inherited from his late brother. But things are never calm for long in this kitchen, so in the last 10 minutes of the finale, Carmy got in a scream-fight with “cousin” Richie, accidentally broke up with his childhood crush Claire and got stuck in the walk-in refrigerator.

But what of Marcus’ ailing mom and Sydney’s dreams of a Michelin star? Can The Bear survive in the cutthroat world of fine dining? And will anyone on this show ever learn the meaning of “inside voice”?

Before you binge Season 3 of the Emmy-winning “comedy,” here’s where our favorite dysfunctional Chicagoans left off in the second season.

The Bear is almost open for business

After weeks of failing fire inspections, knocking down walls and generally fighting over every detail of the restaurant, the staff of the restaurant formerly known as The Beef are finally ready to open The Bear, their new fine dining destination in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

Sydney wants a Michelin star. Carmy wants to prove to himself, his callous former boss and his deceased brother Mikey that he can run the restaurant of his dreams. And Uncle Jimmy Cicero wants them to make him some money, because they owe him $800,000. Yeesh.

At least The Bear looks great, and the staff are in top form on family-and-friends night, where we end the season. Sydney is the chef de cuisine under executive chef Carmy (and she’s rocking a new Thom Browne uniform), Tina is her sous, and the rest of the crew, from Ebra and Marcus to Richie and Fak, are newly confident in their talents.

Their first-night menu includes a gorgeous “seven fishes” plate (a nod to the season’s nightmarish Christmas episode), perfectly al dente bucatini and Marcus’ doughnut that Carm angrily destroyed last season. (Remember, in the episode when Syd accidentally stabbed Richie? Just the ha-ha hilarity Emmy voters love.)

There are some bumps –– they run out of forks and fire a chef after they find him doing meth in the alley –– but otherwise, everything looks fairly functional for this rage-prone team. Until …

Carmy melts down in the cooler

The Bear’s family-and-friends night should be an exciting one for Carmen Berzatto, but then, he never really lets himself feel anything other than paralyzing anxiety and anger. Throughout Season 2, Carmy left planning for The Bear to Sydney while he pursued a relationship with Claire, the young doctor he’s crushed on since they were kids.

Of course, his happiness is short-lived. Carm quickly finds that he’s the most ill-prepared chef in the kitchen. If The Bear fails, he thinks, it’ll be his fault. And then, when he goes to grab something from the walk-in cooler, he gets locked inside –– and that’s his fault, too, because he never fixed the handle.

Carm dramatically spirals while he’s locked in there, venting about how he’s a “psycho” and doesn’t “need to receive any amusement or enjoyment.” He also, in his anxiety-spiral, refers to his relationship with Claire as “all this bulls**t.” She’s standing on the other side of the walk-in and hears the whole thing. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” she says, and leaves in tears. Richie and Carm then take turns yelling unforgivable things at each other through the door. We leave Carmy in the walk-in to sit with his mistakes. An Emmy-award winning comedy, everybody!

Richie gets his groove back

In a standout episode near the end of the season, Richie stages at a Michelin-starred restaurant headed by Carmy’s former mentor (played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman). Though he resists the gig at first, assuming Carmy just wanted to get rid of him for the week, Richie eventually finds the job revitalizing.

He polishes the prongs of forks with delicate gusto, learns how to be an expediter (the meticulously organized kitchen staffer who keeps everyone on time and in check) and even runs all the way to his favorite Chicago deep-dish joint to pick up a pizza for a guest who said she didn’t want to leave the city without it –– only for the chef to deconstruct it, which, depending on your pizza allegiances, is bordering on sacrilegious.

But the experience worked wonders for Richie, culminating in a cathartic singalong to Taylor Swift’s early hit “Love Story.” This was especially important since, earlier in the season, Richie asked his young daughter if they could please listen to someone other than Swift. He returns to The Bear with a new swagger and an all-black suit, and he’s confident enough to handle both front-of-house service and expediting behind the scenes.

Sydney tastes success

Chef Syd devoted the entire season to dreaming up a new menu she hoped would be worthy of a Michelin star. But she finds an unreliable partner in Carmy, who keeps ignoring her to spend time with his new girlfriend. Luckily, she can trust the rest of the kitchen, especially Tina, to keep things afloat –– except maybe Marcus, who kind of asked her out. Syd awkwardly rebuffed him, and things were tense between them in the finale.

Syd throws up from nerves behind the restaurant on family-and-friends night, but then she gets right back to work. It’s enough to prove to her dad, who was so scared for Sydney to fail earlier in the season, that this is “the thing” she’s meant to do. Sydney may not have needed any more validation for her culinary ambitions, but it still means a lot that her dad finally gets it.

Marcus’ mom might be in danger …

The final episode of the season focuses for too long on pastry chef Marcus’ phone, buzzing with missed calls from his mom’s nurse. Marcus’ mom was seriously ill throughout season two, so it was a huge deal when, earlier in the season, Carmy sent our doughnut-loving chef to Copenhagen for a dessert apprenticeship. He was so hesitant to leave his mom, but the experience was creatively fulfilling and inspiring for sweet Marcus. Couldn’t “The Bear” let him hold onto that happiness? Multiple messages from his mother’s nurse is definitely not a good sign for The Bear’s chillest employee.

… while Carmy’s mom is still starting drama

Things are … not great between the surviving Berzatto children and their mother, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Last season’s Christmas flashback episode introduced us to Donna Berzatto as the hard-drinking, emotionally vampiric and deeply depressed mother who broke down while cooking the traditional Italian “feast of the seven fishes” and drove her car through her own house. Merry Christmas, indeed.

When we meet Donna in the present day, she’s hiding outside the restaurant. She can’t bring herself to come in because she doesn’t want to ruin the nice thing her kids made together. Maybe she’ll let her kids feed her at The Bear this season.

What’s on the menu in Season 3

The interpersonal dynamics in The Bear’s kitchen are perhaps more fragile than the electrical wiring Mikey bungled to burn the restaurant down.

Will Sydney and Carmy find a professional arrangement that works for them? Will Carmy win Claire back, or even try? What will become of Marcus’ mom, and how will that affect him in the kitchen? Will The Bear earn that Michelin star and stick it out in the Chicago restaurant scene? Will Curtis, Colman, John Mulaney, Bob Odenkirk and Sarah Paulson return as guest stars, or will a new slew of celebs cameo? And which Taylor Swift song will Richie rock out to this season?

All will be revealed (we hope) when “The Bear” returns.

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