For two seasons, Industry’s fascinating antiheroine Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold) has managed to weasel her way out of multiple fuckups and lies as a junior banker at Pierpoint & Co. If you remember the HBO show’s pilot, her employment is partly built on the pretense that she earned a degree from a prestigious university, although she never graduated from the state college she actually attended.
Initially, it seemed like Harper would be ousted for her fake college transcript sooner rather than later. But her supervisor Eric Tao (Ken Leung), impressed by her determination and craftiness, mercifully kept her secret—up until tonight’s jaw-dropping Season 2 finale that ended in Harper’s termination from the company.
In Industry’s short time on the air, co-creators and writers Konrad Kay and Mickey Down have proven adept at planting seeds and allowing them to flourish in the most sudden and surprising ways. For instance, it was easy to forget that Eric always had the upper hand in his power struggle with Harper throughout this season, namely because her transcript is never even mentioned. It also seemed like Harper, whose successful side dealings with hedge fund manager Jesse Bloom (Jay Duplass) ended up getting Eric removed from the Cross Product Sales desk, had completely forgotten that her supervisor could one day weaponize this information against her.
Earlier in the Season 2 finale, she and Eric manage to sell Adler (Trevor White), the Global Head of FICC at Pierpoint, on their pitch for a “super team” for macro hedge fund sales that doesn’t include traders Rishi (Sagar Radia) and Danny (Alex Alomar Akpobome). However, when Harper arrives at work at the end of the episode, Rishi is present and seemingly privy to her scheming. And the final scene, when Eric pulls Harper away from her desk and they take an ominous elevator ride to human resources, is one of the most intense in the entire series.
“We loved the idea of her being taken off the floor after she’d just come back from this triumphant victory [and] taken in a lift,” Down told The Daily Beast. “A lot of the stuff that happens in the show is set in lifts. She has this last interaction with Eric, a callback from something that happened in episode one. It felt like the first time they actually showed vulnerability to another. Eric says, in his own way, that he cares about her. And then he leads her on this death march [in the finale] through this corridor. It feels kind of eerie and surreal and uncanny.”
Initially, Eric’s decision to expose Harper reads like a delicious moment of well-earned payback. But Kay thinks there’s more ambiguity to him ratting her out.
“His motivations are kind of murky in quite a good way,” Kay said. “Is this an act of revenge? And does he want to get rid of her? And does he actually care about her wellbeing? Is she a danger to herself?”
“His motivations are kind of murky in quite a good way. Is this an act of revenge? And does he want to get rid of her?”
It’s important to note that, earlier in the episode, Harper commits securities fraud after disclosing information she retained from Gus Sackey (David Jonsson) about Amazon’s purchase of Fast Aid to Bloom. Bloom makes Harper buy him shares in Rican, Fast Aid’s competitor for the NHS contract, while he’s being interviewed on a cable news show. On the broadcast, he deceives viewers into thinking there will be an anti-competition inquiry into the sale—there isn’t, as he learns from Harper—causing both stocks to move in his favor.
When Harper confides in Eric about her mistake, he surprisingly doesn’t blow the whistle. It’s another lenient gesture in their frenemy-like relationship that makes the ending feel like such a gut punch. Likewise, Kay suggests that his decision to oust her from Pierpoint regarding her transcript could actually be interpreted as an “act of kindness” in this ruthless environment.
“He’s basically using this little thing from her past to get rid of her before this bigger thing could potentially blow up and hurt her even more,” he explained. “I think some people will think he’s doing the paternal thing of taking a pair of scissors off a child.”
Meanwhile, Yasmin Kara-Hanani (Marisa Abela) is finally disillusioned by what she initially thought was an empowering move, working in Private Wealth Management under her dream girlboss and lover Celeste (Katrine De Candole). Throughout the season, Yasmin has been somewhat unrecognizable from the more principled version of herself we saw in Season 1. In the finale, she tells Celeste that she doesn’t want to represent men like her father, who she discovered has a child with one of the women he groomed. This results in Yasmin pissing off Celeste and her father, who calls her a spoiled nepotism baby before freezing her accounts and changing the locks to her flat. Nevertheless, watching her come down from her weird power trip was a relief.
“I think it’s been a slow attrition,” Down said. “The way we discussed it in the writers room is that, over the course of the season, she had the traditional falling of the scales from her eyes about her father, about her privilege, about her childhood. And all the way through the season, she’s making that negotiation.”
Similarly, fellow banker Robert Spearing (Harry Lawtey) spends the last couple episodes of Season 2 morally negotiating his sexual relationship with predatory client Nicole (Sarah Parish). On one hand, Robert is a grown man with a fetish for being dominated. On the other hand, he knows that Nicole has assaulted Harper and, most recently, new Pierpoint employee Venetia (Indy Lewis). When he confronts her about her behavior in the finale—before she eventually jerks him off—it’s hard to tell if he feels like a victim or if he’s angry at himself for enabling her.
“I’ve seen different people have different takes on the scene in episode four when [Robert] and Harper are talking about the fact that Nicole had a moment with Harper,” Down said. “Some people were like, ‘Oh, Robert’s sad that he’s not the only one that has been harassed and abused by Nicole. He feels he’s no longer special.’”
“He knows Nicole is bad news,” Kay added. “He knows her behavior with Venetia and Harper is reprehensible. But he just can’t help but feel like his position is different. At the end of the day, he’s someone who actually gets off on being belittled.”
Maybe the most curious and unpredictable character in Season 2 has been Gus, who’s mostly been “treading water,” as Down says, taking on random gigs and beginning a relationship with Bloom’s son. But in the finale alone, he manages to lose his job with Aurore (Faith Alabi) following the Amazon news, regain it after Bloom uses the intel, and then lose it again after he tells Aurore that he shared the confidential info with Harper. By the end, though, he’s sitting in a private jet with Bloom, which raises the question of whether he shared the intel with Harper knowing he would ultimately benefit.
“It wasn’t on purpose,” Konrad admits. “Me and Mickey went round and round on that scene because, on some levels, we didn’t want it to feel too simple. It feels very true to life, these bits of insight and information and how little nuggets get passed over through flatmates. In banks, there’s this whole idea of a Chinese wall where you separate these two things. But obviously, people talk.”
Overall, the season finale benefitted from an overarching sense of ambiguity rather than concrete conclusions. Viewers were given several nail-biting cliffhangers and interesting questions about the futures of these hard-working professionals, notably where Harper will land with such a huge stain on her resume. As for whether Kay and Down can see a future for Industry without the cunning expat at the center, the duo remain tight-lipped.
“To answer that question would give too much away about what we’re thinking about for Season 3,” Down said. “I mean, Harper is central to Industry at this point. We love the character. We love them all. The interesting thing for us is that we’ve written a version of the show which pulls away from Pierpoint. Whether that’s forever or something we walk back on, that’s up for grabs.”
For more, listen to Jay Duplass on The Last Laugh podcast.
Source by www.thedailybeast.com
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