Over and over again, I’ve seen varying levels of disbelief about how often Harper seems to get away with risky, high-stakes moves. How does such a junior banker have so much power? Will there ever be consequences? Does Industry view Harper as a modern antihero who can pull anything off no matter her messy, super-self-centered actions? Season two of Industry has given us some backstory, diving deep into Harper’s past and psyche. In its final moments, it also addresses Harper’s seeming infallibility, showing us that the fall isn’t hypothetical when the stakes are as high as Harper has pushed them. It’s a real and present terror.
When the finale starts, it seems as if Harper is getting away with her scheming again. The meeting with Shogun seems to be going swimmingly until the bank mentions it’ll be giving Harper, Eric, DVD, and Rishi a competitive relocation package on top of their potential new earnings. It turns out Shogun is also moving to New York, which is a nonstarter for Eric and Harper. Later, back in the bar, while Rishi and DVD celebrate, Harper and Eric have their own chat about how they’ve found themselves back where they started. Harper asks Eric what the next move is, but Eric is out of moves. He wants Harper to tell him what to do. Remember earlier in the season when Eric gave Harper a pen as a ceremonial gesture of passing the torch? This moment of throwing his hands up and looking to Harper for guidance seems like the real transition of power.
Later, Harper encounters Gus, who has been sent home from his job. Why? Because the anti-competition inquiry that Gus was supposed to help Aurore chair has been squashed. Harper, desperate for leverage, tries to suss information out of an exhausted Gus, who loses his cool and shouts at Harper that Amazon is being allowed to acquire FastAide, which essentially guarantees them the NHS contracts. This means that Jesse’s short of FastAide, the position Harper sold him on all those episodes ago, is going to be a massive failure.
Harper goes to Jesse’s home to tell him he must now stop out of FastAide. Instead of being grateful for her sage advice, Jesse hugs Harper and pats her down in a move that feels straight out of The Godfather. He’s checking to make sure she’s not wearing a wire because what she’s telling him to do — change his financial position based on privileged government information — is insider trading. Harper seems bewildered, and a true, defeated naïveté shows through on Myha’la Herrold’s face. But is she let down because Jesse doesn’t trust her or because she doesn’t understand what Jesse wants?
Whatever the case, Harper tells Eric she thinks Bloom is done with her for good, which kills their deal with Shogun. As that defeat begins to settle in, Eric turns up the volume on CNN, where Jesse is making an appearance, talking about the British government’s inquiry into Amazon’s acquisition of FastAide. He simultaneously texts Harper, telling her to acquire as many shares of Rican as she can. When the CNN presenters ask him what’s so urgent on his phone, he says it’s his kid and they’re close. On its face, that’s a cover story, but actually it’s an echoing of the twisted father-daughter dynamic Bloom has had with Harper this whole time.
Harper dashes down to the floor and gets Rishi to buy as many shares of Rican for Bloom as he can. It helps that both Rishi and DVD are part of Harper’s plan to switch banks because they’re more likely to behave in a compromised way and follow her lead on this Bloom deal. Jesse makes a killing, both managing to short FastAide and to win the long game on Rican, his high-profile TV spot forcing the British government into reigniting the anti-competition inquiry into FastAide.
When Harper staggers back to Eric’s office, it’s with the dawning knowledge that she’s just done something extremely illegal. She’s helped Jesse move the market with confidential knowledge — she’s now party to insider trading. Eric (her real dad, as I like to think of him) asks her what she wants to do. Does she want to go forward covering Jesse and find a way to make the most of this, or does she want to quit here, cut Jesse off at the root, and forgo any career success this misstep will bring her? It’s a moment of genuine affection and love from Eric; he’s offering to retire for Harper if that’s what she decides is right. But Harper is Harper to the bitter end. She’ll do anything not to return to New York, including going along with Jesse’s manipulations.
So! What do Eric and Harper do? They bully William Adler, who is in the building for RIF, into making them a new team full of the youngest, hungriest talent from all over the European satellite offices and headed by Eric. Adler has to listen to them because Harper has Bloom, and Bloom is a huge client. They also throw Rishi and DVD under the bus, saying Adler can cut costs by letting the two go since they were planning on betraying Pierpoint anyway. When Adler stalls, Eric dangles one more thing over his head: the problem with Nicole and Venetia, another HR nightmare Adler is trying to suppress. Harper quietly chimes in that she, too, was abused by the client in question. Ken Leung marvelously throws in a split second of shock as Eric processes that information while trying to keep the pressure on “Willy.” In the end, they get what they want, and the two secure their new positions at Pierpoint.
Gus isn’t so lucky when he goes to Aurore’s office to drink whiskey and celebrate the reintroduction of the inquiry into FastAide. They’re also celebrating Aurore’s probable promotion to health secretary, a position she’s garnered because of new scrutiny of the current health secretary, who initially scuttered the inquiry. Gus, maybe a bit too secure in his standing with Aurore, lets it slip that he leaked the news about the botched inquiry. Without missing a beat, Aurore tells him she’ll have to let him go. This whole thing, it turns out, was a setup that Gus walked right into; she told Gus the frustrating news so he’d leak it to Harper, who’d make Jesse move, in turn boosting Aurore in the eyes of the party. Gus was just collateral damage. Gus later tells Jesse at a dinner celebrating Leo’s acceptance into Oxford that he no longer has a job. Jesse asks if Gus is demanding something, but there’s a sparkle of bemusement there — Jesse ends up hiring Gus as his assistant. I have no idea what Leo will think of this turn of events.
