Warning: Spoilers for The Bear season 1. In a tragic end that involved a note, some fans are speculating about how Mikey died in The Bear and suspect there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Season 1 took the world by storm. FX’s The Bear is a critically acclaimed original series following a fine-dining trained chef, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), as he transforms his grimy, family-owned sandwich joint to a next-level spot. Per FX: “As they strip the restaurant down to its bones, the crew undertakes transformational journeys of their own, each forced to confront the past and reckon with who they want to be in the future.

Of course, it turns out the only thing harder than running a restaurant is opening a new one, and the team must juggle insane bureaucracy of permits and contractors with the beauty and creative agony of menu planning.” It also brought a magnifying glass to the challenging, and at times claustrophobic, world of hospitality with raw honesty, with many IRL chefs, cooks and other hospitality workers praising the show’s realistic depiction of this demanding profession. Sales for Italian beef sandwiches, which are almost a character themselves, soared after the premiere.

Speaking to Esquire, White said: “We’re trying to build out the restaurant that Carmy has imagined for a long time; he’s turning The Beef into something a bit more elegant. And I think the really interesting thing about Carmy’s arc in Season Two is that he has the opportunity to get everything that he wanted when we met him, and the question becomes, Is that enough? Is that going to make him happy? Is that going to bring him joy?” Carmy is indeed battling his own demons, namely the death of his older brother Mikey who left him the restaurant in the first place. But how did Mikey die and is it as simple as the show would suggest?

How did Mikey die in The Bear?

How did Mikey die in The Bear? Mikey’s presence in the show is only depicted in flashbacks (played by Jon Bernthal) but it’s established eventually that Mikey dies by suicide. His death throws Carmy’s life completely out of orbit. As season one continues, more details of Mikey’s death are unraveled, and that he left Carmy a note, the contents of which was revealed in the final episode. “I love you, dude. Let it rip,” it read on the front. On the back, it was the recipe for the mysterious Family Meal Spaghetti—one that Carmy had failed to crack previously.

Carmy goes to prepare the pasta dish, following Mikey’s advice to use the smaller tomato cans. Carmy finds the $300,000 loan from Uncle Jimmy, which leads Carmy to close his family’s restaurant and open a new one, The Bear. “There’s something beautiful in the idea that Carmy could have found this right off the bat if he would have made the spaghetti in the pilot, but then maybe he would have burnt out similarly to the way Michael did,” The Bear creator Christopher Storer told Indie Wire. “I think by not discovering this immediately, he really learned the difficult lesson that not only was he sort of trying to “fix” this restaurant for all the wrong reasons, but that he also couldn’t do it himself. He finds in Sydney someone he had a shorthand with. They will definitely use this money as a seed, but Jimmy will be in the mix.”

There is a collection of fans on Reddit, however, that Mikey didn’t die by suicide but that he was murdered in a mob hit. “I bet S2 will reveal that Mikey didnt die by his own hands. Or, at least there will be hints at fowl [sic] play,” writes /pleasebeherenow. “I think Cicero or the dudes standing outside the shop that Syd gave sammies to are going to become more villainous. Or some guys that Richy sold coke to will become suspects. Idk who exactly, but I bet someone played a part in Mikey’s death.” It unsurprisingly provoked a discussion within the comments section.

“Nah it would undermine the emotive impact of his note to Carmy,” one said. “It could be that Mikey knew the mob/killer/suspect would kill him soon and theres nothing Mikey could do about it,” wrote another, and someone else agreed, “Could be more of a middle ground: he knew they were going to kill him and he beat them to it.”

Photo: Courtesy of FX

Others were less on board with the theory, shooting it down and comparing to a lazy plot of The Sopranos. One fan said in response to that: “I don’t know why everyone’s shooting down your theory like this. It’s pretty clear that there’s more to his death than meets the eye, and delving further into the mob plot is the natural direction for the show to go in future seasons. That being said, I really hope they try to maintain a balance between the mob and restaurant plotlines, similarly to BCS balancing between a cartel show and legal drama. Sure they can intersect and reach a joint climax, but this should be a cooking show first and foremost. That’s why I loved it so much. [sic]”

On Bernthal’s casting as Mikey/Michael, White told Vulture: “I’d been thinking about Michael for a long time, and I hadn’t exactly put a face to Michael, but I kind of did, you know? Not any particular person, but Carmy is spending so much time on the show thinking about Michael that it was necessary for me to be like, Who is that guy? What’s he like? What’s he look like? It’s weird to build an imaginary person in your head and then for someone to be like, “And here they are!” But Jon’s better than my imagination. He didn’t have to do this, obviously, so something must have clicked with him in the story where he felt like he should.”

The Bear is available to stream on FX via hulu.

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