3 Body Problem recap guide: All 8 episodes explained by someone who read the books

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3 Body Problem. (L to R) Eiza González as Auggie Salazar, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand in episode 101 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
3 Body Problem. (L to R) Eiza González as Auggie Salazar, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand in episode 101 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

3 Body Problem is now streaming on Netflix! The ambitious science fiction series is based on the acclaimed and award-winning trilogy by Cixin Liu. Season 1 of the Netflix Original primarily adapts the first book in the series, though it also sets up several significant storylines from the latter books in the trilogy as well.

Major spoilers ahead for 3 Body Problem

We're recapping every episode of the show and as I've read all three of the novels, I've also thrown in some book background where it's relevant.

Keep reading to see all of our episodic recaps for the series by episode, so bookmark and follow along!

3 Body Problem. (L to R) Yang Hewen as Bai Mulin, Zine Tseng as Young Ye Wenjie in episode 101 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 1 recap: "Countdown"

The Netflix series opens the same way as the book, during the Cultural Revolution in 1966 Beijing, China where Tsinghua University physics professor Ye Zhetai is brutally beaten in front of a large crowd due to his refusal to reject his scientific beliefs, which were considered reactionary at the time.

From the audience, his daughter, astrophysics student Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng) is forced to watch as the Red Guards murder her father. Even Wenji's mother, Shao Lin, turns traitor. The Red Guards bring her out onstage and she speaks against her husband, sealing his fate.

We pivot to London, 2024. A cop named Clarence (Benedict Wong) is called to investigate the latest in a string of suicides committed by scientists. The scientist in question has left behind a grisly scene, using his own blood to draw a countdown and the phrase "I still see it."

Why are scientists killing themselves? We get a hint in the following scene where we're introduced to physics research assistant Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo) and his boss Vera Ye (Vedette Lim) working at Oxford University's particle accelerator. Saul laments that all the science and research they've done throughout the past 60 years is inaccurate. Where do they go from here? Vera asks him if he believes in God. He doesn't. Vera enters the accelerator and jumps to her death.

Next we meet Auggie Salazar (Eiza González) and Jin Cheng (Jess Hong). Along with Saul, Auggie and Jin are part of the "Oxford Five," a group of five original characters created specifically for the show. They serve as an amalgamation of several of the book characters, with Auggie receiving the majority of Wang Miao's storylines.

Auggie is a nanotech researcher and Jin a theoretical physicist. The pair are enjoying a drink at the bar and discussing the recent wave of oddities plaguing the field of science, namely that the particle accelerators have been generating nonsense results as of late. Things take a weird turn for Auggie when she and Jin step outside for a smoke.

A countdown manifests in her field of vision, one that no one else can see. I think we can safely assume this is the same phenomenon that happened to the dead scientist from the start of the episode. But Auggie doesn't get much time to freak out about it before Jin breaks the news that Vera has killed herself.

Dr. Vera Ye becomes the latest photo added to Clarence's bulletin board, linking the recent string of scientist suicides together, along with the Oxford Five, including the two we haven't met yet: physics teacher Will Downing (Alex Sharp) and Jack Rooney (John Bradley), who used his physics degree to create snack food empire. Jack and Will are introduced in the following scene as attendees at Vera's funeral.

The funeral is where we see the Oxford Five together for the first time and learn a little more about their connections. All five are friends but there is some romantic history between Jin/Will, complicated by Jin's new relationship with the handsome naval officer Raj Sharma (Saamer Usmani). Saul and Auggie are in a weird on-again off-again situationship. Vera's mother (Rosalind Chao) is also in attendance and she'll be revealed as a very important character soon so keep an eye on her.

Outside of the funeral home, Clarence keeps an eye on the five scientists and Mike Evans (Jonathan Pryce), the passionate environmentalist turned billionaire who seems to share a connection with Vera's mother.

That night, the fivesome meets up at a pub for drinks. Auggie steps out for a cigarette and meets Tatiana (Marlo Kelly), a mysterious woman who somehow knows about the countdown. She informs Auggie that she needs to shut down her nanofiber research before the countdown gets to zero, warning her that "nothing good ever happens at zero." Sensing Auggie's suspicion, Tatiana hands her an old decoder from a cereal box and tells her to look at the sky at midnight the following night and the universe will flicker for her.

Pausing the 2024 storyline, we return to the late 1960s, specifically a labor camp in Inner Mongolia. Because of who her father was, Wenjie is branded as a traitor and forced to work as part of a labor brigade, this one focused on deforestation. A man named Bai Mulin (Yang Hewen) takes an interest in her and offers her a copy of the famed novel Silent Spring, an environmental science book that exposed the harm caused by widespread usage of pesticides and ultimately kicked off an environmental revolution that led to the banning of DDT. Considered to promote reactionary imperialist ideas, the book is banned in China, so Mulin advises Wenjie to keep it hidden.

