In hindsight, I should have seen it coming.
Too many people have suffered alreadySamuel Garcia, played by Itzan Escamilla
Yes, Samuel, we really have. And so will you if you haven’t caught up to season 3 as this post contains a multitude of spoilers!
But it seems that Elite’s writers and show runners don’t really care how much we’ve suffered, they just want to put everything behind them. A frustrating recurring theme on the show’s new season.
Élite, the spicy, Spanish show filled from frame to frame with dangerously sexy students doing dangerously sexy things (drugs) recently dropped their third season on Netflix after gaining something of a cult following over the past two years.
I was one of the masses that fell had for Élite after season 1 dropped. I have to admit, I was kind of late on the uptake and only saw the show at the end of the year but I was HOOKED. I was so heartbroken when it ended especially because I knew I had to live with that pang of impatience for a whole year and also because [SPOILER ALERT] I would have to wait a year for any kind of revenge against that bastard Polo.
But I’m over it now. Actually, I’m not and I won’t be, even though Élite basically wants me to be.
Elite had a strong season with characters we could respect for one reason or another. They had plot twists, they had appeal and it wasn’t just the fact that we were physically attracted to literally all of the main cast. They had good pacing; they basically kept their audience hungry, licking our lips like wolves.
Season 2 was uh… hmm…
Season 2 was exciting. It had the thrill left over from season 1 that helped to power through the first couple of episodes, but from the beginning we could tell that there was something missing. The exposition in the beginning of season 2 just wasn’t there. Or it wasn’t strong enough. The writers did try to make us feel the passing of time between what I believe was one academic year and another (even though Season 1 covered a whole academic year and for some reason season 2 was just one term???) but what that translated into was chunks of missing character development.
Like suddenly Nadia (the show’s token person of colour) has no desire to fight for her right to wear her Hijab and would rather take it off so this cold, white boy will fall in love with her.
Despite my excitement at how gorgeous Nadia’s hair was in the scene where she walks in Hijab-less (she’s a gorgeous person guys) that scene, as you could probably tell, left a bitter taste in my mouth. But then with the progression of the season I started to believe that maybe the writers were giving Nadia her own space to find her position in her faith and let her cherry pick (because every religious person cherry picks).
After watching season 3 I’d probably say I was wrong. I mean, it could be true, but this is a show written by white people so I am probably, most likely wrong.
Anyway, because I can’t be bothered to relay this whole season for you, I’m going to break it down character by character; because the real flaw of season 3 lies in it’s writing and character development or lack thereof. And since I’ve already made a head start with Nadia, we’ll just go from there.
This season, Nadia like many other main characters was made so irrelevant for no particular reason other than to focus on weak bursts of elementary teen drama. Season 3 saw Nadia going up against Lucrecia, her nemesis; which I guess, deserves points for consistency? But like many other things lost all the energy it had in season 1. I guess maybe the stakes weren’t high enough or we just didn’t care anymore; but Nadia’s character was really lacking in something. And it seemed like the more removed they made her from her religion the less interested we were in her affairs because it seemed like she had less to lose? Which really is unfair to Nadia and just shows the lack of depth religious characters are usually granted, like there’s no story outside of their faith.
It also didn’t make any sense that despite the stereotypical oppressed-muslim-girl-who-needs-to-be-saved-by-an-egotistic-white-boy bit they didn’t take advantage of the cultural mess they had created and develop the relationship between Nadia and Guzman. They would just tease us with longing glances across the hall-way and occasional meet-cutes that wouldn’t really go anywhere.
In the end, they had my girl Nadia looking like a prop, and after all their hard work trying to “liberate” there really wasn’t anything more dehumanising than that.
You see this face? Miguel filmed a did season and a half with this face alone, I kid you not.
Season 2 did a decent job at establishing the new Guzman post-Marina’s death (not really because we always knew he was an obsessive, aggressive psychopath) by having him spiral down the violent, drug-filled lifestyle. Now Guzman has never really been fun, but he was even less-entertaining when he was just being moody for almost no reason.
Surprisingly, I didn’t hate him all that much in season 3. He actually made me laugh.
I could not get over Guzman’s impulsive need to rush at Polo and beat him senseless just for the fact that they were existing in the same environment as he was. In this season though, Guzman comes to term with these inexplicable bursts of violence because just like the audience, everyone’s tired of it now. There’s nothing wrong with that obviously, it’s the only thing left to happen to a character who’s been through so much but the execution though? It was literally one conversation with his bestie Ander and boom– he converts into this Gandhi-esque figure and starts encouraging Samuel to back off of Polo who (in my opinion) they’ve been rightfully harassing for [SPOILER ALERT] murdering Guzman’s sister Marina and wiggling away from jail time with his moms’ money.
Guzman finishes out the season in a simple way; he’s calmed down, he’s not annoying and he’s no longer the rich stereotype he was in the first season. So, I would say I don’t really know what Guzman is anymore, by the time season 3 is over.
