It’s all about what you can control, which is exactly why Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) finds his home in the kitchen preparing food. In ‘The Bear’s’ season three premiere, ‘Tomorrow,’ Carmy is writing a list of non-negotiables drawn from his previous travels and experiences. They run the gambit of saying “perfect means perfect” and “not about you,” a lot of principles that one would think are pillars of a successful restaurant. One of the very first ones he writes down is “less is more” –  something that is echoed by his previous jerk executive chef David when discussing how to construct his dishes. Unfortunately, it’s also the approach that his trauma has presented itself in his life. Remember, one of the last shows in the season two finale, “The Bear,” was Carmy looking at the steel door in the freezer while the restaurant carried on without him. No Claire (Molly Gordon), Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), and peace of mind other than to confront his jumbled-up mind.

It’s not that all of these people are gone for good (well, I can’t exactly say the same thing for Claire. If anything, Carmy made her feel like an obstacle to his wants rather than somebody to support them). But it’s scary that if Carmy doesn’t get ahold of himself, he will lose everything he’s built and the potential to have anchors outside the restaurant that will help him in the way Mikey (Jon Bernthal) couldn’t quite grasp. “Tomorrow,” co-written by Christopher Storer and Matty Matheson, essentially jumps in time, compiling all the experiences of why Carmy got to this point more narrowly. With “Fishes” from last season, it gave a glimpse of why the toxic dynamics of the Berzatto family serve as a launching point for Carmy to go to New York. There are even quick little montages of Michelle’s boyfriend, Stevie (John Mullaney), complaining about how he smells as he passes out on the couch.

Photo Credit: FX

In that pursuit of greatness, the bags of heartache and anxiety only grow more significant and more challenging to carry. Being precise in being a chef is comforting and stressful in routine, considering that a slight miscalculation could kill an entire dish. The profession doesn’t lend itself to individualism if you look at how Chef David Fields (Joel McHale) verbally abuses him for any deviation from his recipes. Carmy has a zen-like talent for this, as seen throughout his travels in California, Chicago, New York, and Copenhagen. He takes every trip and rite of passage we saw Richie and Marcus (Lionel Boyce) do in season two because it’s essential to the journey. But we know how the way you teach people matters because they will then emulate it once they go forward. There’s a point in the episode where Carmy is working alongside Luca (Will Poulter), and some of the ornery ways arise in the way Carmy gives him direction. Chef Andrea Terry (Olivia Colman) has to step in and, while impressed with his work, can see a war inside Carmy. That’s where the offer to go to his Copenhagen pilgrimage to learn new skills occurs. 

While “Tomorrow” prefers to look back in various degrees, from Carmy’s talk with Natalie at the airport before he goes to New York (where she’s worried about him), the small spaces of the present might set the tone of where we go forward. For starters, Carmy apologizes to Sydney for leaving her hanging and promises that he won’t do it again. I’m not sure of the capacity in which he can keep that promise, given how alone she felt in season two while the current incarnation of The Bear is being built. He thankfully apologized to Richie. Claire is hoping for a text or communication from Carmy, but to no avail. How do you love someone who doesn’t believe they deserve to receive that love? Within the backdrop of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score, the only time we see Carmy have tranquility is in the kitchen creating a menu, writing his non-negotiables, and on a farm surrounded by vegetables. It sends a picture of the dish full of color to Mikey, which he doesn’t quite understand but is proud of. 

I hope Carmy learns that personable aspect, the one where he can allow himself to be vulnerable, in this third season. If there is any hope for The Bear to become the pristine restaurant Carmy is hoping for, he certainly can’t get there by himself and do it in the trial-by-fire way that’s led him here. 

Main Photo Credit: FX Networks