Watching this episode of Industry, I had a sudden, vivid memory of being a freshman in high school and watching Mira Nair’s adaptation of Vanity Fair. It was summer and I was lying on my bedroom floor. Watching Becky Sharp, as played by Reese Witherspoon, be terrible, self-serving, endlessly ambitious, and clever was thrilling to me. I get the same electric feeling in my humid Chicago living room watching Harper dodge and weave through morally ambiguous peril. How often do we see young women be miserable, overtly sexual, and calculating on television? Episode two encapsulates this frisson of excitement in a neatly bundled hour of television. There are highs and lows, and we see all of the squelching, desperate, beautiful moments in between.
Eric is pissed that Harper missed his breakfast with Felim. Does his screaming at Harper and taking her off the account seem a tad outsize? It might be because there are more problems at play here than just Harper not showing up to sip coffee and eat croissants. Felim is the anchor for a giant block trade worth $3.3 billion; the breakfast was intended to confirm his involvement. If Eric were as big of a player as he says he is, he should have been able to close the deal on his own with no problem, but we see that actually, things aren’t as ironed out between Felim and Eric as it might have seemed at the end of season one. In fact, at breakfast, Felim says he likes Eric better when he’s partnered with Harper — a line that’s definitely at the heart of why Eric is landing so harshly on Harper now.
In swoops Danny Van De Venter, a.k.a. DVD. In the last episode, he hinted at being a possible threat, but his role becomes clearer here. He’s a former mentee of Eric’s (maybe even the previous Harper), and he wants to either consolidate the New York and London desks or clean up the London operations so they look more like New York’s “democracy of competence.” (Eye roll.) Eric aggressively disapproves of both Harper and DVD, which is a tactical error on Eric’s part. His bluster creates a cute, flirtatious alliance between DVD and Harper as they weather the Eric storm.
Meanwhile, over in Private Wealth Management, Yasmin seems to have found her posh calling. She goes to dinner with Celeste and an Italian client and, while there, shows off her multilingual, expensively educated, and well-traveled chops. Some mistakes are made — Yasmin misreads a cue from Celeste and tries for a gentle come-on with the client, who politely refuses — but even so, Private Wealth Management seems a little more forgiving than the FX desk. For one, Celeste doesn’t chew Yasmin out at the end of the dinner for his mistake. Instead, she gifts Yasmin a pair of glittery shoes off her own feet (worn to suit the tastes of their client) and tells Yasmin to remember that she isn’t attending the party — she is the party. Everyone is privileged to be in Yasmin’s company. Like all the self-help platitudes served by superiors on this show, the line is both inspiring and ominous. Do we really believe Celeste is a fairy godmother, giving Yasmin-erella some magic slippers? Or is there self-interest lurking here too? Later, as Yasmin has sex with Maxim on her couch, the camera pulls away to show that she’s wearing those glittery shoes. Yasmin comes, though it’s not entirely clear if she’s getting off on the idea of her own empowerment, the slight transgression of continuing to bone Maxim, or the slithery, come-hither vibe that Celeste has been giving Yasmin the whole night.
Anyway. The show has danced around Yasmin being an heiress of sorts, but in the last episode, we finally find out that she’s the daughter of a publishing tycoon. In this episode, said publishing tycoon shows up unannounced in Yasmin’s home. There’s a complicated love humming between Yasmin and her dad (played by Adam Levy). Their conversation is a mix of resentful barbed comments, but some of the conversation seems to have a softer, more tender underbelly. Like most of the older adults on the show, I can’t yet tell if Yasmin’s dad is as sincere as he’s trying to seem about wanting to reconnect with his daughter or if he has a different aim.
But it turns out not to be her father’s ulterior motive we should be focused on, but rather Yasmin’s. The two meet for lunch, and Yasmin asks if he remembers a family trip to Positano, where her hungover father bought her a knock-off Donald Duck toy. Upset, little Yasmin threw the toy overboard only to have her father sail back to Positano and buy her another one. She puts her hand on her father’s hand (a call back to her move earlier) and says that’s the closest she’s ever felt to him. Her expression is tumultuous, conflicted, sad, and determined. As her father melts into the moment of supposed intimacy, Yasmin switches topics and asks if he’s ever considered moving their family’s funds from Maxim’s management to Pierpoint. Yasmin isn’t just fucking Maxim; she’s fucking him over, too.
Speaking of sex and work, Robert and Nicole are getting along swimmingly! After some charged banter on the phone, Robert takes Nicole to a client dinner, where the two talk about what it’s like to have lower-class backgrounds in the finance industry. If the scene seems familiar, it’s because it is. While I believe Robert is genuinely pouring his heart out, I can’t help but remember how Nicole played Harper last season, starting with a chummy dinner like this one. And then Nicole shows us that this is all part of her playbook. In the car ride home, she puts her hand on Robert’s crotch just like she did Harper’s, except Robert doesn’t fend her off. Instead, he lets Nicole jerk him off in the car, coming into her hand and calling her “Mummy” afterward. I guess Nicole is now taking Yasmin’s spot in Robert’s power-play fetish. Whatever it may be, the interaction is somehow both gross and friendly, and by the end of the episode, Robert makes a sale with Nicole. His first sale!
Harper spends this whole episode being chaotic and forlorn, trying desperately to find her stride again. When it becomes clear that things with Eric and Felim are still sour, she shows up at Jesse’s tennis lesson and pitches him on the block trade that Felim has pulled out of. Jesse shows initial interest, but when he questions Harper on the trade details, she freezes up and he passes.
The next morning, 15 minutes before the market opens, Eric assures the desk that Felim will call at the last minute and save the day. The entire team is skeptical. DVD asks Harper how her talk with Jesse went, but she tells him it didn’t go anywhere. It looks like Pierpoint is about to lose a lot of money when a phone call comes in minutes before the market opens. Eric jumps on the line, thinking it’s Felim, but surprise, surprise, it’s Jesse calling for Harper. He’s changed his mind and is interested in the deal but needs confirmation if a different influential client is in on the sale. The only person at Pierpoint the influential client will talk to is Yasmin, with whom Harper is currently feuding. Harper gets on the intercom and publicly pleads with Yasmin to make a phone introduction. Earlier, Yasmin refused to make this intro, but it seems like the recent intrigue with Celeste has her feeling generous, so she acquiesces, getting Harper the info she needs. After some high-stakes haggling with Rishi, Jesse agrees to anchor the deal. It’s a coup for Harper, but instead of immediately celebrating, she leaves the desk to take a breather in the elevator and has a small breakdown. As she cries, a message from pogdaddy911 comes in: He says he’s not who Harper has been looking for.
Still, when she returns to the desk, the whole team claps. It’s a victory that feels more appropriate for a football game than a trading floor. All the bad blood from Harper being out of office is seemingly forgiven. She’s back in the good graces of her coworkers again … though Eric looks shifty, and there’s still the personal patching up to do with Yasmin.
• Is the insinuation that people at Pierpoint think Eric and Harper are sleeping together?
• This brings me to my next observation: This show could alternately be called “Electra and Oedipal Complexes at Pierpoint.” Yasmin with her daddy issues! Eric being a weird pseudo parent to Harper! Robert and Nicole! Sex, power, intimacy, relationships: It’s all tangled up for these three!
• ALSO, HI GUS!! I was thrilled to see him again though I hope we get more character development as the season progresses. When he took off his glasses to give Harper a quick pep talk, I swooned.
• I want Yasmin and Harper to make up because I miss their friendship. Thank you.