Photo: Nick Strasburg/HBO
I’ve realized this season of Industry is set up to mire us in the minutiae of Harper, Rob, Gus, and Yasmin’s lives. Last season was a fast, glossy overview of the characters’ individual worlds, but its main focus was to show us the world of work at Pierpoint. This season, the show is going deep on each character. Where do they come from? What drives them? Why do they do what they do?
In Yasmin’s case, she finds out she doesn’t know as much about herself as she thought. When she, with a self-satisfied smirk, tells Maxim she’d like him to transfer her family’s assets over to Pierpoint, he warns her that this isn’t the right time and hints that Yasmin’s father is having cash-flow issues. Later, Yasmin invites Celeste to a party to celebrate Hanani publishing only to discover that the publishing business was sold to a different company years ago. Yasmin confronts Maxim and tries to make it out as though he’s wounded about their tryst ending, but Maxim, breaking his usual gentlemanly facade, basically tells it like it is: Yasmin has no idea how or where her family’s money is, and the obfuscation isn’t coming from him; it’s coming from Yasmin’s dad.
Celeste and Yasmin do coke in the bathroom, where Yamin lies that she’s sorted out the problem with Maxim. Then Celeste drops the bill they’d been using for cocaine on the floor and commands, sexily, that Yasmin pick it up. It’s a déjà vu moment; this is exactly the kind of thing Yasmin would have pulled on Robert last season, but now she’s the one being commanded. Dutifully, maybe even a little resentfully, Yasmin picks up the bill. But when it seems as if maybe some hookup will happen between the two, Celeste leaves the party, saying her wife keeps her on a weekday curfew. Yasmin is surprised, but I can’t tell if it’s by the existence of a wife or Celeste being the kind of person who is loyal to a spouse.
So where does Yasmin head? To Harper, Rob, and Gus’s flat! Why does she do this?!? She is on weird terms with both Harper and Rob! Anyway, what follows is an extremely uncomfortable interaction. When she shows up, Robert immediately goes to bed, and Harper is left to entertain a drunk and high Yasmin, who immediately does a line off the coffee table. In an attempt to open up (?) to Harper, Yasmin goes on a long, rambly monologue about how she didn’t worry about money at all during the height of the pandemic, instead just buying various pairs of perfect white pajamas while trying to process images of bodies in New York. I get that Yasmin is starting to grapple with the fact that maybe she’s not as rich as she thinks. I also think Industry is great at serving up horrifically awkward interactions. Still, given that we all are also living through the pandemic, Yasmin seems like an extra big privileged baby at this moment.
Maybe because she’s feeling guilty or because she’s feeling sly, Yasmin makes her father breakfast the next morning, taking the opportunity to sit down and ask him to level with her about the family money. What emerges is a troubling, opaque answer about women her father had affairs with, some of whom he paid off and had sign NDAs. He says it’s just how things were handled legally, and he has nothing to be ashamed of. But we, and Yasmin, know you don’t pay someone off and have them sign an NDA unless something incriminating is at the heart of the matter. When she tries to bring this up to Celeste, Yasmin is told that she’s overthinking small things and that Celeste is counting on working with Yasmin to be fun.
The episode is light on everyone else: Harper goes to what was supposed to be dinner with Jesse until DVD crashes the evening with his stodgy business, causing Jesse to cut the evening short at drinks. She seems annoyed at DVD for this, but it doesn’t keep them from (finally) having sex later at Harper’s apartment. It turns out DVD is the kind of guy who mistakes his enthusiasm for eating ass as a personality trait. Anyway, it’s kind of a tender moment until Harper wakes up in the middle of the night and calls Jesse, who is also on a date. Harper is anxious — was Jesse at all impressed by DVD’s straight-edge business-guy presentation to Jesse the other night? He was not. Harper and Jesse proceed to have a borderline-sexual conversation about how Jesse should listen to what Harper says because they have similar restless personalities.
Harper pitches Jesse on shorting FastAid, a brick-and-mortar pharmacy chain that could potentially be involved in Rican’s push to make healthcare accessible worldwide. The catch is that DVD advised Jesse to buy up FastAid earlier at the bar. If Jesse had followed through on DVD’s proposal, it would have been a win for Pierpoint. But Harper tells him to short FastAid through a different bank. The bottom line is that Harper is moving in an entirely self-interested way. Pierpoint stands to lose on their position in FasAid if Jesse follows through with Harper’s play. She’s pitching not just the FastAid short but herself as Jesse’s one and only financial darling, even at the expense of jeopardizing her job.
