‘The Bear’ Star Jeremy Allen White Talks Carmy’s Season 2 Finale Breakdown: “In The End, It’s All Too Delicate”

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SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from Season 2 of FX’s The Bear.

In the Season 2 finale of FX’s The Bear, Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy gets locked in the walk-in fridge during friends and family night at his new restaurant.

He’d just issued a loaded apology to Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) for losing his temper, promising that he has things under control. But as the fridge door swooshes closed, they all realize that isn’t true.

It’s the last straw in a tumultuous evening, but somehow, the kitchen staff still makes magic. Maybe that’s because they were already learning how to survive without their executive chef, who had been a little absent as they tried to transform The Original Beef of Chicagoland into an upscale eatery in just 12 weeks. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t ease Carmy’s nerves. In fact, he promptly breaks down.

“Control is so important to Carmy and to lose control just in one fell swoop of that door closing is just agonizing,” White pondered during a recent conversation with Deadline.

After all, “Carmy has been doing things Carmy’s way for so long,” White said, and opening a restaurant (and opening his heart) has tested his capacity to put his trust in others.

In the interview below, White broke down Carmy’s trajectory throughout Season 2 of The Bear with Deadline, including the explosive finale, the chaos of Episode 6 and all its cameos, and the potential fallout when Carmy eventually gets out of the fridge.

DEADLINE: I loved how much you talked about Carmy’s tattoos for Season 1. Did he add any for Season 2?

JEREMY ALLEN WHITE: No, I don’t think Carmy was in a place to be getting more tattoos in between the restaurant closing and trying to open it [again]. I think he had a full plate. But…I took my shirt off for a scene that was with Claire, with Molly [Gordon], that didn’t end up making it in. I put a little tattoo on my shoulder, because we’d never seen like Carmen’s back before. Just a little, just a little guy. But it didn’t make it.

DEADLINE: What was that tattoo?

WHITE: It was just something that my friend Benny, he had designed just a whole bunch of stuff, and it was just a beautiful old school snake that at one point I was thinking of maybe putting on my arm, and then I thought it didn’t make sense. So I just threw it on my shoulder.

DEADLINE: I thought it was interesting that you said last year you didn’t think Carmy was in a place to really take on a mentorship role, and this season we see him kind of outsource a lot of that teaching. Was that a guess, or had you already discussed Carmy’s path forward at the time with Chris Storer?

WHITE: I think it was sort of unsaid in how the first season was written and in my understanding of Carmy. I have mixed feelings on that, because he is sending these people out for inspiration, right? He is sort of trying to conduct this creative revolution within this group of people, but he knows that he doesn’t have the the space or even the joy to inspire them himself all the time.

DEADLINE: Well, he’s balancing a lot this season, especially once he reconnects with Claire. The restaurant gets harder for him to put all his focus into.

WHITE: I think Carmy has been doing things Carmy’s way for so long, and his schedule and routine has been so rigid that even the slightest imbalance to that risks throwing everything off. I think Claire, ultimately, is wonderful for Carmy because she really seems to have an understanding of him. And I think for a moment at least, he said, ‘come here’ because he begins to feel sort of safe around her. But in the end, it’s all too delicate. Carmy has been doing things his way for so long. He just wasn’t able to balance.

DEADLINE: In the finale, Carmy breaks down about everything, not just his relationship with Claire. What was your interpretation of that scene in the walk-in freezer, when he loses it?

WHITE: I think there is a moment when he starts to lose it with Sydney right before he goes into the walk-in, and I do think that that apology is, of course, for his behavior in that moment that but I think that apology as well was for, you know, maybe he wasn’t ready for this. Maybe he’s incapable of this. Maybe he cannot lead you tonight. When he gets locked in the freezer, it’s his show and it’s a complete loss of control. Control is so important to Carmy and to lose control just in one fell swoop of that door closing is just agonizing — and then not being able to be there. And then, of course, I feel like Carmy’s mother is kind of off limits in arguments and that’s like an understanding that Richie and Carmy have. That’s a place that you don’t go. When Richie slips and calls Carmy ‘Donna,’ I think that’s a real trigger and the beginning of the end.

DEADLINE: That’s probably the part of Carmy’s break down that is the hardest to watch. It seems like he and Richie have come so far, and they end up saying some things to each other that feel hard to come back from.

WHITE: I think it’s interesting. Chris and Ebon [Moss-Bachrach] and I spoke a lot about the fact that they’re having this argument without having to look at one another. So it does kind of allow them to be more honest or more ruthless. They don’t have to look at the damage that their words are causing the other person. So oddly, I think it allows them to say these these things that maybe they’ve been thinking about for a long time. I mean, in terms of Richie [being upset about] Carmy not going to Michael’s funeral. I think, again, that’s something that almost gets brought up in the first episode of the first season in the pilot — also in the walk in. But it’s not really explored. And I think it’s something that Richie has been sitting on for a long time, and he’s able to say. I think for Carmy, as much as he’s trying to inspire everybody, I think certainly in the first season at least, he felt like he was carrying Richie in a lot of ways and Richie was just fighting him every single step of the way. He kept Richie there out of out of loyalty, but I’m sure at points in the first season, he probably should have let Richie go. So they’re both saying these things, I think, that they’ve wanted to say for a long time and then given the environment and them not being able to look at each other, they’re able to say it.

