3 Body Problem: Intriguing Sci-Fi thriller

Jess Hong, Eiza González, John Bradley, Alex Sharp, Saamer Usmani, and Jovan Adepo in 3 Body Problem

3 Body Problem uses a big cast of characters to ask some big questions about the state of life on earth and how humans would face a potential alien invasion. The series has one season up now, but I’m guessing there will be more. The series is based on books by Cixin Liu. The television series was created by David Benioff.

3 Body Problem has lots of moving parts. I was curious about the title. It was explained early as part of a video game, which is a prominent motif in the series. The video game takes place on a planet with 3 suns. Depending on the locations of the planet in relation to the suns, the planet either experiences chaos or peaceful regeneration. We’re talking about 3 heavenly bodies, not 3 human bodies.

The main characters, many of them pictured above, are a group of college friends who were all geniuses in their particular brand of physics. Shown around the table are Auggie Salazar (Eiza González), Jin Cheng (Jess Hong), Raj Varma (Saamer Usmani) – actually a naval officer not a physicist, Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), Will Downing (Alex Sharp), and Jack Rooney (John Bradley). They’ve all seen inexplicable, seemingly impossible, things happening to their work in physics.

Jess Hong and John Bradley in 3 Body Problem
Jack is invited to play.

Various characters receive slick looking helmets, delivered by mysterious means. They are invited to play. The helmets put them inside an advanced video game world, far beyond any game created on earth.

Eve Ridley and Sea Shimooka in 3 Body Problem
Follower and Sophon

Inside the game, no matter who is playing, Sophon (Sea Shimooka) and Follower (Eve Ridley) serve as guides. They explain the situation on their home planet with its 3 sun problem. The physicists who play are invited to devise ways to save that world.

None of the players can save the planet. We learn the aliens from that planet are coming to Earth to take over the place. It will take them 400 years to arrive.

The question then becomes how are humans going to fight off the aliens coming in 400 years. Sounds like they have a lot of time to prepare, except Sophon is on Earth now. She’s everywhere, sees everything, and knows everything. She appears with messages for different characters.

A group of people worship Sophon and call her Lord. They are led by Mike Evans (Jonathan Pryce) and Ye Wenjie (Rosalind Chao with Zine Tseng as a young Ye). When Ye Wenjie was a young woman she sent a signal from a giant antenna in China that summoned the aliens.

Jess Hong and Jovan Adepo in 3 Body Problem
You will work for us whether you want to or not

A man named Wade (Liam Cunningham) whose authority comes from some unspecified place, is in charge of recruiting all the physicists and organizing them while they figure out how to defeat the aliens. Da Shi (Benedict Wong) takes charge of protecting them all.

That wasn’t a complete plot summary by any means. There are many interconnected characters, time lines, and themes. Many themes will give viewers plenty to talk about and think about. All in all, it’s well done science fiction with relevance to unsolved problems that exist right now.

The special effects are very good. I liked that the world created in the series was consistent. In addition to the world building, the cast is excellent as well. The series is character driven with sympathetic characters to care about (and sometimes mourn for).

Minkie Spiro directed 3 of the 8 episodes.

The last episode of the season leaves the story incomplete and unresolved. 3 Body Problem has been a hit for Netflix, so chances for another season seem reasonable to me.

Have you watched season 1? What is your opinion of the series?

2 thoughts on “3 Body Problem: Intriguing Sci-Fi thriller”

  1. I *loved* the books, so I was disappointed by an earlier made-for-tv production.
    Now: I’m only on episode 3 of this series and I am hopeful. I am loving that it’s not an exclusively euro-centric viewpoint. And that the main characters are diverse, both ethnically and as regards age and station in life!
    I’m glad I can enjoy Liu Cixin’s excellent storytelling again this weekend, on video 🙂
    Thanks for your review
    Have a good weekend!

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