'3%' Season 4 Review: Netflix's Portuguese dystopian drama starts slow, but stays captivating till the end
Spoilers '3%' Season 4 Episodes 1-5
After a whirlwind year filled with anticipation, the story finally comes to an end. Love, lust, fight, defeat, victory, deceit, betrayal, sacrifice and millions of compromises later, the final fourth season of '3%' is finally here. But the journey, already tedious for the former participants turned rogue members of the process, gets increasingly slow this time too. Or maybe it is the initial five episodes that drag too much, although never missing out on the twisted, conniving, manipulative drama courtesy the Offshore.
A lot happens: love, life, loss - everything comes in proportionate doses within the first half of the highly awaited finale. Michele Santana's (Bianca Comparato) conviction and desire to topple the Offshore and offer sustainable and dignified living for the poor and underprivileged in the Inland may or may or may not arrive its culmination by the end, but we do know if there's one person whom we trust more than The Professor from 'Money Heist', it's Bianca Comparato's never disappointing as the fairly nonproblematic lead.
It's the same cycle as always. Michele making plans for the well being of others. Someone or the other trying to overstep her and work for their vested interests and pulling everything and tearing every progress down. This time it begins with a fair few of Michele's team in the Offshore. After being invited, they are treated to the promising wonderland, while commander Marcela Alvares (Laila Garin) continues to be held hostage as bait for the new leading face of the Offshore: Michele's brother Andre (Bruno Fagundes). The villainous mastermind that he is, Andre has decided to open the year's process to everybody - rebels from the Shell and otherwise.
Meanwhile, Michele's right-hand people - Joanna, Marco, and a reluctant Rafael believes it's the perfect time to put their 'plan' of blowing up all of the Offshore's technology into action. And thus is set into motion a domino effect of deja vus where Michele resorting to a 'Process' resembling 'Selection' isn't the only screw-up. Joanna, stumbling through flashbacks of life with a mother that she never knew, succumbs to betrayal, once again and the drama builds up as that begins to impact her shot at love with Natalia. But it is a pregnant Gloria who pays the heaviest price of it all perhaps - both as she burns down the Shell under Marcela's manipulation and later, gets only a twisted derivative of her end of the bargain.
Laila Garin is ruthless as ever, and a striking contrast to the Marcela from the past who, riddled with her own daddy issues, is a parent gone astray. Bruno Fagundes as Andre is an interesting change for a villainous overlord with schemes more sinister than a viper. He tries to play it too cool at times and comes off as a ditzy Harry Osbourne pissed about Peter Parker getting more attention. His Peter, of course, is the unsuspecting Michele who makes Xavier her protege in the test and trains him the same way to infiltrate the Process that she herself had been not that long ago. Deja vu reigns again as Xavier finds himself accomplices in his process, teaming up with a fellow participant who is a Rafael 2.0.
Michele is a unique Mr Miyagi too. Tunneling through pipes, hiding turbines in the Offshore herself when their plan falls apart, inevitably and offering us probably the most wholesome dystopian rebel-leader ever, Comparato's portrayal doesn't disappoint ever. It makes one sad that one of TV's most easily likable protagonists is gracing the screens one last time. Or is she? Perhaps this is where the magic of streaming platform comes in, even after viewers are still left marveling at eerily silent shots of the Shell going up in fumes and later, the Offshore following suit. With how easily bingeable it is, streaming often falls prey to either a very slow build-up, or a cramming a lot.
The final season kicks off with not an impressive set of episodes, in the sense that it doesn't pack as much as it should to make one look forward to the latter half. As someone who's watched half of it before the majority of the world can, the first half of the final season doesn't leave a gnawing sense of withdrawal or making us want to find out how Michele's plans end and whether the ending really does go out without a bang, or not. There are highs and lows with genius plans hatched and executed and crisis managed to perfection in ways that suits the fictional world only. And while '3%' gives hope for a future so devastating that civilization aces miraculous heights of cooperation, it's also an interesting commentary on class divide, fascist laws and the burning need for rebellion to remind us who we are and what we must strive for. What could be more fitting in times like these?
'3%' Season 4 will be available for streaming from August 14, only on Netflix.