Liza Colón-Zayas as Tina on the Bear

Yet Again, ‘The Bear’ Got Me With a Flashback Episode

Every season of The Bear has utilized flashbacks to help flesh out the history of the Berzatto family. This season, the episode “Napkins” served as a deeper look into Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) and how she came to work for the Beef and Mikey (Jon Bernthal).

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Spoilers for season 3 of The Bear lie ahead. Also mentions of suicide.

As tends to be the case with the show (for me at least), every time Michael is in an episode, I end up sobbing. And that’s exactly what happened with “Napkins.” Tina is searching for a job. She was laid off from the company she worked at for 15 years, and when she went on the job hunt, her experience wasn’t enough for anyone. They wanted her to have a degree or be younger than she is, and it left her broken.

When she was hopeful yet again for a job, she walked into the office to learn they had already hired someone and just didn’t tell her to not come in. So she went to the Beef to get a drink and unwind. There, Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) gives her a free cup of coffee, and when someone doesn’t pick up their sandwich, she gets a free Italian beef.

It gives Tina a moment of peace to finally break, the weight of everything she’s been going through crashing on her, and she is crying into her sandwich in the back of the restaurant. Richie, Mikey, and Fak (Matty Matheson) all see her crying, and while Richie and Mikey realize she can’t really sit and cry in the restaurant, they still try to find a way to make sure she’s okay.

Mikey goes to talk to her, and it results in one of the best moments of the entire season.

Two people just relating to each other

mikey and tina sitting at tables in the beef

Mikey is a tragic character on The Bear. The first thing we know about him is that he died by suicide and left the restaurant to his brother, Carmy (Jeremy Allen White). While Carmy tried to change things and make things better, people like Tina did not want anything to shift, and we never knew why she was so against the change.

“Napkins” gives us a look into the why behind Tina’s emotions. She and Mikey shared a bond in that first meeting. They hated how the world was turning on them and they laughed together. Their anger formed a friendship, and Mikey wanted to help Tina. That’s how she ended up working at the Beef: Because Mikey didn’t want someone to be lost.

Their conversation is a lot to take in given what we know happens to Mikey, but it also paints a picture for us and explains why Tina pushed back against Carmy for so long.

I love the way that The Bear uses flashbacks. Last season, we had “Fishes,” and even in season 1, we got glimpses of Carmy’s life in culinary school and looks at who Mikey was. But season 3 really leaned into the flashback vibe, and while we saw snippets in almost every episode, “Napkins” was fully set in the past and it stands out as one of the best of the season.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.