Meanwhile, Yasmin cosplays as an adult and tries to tell Celeste she doesn’t want to work with her father anymore. Celeste scoffs at the idea, basically telling Yasmin not to be naïve. When Yasmin meets her father at a bar later to confront him about his relationship with Maxim’s cousin, the conversation quickly turns south. Yasmin accuses him of grooming Teresa (her old nanny, Maxim’s cousin), and her father tells her everything she has is because of him — the apartment she lives in, even the job she has, is thanks to his influence. Yasmin tearfully says she wants nothing to do with him and heads to Celeste’s party. There she again tries to be assertive and tells Celeste they will no longer work with her father. Celeste counters by telling Yasmin that her only worth to Celeste is her father: The value added by her father’s wealth pays for Yasmin’s seat at the table. She can see herself out if she refuses to work with her father. Yasmin goes home to her flat only to find that her father has changed the locks.
Our poor little rich girl shows up at Rob’s doorstep and together the two head to Rishi’s wedding. There, Yasmin asks Rob to “help a girl out” and go pick up some coke for her. (Does Yasmin have no shame?) The next morning, Yasmin shows up at Rishi’s wedding in two-day-old clothes and stands next to Harper in the pew. The two have an off-the-cuff conversation; the closest to a heart-to-heart the women have had all season. Maybe inspired by that, Yasmin takes Venetia out to brunch to apologize for her behavior. She insists on picking up the tab but, after Venetia leaves, dines and dashes. Yasmin has no money of her own. Until now, she’s lived entirely off of her father’s money, her paychecks flowing directly into his bank account. Oh, Yasmin. Don’t you know about a “Fuck off fund”?
In a predictable turn of events, Rob goes out to get Yasmin’s coke but gets stopped by a cop and thrown into jail. With his one phone call, he calls Nicole, who bails him out and picks him up. The mood is sour during the car ride before Robert calls Nicole a predator, and Nicole scoffs at him for being of the generation that overreacts when someone gets a “little handsy.” When Nicole tells Robert to get out of the car, he closes the door, and she grabs his crotch. The most interesting about this whole conversation is that Robert insists he knows Nicole — not just in a biblical sense but that she, like his mother, is an insatiable void of need. Am I misreading this, or is Robert hinting that his mother sexually molested him? Whatever the case, Robert’s Oedipal complex will continue over into next season, it seems.
Harper victoriously swaggers back into the office. DVD is out, but Rishi, it seems, survived her attempt to throw him under the bus — awkward given the two had sex in a bathroom stall before Rishi’s wedding. Beyond that, all seems to be well as Eric asks Harper to talk with him upstairs. In the elevator, Harper finds out that Pierpoint refused to pay the bill for her hotel stay during the pandemic. Instead, Eric personally paid to put her up. When they get out of the elevator, they enter a nondescript, poorly lit room. Harper senses something is wrong and pleads with Eric; if this is about Jesse and the insider trading, she maintains she had no idea that was his intention. But no, that’s not what this is about. Fans will remember that the first rule Harper broke when she started at Pierpoint was that she uploaded a fake college transcript. Harper never finished college because of an anxiety attack. Only Eric knew about the phony transcript and promised to take care of it for her. But now he’s brought it to the attention of Pierpoint HR, who tells her she’s gone against Pierpoint’s integrity policy. Finally, a consequence for Harper Stern, though not the one she anticipated. She’s fired from Pierpoint.
• Harper’s white mock neck will now haunt my dreams.
• Shout out to all the cast for an amazing season of performances. The highlights include Jay Duplass’s crisp diction as he commits a literal crime on CNN, Leung’s face flickering between his usual killer self and a vulnerable old man, and Herrold making it even remotely believable that Harper didn’t know what she was doing with Jesse.
• Next season, I’d love to see the writers do more with Marisa Abela. I can’t help but notice how the first season ended with Yasmin breaking up with her wet fish of a boyfriend, saying she was a very sexual person. This season, we’re watching her try to break away from a certain sexuality even as she fully indulged with Celeste and put her foot in it with Venetia and Kenny. I want to see Yasmin wake up and take ownership, but I also want to see her become fully, intentionally ruthless in the way she’s been with Kenny, Maxim, and the other hapless men in her life. She’s not Harper; we know that. She isn’t prone to pushing her way through, but she has her own gilded penchant for manipulation. Let her be an antihero, too!
• On a personal note: I’ve so enjoyed watching the show with you all. I will now commence a rewatch of all episodes in one big binge so I can pay attention to the little things. I can’t wait to talk with you all about season three when it comes out. Until then, don’t get coke for other people, talk about confidential information and then admit it to your boss, cut off your rich dad, or get into a staring match with a billionaire. Bye!