Mulin and Wenjie intially become friends and even lovers, but then the labor soldiers discover the copy of Silent Spring in Wenji's bunk. She chooses not to tell them where she got it, leading to her imprisonment as Mulin fails to speak on her behalf.

Silent Spring has a profound influence on Ye Wenjie's character arc for multiple reasons. For one, reading it makes her realize just how terrible humanity has always been, not to just to each other but to the natural world itself. It doesn't help that she reads it while in the middle of a place being heavily deforested to make way for industrialization. Mulin is yet another person, like her mother, that Wenjie trusted who later betrayed her. Both of these further radicalize Wenjie against humankind.

A representative from the Intermediate People's Court visits Wenjie in prison and tries persuading her to testify against some of her father's colleagues, essentially damning them to death or prison. Her mother has already signed the papers. Wenjie refuses and the rep dumps a bucket of frigid water all over her and her bedding, causing Wenjie to become hypothermic.

She's taken away while in a near unconscious state and delivered to Red Coast, an isolated military base located on Radar Peak in the Greater Khingan Mountains that is supposedly a secret national defense program. Because of her gifted intellect and previous physics research, Wenjie is offered the chance to rehabilitate her image by working for Red Coast rather than by staying in prison. The catch is, if she agrees, she will never be allowed to leave. Having seen the worst of humanity by this point, Wenjie immediately jumps at the opportunity to stay hidden from the rest of the world.

In 2024, Jin visits Vera's mother, who we learn is actually a much older Ye Wenjie! Jin notices a photo of her when she was younger standing near the Radar Peak satellite and Wenjie confirms that was her at her first job, "in another life." So, obviously she does actually leave Radar Peak at some point. She gifts Jin a strange virtual reality headpiece and says Vera had been playing a game on it quite a bit before her death.

Jin gives the VR helmet a try and finds herself thrust into a desert-like landscape with a vast pyramid. The sun rises quickly and shows a dehydrated body on the ground. Spooked, Jin quickly removes the helmet.

Elsewhere, Auggie and Saul go to Oxford to watch the night sky at the time Tatiana mentioned. At the stroke of midnight, the stars do indeed "flicker," in a repeated pattern. Morse code. Using the cereal box decoder, Saul deduces that the winking stars are giving them specific numbers, numbers that correlate to the ticking countdown in Auggie's field of vision.

In 1967, Wenjie sees the first Red Coast test, they send out some kind of transmission via the satellite that causes all of the birds in the vicinity to drop dead. Later, Wenjie meets with the base's commissar and an engineer named Yang Weining (Yu Guming). They inform Wenjie of the base's true purpose. Red Coast is not a weapons program, but instead devoted to communicating with the universe and whatever intelligent lifeforms might be out there listening.

3 Body Problem. John Bradley as Jack Rooney in episode 102 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 2 recap: "Red Coast"

All anyone can talk about is the mysterious phenomenon of the blinking stars, but no one is more concerned than Auggie. Today is the day she's meant to demonstrate her groundbreaking nanofiber material. Material so strong that several thin strands, invisible to the naked eye, can split through pure diamond. After showing what the nanonfiber can do, Auggie demands the researchers to shut down the project, just in time for the countdown to end. Outside the building, she's visited by Clarence, he offers her an explanation for why the stars flickered for her.

At the Red Coast base in 1968 Mongolia, Ye Wenjie chats with Yang Weining about the transmission process. They've been doing it for years and never received anything in response. Wenjie believes it's due to the Fermi Paradox, the idea that there are billions of stars in the galaxy and some must have intelligent life like Earth, so where is everyone? Wenjie believes the signal they're using is too weak, she has a plan to use the sun as an amplifier.

Of course, Comrade Yang steals her idea and takes credit for it by presenting it to the commissar. It doesn't matter anyway because Commissar Lei says pointing a beam at the sun might have political consequences as it could appear to be criticizing communism, or specifically Chairman Mao Zedong who was often referred to as the "Red Sun." Despite Wenjie's idea being shot down, she secretly uses the sun to amplify the next transmission anyway.

In 2024, Auggie meets with Clarence, who shows her strange security footage from when she was chatting with Tatiana, except Tatiana is nowhere to be seen so it looks like Auggie is talking to herself. But whoever manipulated the footage forgot to edit out the part where Tatiana lights Auggie's cigarette, so clearly, she wasn't alone. Clarence believes her and he tells her what's been happening to the other scientists.

