Episode 7 of “The Bear” was rewritten in one go weeks before taping
“The Review” was revamped to be a 20-minute one-shot just “two or three weeks” before it was filmed, the series star told IndieWire.
[Editor’s note: This story contains spoilers from Episodes 7 and 8 — the Season 1 finale — of FX’s “The Bear” on Hulu.]
Too much Italian beef can be bad for your heart, just like Episode 7 of FX’s “The Bear” on Hulu. The frenetic 20-minute episode was filmed in one shot (the cast made it four or five takes, we’re told) on the FX production soundstage (only the show’s pilot was filmed in a real restaurant), covering the front and back of the fictional – and space-tight – Original Beef of Chicagoland.
The episode, titled “Review,” opens with a stellar diary review of a dish that was never meant to be eaten, let alone rated. The optimism in the kitchen soon gives way to the horrifying reality that staff don’t have the time, the manpower or even the meat to meet the overwhelming number of orders pouring in through a take-out pre-order system. mistakenly left open. The increase in demand from the heavy overhaul made it a bad day to implement entirely new technology. Eventually, two chefs (they all call themselves ‘chef’, it’s a sign of respect) quit, one is stabbed by another, and main character Carmine Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) eats a donut off the floor.
During the ride, rate this writer for claustrophobia, anxiety – all things. Series creator Christopher Storer probably felt no less stressed while making the one-take episode than we did while viewing it. The staff of “The Bear” (and the script staff of future family restaurant, The Bear) hadn’t planned to do episode 7 in one go “until maybe two or three weeks before it doesn’t get scheduled,” series chief White told IndieWire.
(Here we have to point out that, like the Goldilocks fairy tale, there are technically multiple bears in “The Bear.” There’s Carmine, her brother Michael (Jon Bernthal) who died by suicide and left the gourmet chef Carmy the struggling Windy City sandwich shop, and their sister Sugar (Abby Elliott) – The Berzattos. Then there’s the reopening of the restaurant, we’ll be served if we get a season 2, when The Original Beef of Chicagoland would reopen under The Bear’s name. Insert your own easy Chicago Bears joke here if you need more.)
So Storer (“Ramy”) and executive producer Joanna Calo (“BoJack Horseman”) “pretty much” rewrote the entire “Review” script, White said. Not that that’s a bad thing.
“We were able to start early, which I think helped,” White explained. “They still managed to keep all the important story points in place for [Episode 7], but they wrote it as a shot so we could shoot it in one shot. It was very important, of course, that it start with the words.
And that’s exactly how the casting started with the revamped rehearsals: with just the lyrics.
“We read it out loud a couple of times, just kind of all seated, making sure everything sounded right. Trying to stall a bit, just for the words, with nothing else,” White said. “And then we put it together with our scripts in hand like you would on stage.”
While Allen, Ayo Edebiri, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s performances shine in “The Review,” the real star of Episode 7 may be Gary Malouf. But don’t go searching IMDb to find out who he is: Malouf is the show’s cameraman who probably has the toughest job of all involved. A virtual tour with Malouf’s camera allowed Storer, Calo and everyone else to see “what was possible” and “what wasn’t possible,” in White’s words.
Based on the final fare, apparently a lot was possible. But White’s favorite part of the finished product is not so much what they did, but why they did it.
Doing a long scene or even an entire TV episode or movie in one shot is “really impressive and it’s very cool,” he said. “But I will say from my point of view in film and television, a lot of times I don’t know how well a single shot actually lends itself to the story. It’s a bit like: we have a lot of money, we have a lot of time, we can do it, it will be really impressive. And that is Impressive. But I think in our case, it really lends itself to the story and the situation of the characters because the tension builds so quickly that we don’t let the audience walk away from it. There is no respite, it is consistent.
After watching “Review” twice, this writer needs a glass of Jeppson’s Malört – Chicago’s iconic bäsk liquor that has a billboard atop The Original Beef of Chicagoland (the signage on the set is a “hat point” for Cook County residents, White thinks). Or maybe something that tastes much better.