10 Burning Questions We Have After Watching 3 Body Problem

10 Burning Questions We Have After Watching 3 Body Problem

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel, arrived last week. Now that there’s been time to watch all eight episodes, it’s time to talk spoilers—and all the questions we still had after the final credits.

While the streamer has yet to confirm more seasons to adapt the rest of Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy—a goal series creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo are hoping to accomplish—there are definitely some elements in season one that could use more exploring, and that point the way to future plot lines. The big one is, of course, that massive threat steadily making its way toward Earth, which is certainly something additional episodes will need to address. But what about…

Why does the theme song sound so familiar?

Yu Guming as Yang Weining and Zine Tseng as young Ye Wenjie.

If the somber piano notes that drive 3 Body Problem’s title music—you can hear a longer version in episode one, then a shorter version plays throughout the rest of the series—remind you of something, it’s probably Westworld. Both shows feature the work of composer Ramin Djawadi, so it might just be coincidental that he drew upon similar sounds for different dystopian sci-fi storylines. But the prolific Djawadi also did the theme for Game of Thrones, which came back around for prequel series House of the Dragon—so he’s no stranger to repeating himself if the situation calls for it.

But with thatone out of the way, let’s get round to some questions about the events of the show it self. Consider yourself warned…

What’s Tatiana seeing through her helmet?

Marlo Kelly as Tatiana with Eiza González as Auggie.

The mysterious Tatiana (Marlo Kelly) is already working for the San-Ti—the not-exactly-friendly aliens intent on claiming Earth as their new home—when we first meet her in episode one; she materializes outside of the bar where the Oxford Five are meeting after Vera’s (Vedette Lim) funeral, and advises Auggie (Eiza González) to shut down her lab or suffer the consequences. Then, she’s lurking in the cemetery when Clarence Shi (Benedict Wong) is visiting his wife’s grave. She’s far less innocuous elsewhere, brutally murdering Jack (John Bradley), trying to assassinate Jin (Jess Hong), and making sure Wenjie (Rosalind Chao) expires when the moment is right. So… why do the San-Ti need to hook her up with one of their snazzy gold helmets?

Earlier in the series we see Jin and Jack using the helmets to play a VR game that’s revealed to be a way for the San-Ti to study them—and try and recruit them to their cause. But the aliens already know everything about Tatiana, and they’ve already reached out to her using her TV. Is “Our Lord,” as she and other fanatics refer to the aliens, using the helmet in some other way, to train or communicate with her on a higher level? We’re not privy to what Tatiana is seeing when she dons her otherworldly headgear, but her expression is positively beatific.

Where is Will’s brain?

Alex Sharp as Will.

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Will (Alex Sharp) rents a peaceful beachside cottage to live out his remaining months. But it turns out Will has more longevity ahead once the Staircase Project comes calling. He agrees to donate his disembodied (but still-living) brain to science; it’ll be the main attraction aboard a recon probe that aims to intercept the San-Ti’s fleet earthbound ships. All goes according to plan until the probe malfunctions and veers off its carefully plotted trajectory, sending Will’s brain to wander endlessly through space. It’s devastating… but maybe it’s also preferable to being experimented on by aliens?

Will Wade’s hibernation scheme work?

Liam Cunningham as Wade, Eiza González as Auggie, Jess Hong as Jin, and Benedict Wong as Clarence.

We know that Wade (Liam Cunningham) is a control freak, but we don’t realize just how intense that urge is until he announces his plan to put himself into hibernation so he can continue to manage Earth’s response to the San-Ti over the 400 years it’ll take them to arrive. “I’m going to wake up every year for a week, fix the fuckups, visit Mum, hire people, fire people, go to Wimbledon, then go back under,” he declares. “Someone has to be here to welcome [the San-Ti] when they arrive, and someone has to keep the plan on track.”

He’s certainly confident about it. But in the season finale, the San-Ti appear to him aboard his private airplane. “There will be a place for you when we arrive. You are part of our plan,” the message says. Then it turns ominous: “Every room you enter, we’ll already be waiting there for you. Whatever we want you to see… you will see … until the day you die.” It’s implied they’ll use the same countdown hallucinations to control Wade that we saw them using on scientists, including Auggie, earlier in the series. How will Wade deal with that kind of interference?

