Conclusion: “Industry” takes the plunge with a poignant second season


Photo courtesy HBO

By Will Cover 09/27/22 11:54 PM

Rating: ★★★★½

The stellar second season finale of “Industry” features a relatively cliched sports metaphor, so it’s only fitting to start this review with one of mine. There are a few universally satisfying moments in sports: the underdog who defeats an obnoxious powerhouse, the aging star who has more in the tank than we thought, or the young talent who pulls it all together and goes from promising to superstardom. This season, “Industry” has taken the plunge.

The first season of “Industry” was fun, but bumpy. The HBO show, which focuses on a set of (mostly) young investment bankers at a prestigious London firm, lacked a sense of cohesive storytelling. The season was nevertheless a success due to its carefully curated atmosphere. I’m happy to live in a world of “Euphoria” – meets – “The Social Network” with a synth score, but “Industry” was full of unfulfilled potential. Thankfully, creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay pulled it all together, growing as storytellers and delivering a nearly flawless second season.

Performances by a large and consistently strong cast play an important role in making “the industry” as fun as it is, yet still emotionally poignant. Myha’la Herrold particularly shines as the lead character Harper, but each actor delivers with material they have to work with. The immediately compelling and well-rounded characters are imbued with a propulsive ambition that contributes to a season with no wasted space. Performance has been fantastic since the pilot, however, with real improvement in plotting and “Industry” writing.

Down and Kay make the ingenious decision not to ignore last season’s flaws, but rather to embrace them. Scenarios that seemed forgotten are brought back, often to emotionally devastating and thematically rich effect. Although the characters were initially allowed to skate through shocking drug use and questionable decision-making, this season they finally face the consequences of their actions. While the storylines of the first season would exist simultaneously but separately, this season everything converges and nothing is without purpose.

The emphasis on class and consequence helps give “Industry” a consistently strong and provocative narrative. The characters and audience are forced to consider the morality of a profession whose goal is to make the rich richer. The introduction of Jay Duplass as billionaire Jesse Bloom, who rose to fame profiting from the coronavirus pandemic, exemplifies this fundamental struggle of the series. Duplass delivers a fantastic performance, making Bloom feel charming and likeable while maintaining an edge that hints he might just be a psychopath looking to make as much money as possible, preferably at the expense of others. While “industry” clearly has a distaste for the economic system it portrays, this is not a crude critique of capitalism. Instead, its characters exist in varying shades of gray, leaving audiences to struggle with the character actions our instincts want to force into traditional hero and villain roles. There are no such easy exits in the “industry”.

One of the truly amazing things about “industry” writing is how captivating it is, despite the confusing and potentially infuriating subject matter. The episode “The Giant Squid” ends with an extended business scene, where the characters spout nonsensical jargon in an effort to make Bloom money he definitely doesn’t need to help a company that probably doesn’t. not much good. Rather than simplifying or watering down the process, however, the viewer is forced to catch up, creating a sense of anxiety and confusion that drives the scene. Simultaneously, the public must be wondering why we have so much fun watching billionaires get rich – but it’s so much fun.

Much like its characters, the first season of “Industry” was flying by the seat of its pants. The second season, however, catapults “Industry” into one of the best things on TV right now. And then, like all great showrunners, Down and Kay shatter the status quo we’ve just grown accustomed to, tempting their viewers with where they’ll take things next.


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