Nothing quite like a hunting trip in Wales to really bring out age-old tensions between Old Money and New Money, between the U.S. and the U.K., between tradition and transgression, and, ultimately, between the many warring factions within and across Pierpoint. In fact, even the characters who didn’t make the train trip to shoot some pheasants—cough-Yas-cough—found themselves pitted against unlikely rivals after hoping to maneuver themselves into better standings.
Let’s start at the end, though. Because increasingly, that’s the moment when I find myself picking up my jaw from the floor after Industry yet again makes me sit at the edge of my seat eager to see if some billionaire’s whims will be fulfilled in the nick of time. But, actually, I want to focus first on the actual final shot of the episode: Eric (Ken Leung) sitting alone as the camera slowly inches away from him, making him look ever smaller as Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” plays in the background. “Home is where I want to be,” David Byrne sings, and you have to imagine that’s not too far from what canny, stoic Eric is thinking after witnessing his protegé elegantly outmaneuver him, leaving him in the dust.
The episode may initially have suggested the real rivalry was between unkempt American Jesse Bloom (Jay Duplass) and stuffy Brit Felim Bichan (Andrew Buchan), but soon the 4D chess being played turned out to be between Eric and Harper (Myha’la Herrold). We all knew this day would come; the pupil would eventually, if not overtake, at least take a stab at dethroning the master. But in true Harper fashion, the hit isn’t a mere warning; it’s a full-blown K.O. To be fair, her scheming with Bloom to circumvent the many plans being hatched behind her (and Anna Gearing’s) back was the perfect way to assert her own stance. It was offense as defense.
And if such plot machinations demand I resort to militaristic language it is because, in the world of Industry not only are all relationships transactional but they are also all confrontational. Even, or especially, the ones that depend on closeness. Why else would Eric give Harper a pep talk about working together as a team all while trying to poach Bloom from her? Or why else would Yas (Marisa Abela) end up on the receiving end of a blunt talking to by Celeste (Katrine De Candole)? Everyone is assumed to be a rival until proven otherwise—or, better yet, until they’re proven to be an asset.
After encouraging the likes of Harper and Yas to find some kinship with those like them (Eric, Celeste), this third episode made sure to remind them (and all of us, in turn) that a capitalistic system can only ever subsist on individualistic tendencies. That is, at the end of the day it’s a free for all, with everyone for themselves. It’s no surprise to find the episode name-checking Thomas Hobbes who talked about the “state of nature” (the “war of all against all”) and who posited the need for a social contract. And while Bloom may rightly believe Hobbesian theory remains timely, I think he forgets that, in many ways, the contemporary social contract still somewhat demands a craven cruelty lest the “industry” it allows to succeed fall by the wayside.
Folks like Eric and Felim may grandstand on and about tradition, but all they’re doing is wanting to uphold their own power-hungry ways. Is the Bloomian/Harper-esque approach any better? Probably not. You’re just substituting one leveraged system for another. But you have to admit sitting at a table with Jesse and Harper would be infinitely preferable than being stuck with “my face now has to heal” Felim and Eric, no?
Speaking of tables that would be more fun than those populated with those intent on upholding long standing traditions involving pheasant blood, I loved watching the dinner between Yas, Kenny (Conor MacNeill), and Rocco (Nicolo Pasetti). Mostly because it so clearly illustrated how in-groups (across class and gender, say) organize themselves in real time. Seeing Yas slowly lose control of the table once she decides to not ignore Kenny and speak in English only to find the two guys bonding over yet another kind of archaic system designed to exclude put into relief just how insular these spaces (and people) can be. Abela’s ability to weather indignity after indignity in Yas’ shoes remains one of the highlights of the show, especially because you constantly witness the actor playing both what Yas is feeling (dejection, say) and also the response she’s calling herself to play instead (cool girlhood, really) all within the blink of a laugh.
It’s perhaps why Yas eventually feels the need to patch things up with Harper. Might the two return to a place where they can trust each other and plot together to upend the old guard at the firm? Or might we see this play out throughout the entirety of the season ahead?
- “Let’s go see about them birds before they start to unionize” is the kind of line designed to double as a character brief. I mean, don’t you just want to punch them in the face for such a lackluster joke?
- Another great line: “Never give a gun to an American,” though that one hits slightly differently given, well, y’know…
- Of course Kenny would be all over crypto.
- Question: Do we think Robert’s, ahem, sexual inadequacies are building toward something? They must, right?
- Much of the below-the-line work on Industry impresses for how unassumingly it informs the show’s narrative (costumes, like Yas’s pussy bow shirt, and sets, like the trading floor) don’t necessarily draw attention to themselves. But they’re integral in creating the believable world of Pierpoint & Co. I’d be remiss if I didn’t single out, though, the work Nathan Micay is doing with the show’s music this season. Creating an enthralling synth-infused white noise of a score that throbs and soothes in equal measure, I’ve found myself bowled over by how it effortlessly it captures Industry’s essence in sonic form.
- Raise your hand if you believe Pierpoint’s investors (and the Rycan board, at that) are truly invested in “democratizing health care.”
- I mean this as the most sincere compliment, but Yas is a Girls character through and through, no? In between her breakdown in the elevator following Daddy’s “parents night” appearance at the meeting she’d called and the frank talk with Robert over their will-they-or-won’t-they sexual chemistry, I was left convinced she’d fit right in on that Lena Dunham (a director on season one of the show) generation-defining series.