Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!

Netflix‘s original Brazilian YA sci-fi drama 3% returns with its third season. Brimmed with action, deceit and political maneuverings, here’s our review.

The latest season picks up roughly a year and a half after the events of the season 2 finale. The ambitious Michelle (Bianca Comperato) now resides over a complex named The Shell, born out of her deal with The Offshore. The Shell offers an alternative to the Process, finally providing self-sustainability to the Inlanders by enabling them to grow their own food.

However, establishing this new haven has come at a huge personal cost. Fernando (Michael Gomes) was attacked by a mob and sadly killed. Unfortunately, these events happen between seasons, and therefore are only depicted in short, choppy flashbacks. It is evident that Gomes was unable to return for this season, and therefore killing off this beloved character was the most plausible end within the harshness of the storyworld. Nevertheless, his anti-Offshore sentiments live on in his friends, shaping the philosophy of The Shell.

When The Shell is unequivocally damaged in an unexpected sandstorm, Michelle, as leader, is forced to make a series of difficult decisions when The Shell’s water collector is ripped apart. Without this the isolated community is unable to grow crops and feed its people. Michelle’s solution – a selection. Not unlike The Process Michelle is so steadfastly against, this selection operates to deduce The Shell’s population down to 10% in order to locate the best residents to remain and rebuild. What follows is an interesting play-through as Michelle grapples with maintaining power and respect, whilst having to deal with her own morality and an encroaching power grab from The Offshore.

However, Michelle isn’t the only one who desires power. Fernando’s childhood friend Gloria (Cynthia Senek) also has her own ideas about how The Shell should operate. Still lenient to The Offshore after being raised on the pro-Process preachings of the Church, Gloria goes her own way. Establishing an open rebellion with former Shell residents against Michelle, Gloria hopes to secure The Shell for The Offshore, believing in their promise of making it a training centre for The Process. Whilst the deceit of Gloria doesn’t work too well due to her only previously being a side character, it does however provide Marco (Rafael Lozano) with the opportunity for some rich character development. Now a single dad to an adorable toddler and no longer affiliated with a violent militia, Marco’s storyline explores redemption and identity, and beautifully allows his character to grow beyond being a straight-cut adversary. 

Although, it’s not just Michelle and Gloria who have their own ideals regarding the ownership of power. Joana (Vaneza Oliveira) is still holding firm with The Cause’s desires to obliterate the Offshore. However, it is her blossoming romance with ally Natalia which is perhaps the most exciting part of her arc this season. Such a relationship allows this often stoic and hard-faced character to open up and share stories of her childhood, as well as pursuing something for herself. And of course the representation of a racially mixed lesbian couple who are healthily depicted is greatly appreciated. 

Ultimately, this latest installment of this dystopian series works well by focusing less on world-building, and more on its established characters, their intentions and internal political conflicts. The immorality of The Offshore’s flawed logics and supremacy complex is undoubtedly best portrayed not when it is shouted out in speeches, but when it is shown, such as with the standout episode ‘Duck’. But perhaps the most exciting aspect of this season is that it is so evidently carried by the strength of its female characters. Whilst admittedly commander Marcella (Laila Garin) may not possess the same level of mystery as predecessor Ezekiel, she none the less demands attention, and remains strong opposition.

Michelle, Gloria and Joana are all young women who all believe they’re right in the visions of the world they want to build. Such depictions on this magnitude are still rarely properly represented within the science-fiction genre, here not only proving that different kinds of women can lead the narrative, but be leaders in their own right too.

3% is currently available to stream on Netflix. 

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