What do the aliens look like?

Image: Netflix

The San-Ti interface on Earth is embodied by an elegant woman (Sea Shimooka). But “we don’t look anything like this,” she admits. When Wade presses her to reveal what the San-Ti really look like, she bluntly replies, “You wouldn’t like it.”

The character doesn’t really have a name in the show, but she represents the alien “Sophons,” protons transformed into sentient computers able to draw power from higher dimensions. They’re an essential component of the plan to sabotage science and control perceptions of reality on Earth—so humanity will be appropriately vulnerable when the San-Ti arrive—as well as serving as an all-seeing, all-knowing surveillance system across the planet.

So what do the San-Ti actually look like? Is this a Childhood’s End situation or what?

Will Saul become a Wallfacer?

Jovan Adepo as Saul and Alex Sharp as Will.

For much of 3 Body Problem, Saul keeps his distance from anything involving the San-Ti; most of his storyline is supporting Will through his illness. But in the season finale, the United Nations’ Planetary Defense Council announces he’s been selected to be a “Wallfacer”—someone tasked with formulating a plan to defeat the San-Ti without speaking a word to anyone else about it, at least until it’s time to put the plan into action. It’s the only way to subvert the San-Ti’s total surveillance over everyone on Earth.

Though Saul says, loudly and repeatedly, that he does not want the gig, everyone acts like that’s just part of his Wallfacer approach. Even worse, his new status makes him a target for people who worship the San-Ti like members of a violent religious cult. Even with Clarence to protect him, his life is now constantly in danger. Will Saul decide it’s worth it to join the cause and help save the world?

What did Wenjie’s joke mean?

Rosalind Chao as older Wenjie.

Throughout 3 Body Problem, Wenjie has been so disgusted with humanity that she’s felt confident—smug, even—in her decision to invite aliens to invade Earth. But certain events, including her daughter’s death and the San-Ti’s unsettling declaration that humans are “bugs,” seem to make her reconsider.

Alone in her home, she calls out to the San-Ti: “I still have an idea or two left in me. And centuries from now, there may well be a fair fight… or no fight at all.” Soon after, she speaks with Saul, telling him a long joke about God and Einstein, and then—with a very meaningful look—tells him “Jokes are important. We wouldn’t survive without them. Don’t you agree?”

Will Auggie and Saul ever get together?

Jovan Adept as Saul and Eiza González as Auggie.

Auggie and Saul are never a couple in 3 Body Problem, but there’s definitely something between them—perhaps they’ve hooked up in the past, or perhaps it’s just an attraction they’ve never acted on, for fear of ruining their friendship. (Saul, as we see throughout the season, is a bit of a ladies’ man.) The other Oxford Five members delight in ribbing Auggie and Saul about their tension-filled relationship. With the world in turmoil, will these two finally realize they’re meant to be?

What will Auggie do next?

Image: Netflix

“Some days I think the people getting fucked over will always get fucked over. They will always be the last in line and none of them will get to sail away,” Auggie tells Jin after she agrees—reluctantly—to help with the Staircase Project. It’s a decision she soon regrets. But rather than resorting to her usual coping strategy (two words: binge drinking), she takes action. First, she puts all the details of her nanofiber design online, for free, to the horror of her former company’s snippy CEO. Then she heads to Mexico, where she uses her inventions to help people in need now—rather than people 400 years from now. Is this a permanent new path for her… or will she eventually re-join the fight against the San-Ti?

Is humanity worth saving?

Jonathan Pryce as Mike Evans.

Over eight episodes, 3 Body Problem shows us the utter horrors that humans can inflict upon each other and the environment. But it also shows us the love and compassion people can feel for each other. Are we all just bugs begging to be squashed, as the San-Ti believe? Or are we worth saving? The show leans in an optimistic direction… but it’s also ambiguous enough to make you wonder.

3 Body Problem is now streaming on Netflix.

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