Robert is not just having a sexually tinged relationship with his client but is fully fingering Nicole! They seem so chummy it’s sometimes hard to remember Nicole is behaving extremely inappropriately. Then I have to remind myself that Robert is also an adult and should know better. That being said, Robert has a drink with Harper (pre-Yasmin’s arrival), and while they’re chatting about how much they’ve been paid, Harper tells him she’s glad Nicole is behaving professionally. Last year, when they worked together, she and Nicole had “a moment.” Harper declines to go into detail, but Robert understands what she’s talking about. He looks crestfallen and disgusted as he realizes Nicole’s dynamic with him isn’t a special one but just her MO. Later, at the desk, when Nicole’s name appears on the caller ID, Robert ignores her like a spurned lover, jealous little boy, or both.
The person who essentially splits this episode with Yasmin is Eric. I loved getting to see more of who Eric is and how he came to be. It reminds me of a moment last season when he was on leave and Harper saw him in the grocery store aisle with his two daughters. The juxtaposition of terrifying Eric as a feckless dad in a hoodie at the mercy of two tweens is such a fruitful one. In this episode, we see much more of that as Eric is on an indefinite “holiday” following the upset last episode with Felim. He’s been home so long his daughters are sick of him, and he probably could stay home longer if it weren’t for DVD paying out his desk. This sends Eric into a rage — he earned the rank and right to pay the people who work for him. How dare DVD pay people! (But also, if I think about this clearly, did Eric think people wouldn’t have to pay bills or buy groceries until he decided to stop moping? Or do bankers just have so much cash lying around this isn’t a problem?)
To go over DVD’s head, Eric flies to Pierpoint headquarters in New York. Clearly, he thought it would be a power play, but instead of being greeted with open arms, Eric is told by Bill, his supposed buddy and New York big-wig, that he’s postponed their meeting until the following day. The slight is loud and clear, especially when Eric is sequestered in his old boss’s office. While he roams around Newman’s office looking for a pack of cigarettes, Eric calls DVD in London in an unhinged attempt to intimidate him. This moment feels like a mirror to Yasmin’s coke-addled ramble about pajamas, a character using tried-and-true methods to stay who they think they are, but we can see the façade cracking.
Because he can’t meet Bill, Eric goes to dinner with Newman’s wife, whom he both worked with and once had a romantic fling with. Over Chinese food, they reminisce about what it was like when they both started working. When Newman’s wife come-hithers Eric at the end of the meal, he opts to get the check instead. The next day, he meets with Bill and finds out that DVD called ahead. Eric is getting sent out to pasture and taken off the desk. His machinations, his bravado — all of it has failed. While Harper and others on the desk are making money for the bank, Eric just isn’t cutting it. His years of service don’t matter to Pierpoint; only the bottom line does.
The episode ends with Eric returning to England and climbing into bed with his sleeping daughter. While he lies there, we see a flashback of him in New York. It seems after receiving the bad news from Bill, Eric went to Newman’s wife and had sex with her. Was it to feel powerful again? To feel needed? Wanted? Whatever it is, this was one moment I thought felt out of character. Throughout this season and this episode, we’ve watched Eric come undone. Did we need to see him fall into this weak embrace, seeking solace in a bed, when he’s never seemed like the kind of character who would place that much importance on sex? Maybe I’m uncomfortable seeing our resident brash guy become so soft. Whatever the case, Eric will no longer be Harper’s direct boss. Will this cause Harper to fly or fail?
• Gus is an intern for Aurore, the Tory politician who went on the pheasant shoot in the last episode. There he helps a distraught, angry man who claims someone has been leaving dog poop on his lawn, except Gus realizes it’s human poop. Gus then helps said man by being nice to him. Also Gus and Leo are sweet together. I still love Gus, but I am confused about how this character is being incorporated into the show.
• That being said, in a separate universe, there is a sitcom about Gus, Harper, and Robert sharing a flat and trying to make it in the big city. I love their easy friendship.
• Unrelated, but has anyone seen Bodies Bodies Bodies? I really enjoyed it, and part of it was definitely because I just imagined a separate Harper timeline in which she is a brat in a big house on the East Coast.