3%: Gateway

“We are not here to share, they want to find the elite.”

Holy twists, I did not see them coming. First my jaw dropped to the floor in horror, then my jaw dropped to the floor in shock.

Let’s talk about Marco (a.k.a. Pretty Face) first. Is he dead? The way that scene was shot, his scream and the immediate cut. I think he is dead. He could’ve been amputated instead of killed, though. If that is the case, boy, is he going to wish he had died. Nah, he is dead, isn’t he?

Now where did it all go wrong for him?

It began pretty well. With all the candidates locked inside the dorm room, Marco figured out what needed to be done and organized everyone in different tasks to do it. But as soon as there was a reward — ration of food and water for one person — his leadership skills showed to be limited by his self-centeredness. He thought he deserved to keep the prize because he was the one that came up with the solution and led everybody. To the boss, the goodies and the riches, to the servants, the boss’ glory, right? What he fails to realize, and what others argue, is that nothing would’ve been accomplished without team work. Everybody deserves a piece. A good leader knows that.

So they continue to work for hours on the challenge, and more ration comes until everybody has theirs. Challenge completed, they expect the gates to open. But Ezequiel pulls a twist and decides to keep the candidates locked up for a little longer. Marco’s solution to the challenge neither opens the gates nor brings more food, and he loses his role as the boss.

Marco was raised to be under the spotlight, though. He is an Alvarez, a family of people that always cross to the other side. Frankly, that means nothing. The ones that could have prepared him are gone, he wasn’t even raised by them. The family name is nothing but a stamp of self-entitlement. The housekeeper, who is the woman I assume raised him, gives him a letter from his parents. We don’t see its content, but judging from the letter Marco himself writes to his unborn kid — he left a pregnant girlfriend behind — it’s more praise to the Alvarez name. Maybe the Alvarezes have some power in the Continent, but they should know better. The greatness they think they possess is their Achilles’ heel.


When the candidates receive more food and water out of nowhere, which amounts to three rations per candidate, most of them decide to wait and see what happens next. Marco doesn’t. He gathers a group, Rafael included, to force the gate to open. They can only open it so far and discover there is yet another gate a few steps down. Marco decides that he and his pals deserve more food and water because they are hard workers while the others are doing nothing. They steal people’s rations, tension builds and they use the dark space between the gates as a prison for those who resist.

I get the theme explored in the episode, it’s one that The Walking Dead constantly approaches. How do you behave when you are in an impossible situation and the resources are limited? Are you the decent one that gathers the group and works for everybody’s interest, or are you the one that proclaims yourself a dictator and subjugates the others? My only problem with 3%’s execution is that Marco goes nuts too fast. I would expect that kind of behavior by the end of the second day of lockdown, and the aggravation of it on the third. But all in one day, when they still had enough food? It’s one thing to believe the Process is going to enjoy your dominance skills, it’s a whole other thing to believe they will condone violence from one candidate to another.

Halfway through the episode I thought, “Well, if this behavior doesn’t get them eliminated, this Process makes no sense”. When Marco actually KILLED Sonia because she wouldn’t obey him at first, I was sure he was done. But I was so pissed at the Process anyway. That was a candidate that could have been “worthy” of Offshore under whatever criteria they have and they let her die. Bastards, especially Ezequiel. It was his call to let the situation unfold with no interference.

The resisting forces came in three forms, and I loved all of them:

(1) Rafael (more on him later), trying to talk Marco out of his madness. What a role reversal from two episodes ago, believable on Rafael’s part, not so much on Marco’s;

(2) Michele, Fernando and others, who built a barricade to protect themselves; and

(3) Joana, who freaking climbed the tunnel of gone-with-the-wind goodies, until she met… Ezequiel. Then he sent her back with the mission of solving everything. How the hell was Ezequiel approved on his Process? No wonder his position as the leader is under review.

Joana is the BOSS, isn’t she? She proved one more time to be extremely capable. She got out, went back in, released everybody and they rioted against Marco and his minions. Then she stopped the riot before it went too far and those freaking gates finally opened. If she is not a member of The Cause, can she please become one?


