3% has been showing the backstory of the contestants through flashbacks. This week, the shift moves from focusing on the contestants to Ezequiel and his wife Julia. We learned earlier that Ezequiel had been sneaking out to bring food to a little boy named Augusto and this week we learn why.
Aline has spent most of the season thus far looking for the goods on Ezequiel. I thought that she struck out when she picked got Augusto's fingerprints off the cube but it seems that all it did was inspire Aline to keep digging. Ezequiel returns to his room to find Aline waiting for him. Aline shows Ezequiel an image of Augusto and says that she knows that this is who Ezequiel has been sneaking out to see. Aline is willing to keep Ezequiel's secret if he resigns as leader of the process and recommends her as his replacement. Aline believes that councilors won't select her because of her youth. When Ezequiel accuses Aline of being so much worse than he thought, Aline responds by saying that before Ezequiel became the leader of the process, Matheus, the former leader, found Ezequiel sitting in his chair, testing out what it would feel like to lead the process.
The flashback begins as Ezequiel prepares to lead the process for the first time. He's extremely nervous and so Julia, Ezequiel's wife, pulls him into the bathroom and caresses his face with water, telling him to free his mind. Now we know why Ezequiel is fond of immersing his head in water at times of stress, Julia taught it to him as a calming method. In Ezequiel's first address to the contestants he uses a turn of phrase that he picked up from Julia.
Julia is part of the initial questioning of contestants. The process seems standard at first, as she passes some people and rejects others. Julia has a conversation with a young woman who is excited to be part of the process. Everything seems fine until the woman admits to having a daughter, who she's left in the care of her mother. The contestant isn't concerned because she is certain that she will see her daughter again when they both reach the offshore. Julia cuts the interview short and rejects the woman from the process. No matter how the contestant begs and pleads, Julia will not relent.
The members of the team want to discuss Julia's summary dismissal of a candidate and she tries heard to justify her decision wildly throwing out a ruling. Ezequiel is forced to intervene and re-directs the situation in order to get Julia off the hot seat.
In the next year of the process, Ezequiel removes Julia from the interviewing process altogether. When Julia questions if this is about the woman she summarily dismissed last year, Ezequiel feigns forgetfulness and claims that he is doing this because he wants to give Julia more responsibility and that she should see this as a promotion.
As part of Julia's job as assistant to Ezequiel, she watches an anti resistance raid. The cameras follow the soldiers through the city. The soldiers are called to care for a man who was killed as collateral damage. When the cameras move around the man's home, Julia sees Augusto. Seeing Augusto completely messes with Julia's head. She spends her time re-watching the video trying to get a location for Augusto. Julia becomes so consumed with finding Augusto that when she is accosted in the hall by a candidate who is upset about being eliminated, Julia attacks the contestant physically, throwing the contestant to the floor and kicking her repeatedly. A member of the security team is forced to pull Julia off of the former candidate.
Because of the incident, Matheus reaches out to Ezequiel about Julia. It's clear that they still have a mentor/mentee relationship which makes me wonder what changed between the two men? Matheus advises that Ezequiel to send Julia to the Recovery & Treatment Centre but Ezequiel refuses. Matheus questions if Ezequiel is just going to throw away his career for Julia and offers to come to the process center to help out in the meantime. Ezequiel refuses Matheus's help and says that he can manage on his own. Even though Ezequiel is covering for her for now, Julia simply cannot stop her search for Augusto.
The next year, as Ezequiel is giving his speech to the new crop of candidates, Julia is not in her customary position. Instead of watching the speech, Julia spends her time searching through the footage trying to locate Augusto. Ezequiel is shocked when he looks up to find Julia missing and so he goes to find her in their quarters. By the time that Ezequiel enters, Julia has cut off her search for Augusto and pretends to be searching for information on this years crop of candidates.
