Reviewed by Alicia Glass
So, let’s just take stock here of the basic plot before we go ahead. Long ago, we’re talking like 100 years or so, the Founding Couple created the Offshore, an island that is said to be the last green place left on Earth. The mainland might as well be called the badlands, living in poverty and disease as they do, but to them is offered the Process, the test that every person may take as they turn 21, to try and become part of the measly 3% that actually make it to that near mythical island paradise. The shocker ending of the first season of 3% showed us the extremely steep and permanent price to be paid for such a privilege, even after passing the Process. And now, here’s what happened some months after that …
Spoilers lurk in the Process!
Right away we begin with the massive reveal that the revered Founding Couple was, in fact, a Trio, and this is going to have a reverberating effect on what’s happening to our people here in the present. What could it mean? What happened to the extra woman? That will have to wait, we’re being whisked off to Michele and Rafael’s current drama.
As always, it’s hard to determine which way Rafael (Rodolfo Valente) will jump when he gets caught, as he far too often does, but it seems this season he is actually determined to be with the Cause, the rebellion of folk against the Process and its cruelties. He manages to infiltrate himself in the Offshore Militia, has a romantic relationship with an Offshore Doctor, and oh yeah, blunders about trying to gather things to contact the Cause back on the mainland. He gets himself sent back to the mainland eventually too, ostensibly as security for the next Process testers as they register, which affords him all sorts of opportunities for mischief. In the end move though, when push really came to shove and our small gang had to knuckle down to stop a bomb, he came through pretty well.
Michele (Bianca Comparato), as we recall from the previous season, passed the Process and made it onto the Offshore, but fell into Ezekiel’s immediate and suspicious care, which sent her to what is basically forced rehabilitation. Even subjected to that, Michele is strong, far stronger than anyone gave her credit for, though Ezekiel (Joao Miguel) at least had a taste of it, and could see the value in harnessing such a thing. Despite her roots in the Cause, Michele finds herself torn at every turn, be it aiding the Process or the Cause, and finally decides her loyalty is only for her brother, currently held prisoner by the Offshore. And when Michele finally makes it to freeing her brother, it turns out he harbors a bunch of secrets of his own, and exploring those secrets is what makes a direct connection with the stunning scenes from the far past that dropped on us in the first episode of season two. It is a finely crafted bit of storytelling, worthy of ‘3%’ and what made the first season such a surprising hit.
Ezekiel, that slick Process leader we recall from the first season, has troubles of his own now. Mostly from the Offshore Militia commander Marcela Alvares (Laila Garin), introduced in this new season as the overly fanatical soldier, the commander who wants to take the Offshore militia to the streets of the mainland, and forcibly keep the peace that way. Marcela also happens to be the mother of Marco, the doubtful riot-inducing son who failed the Process in season one, and yes, Marco himself shows up to cripple-step all over her good times.
The reintroduction of Marco (Rafael Lozano) as the midseason shocker was strange, even for ‘3%’, but they somehow managed to make him an actual, if blundering, force to be reckoned with. Much as he was in season one, and just as violent too, though a bit slower now he’s missing a few limbs. Marco still can’t hold a candle to everyone’s favorite mainstay, the guy in the wheelchair who nonetheless can handle himself quite well in matters of speed, stamina, and sheer brains, Fernando.
Fernando (Michel Gomes) made a hell of a choice in season one, and with his father being a kind of priest of the Process, it’s all kinds of uncomfortable back at home on the mainland now. His little girlfriend Gloria is about to take the Process this year, and Fernando can’t help but try and warn her off of it, by any means necessary. He left before he learned the dark secret price of passing the Process, so Fernando just doesn’t want her involved in that kind of hell of pressure at all; he’s just that good a fella. Gloria (Cynthia Senek) brings along with her the introduction of an obviously LGBTQ character, we’ll just leave it at that rather than trying to guess specifics and maybe be wrong, also taking the Process this year and it turns out quite a bit more violent than one would expect. But then, no-one actually expected the Process to be shut down, and the testees to storm the Process testing center in savage protest; who does that?
Only animals, primitives, would do that, and Marcela is using that and a few other shadowy things to justify her crackdown on the mainland and go slam-dancing against the protesters at the Process facility with the full might of the Offshore militia. Meanwhile elsewhere, Joana (Vaneza Oliviera) and Fernando, having reluctantly but damnit fully embraced the Cause by now, are struggling to stop a bomb, and it comes from inside their own splintering organization. Time is running down, everyone is in a standoff against everyone else as chaos reigns on the very Day of the Process, and Michele and her brother just made a discovery that quite literally changes everything. Didn’t I say, way back at the beginning, that Michele is far stronger, and yes obviously way smarter, than anyone gave her credit for? The very last shocker of season two of ‘3%’ is incredible, as we the audience get to literally watch history, the new history of these characters, being made right before our eyes, by Michele and Fernando of all people, atop a high rise with new hope literally hanging in midair.
If you loved 3% Season one, and who didn’t it was excellent, season two will blow you away. Make your voice be heard, we need to see what happens with the Shell, in season three of 3%!