I have only recently started watching and talking about television shows (though, to call them “television shows” seems to be do both a disservice to you and to these extraordinarily good long form movies). But I have starting diving in with great vigor. And yet, there are only so many good shows out there. For example, I bum-rushed the show Frontier. Watched the first 6 episodes even before it’s been released just to get a feel for it. And I decided, nope. Just isn’t good enough to discuss with you all. Some of them I see coming a long way off. (Hello Westworld. Good to see you The OA. Here’s looking at you Taboo.) but I just don’t think discussions work for most shows. Seinfeld? Obviously. Dukes of Hazard? No. So I’m really trying to find shows that are fantastic and also are nebulous and hard to untangle. And yes… obvious 3% is definitely one of those fantastic shows that you guys told me I would love… and daggum were you right. Come. Let’s away to episode 3, shall we, mi amore? (Hehehe. Sometimes I just laugh at myself.)
3% Episode 3 Overview
3% is good. Really really good. I’ll go more into why down in my overall impressions at the end. But just suffice it to say that this is one very complex show, that seems to parade about in the costume of a simple YA Game show. But all that to say… let’s talk through what happened in Episode 3.
Very quickly we realize that this show is going to be about Joana… about her back story, about what brought her to the test. About Joana and about Ezekiel.
We kick off the story with a Joana remembering back to her time in the slums before she came to the tests. We see that she had been hording cash in the form of coins in a suitcase and very quickly ran afoul of gang members in the local community. Apparently they were gang members that worked for a man named Gerson. These men attacked Joana and took her money. And in an attempt to get the money back, later in the episode we learn, that Joana heads into the house where Gerson and his gang work out of. And as she is stealing back her money, she also finds a gun. A gun that she accidentally kills Gerson’s son with. And she flees.
Ezekiel in the meantime is having more and more troubles of his own. He is told by Nair that she won’t be able to protect him from the council if the audit turns anything up about him of any consequence. About the same time, the alarms for the installation go off and Ezekiel immediately knows that it is Augusto. So Ezekiel turns of the alarms, and deletes the video evidence of him bringing the child into his room. And then he feeds the kid and spends time with him. He also gives Augusto glasses. Did you recognize these glasses? Well you should have. They were important in episode 2, when Ezekiel was out and about running through the barrio, and he drops some food and something that I thought was a card of some kind. But was actually glasses. Ezekiel was out to deliver the new glasses to Augusto. Which, is about the sweetest thing ever. So we are seeing that this split, this division between the 3% and the 97% isn’t the most ideal situation ever. There is something intrinsically wrong with this situation.
We also see the team’s next test. The Tunnel test. Which, is actually hilariously simple. A tunnel. An airborne drug. Go. The drug, as it would seem is a hallucinatory drug that hits the ocipital lobe. And voila, the test participants are stressing about their worst fears imaginable. For Joana, it is Gerson, and his son. And her fears of being considered a murderer. And yet, it is Joana that snaps out of it enough to sprint the entire distance of the tunnel. But apparently, this is a team test, and everyone has to make it to the end in order for anyone to pass. And so Joana goes back and pleas with, cajoles and carries her team across the finishing line and they succeed. And yet, the drugs? They linger and continue to cause problems for the group.
One interesting comment that I really enjoyed was between Aline, the auditor, and Ezekiel. She was talking to him about the test, and what possible value it could possibly have. And Ezekiel’s response was that, “in order for them to join us, they need to leave fear and paranoia behind.” But when talking with another of the process team members, they say to Ezekiel, I wonder if we would possibly pass a test like this if we were put through it. Which is a fantastic question. A meta-question that the show really is asking about society at large. But we aren’t asking meta-questions, we are recapping a television show here…
Let’s cut back to Joana, and her running from Gerson. She ran to a woman to see if she could get “registered”. Which immediately told me there more than two different groups of people in the show the 3%. There are three:
- The 3%
You can’t even apply for the competition unless you are registered. And being registered ties your name and your personal details to you physically via a chip in your ear. If you don’t have parents, or you are an illegal, you are unregistered because you were never legally tagged. And as of right now there are two people that we know were illegally ‘registered’. Regardless, Joana goes to a woman who tags her and registers her before she realizes what it is that she’s done (ie, killed a child.) (I loved the detail about how the implants have to stay close to living cells in order to remain active. These are the details that just sell this world and these ideas.)
Back at the test, after the group leaves the tunnel test, they are brought to a new barracks like location they’ve never been to before. And while there one of the team members for the tunnel test tries to kill Joana as a result of the side effects experienced from the drugs. But it was during this experience that she also sees Gerson’s son. Which, most likely was a followon side effect of the drugs they encountered.
While in the barracks, t hey have quite the interesting conversation that we haven’t been privy to so far:
– “Is it worth it to pass?”
– “Of course, anything is better than this hell hole.”
– “Where do you want your kids to grow up? here or offshore?”
– “you want kids?”
– “of course why not?”
– “those poor kids”
– “No one knows what it’s really like over there. If there’s a lot of green, surrounded by nature.”
– “Well they are advanced, if they don’t need plants, they won’t have them.”
– “The offshore has a gigantic greenhouse they harvest everything they plant.”
– “When I was younger I pictured a place in the clouds.”
– “I know the greenhouse is for real, my grandma was a second cousin to the founding Couple.”
– “You know everyone claims that.”
