“Short to the Point of Pain” is, simply, can’t-miss television.
This recap of Industry season 2, episode 6, “Short to the Point of Pain”, contains spoilers.
I’ve been saying for weeks that the secret of Industry is that its dialogue and set-pieces are only comprehensible to someone with a degree in finance or who has watched The Big Short at least twenty times, but it’s nonetheless an exercise in sheer white-knuckle suspense. And “Short to the Point of Pain” exemplifies that more than perhaps any other episode, which tended to save their biggest fiscal crises for one or two moments towards the end. This week, things start energetically and never let go, and while I’m still not sure I have a clue what any of this actually means, my gut feeling is that we’re watching one of the best shows on television that nobody seems to be talking about.
Industry season 2, episode 6 recap
The problem is Reddit, I think. During the height of the pandemic there was a big to-do about Gamestop, the long-running video game retailer that was facing financial annihilation like most brick-and-mortar retailers and had been shorted into near ruin by hedge funds – shorting being the process of borrowing shares of a stock that the investor believes will decline in value with the intention of buying them back for less money than they paid and traded for initially. Only, this didn’t happen, since a bunch of nostalgic Redditors coordinated a short squeeze of Gamestop shares, pushing the value up, not down, and forcing many of the hedge funds to buy back shares to minimize losses, thus driving the share price up further still.
This is what is happening to the stock that Jesse Bloom is trying to short, and a lot of the tension of the episode comes from Harper obsessively monitoring the share price. It says a lot about Industry that this isn’t just entertaining but actively riveting. And it amounts to a major moment in which Harper stabs Rishi in the back to try and bluff Jesse back into the game, which results in DVD banishing her from the trading floor and will potentially – probably, even – mean the loss of her job at Pierpoint.
But Harper has bought into the idea – fostered by Eric, whose promotion has turned him into a kind of laconic soothsayer dispensing wisdom from a cloud of cigarette smoke on the street outside – that so long as she can secure a client like Bloom, she’s bigger than Pierpoint. She can go wherever she wants. The question now becomes whether she can remain in Bloom’s good graces or her luck will run out. We’ll have to see.
In some ways, this is a neat continuation of last week’s episode, which was about how the personal, and family lives of these people have made them well-suited to this particularly cutthroat industry and posited the question of whether, when faced with the option, they’d chose who they are or who they ultimately want to be. For Harper, that answer is obvious – she wants to be a winner, so she’ll always pursue the next level of success, regardless of whose head she has to trample on to get there. For someone like Yas, who in her own words has won many lotteries in life already, she’s pursuing something more meaningful than simply financial ambition. And that seems to be a relationship with Celeste.
Those two hook up this week, and I can’t have been the only person who clocked the look on Yasmin’s face when Celeste revealed that she was in a polyamorous relationship with a wife who already knows about Yas. To the heiress, this kind of ill-advised but deeply intense liaison seemed like the inexorable pull of fate bringing them both together. She’s visibly uncomfortable with the idea of being a component in someone else’s marital “arrangement”. Where might this lead?
I’m pleased to report in the meantime that Gus actually gets something to do in “Short to the Point of Pain”, and it’s pretty meaningful. For one thing, his relationship with Leo means that he’s right in the middle of Bloom’s attempts to reconnect with his estranged son, so that’s a predicament, but he’s also discovering that the work he finds most valuable and fulfilling might not necessarily be the highest-paid or most prestigious. He’s currently working for a local left-wing politician but has become a kind of ad-hoc therapist for a deeply troubled but volatile Liverpudlian, all of which he finds meaningful, but his family doesn’t see it that way and thinks he should feel obligated to provide the same kind of life for his kids as he was given – otherwise, what’s the point in all the investment? It’s a relevant question in a show about finance, I suppose. But since Gus has now quietly become the moral center of the entire thing, I can’t help but root for him to do what makes him happy.