Picked this up on a Netflix stroll, a series that fits the middle ground between Hunger Games and The Maze Runner or Divergent. All productions proving extremely popular in the 18/35 year age group these last few years. The 3% started as an independent Brazilian pilot release in 2009, before being aired on Netflix Nov 2016 as a full 8 episode mini series.
The idea, the world is divided into two places. The slums where most people live, in poverty just trying to survive another day. Or, the Offshore. Which is a complex where the best of the best life. The Founding Fathers years before set up the resort for those who were deemed worthy and only those. A paradise of plenty. How do you get to the offshore?
Every man or woman on their 20th birthday has a chance to compete for a position in the offshore. Going through complex and often deadly tests and tasks to be part of the 3% that are strong enough to be taken. The rest, are returned to the slums to live out their natural lives there. A number of which you see as the new batch of possibles go to the testing centre, drunk or insane after what happened to them. Its a risk, a big risk. Whole families ripped apart, just for the chance of a better life.
The head of the Process, Ezequiel is a hard man. An insane man. His wife, she became depressed after going to the offshore, around the time he got the promotion. We see their lives in reverse as flashbacks. As they fall apart over several testing years, how she becomes obsessed with finding someone she left behind in the slums. Doing anything she can behind her husband's back to look for this person. In the end, he has her sent to a treatment centre where she eventually kills herself. The first suicide in the so-called perfection of the offshore. Not to mention the fact, there has also now been the very first murder in paradise. This year, he is under even more stress to locate the best people to take over with him. On top of knowing that The Cause (yeah, as always. There is a resistance against the 'greater good') has deposited at least one spy into this year's batch of recruits who he is desperate to find.
His instability becomes clearer as the series progresses. How he tries to drown himself in a sink full of water, just to remind himself that his job is life or death. How he does it to one of his staff after she makes a mistake. To show her to find her focus again, after nearly killing her. How he puts the recruits through worsening situations trying to kill or drill out as many as possible. In the flashbacks, you see the gentler man, positive in the process. Just wanting to help people, which enforces the differences in his personality after her death even more.
Early stages of testing, a failed candidate kills themselves throwing the whole situation into chaos. As the 'Founding Fathers' send one of their own to spy on the process, one that he will do anything to trick or rid himself of. Even if it means taking a life, or more than one. Trying to protect a great secret of his personally. One that could ruin his career and his life.
You have a real diverse selection of candidates, Rafael who shouldn't even be there. He has stolen an id chip to join. Who has no problem with cheating or scaring people to get where he needs to be. Fernando, a disabled boy in a wheelchair who is completely determined to get away from his preacher father into a better world. Joana, a real piece of work. Who has killed in her former life. She is on the run and again will do anything to pass. Michele who is working for the Cause. Appears sweet and innocent, when in fact she is anything but. Marco, who has a huge amount of pressure on him to pass as his whole family lives in the offshore. Just to mention a few key members.
This is a complex series, which would have benefited from a couple more episodes to drag the plot line out instead of being hyper-fast paced. It has a great number of amazing ideas, as well as deep character involvement. Showing the darker side of humanity in what is often a terrifying or triggering journey. As well as the few stolen comforts between the group when possible. I won't tell you who makes it and who doesn't, but you may be surprised at a few of them. I would have liked to see a number more tests, as well as more recruits being failed. Instead of just mass kicked out in passing. I also would have liked to have two more central characters in the threads. To either pass or fail, just to take some of the focus off the few people we do have centre stage.
The ending is rather strange, a little flat. It doesn't feel like an ending, just to see them on the transport to the offshore. I was very much, where is the next episode? I'd have liked to also see a little of that and how they adjusted to the new situations. Although the ratings are looking promising for the second season. I did find myself most addicted to this short series, drawn into the writing. So, I hope they do return for another season or much more.