In Season 3, Spanish teen drama series “Elite” manages once again to give yet another spin to the already genre-blent and bent tropes that have gained it so much popularity amongst international audiences. This time around, as the series unravels a new murder at posh Las Encinas High School as it comes to terms with the fact that its characters and cast are growing. Their conflicts and struggles deepen, as adulthood awaits around the corner.
Darío Madrona and Carlos Montero return as showrunners: the show maintains its strengths, plus high school romance and intrigues, heightened by a violent crime and studded by sex scenes, drug use and class warfare. All underscore the authors’ interest in tackling themes and conflicts that are ultra-contemporary for teenagers and young adults.
Variety talked with Darío Madrona about eight-part Season 3:
Season 2 of “Elite” had certain stylistic flourishes, of clear formal exploration. This season feels more contained, with less formal flare. On the contrary, staging sustains shots for a longer time, sometimes giving large narrative emphasis by maintaining close ups. What was the the approach in this sense for this season?
It is a question for the directors! But I think it is because this season the characters and their emotional arcs gain greater weight – more than plot twists or action. There’s less suspense in the present narrative – everyone already knows that Polo is the murderer – and much more of the protagonists having to live with the consequences of their actions, having to decide about their future, about what kind of people they want to be. And that is reflected in their faces. That’s why we’re attached to them, to understand everything that moves within them, which is a lot.
Season 3 goes “Rashomon”: Each episode is told from a character’s point of view. Crime solving via flashback is a highly complicated puzzle: How did you address that this season? What did you learn, which could be utilized for following ones?
We always try to maintain the franchise – mystery, flash forwards – but doing something different, so as not to repeat ourselves. This season in each episode, the flash forwards have different protagonists. The intention is that in each chapter gives you a small piece of the puzzle, which only makes complete sense when you see them all together in the last episode. It is not just a formal or style issue: as I was saying, this season is more about character. This format allowed us to focus on each one of them and give them space to understand their role on the night of the crime and their relationship with the victim.
Season 1’s narrative arcs introduced each character, tying them to a central class conflict. Season 2 added nuance and contradiction to those closer to high school drama archetypes. In this one there’s a sense of thematic freedom, with narrative arcs that present their characters with more adult conflicts, more distant from each other. Could you comment?
The fact the characters end this season at the beginning of their adult life, the end of high-school, gave us the possibility to explore other topics and situations. In addition, we always try to push the characters to the limit, putting them in new situations. If you compare each character to themselves at the series get-go, you will see a big jump, a dramatic arc that surprises you but is consistent with character and everything’s that happened in these 24 episodes.
Could you comment on the new additions to the cast?
We’re always looking for characters that deliver a new focus to the series’ conflicts.
In Malick’s case, we were interested in a character who, unlike Nadia, has managed to combine a stricter family culture with the more “liberal” culture of Western youth. Nadia has always thought she has to choose between those two worlds,. Now she opens up to the idea of being able to forge her own path, although Malick’s way of life has its own challenges and problems.
With Yeray, we wanted to explore two ideas: That of a rich self-made man despite his young age, the only one who “deserves” his wealth, but who in turn only wants to use it to gain the love and respect he’s always needed and never found. That’s a character arc and take on wealth that we hadn’t explored.