MD: That’s very true. This is a guy who’s obviously intelligent, but also has this other instrument which cannot be bought. [Jesse] couldn’t buy his son into Oxford, probably the same way you can buy your children into Ivy League universities. Gus’ network is a superpower in the last few episodes.
KK: It feels very specifically British as well. That class thing and the British versus American thing is stark with the two of them. We really think that the Gus storyline, even though it’s kind of outside the bank, and quite light-touch compared to the other stuff, feels the truest and most quintessentially British. That scene in episode seven, we fought really hard with HBO because they were, like, ‘Guys, we do not get this scene, like, what is it doing? Doesn’t it feel super constructed?’ And we were like, ‘No, this is exactly how class and power in the UK work’.
I’m interested in the idea of Rob and Gus acting as counterpoints. It feels like they’re on opposite journeys. Gus has been failing upwards somewhat – he loses his job and then lands a better one pretty much immediately. Whereas Rob is trying really hard, but it feels like he’s spinning out.
KK: Gus being on a career trajectory, getting fired, and then the next scene getting wooed billionaire on a private jet… there’s a version of that which is like us speeding through the story, because we were hurtling towards a conclusion and running out of track, which is totally fair. But also, how fucking funny, it says so much about the way where he comes from and how he goes through life and how, you know, he’s been in this battle of accepting his own privilege. Then he’s like, You know what, I am an institutionalized man, this is who I am.
Robert was such a party boy, he was in some ways a cardboard cutout for that kind of character in the city. But we thought okay, we’ve got this really sensitive actor playing this masculine image. That’s very interesting, because it’s like, well, why would you put this armor on yourself? In season two, we thought about him really as the moral heart of the show on some level, he was very much going through an identity crisis. He was trying to be a better person, whatever that means in this world.
It feels like Rob is really trying to change, and he fails a couple of times. In the car with Nicole, he lets her have it, but in the end he submits again. There was a lot of imposter syndrome in season one, and a lot of the characters left that behind this time around. But Rob hasn’t really, it’s like he thinks he deserves to be under Nicole’s thumb.
MD: The ‘deserves to be’ is a really crucial point that you just touched on, in that he feels a lot of shame. And the shame leads to self-flagellation and self-flagellation leads to the kind of relationship that he has with Nicole, where he thinks that’s actually what he deserves. So he allows himself to be submitted to that kind of relationship. And the way that he speaks truth to power with Nicole in that car, it feels almost performative coming out of his mouth, like, this is the sort of thing I should be telling someone that behaves like this. But in reality, there is a dark part of me that both gets off on it, but also kind of thrives on it. And that’s the bit that he doesn’t want to admit to himself. If we get season three, I think we’re really looking forward to exploring that.