Warning: Spoilers ahead for the Season 2 finale of Industry
The creators of HBO’s sleeper hit Industry, Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, have heard your gripes about the show’s confusing financial jargon, but they promise that the payoff at the end of Season 2 is worth it. “The more you lean in, the more you’ll get from it, but you can still enjoy it even if you don’t really understand anything going on,” Down tells TIME. The intricate complexities of capitalism aside, the plot is relatively easy to follow: Harper, the anti-hero of the series, played by Myha’la Herrold, will do literally anything to prove herself worthy of a position at Pierpoint & Co. investment bank—no matter the cost. By the end of Season 2, all of her lies and deceit start to catch up with her.
The season’s drama picks up in episode six when the investment Harper made for Jesse Bloom (Jay Duplass) doesn’t go the way they expected, and now he’s hemorrhaging money. In an effort to help, Harper works with him to try and cheat the bank in an attempt to show her loyalty to her client. The trade doesn’t work in Bloom’s favor, and it turns out Danny Van Deventer (a.k.a. DVD, played by Alex Alomar Akpobome) was listening to her call the whole time and subsequently suspended her from the desk. Harper teams up with her old manager, Eric Tao (Ken Leung), and Rishi Ramdani (Sagar Radia), to try and jump ship and move to a different bank because they know that their jobs aren’t safe with the impending merger of the New York and London branches of the bank.
Eric tells them they have a meeting with a bank, which is a “sure thing,” but when they take the meeting, their old coworker Daria Greenock (Freya Mavor), makes a surprise appearance and ruins their chances. The season ends with Harper “accidentally” committing insider trading and then using her sexual assault at the hands of a client as leverage to keep her job at Pierpoint. Harper has confided in Eric when it’s convenient to her, but in the end, Eric uses one of her early lies to fire her. After their jobs are secured, Eric brings her to a conference room, and right before they enter, he says, “I’m doing this for you.” The other person in the room reveals that Eric told them about her forging her college transcript to get the job and fires her.
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Creating a cohesive whole
The creators said they love incorporating throwbacks to Season 1—if you look closely, you’ll find Easter eggs, including a book they use to snort coke off of, which was written by Greg Grayson from the first season. Kay says he felt that if they were to pull at any of the strands that could be tied back to Season 1, it would help make the show feel like a cohesive whole. They thought about how Daria would make her delicious return, and they both agreed that episode seven would be the best time for her to get her revenge. “We always thought, what if Harper was to see her mirror image somewhere else, and then we got to episode seven, and we needed this reveal to happen that Jesse hadn’t stopped out on his FastAide short,” Down explains to TIME. “It naturally felt like the perfect time for Daria to have a revenge… it sort of speaks to the consequences of this corporate machination stuff.”
Sprinkling in TV references
They also chose to make callbacks to other workplace dramas like Mad Men and Succession. At the end of episode six, they invoke Mad Men when Eric tells Harper to “shut the door and have a seat” as they plan their exit. That quote is the name of the show’s Season 3 finale, when the principal characters leave their original firm to found a new one. “There’s loads of stuff that we’ve watched and gets digested by Mickey and me since we started watching TV together at 18. Now, we’re doing our version of something that’s kind of original but also shows all of the influences of the stuff we love.”
Down tells TIME that they watched several episodes of Mad Men and realized that the crux of the story they are telling is very simple. “I think some of the Industry episodes in this season feel very complex, but they’re actually very, very simple, and then what me and Konrad are doing is putting all our bells and whistles [on].” He adds, “I feel like actually us learning that it’s OK to have a pretty simple story structure was a huge part of why this season works better.”
Harper’s fate in the finale
For a long time, Harper seems to get out of any problem she finds herself in, but one of the first lies she ever told comes back to rear its angry head after Eric plays the ace in his back pocket to get her out of Pierpoint once and for all. The two of them seemed thick as thieves when they were bum-rushing Adler into securing their place at the bank and were not afraid to play dirty. On their first day back on the trading floor, Eric fires her not because she committed insider trading but because she forged her college transcript.
“We thought it was the right thing for Eric to do from a character point of view,” Kay says. “We liked how ambivalent his whole decision-making process is around Harper in the last two episodes. I think there are clues as to his end game with her from as early as episode 6.” He adds, “When [Eric] says, ‘I’m doing this for you,’ I think 50% of the audience will think he’s doing this because she’s her own worst enemy, and she’s committed something illegal, and she needs to get out of the bank. The other 50% might think she’s been a thorn in their side for two seasons, and he needs to get rid of her—and both are true.”
What could come next in a third season
As for Season 3, the show has yet to be renewed, but the creators are already working on new material. “The joy of doing a third season after you set up characters in the first two is that you can smash characters that you haven’t before together,” Down tells TIME. At the end of the episode, viewers can see the FX desk and the CPS desk merge together to save them from being subsumed by the New York office. There are a lot of questions they want to answer and threads they want to pull at: Who is Kenny to Eric? Will Yasmin return to the bank? While they don’t know the answers yet, they promise that they’re working on it. Down seems confident they’ll get to answer them when he says: “It’s going to be massive.”
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