I don’t think anyone was more boring than Ander this season. Maybe his boyfriend, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Ander in season 1 was relatively interesting. That could be false, I could have just been focusing on how attractive he was. Personally, (and I hope the cast of Élite never finds this because I think they would be so fun to hang out with despite the fact that I don’t speak Spanish) I don’t think Arón is the best actor, or maybe it’s just the role itself. I don’t know what they wanted to get out of Ander in this show, I think it worked in season 1 but in season 3 it was uneventful and weak. He was moody, he was an asshole (he was an asshole to his boyfriend Omar in season 2 as well; which is really where the resentment began) but most of all, he was repetitive.
That’s why it was hard to care when he got diagnosed with Leukemia.
Oops, spoiler alert.
Ander wasn’t one of the characters at the forefront of the drama, so he wasn’t crucial to the central plot until Polo confessed to killing Marina to him. But because Ander never did anything about it and went on in this strange zone where he was furious with Polo and not speaking to him, but asking Guzman and Samuel to move on because he was dying and wanted to focus on other things in his life, he sort of just faded into the background.
Omar, the second token person of colour for the show.
He is in a relationship with Ander; the most exciting thing about him was that he was a gay, drug-dealing Muslim and his father was an ultra-conservative one.
I feel bored, like have we talked about this already?
Season 2 saw Omar leaving home and finding himself more as he moved in with his boyfriend and began to embrace a more bubbly and what we can say is a traditionally-feminine personality. We saw Omar become something of a stereotypical gay man; hyper-sexual, hyper-feminine, all that. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that obviously, but a) every gay man isn’t hyper-sexual or hyper-feminine and b) it literaly didn’t make any sense.
In season 1 Omar looked like the kind of guy to drag his feet from the toilet to the sink. He was so moody and depressed (which was probably supposed to show how oppressed he was living under his father’s roof) and the transition to Queer-Eye Omar just didn’t stick. It didn’t seem to fit into his personality and maybe because Omar never really had one to begin with.
Terrible writing choice.
Omar was never really given a chance to develop, his story was always played out through an external perspective and when it didn’t involve another character, the audience viewed him through the lens of his religion or his sexuality. And as such, there was never an Omar, just an oppressed gay Muslim man.
Anyway, in season 3 Omar is still basically the same, gasp. He panders after Ander, who only really cares about dying at this point and then for some reason towards the end of the show he despises Polo just because everyone else does? He’s also reduced into another uncomfortable relationship with another Muslim boy that isn’t doing much to humanise either of them, so they both only exist once again through the lens of their sexuality.
In sum, there was really no character here as far as Omar is concerned.
Malick, the third token person of colour on the show. With the introduction of two Black characters in season 3, because he showed up first he is the third. Okay, vamos.
Malick is just as predictable as he could be. At first, he’s kind of mysterious, we really can’t place him. There’s a leading story of him possibly being this ultra-conservative, “perfect son of Allah” (a direct quote from the movie) who has come to judge Nadia and also possibly lead her back to the faith; Hijab included. But we’re not sure about this either because he says over and over that he’s not “Allah’s perfect son” and he takes “free-passes”; which for the most part consists of drinking sad little gin and tonics.
And then. for no reason at all, after declaring his love for Nadia (to her brother) he kisses her brother.
Why? For shock value. Because this is a teen show and it is all about its moments, how explosive were they, what are the kids going to be talking about on Twitter tomorrow, that is what matters to these producers.
What are the odds that the only other Muslim boy is gay? Not very likely. It also never seemed believable that he was attracted to Omar. The kiss came out of nowhere; there was no build-up of sexual tension and there was no valuable storyline to persuade the audience.
In the end, Malick just seemed conniving and deceitful; which he was by pretending to be straight just so he can get it on with his girlfriend’s brother in the shadows. There was also one moment where racism in Spain could be acknowledged especially given the presence of TWO black men in the cast; which was handled weakly and then forgotten. Just like Malick eventually was, more or less.
On wikipedia Yeray is literally described as a rich boy who falls in love with Carla. Because that’s all he is. Except even the love is questionable.
His character is so basic that I can’t waste too much time on him. He was fat, then he wasn’t. He was a loser then, he wasn’t. He was a nerd, but now he’s a nerd with money. And he uses it to get Carla to be his girlfriend, even though she’s only doing it so he can invest in her dad’s winery. He serves no purpose other than to create a meaningless subplot and some minor complications in the already pointless relationship between Carla and Samuel.
There is literally nothing else to say about him. And as a black woman, I am deeply offended by that.
Just like Nadia, Carla was a lot less important in this season it seemed. Are we seeing a trend here?
To be fair, Carla never had an important role to play until her best friend Marina stole some expensive watches from her; one of them with some important data about her father’s business dealings. It was that moment when she ascended from her weird threesome side-plot to the main plot. And she was important enough for use to hate her but in season 3, she just wasn’t doing anything.
Her make up and hair looked cute though.
And I still struggle to believe that she was actually in love with Samuel especially given the fact that all her “efforts” to get back together with him were just as non-existent as her character development this season.
The whole stint with Molly seriously had no effect on the story.