At this point, Ezequiel knows that something isn't right and he examines his computer to see exactly what Julia was looking at and he discovers that Julia looked at the footage of the raid over 100 times. When Ezequiel confronts Julia with her viewing habits, she admits that she had a child before she entered the process and came to live on the offshore. Augusto's father wanted nothing to do with him and so she left him with a guardian who was killed in the raid, leaving Augusto all alone. At first, all Ezequiel can think about is Julia's former lover. Julia quickly moves the conversation on to her desire to see Augusto but Ezequiel is firm that this is not their way and he reminds Julia that if Augusto passes when it comes his turn for the process they will be reunited. Julia questions what happens if Augusto doesn't pass and Ezequiel simply says that this means that Augusto is not like them. Julia is absolutely horrified and says that the process isn't right and a that mother and child should not be separated. Ezequiel is convinced that Julia has lost her mind but she argues that this is how she really feels and that this is the first time that he is seeing who she really is.
Unable to enlist Ezequiel's help, Julia decides to dress in rags and to slip away with the eliminated contestants. Julia actually makes it outside of the facility, only to be grabbed before she can far by Ezequiel. Julia begs Ezequiel to come with her but instead, he throws Julia over his shoulder and marches back into the facility. A sad Julia is then sent away by Ezequiel.
At the treatment facility, Julia lies in bed holding onto the picture of Augusto that she managed to print from Ezequiel's computer. Unable to take the loss of Augusto, Julia walks into the ocean and drowns. Ezequiel is given the news of his wife's death while addressing contestants. Ezequiel finishes his speech and then promptly rushes back to his room and dunks his head in a sink full of water.
Nair reaches out to Ezequiel to offer her condolences and to let him know on behalf of all of the counselors that if he chooses to stop leading the process that they will understand. Nair says it's sad that Julia will be remembered as the first suicide on the offshore. Ezequiel decides to stay on as the leader of the Process, calling it the most important job in their society. Ezequiel explains that he wants to stay to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
A grieving Ezequiel decides to find Augusto himself. Ezequiel tracks Augusto to his home and bribes the child with a pear to speak to him. Ezequiel holds out a ring which he claims contains all of Julia's memories and promises Augusto that he can have it when he comes to the offshore. Ezequiel tells Augusto how much his mother loved him and wanted to be with him but Augusto does not believe Ezequiel and asks him to go away.
Água is more than Ezequiel's back story, it's a lesson in high cost of making it to the offshore. People who have children before they turn 20 and pass the process are forced to leave their children behind. I've gotta say that whoever directed this did an amazing job. Julia's tears falling on Augusto's face on the computer screen was poignant.
The show really has fixated on how much better life is for those who pass the test but this is the first time we are seeing those who get left behind. Contestants are all leaving someone and some of them will never see their loved ones again. Is that really worth a life of comfort? It's clear that until Julia committed suicide, Ezequiel never gave it much thought. Ezequiel beliefs are actively encouraged by the process itself.
When Ezequiel says that if Augusto does not pass the process that he is not like them, it reveals the bifurcation in that society; it is quite literally us versus them. The humanity of those who live inland is not recognised and that is why those doing the testing can be so callus and put the contestants through such horrors. When they become part of the offshore community, they forget how their lives were before inland.
I really want to know what brought about the separation between Ezequiel and Matheus. It's clear that Matheus now sees Aline as his mentee and not Ezequiel. Something drastic must have happened to cause such a change in the relationship.
Ezequiel really is a bind now that Aline has made her intentions clear. If he decides to simply resign, it will mean abandoning Augusto. I think that when Ezequiel first sought out Augusto it was out of guilt due to Julia's suicide but over time, he's come to care for the child. I really cannot see him leaving Augusto behind at this point and this means that Aline will have to be dealt with somehow, or Ezequiel will have find a way to explain away Augusto's fingerprints on the cube. We do know that Ezequiel covered his tracks in terms of his visits to Augusto's and so maybe, Ezequiel will just lie his way out of this bind.