Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO
spoilers for those Industry Season two finale, “Jerusalem,” below.
I always wait for the moment when my brain starts processing the meaning behind stock market words. I thought it might happen during billion with his talk of deleveraging and wealth under management and capital gains like stabs in the stomach – everyone consulting each other, discussing their wishes and dreams and fears bam! Anything to do with high frequency trading algorithms! At various points I assumed that it would click during this time successor With the constant back and forth over hugs, controlling interests, and stock prices, the Roys are unable to express emotion except as a form of market value. Both styles work for their respective shows, but neither will ultimately teach me what an interest rate swap is. Industry In that moment, I realized I’d never get beyond the most basic understanding of a short squeeze, and the rousing Season 2 finale convinced me that I’ll never, ever want to do that.
The second season of the HBO series has managed the kind of beaten escalation that all second seasons aspire to and few achieve. If it had only been about the breakdown of Yasmin’s bond with her father – giddy, then angry, then plaintive but determined – that story alone would have made it worth watching. And all the messy, oddly endearing dealings about newcomer Jesse Bloom trying to get his son off to Oxford hit notes of fondness the show had been lacking while playing right into its obsession with classicism.
But the big, exciting offset scene of this finale – Bloom’s sharp, breathtaking, not exactly legal market maneuver – is it Industry in its most beautiful form. After trying to partner with the mega-investor all season, Harper seems to have let down. They have come up with an elaborate short game that has to do with a brick-and-mortar pharmacy company called FastAide. Harper advised Bloom to sell this pharmacy chain’s stock because she thinks FastAide stock will plummet, but little did she know it would become a meme stock and that thousands of Reddit investors would rallies, to push the share price back up. Also, it looks like Amazon is going to take over FastAide, and news of that deal would send the price skyrocketing.
Bloom’s short position means he will lose untold millions of dollars. Harper asks him to stop it. Meanwhile, her attempt to get a job at another investment firm fails, so it looks like she’s headed for an epic crash and burning alongside Bloom.
Until. Until! Harper tries to convince Bloom that it is vital for him to get out of his short position by making it clear that the only thing everyone assumed the Amazon deal would be withheld was an antitrust investigation by the British government – would not actually take place.
The next time we see Bloom, he’s on the set of a CNN financial news show, talking about how impressive his investment acumen has been. At the same time, he texts Harper to buy up all available shares in Rican, a telemedicine company. Harper runs to the trading room and starts yelling at Rishi to buy everything. Buy everything! Do what the man on TV says! And then Bloom leans back in his chair in front of the TV and says: “Anywhere in the world Amazon would not buy FastAide. I’m just glad that in a place like the UK they still take the rules of competition seriously.” Harper gapes at two screens of a Bloomberg terminal. Graphics crash on one screen. In the next it rises.
Bloom kept his short position on FastAide, bought a ton of Rican stocks, stared into a TV camera and talked about how great it is to have anti-competitive rules and that was enough to make a disastrous financial situation a quick and dominant victory. He also completely screwed Harper, who realizes that she just helped Bloom run an amazing piece of insider trading.
All of these are details that I (and I can’t stress this enough) barely understood while watching the episode. What I saw instead was Bloom creating a new reality. The physical world of the show hasn’t changed at all; nothing is ever allowed actually change. However, as if by magic, Bloom says something on TV and the graphics on Harper’s screen begin to collapse. The specifics of the financial jargon itself are unimportant – or rather, my ability to grasp them immediately doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the show. The only thing that matters is that Bloom used the language in a way that gave him more power and Harper less.
I first remember bathing in TV lingo during endless blocks of TV HE via cable: Medical terminology was a fast-moving, detailed, high-stakes thicket of information, and without years of medical procedures still imprinted in my brain, little of it had any real meaning to me. But eventually, those medical words added up to a tangible reality: the patient lives or dies. Doctors succeed or fail. Medical jargon is descriptive, and its power extends only to an immovable point where words can no longer fix what went wrong. However, for the current spate of financial jargon-filled shows, characters have a seemingly endless power to bring any circumstance into being. If you just find the right combination of magic words – making exactly the right decisions at exactly the right time – you can win or lose everything.
if billion uses money talk like a gun and successor uses business language as a measure of love, IndustryThe financial jargon of is a form of sorcery. It’s a version of performative language that is also a very real form of power in our world, and the movement of financial markets ultimately shapes much of our physical reality. But within the world of Industry, It’s an addictive sweet spot between immense power and sheer shine. Does it matter if I understand how all the magic works? Not particularly! All that matters is, unlike a medical drama with its pesky physical solidity, IndustryThe financial jargon of is so mysterious and nonsensical that I can never say exactly when the magic suddenly stops. That’s why the season finale is so satisfyingly shocking: Yasmin’s key stopped working; Harper sits across from a Human Resources employee who takes her job away. To the Industry‘s protagonists eventually broke down the magic words.