I have never seen the main character become so ineffectual so quickly.
I loved Samuel, seriously. He had all this energy around him, this small-ness that made him so adorable (in the way a toy mouse is adorable) but also this honesty. You believed the visual signals he was sending you in season 1. Then after Marina died, it was… weird.
He had this “relationship” with Carla; which involves 50% having sex and 50% Samuel interrogating Carla about the murder of his true love. They were also very mean to each other the whole time, so that made it seem less and less genuine; which is why I didn’t feel in any way moved by Samuel pining after her even while pretending to be in a relationship with Rebe.
While he wasn’t pining, he was punching Polo or thinking about Punching Polo, or talking about Punching Polo. I mean, he deserved it but come on, did anyone forget about the fact that the murder weapon is missing and it’s the only way Samuel gets justice?
Polo, the man of the hour. Or season at least.
There is no respite for Polo, he gets bullied, cyber-bullied, assaulted; the Élite writers obviously wanted us to feel sorry for him. Mistake number 1. It’s the same thing with 13 Reasons Why season 3. They killed the wrong person. They victimised the wrong person. In 13RW it was Bryce, a rapist. And I promise you I’d die before I ever felt sympathy towards a rapist. In Polo’s case, he’s a murderer; which is easy to bypass for a fictional character. But he got away with it through money and reputation and landed a poor guy (literally, poor) in jail. That’s gross. What’s even worse is how much screen time the writers spend this season trying to get us to get over it instead of writing ways in whcih some character goes to steal the murder weapon his dumb, new girlfriend is hiding.
In conclusion, we’re glad Polo’s dead but we really would have liked to see him dragged through the mud first. At least I would.
The only thing I like about Polo’s dumb new girlfriend is her name. It sounds so wonderful on the tongue.
Last season she was so harmless; Yes, she was pretending to be rich and stealing the clothes of the women whose houses she helped her mother clean. So what? She was really funny though. It was fun, waiting to see when and how they would catch her. Eventually my girl Lucrecia, who only became my girl this season, did the honours and exposed her at a public gathering. It was pretty explosive. So I was kind of confused as to how she had managed to patch up her image and return to Las Encincas after the disgrace. But there she was, back at Polo’s side. I really couldn’t tell if she was there for the money or if she really loved him.
Apparently, it was the latter but hm…
I think Georgina is a fantastic actress, one of the few that showed us some range this season and I enjoyed hating her character. Though the writing did her little justice and in the end it seemed like it came down to nothing.
However, I’m sure the producers were pleased they got to re-do their little threesome again.
Did I say she was my girl?
She was so good at making us resent her privileged ass in the past two seasons and she’s probably the only character with a reasonably-paced development. She starts season 1 being this snotty brat, competing with everyone for everything because she can and that doesn’t change much throughout the whole season; she finishes on her high horse. The next season, she’s still a brat, except she’s developing more of an emotional side. She’s trying to win her ex, Guzman, back but it’s not working too well and in the end she finally lets go. She still hates Nadia for ruining it for her though; which is good. It makes sense.
In season 3, she’s given another person to hate when it becomes unofficial public knowledge that Polo is Marina’s murderer; Marina was her best friend. She has also been cut off by her father for having an affair with her step-brother and now she’s back to competing with Nadia for a scholarship; except this time, she actually needs it. Look at that, concise character development.
The stakes were definitely raised for her and while she really didn’t have that much to do (as she never actually did) they used her lack of relevance and embedded it into her own subplot. This worked for her, it made her seem more natural and it made us kind of care about her struggles because it really did seem like she lost everything. In addition, she was still funny, callous, obnoxious but also intelligent.
The only thing I hated was the multiple pathetic attempts to Americanise her, like this show is set in Spain, why does she keep dropping one-liners in English? Do the other characters even understand what she’s saying? Are the producers saying that International content must succumb to American tastes in some way in order to be relevant or worthy of our attention?
So there’s two other characters I haven’t given attention to and well… I said I wouldn’t waste your time on irrelevant things and we’ve done enough of that already, haven’t we?
Élite’s third season is like any other 3rd season of any other Netflix-produced show. It’s disappointing and it’s not time to make jokes about the curse of the 3rd season (see: Dear White People), especially when it involves atrocities such as disrespecting a whole group of people through lacklustre representation (see: my whole spiel about how Élite regards its Muslim characters and probably even its Muslim audience, if they have any). Aside from its cultural disparities, this season simply lacked the energy that teen shows with this much drama should have. It had a good concept and failed at execution. It’s message of moving on and forgiving Polo seeing as he didn’t just spit in Marina’s face, he actually killed her and through his rich, white priviledge was able to avoid all consequence is weird and problematic.
It seems like Netflix is dealing with a curse that covers more than just it’s terrible 3rd seasons.
This was a lonnggg post, I know, but hey, an ongoing pandemic means I know you had the time to read it all. If you made it this far, muchas gracias y… go watch season 4 of La Casa de Papel when it comes out on April 3rd (Ms. Corona is giving you time to catch up if you need it) and keep supporting international content.