Monday, November 28, 2016

3% Season 1 Netflix Series Review

3% (2016-)
Season 1 - 8 episodes (2016)
Watch 3% Season 1
Created by: Pedro Aguilera

Starring: Bianca Comparato, Rodolfo Valente, Vaneza Oliveira

Rated: TV-MA

This sci-fi series depicts a world where society is divided between progress and devastation. Every year only 3% of applicants to the 'good' offshore island are admitted. We watch the candidates in the 104th process.
This series will be shot in Brazil, entirely in Portuguese. It's based on creator Pedro Aguilera's own 2011 web series.

The application process, referred to just as the process, is a test of merit. The main land is a destitute, poverty stricken area. The only hope inhabitants have is to apply to the offshore on their eighteenth birthday.
This series is at times scattered with multiple double agents trying to stop the process. The criteria for the process is unclear as sometimes cheaters are passed.
The tests are intriguing as human nature is unleashed. Do you try to act like your imagined version of a model citizen or do you win at all costs because it's life or death?
I disliked whenever the show would stray from the process, but it manages to wrap everything up by the end when the process is complete. Will season 2 finally take us offshore?
It's certainly full of social overtones concerning class, but it's an intriguing story looking at the best and worst of human beings. It will lead you to ask questions that thankfully are answered later on.

I watched this dubbed and subtitled. The dub is pretty good as far as they go, and much better than the subtitles.
Watch it.

This is based on Aguilera's 2011 limited web series. It's similar to The Hunger Games novel released in 2008, and Battle Royale book released in 1999 and adapted to a movie in 2000.

You would lose quite a bit with the subtitles. the dub is a better translation, and while the intonation often sounds off, this is what a good dub sounds like.

Of the applicants, 97% are rejected, weeded out by days of grueling tests to determine your compatibility. It's like The Hunger Games.
No one knows what offshore is like, but imagine it to be utopia.

Ezekial welcomes the new applicants.
This depicts a society similar to the movie Elysium. Instead of the rich and poor divided, this series divides people solely on merit.
We don't know what offshore is like, but it has to be better than poverty. Each applicant is stressed to the max, and most don't make it.
While the grueling process is story enough, this weaves in an almost cartoon villain with Ezekial who is head of the process. Those within the process want to bring him down, and at least one applicant is part of "The Cause" a group of revolutionaries that seeks to destroy the class divide.

Most episodes are named after a specific test and often will contain flashbacks for a particular character, though the flashbacks aren't as prevalent as in Orange is the New Black or Lost.

L to R: Fernando, Alvarez, Rafael, Michele, Joana
The process is a twisted science experiment. What happens when you poke and prod people, testing them mentally and physically? With the decline of society, a resume doesn't work, nor does just talking to them. You have to learn what they are really like. It's like a bizarro job application process. As competitive as the job market is, I hope companies don't takes queues from this show.

The first episode shows the first step in the process. Interviewers use augmented reality when speaking to candidates, questioning their lives and trying to dismiss as many undesirables as possible. You can't just let anyone in. The interviews seem uneven, with some interviewers being nice, some harsh, and other suggesting the process will kill you.

It generates a lot of questions, and it's clear this is going to be a sci-fi mystery as we discover what the process is. I guessed we'd get a few conspiracies, and we sure do.
What does the process want? Fernando is in a wheelchair, but makes it through the first round. Joana is aloof and passes, refusing to beg. The interviewers want something real, not rehearsed.

Are Michele and Rafael on the same team?
In a cube test, Fernando helps Michele pass, while Rafael cheats and yet still passes. What quality does the process want? Rafael has a fake implant, and Michele seems to be the cause infiltrator.

Episode 2 conducts medical exams. How is a medical exam not the first thing in the process? That and a metal detector. If you watch episode six, you'll discover the important of metal detectors.
Through the medical screening, a doctor gives Fernando, relegated to a wheelchair, a temporary antidote and tell him he'll walk again only if he passes. Is that motivation or just trying to crush his spirits?

Why does offshore need to recruit people? The show points out that Alvarez's whole family has a tradition of passing. Is his family having kids offshore? You'd think that it would be self sustaining. Are kids born offshore? You can only apply once you're eighteen, but even assuming that those admitted are the same number that die each year, this doesn't account for children. Is the process a subterfuge? There's the original couple that created the utopia, depicted as statues on dispaly, that seems just hokey enough to be from Lost (2004-1010). I wondered if this was a Soylent Green (1973) level of conspiracy. but it isn't. At least not after this season. This is explained in the final episode.

With as long as the process has been going on, why aren't their more rules and regulations. Ezekial changes tests on the fly. Why don't they just keep adding tests until they pare it down to the desired number? Other technicians aren't always clear on why people pass. Ezekial is a dictator, no wonder some offshore inhabitants want to overthrow him.

Alvarez with the crazy eyes staring down Rafael.
So few candidates make it to episode four, yet all of the main actors have, isn't that funny? Alvarez decides to speed up the process, going full on psychopath. The technicians are letting the applicants sort it out while Alvarez has proclaimed himself dictator. Eventually mob justice wins, with Alvarez losing.

Ezekial is like a transformer. There is more than meets the eye.
Episode five was my least favorite. It focuses on Ezekial, providing more information than we needed without moving the process forward at all. It's a stand alone episode that brings the pacing to a standstill. Ezekial's story should have unfolded little by little each episode. Having to devote an entire episode to him that is in essence an information dump, should have been a clue to the writers that his character needed to be reworked and streamlined.

We've seen all manner of tests, including hallucinogenic gas, imprisonment with scarce resources, and even just paying candidates to drop out. After one final test, specific to each individual, the chosen few emerge.

Ezekial spins a failed assassination attempt to his advantage, silencing those against him that are part of the offshore.

Fernando gives up everything for Michele, who ends up walking right by him.
Fernando quits when he thinks Michele has been eliminated, their romance blossoming throughout the process.
In essence he failed a test he designed. Joana gets eliminated when she doesn't pass a test that could land her a security job. She decides the offshore are the real monsters.
Michele is told and believes that the cause tricked her into becoming an operative. I have to imagine that will come back.

We don't see offshore, but next year the process will take applicants again. What makes offshore special, is that everyone goes through the process. "The great evils of society" is hereditary. The final hurdle to gain admittance to offshore is sterilization.


  1. I thought the show was great. I prefer to watch foreign shows in their original language with subtitles. I like to hear the language.

    I wonder how this story will continue in its next season, assuming there is one. Will it focus on a new group of candidates going through the Process? Like you, I wonder if they'll show this mysterious Offshore as well. I have a feeling that the residents of the Offshore are no better off than those of the Inland since the lives of the 3% that were shown don't seem all that great.

    I got a sense of "Brave New World" when watching this too.

  2. I typically like to listen to the original language, but the dub better conveyed information.

    I think next season will still focus on the group from season 1. One of them may be a tech for the new process, but there are double agents in the season 1 group that have finally made it offshore.

    Plus the show has a great opportunity to present a "utopia" and illustrate what's wrong with trying to achieve that. There are still people in the 3% that want to remove Ezekial from his position, so I assume that will be a big story arc.


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