“Notting Hill” tests Harper’s loyalties — and her living situation — while Gus gets closer and closer to a line there’ll be no coming back from once he crosses.
This recap of Industry season 1, episode 3, “Notting Hill”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The third episode of HBO’s Industry being titled “Notting Hill” is obviously intended in some way to evoke the 1999 romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, but there’s nothing romantic about it, and it’s not very funny either, come to think of it. But it is very much is about affluent Londoners – and an American – navigating the upscale world of cutthroat corporate culture while also trying to keep their basest urges in check. Nobody in it is likable, which one assumes is entirely the point, since every relationship or dynamic they share is at least in part transactional. It’s just like go-getter careerists to sell themselves off piecemeal until there’s nothing left to reap the rewards of their own moral compromise. The payoff of this season would be everyone ending up utterly broke and totally unhappy, which at this rate they might.
Much of this hour is once again devoted to Harper, whose new living arrangements with Yasmin – in Notting Hill, by the way – cause both of them problems. It’s the classic case of loyalties being tested. On the one hand, there’s Eric, Harper’s boss and thus the smartest person to cozy up to, but on the other hand there’s Daria, who’s much more of a direct mentor. Both see some potential in Harper and are therefore trying to get her to work for them, with Eric, in particular, being desperate after losing the trade of one of Pierpoint’s most lucrative clients last week. (A consistently and I suspect unintentionally funny aspect of Industry, by the way, is that Eric is basically a real-life version of Matthew McConaughey’s character from The Wolf of Wall Street, only instead of dispensing eccentric Texan wisdom he periodically goes absolutely ballistic on the trading floor.) Now, he’s trying to hijack Daria’s client through Harper, who he allows to pitch during a meeting and whose idea he subsequently endorses, which is a point of contention for Yasmin, among others.
“Notting Hill” characterizes Yasmin as being a bit needlessly paranoid, assuming that Harper’s idea is somehow a roundabout dig at her, which Seb cautions her against considering the fact she has just invited her to live with them. (There’s another brief moment of Seb not being as impulsively sexy as Yasmin would like him to be here, but frankly, I’m not sure I’d be down for a marigold handjob either.) Nevertheless, Yasmin finesses her way into the meeting with Daria, Harper, and Daria’s client, and uses the opportunity to make things so awkward that Harper can’t pitch her idea. She gets another opportunity to do so later over the phone but clearly lies about the outcome of the call, though it’s only clear to the audience and not to Eric and Daria – for now, anyway.
As far as the men are concerned, things are arguably even more contentious. Gus, you’ll recall, had his department wrested from beneath him, and is now being forced to work with Robert, whose work ethic he despises, in order to impress a client for his new boss, Clement. The thing is, though, that while Gus is exceptionally good at this job despite the fact he doesn’t actually want it, the kind of client they’re dealing with is much more susceptible to being shown a good time – something that is very much in Robert’s wheelhouse.
The dynamic between these two is more interesting, I think, than the fraught relationship between Harper and Yasmin. They genuinely seem to like each other, and Gus’s problems with Rob aren’t really with him, per se, but with his own circumstances, having been forced into a new career he perceives as lesser than his previous one and discovering that all his education and skills amount to very little when being a handsome, charming party animal is seemingly the only qualification one needs. That isn’t Rob’s fault, and deep down I don’t think Gus believes it is, but it makes Rob emblematic of Gus’s perceived failures and his frustrations with the system.
A drunk Gus decides to take those frustrations out on Theo, turning up out of the blue at the place he shares with his wife, Alice, and basically forcing him into sex downstairs. How any of this commotion didn’t wake Alice is anyone’s guess, but there are only so many impromptu drunken hook-ups that can remain behind closed doors, and in all likelihood when Gus causes Theo to lose Alice, he’s going to lose Theo as a consequence. And where will he go in the middle of the night then?
At least Harper and Yasmin seemingly make up, though it comes after a lengthy and kind of awkward sex scene in which Harper hooks up with some random dopey footballer she met on a dating app. Having been forced to listen to all this, Yasmin shares a joint with Harper and finally comes around to the idea of her paying rent, one assumes as penance. That seems to be something they’re both happy with, at least for now, but I wouldn’t put any money on these living arrangements working out long-term.
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