Other than Marco’s fall into darkness and death, there was another character twist and it surprised me even more: Rafael is working for The Cause! I so did not see that coming. My compliments to the writers, that was an honest to god well executed twist. The terrible lines, the obnoxious behavior, was all that on purpose? This puts Rafael’s actions under a completely new light. He is not a selfish man who is running over others to achieve success, he has been working for the greater good all along. Kudos to Rodolfo Valente, I criticized him a couple of episodes ago, but he rose to the occasion on this one. I actually like Rafael now and, damn it, he might be my new favorite candidate.

Bits and Pieces

- At the beginning of the episode, there were 64 candidates left. By the end, something around 57/58. Ezequiel said they were the remaining 9%, which means only about 20 candidates will pass. 20? Is that it? Bastards.

- Marco's son is going to think he made it to Offshore. The cruel irony is that maybe the Alvarezes are more successful at dying in the Process than being approved.

- It would’ve been easier to memorize where the ones were in the sequence, instead of memorizing the actual sequence of ones and zeroes.

- Apparently, Ágata died of mental collapse, still suffering from the effects of the hallucination gas. I guess we will never learn why she was so affected by it.

- Rafael knew Michele was part of The Cause, Michele didn’t know about him. Now she knows.

- I thought it was hilarious that Fernando didn’t want to allow Rafael to cross to their side of the barricade. Rafael had it coming.

- I want Rafael to continue having terrible lines, just for the fun of it. Don’t take it away from me, writers!

Quotes

Marco: “How could your family stand you?”
Me: “Good question, Pretty Face, we all want to know that.”
Rafael: “The question is how could I stand them.”

Candidate: “If the Process locked me up here, I’m happy to stay.”
Michele: “So if the Process told you to eat shit, you would?”

Ezequiel: "People assume their work will always be compensated, that resources are endless and that the world is fair. But you know very well the world isn't fair, right, Joana?"

There were flaws, but this was another good episode and the story keeps getting better. Three out of four levers. Or would it be six out of eight?
--
Lamounier

5 comments:

sunbunny said...

Okay, so the episode where everything went bonkers. It was good but I was really disappointed by two things: we never learn more about Agata, and we never learn more about Marco. I feel like there was more story there but it gets cut off (sorry, I had to). So happy we didn't have to see Marco's death. EW.

One thing that bugged me throughout the series is why people would have kids before they went through the Process. Like, if Marco was so sure he was going to get picked, why impregnate his girlfriend before he leaves her and his unborn baby forever. Wouldn't it make more sense to leave family until the idyllic Offshore?

Ezequiel is a damn monster.

Billie Doux said...

Best episode so far, but also the most disturbing. I knew someone would figure out that they had to go *up* the chute, and of course it was Joana. Rafael not being Rafael and also being a member of the Cause was a surprise twist. And I agree -- Ezequiel is a monster. How many of them died in there? Six?

Lamounier said...

Sunbunny, I agree about Ágata, there should be more to her. Marco should've gotten more character development on the previous episodes too, but I liked the abruptness of his demise. He is a character you expect to go all the way and suddenly he doesn't.

Billie, let's see. Sonia, Ágata and Marco died. Did his minions die too? I thought Joana interrupted the riot before the candidates killed their oppressors, but maybe they had already done it. So it could be a total of six or seven deaths (I don't recall how many followers Marco had exactly).

About Ezequiel, I think he sees the Process as his own personal human laboratory. That would explain why there is a test that drugs the candidates to bring their demons out, and another one where he leaves them to kill each other. He is a monster.

Lamounier said...

*There should've been more to Ágata, since she is dead now.

Gus Brunetti said...

Ezequiel is not only a monster, but also stupid. He's under review because one of the people he approved committed the first murder ever. One would think he would immediately eliminate any candidate who shows even a hint of homicidal tendencies. Dumbass!

sunbunny, I think Marco left a child behind for two reasons: first, tradition. He wants hos child to carry on the family name and be approved. Second, he's a teenager, and I don't think sex education or condoms are common in the continent.

And I don't think he got nuts too fast. In real life, I've seen some priviledged rich boys say and do ridiculous things when they don't get what they think they're entitled to.

I agree that Ágata should have had more development.