– “She’s the one that built the underground railroad.”
– “Between the dried up lake and the landfill… its run by militia.”
There were a number of interesting factoids that came from that conversation. The first is that there is little to know information about the Offshore. Mainly myths and rumors. We learn that their society is an advanced one. That someone has built an underground railroad for the Offshore? A railroad run by militia? All these random details definitely catch my attention…
But there are a few details we have to unravel from a few of the other threads still. While Ezekiel is hanging out with Augusto Aline arrives and almost catches the boy. While there, Aline says to Ezekiel, “The good thing about our society is that all of us came through the process. You simply check anyone’s ID and their registration to find out who they really are. And there’s no room for lies. Or secrets.” Hahaha, right. Especially seeing as though there are at least 2 fake registrants going through the process right now, and there is a boy standing in the next room that isn’t registered I’m sure. Anyway, afterwards Ezekiel tells Augusto that his visits to him are going to have to stop. And not only that, but that the boy couldn’t come to the facility anymore either. But who is he? Is this a son of Ezekiel’s that was left behind? No, the calendar math doesn’t work if Ezekiel came to The Offshore at 20. Or did Ezekiel visit the barrio and get someone pregnant? Hrmm. Or maybe it’s a brother? Weirder things have happened. Can’t figure that one out yet.
Oh, and the episode wrapped with the contestants figuring out that they had been locked into their new bunk room. duhn duhn DUHNNNN! Which, this show continues to surprise me with how it solves their budget problem while simultaneously being interesting. Ideas are interesting. And they just keep throwing good ideas at us. Was it corny? A little. But at the same time, it’s intriguing. And just interesting enough to make me wonder how they are going to get out… and what exactly is the actual test?
3% Episode 3 Theories:
After three episodes – and rumor of more great things to come – I’m pretty stoked about where we stand right now in the series. Don’t let my slowness in getting these released fool you. The character development has been very good, as we’ve gotten a chance to see backstories and motivating details for each character. Which brings me to theory #1…
Ezekiel has me thinking. He seems to be making forays out into the barrios that surround the processing complex. What if he is trapped? Wait what? What if he earned his passage at 20. And then got there and realized his family, all of his loved ones, everything that actually mattered in life (because let’s face it, money, and affluence make like a 1% difference on our happiness levels) was back in the 97%? And then he says to someone, um, no thanks. Can I go back now? And they say… no no no. This was a life commitment. You are a lucky one! So he takes the job as the process lead just so that he can get back to visiting his family and connecting with the people that he loves. No? Well, you explain to me why he’s doing what he’s doing? It would also help explain the impending societal collapse… oh you don’t know about that yet? Could it be that the affluent are realizing that money and success isn’t really worth living for? Or could it be that the 3% really are forced to be there?
So, there is an underground railroad out to the Offshore? Or was the Underground Railroad a reference to the old slavery path for escaping slavery in America? I’m guessing that since this is a Brazilian show this isn’t a reference to slavery – or a reverse reference. Or whatever. So I think we should be taking the words literally… an underground tunnel for a railway? And if there is an underground railroad operated by the militia… is there a way (even if it’s closed now) to get out to The Offshore? And if so, is this how the show ends? With a rebellion starting in the Offshore via the tunnel? Nope, I don’t think so either. But why else are they referring to it? It’s there for a reason.
Just Avoid YA Stereotype
This is anti-theory… The standard YA dystopian movie works hard to channel our hero or heroin towards a societal revolution that impeaches whatever emperor or leader that is crushing the people. Currently we have yet to meet the Founding Couple, but we are sure told about them an awful lot. All I am saying here is… please. Please! Don’t let this show come down to the standard tropes and tripe. Please! Make it about something more. Like, I don’t know. Equality? Or about a more introspective perspective on how inequality actually separates and divides as opposed to combines and nurtures? Please? Ok thank you.
The Dissident Majority
Wouldn’t this show be awesome if at the end it ultimately said that all of these characters knew each other and they all worked together to help each other get through? That they were coming to the Offshore for one purpose and that was to tear down the inequality? To send a message to the elites? Or better yet. What if all the elites were all trapped and hopeless, and they all went to the Offshore to free them! hahah. Love it. Does someone want to hire me to be their writer for their next TV show?
Overall Thoughts of 3%
3% shows… it really shows what you can do with a good idea, and fair to meddling acting. It’s all about the writing. Sure, the YA Game motif has been done to death. And poorly. But 3% is something more than a game. 3% is two stories told simultaneously. 3% is a story about poverty. It’s a story about privilege. From a country that knows both all too intimately. And so when we see characters fighting to make it into the 3%, it is a real story about a real struggle that affects most of the globe. And it’s complicated, right? It’s complicated because they are fighting to get into a life and an elitist form of living that is immoral. And just their participation supports the hegemony of wealth. (Yes. I did just drop that truth on you. Deal with it.) And so the only real, and true ending for the 3% is the destruction of the system itself. And though I haven’t seen the ending I am all but certain as to where it is that we are going.
|Interested in reading all of my 3% episode recaps so far?|
|Episode 1 – Cubes|
|Episode 2 – Coins|
|Episode 3 – Runner|
|Episode 4 – Gate|
|Episode 5 – Water|
|Episode 6 – Glass|
|Episode 7 – Capsule|
|Episode 8 – Button|
|3% Season 1 Recap and Theories|