“Kitchen Season” gets to the root cause of the dysfunction that unites Harper, Yas, and Robert, and it seems like they have a lot more in common than they necessarily realized.
This recap of Industry season 2, episode 5, “Kitchen Season”, contains spoilers.
The idea we’ve kept returning to each week in these recaps is that the world of finance attracts uniquely awful people. It’s ruthless and cutthroat and has little time for vulnerability or emotions. Success is directly proportional to the abandonment of one’s moral character. The emptier you are inside, the fuller your pockets become.
But we haven’t stopped to ask yet what might have happened to a person to make them so suitable for that environment. “Kitchen Season” devotes a full hour to answering that question. And there are so many commonalities in the stories of Yas, Harper, and Robert, that they might as well share the exact same origin. The word of the day is, all together now, family!
Industry season 2, episode 5 recap
Everyone wants to be a good parent; not everyone knows how to be. And hurt people hurt people, it turns out, whether that’s physically, emotionally, or through mismanaged financial investments. Our three main characters are all products of neglect, in one way or another, some more obvious than others. Thus far throughout this season, Yas’s relationship with her father has come to the fore, and the extent of his infidelities continues here, but we didn’t quite realize how much she had in common with those she tries so eagerly to position herself above.
But let’s start with Yas since her continental home-away-from-home in Berlin is the setting for much of the drama. With her new position with Celeste, she needs to smooth the hand-off of her most lucrative client to Jackie, and since Harper has previous with the client and a long-lost brother potentially living in the city, she pulls some strings with Eric – who is clearly relishing the opportunity to cause some bother – to get herself on the trip. The three of them stay in Yas’s father’s place, which languishes empty but is still maintained by a cleaner, seemingly for no reason.
At one point Yas says, entirely without irony, “It feels good to be back on the Continent.” It’s a post-Covid remark, but you can also take it as her being happy to return to an idealized family past, where framed photos of the beloved nanny sit on the mantels. Throughout the episode, Yas intuits and eventually confirms that her father was sleeping with that nanny for quite some time. She never knew – or perhaps she always did. This is someone who caught her mother cheating on at least one occasion, though probably more. Familial and sexual dysfunction is essential to her very identity.
Harper’s parental misgivings are a little more ambiguous, but as we learn here in “Kitchen Season”, her mother was enough of a dragon to send two children fleeing. Harper’s brother works in a kitchen in Berlin and is a recovering crystal meth addict. She hasn’t seen him in years and didn’t even know he liked a drink, let alone Class A substances. Through their dialogue, we can glean that he was once a promising tennis player who was pushed to a degree that constituted abuse. Within moments of seeing his sister after God-knows how many years, he has already relapsed. All the qualities that make her good at finance, all the aspects she prides herself on, are triggers for him; reminders of a dehumanizing past that he literally fled from.
And then there’s Robert. His background has always been framed in class terms; he doesn’t come from money but instead worked his way into it. The weight of expectation on him was using his drive and his intelligence to free himself from his circumstances, from the working-class lager-lout demeanor of his father. He attempts to dangle his success over his father this week and only finds himself descending once again into the bottom of a bottle and a bag, the second relapse in a single episode.
But here’s the problem. In his compromised state, Robert meets with a potential employee, and in all his bluster manages to coax her into Pierpoint. At his lowest personal ebb, he achieves professional success. What is that going to tell him about himself? A stoic Harper, returning to work without her brother, seems more emotionally closed-off than ever, snapping at DVD after a moment at the top of the episode in which he asked her if she’d allow him to be vulnerable for a moment. I think we all know the answer to that. None of these people will allow anyone to be vulnerable – least of all themselves.