I’m not prone to hyperbole, so this might come as a surprise, but Industry is the best show on television — and it isn’t particularly close.
This recap of Industry season 2, episode 7, “Lone Wolf and Cub”, contains spoilers.
I’m not typically given to hyperbole, so this might be a surprise coming from me, but Industry is the best show on television right now. I’m not even sure it’s especially close, especially not among continuing series that don’t have that new car smell or the pulling power of big, existing IP. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon might have cornered the big-budget prestige fantasy market, but Industry moves in different circles, where the dragons are financial advisors, the orcs are short-squeezing Redditors, and the Iron Throne is an office chair with a bank of monitors in front and a basketball hoop behind.
Industry season 2, episode 7 recap
The employees of Pierpoint are more compelling than George R. R. Martin’s Aryan dragon-riders and Tolkien’s bigfooted overeaters because, if you squint a little, they’re recognizable human beings. They’re governed by the same sort of moral compass, and their ethical dilemmas are easy to imagine yourself in. You know what you’d do in an uncomplicated battle between good and evil. But whether you’d stab a co-worker in the back to secure your financial future is another matter entirely.
Most people like to believe they wouldn’t do half of the things that Harper Stern is willing to do, but it’s funny to watch how many people in the show keep tumbling into her orbit and finding themselves emulating her more closely than they ever imagined. People are like that – most aren’t willing to be the first, but they’ll happily follow the leader. Even DVD, ostensibly Harper’s higher-up, immediately shifts into self-preservation mode when he recognizes he has been outmaneuvered and displayed a vulnerability.
DVD’s vulnerability is one that several characters also exhibit in “Lone Wolf and Cub” because the industry they have devoted so much of themselves to is beginning to ask too much of them. Financial management doesn’t just demand ungodly hours and personal sacrifice, but also, apparently, turning a blind eye to outright criminality, or at least excusing it as a necessary consequence of some nebulous bigger picture. In that sense, it’s Venetia, of all people, who cracks a window and allows something resembling humanity to creep in.
It starts with Nicole, Rob’s high-powered client whose considerable finances seem to be a conduit for ill-advised sexual relationships with whoever happens to be looking after her accounts at the time. First, it was Harper, then it was Rob, and now that Rob has found out about Harper, he’s trying to establish some boundaries, which means that Nicole is obviously frustrated with him. Venetia opting to intrude on their latest dinner and play the Pierpoint game in order to get face time with a client is the equivalent of a gazelle ambling into the lion’s den right around feeding time. Because Rob feels exploited by Nicole and insulted by Venetia, he leaves them to it, and the next thing we know Venetia is reporting a sexual assault.
Nicole’s behavior is nothing new. But calling that behavior out for what it is sends everyone into a tailspin. Venetia goes to Yas for advice, and the heiress only condemns herself by lightly belittling the experience and advising Venetia not-to-subtly to keep quiet about it, especially since Nicole is a big client. So, Venetia goes to Kenny, who reports it to DVD, and just like that, the news is everywhere. Predictably, hardly anyone cares, least of all the top brass, who can scarcely find a moment to acknowledge an HR issue. But DVD cares, and eventually, so does Rob, especially since the guilt of having done only the bare minimum to protect her weighs heavy on his conscience (and makes him culpable). Everyone seems to realize all at once that the culture of complicity at Pierpoint is deeply dangerous, and that the upsides aren’t worth the moral cost.
Or are they?
It depends who you ask. Rob makes the right decision by revealing that Nicole’s behavior is a pattern that began with Harper and then continued with him, and DVD – rather arrogantly, I suppose – immediately assumes that the trauma of Nicole’s come-on is what prevented her from carrying on a relationship with him. He calls Harper to say he understands what she’s been holding in and going through, and in so doing he exposes a weakness that Harper immediately exploits by roping him into a scheme she’s cooked up with Eric and Rishi to set up in a new firm with Jesse Bloom’s custom as their trump card. Trust Harper to turn a moment of profound personal dismay into an opportunity for herself.