DEADLINE: For so many reasons, that conversation stings a lot more after watching Episode 6, ‘Fishes.’ I want to dive into Carmy’s family more, but first, can you talk a bit more about shooting that episode with such a stellar cast?

WHITE: It was incredible. The cast we have without all of our guest actors this season was incredible. And I was blown away. I mean, truly, every single one of them I’m such a huge fan of, and I think all of us were just pinching ourselves that they wanted to have anything to do with our show. It was really incredible [in] Episode 6, because these are all superstars…Sarah Paulson, John Mulaney, Bob Odenkirk Gillian Jacobs, Jamie Lee Curtis…They can all carry their own shows and films. They have a presence. But it’s so interesting, there were no egos involved. Everybody found their place really quickly and and it blended in. When Chris was casting it, I was so excited at all the talented people he was getting, but I was like, ‘Is this going to be distracting? Is it going to distract the audience?’ And in watching it, I found that yes, of course, when you first see Jamie and when you first see Odenkirk, you go ‘Oh my god. Oh my god.’ But I think it’s really a testament to their abilities as performers, how quickly they blend into the environment and just blend in to the family and how quickly they were believable as these characters.

DEADLINE: It’s a very tense episode, and both the audience and the characters are not let off the hook the entire time. What did this episode reveal for you about Carmy that you didn’t already know, and how did that inform your performance, especially in a scene like the finale?

WHITE: The process of filming it was both tense and not tense. I think everybody was holding their breath going into shooting the episode, not knowing if it was going to work. And then it very quickly became clear that it was, and it became very simple in a lot of ways. We shot it all very quickly. Probably everything outside of the final dinner table scene, which is very difficult to cover, everything else we shot at our regular pace, which is very fast. It all worked really well. In terms of Carmen, you have this monologue that he gives an Al Anon in the finale, and he talks about himself and how uncomfortable he is and how he never really found the space until he found cooking and how nervous he was. I think it’s because you can see very clearly in Episode 6 just how responsible he felt for the balance of the household and how responsible he felt for his mother’s emotional balance and for Mikey’s balance. I don’t think that Carmy is able to really learn how to soothe himself, take care of himself. He’s always felt responsible for everybody else and then, because of that, became very controlling. It’s probably why he was attracted to a position in the kitchen with such strict routine. It’s a chaotic environment, but it’s got an elegance to it. I think he grew up in such chaos that the chaos of the kitchen is familiar to him. But as a chef, he’s able to kind of control that chaos.

DEADLINE: I am glad you mentioned the quickness of production. You shot Season 2 in about eight weeks, which is a rapid pace.

WHITE: Yeah, no doubt. I mean, we shoot the show very quickly. Our days are often very, very fast. Chris likes to keep the energy, keep the pace fast. And then he also doesn’t want anything to ever feel too rehearsed. Any nervous energy I think works for him. He doesn’t want us to ever get too comfortable. It seems to work, so I’m sure it will continue to shoot that way if we’re lucky enough to do another season.

DEADLINE: The first season was obviously very well received last year. Did any of your nervous energy this season come from a desire to recreate that spark?

WHITE: I was nervous about going into Season 2. I think that while we were inside Season 1, we were in the bubble and nobody was really expecting anything from us. Then the show became really successful and all of a sudden expectations set in. So yeah, I think, prior to getting started on Season 2, I was nervous. Then fairly quickly, we were put at ease. I mean, we all get along really well and we all respect each other a lot. We just work together well… We enjoy being around each other and we enjoy working with one another. I remember during the first week of shooting Season 2, I was talking to our DP, he was asking how it was going and I said you know, ‘It’s going good. It’s going almost too well. It feels easy. It feels too good, and that makes me nervous.’ I feel like there does have to be some kind of struggle or intensity to make something good, and I wasn’t feeling it and I was a bit nervous. And then he said, ‘We feel the same way, but I think it’s just because we all know what we’re doing and and we all love working with one another.’

DEADLINE: Have you given any thought to Season 3 or your hopes for Carmy?

WHITE: I don’t know. I really don’t. I mean, I haven’t talked to any actors. I haven’t tossed any ideas around with Chris. I think it’s premature to talk about that kind of stuff. I hope he gets out of the fridge. I hope he can make some apologies, and I hope people aren’t tired of hearing them.

All episodes of FX’s The Bear are streaming on Hulu.

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