Jin steps into the VR helmet again and this time actually gives the game a chance. She meets two characters, a man who calls himself the Count of the West and Follower. Jin adapts the name Copernicus. They begin leading her to the pyramid housing Emperor Zhou, who is studying the sun's movements. In this world, it is always either a Chaotic or Stable Era. During a Chaotic Era, it's basically impossible to survive and civilizations are frequently demolished because the sun's movements are so erratic and hard to track. It's only during the Stable Eras, where the sun rises and sets like normal, that civilization is able to grow.

Jin is currently in a world that's on its 137th civilization. The goal of the game is to find a way to track the sun's movements so the emperor can accurately predict when the next Stable Era will arrive. During extended Chaotic Eras, civilizations are "dehydrated," a process we see depicted here with Follower. The Count of the West believes he has found a way to map out the sun's patterns and demonstrates his method to the emperor. Jin warns him that his method is pure mysticism and will not work. Regardless, they give it a try anyway. He predicts the current Chaotic Era will last eight days before a Stable Era starts that will last for more than 60 years.

As the primary player, Jin is able to fast-forward time by touching the ground. She skips ahead eight days, as predicted by the count, and like he said, a Stable Era begins. Everyone rejoices and the emperor gives the order for people to be rehydrated. But then a Chaotic Era suddenly starts again. Apparently, the Count was wrong and everyone who has just been rehydrated suddenly freezes to death due to the sun's latest erratic movement.

She's visited by Sophon (Sea Shimooka) who tells her that civilization 137 was obliterated by extreme cold. Even though Jin didn't save them, she established the superiority of science over mysticism and is invited to log in again in the future to attempt level two.

For those of us book readers out there, yes it looks like 3 Body Problem has introduced Sophon very early. In the series, she doesn't arrive until the third book, but I think it makes sense to bring her in here and function as a liaison. It's more effective and dynamic for television to have someone in person to bridge the gap between two civilizations than text on-screen as depicted in the books.

Midway through Jin's journey in the game, she pauses and invites Jack to give it a try. He has significantly less success. Apparently, he hasn't been officially invited into the game, so every time he tries to play it, Sophon emerges and kills him with her katana, kicking him out. Jack later gets his own VR helmet and is finally able to start level one.

We follow-up with Will next. He and Jack meet up for lunch and Will reveals that he's dying from stage four pancreatic cancer and likely only has a few months left to live.

Enter Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham), another character who isn't introduced until Death's End, but again, his introduction here isn't completely strange. Even though we don't meet Wade until the third book, timeline-wise, he actually does appear much earlier in the story, the books just aren't told in chronological order.

In 3 Body Problem, Clarence reports directly to Wade, which is a bit of a shift but not an unwelcome one, especially since it puts Benedict Wong and Liam Cunningham in scenes together. The detective has been looking into the mysterious man named Mike Evans, the older man who appeared at Vera's funeral and seemed to recognize Ye Wenjie. Evans is invested in all kinds of anti-science conspiracies.

Additionally, Clarence dug up the Wow! signal, a strong radio signal detected in Ohio in 1977, believed to be an attempt at communication from extraterrestrials. And yes, the Wow! signal was a real thing. No one was ever able to decode it and no one outside of Ohio State was ever able to detect it except for one observatory in North Korea—and guess who was present there in 1977?

A young Ye Wenjie met a young Mike Evans (Ben Schnetzer) at that time in a small village. The first thing Wenjie notices when she visits Mike's home is that he has his own copy of Silent Spring. He's a passionate environmentalist trying to save a specific species of bird and has also been planting trees to make up for all the deforestation. Wenjie tells him she is there on behalf of Red Coast to find land where they can build a new observatory. Mike doesn't want them to take the land, as he argues that people will destroy it. Wenjie agrees with Mike, but it's not up to her.

Still, before leaving, she promises him she'll try to stop them. At the base, Wenjie argues that they could use a different site outside of that one. They refuse, but to pacify her, Weining gives her the information about a former Red Guard named Tang Hongjing, the very same woman who dealt the fatal blow to Wenjie's father during the Cultural Revolution.

Wenjie visits Hongjing at the labor camp where she now works and sees she's since lost an arm. Wenjie wants Hongjing to repent, but Hongjing questions whether Wenjie will repent for everything she has lost, including her arm. Hongjing refuses to repent, arguing that no one does. It's yet more proof to Wenjie that humanity is lost.

Back at the Red Coast base, Wenjie is present when a transmission from an intelligent lifeform finally arrives. It's a warning that begins with "do not answer." A pacifist from another world warns the reader not to reply, "If you respond, we will come. Your world will be conquered."

Well, as fate would have it, Wenjie is probably the one person on the planet who should not have gotten that message because she harbors a deep resentment toward humanity. While no one is watching her, she aims the antenna at the sun and types in her own message, one that will potentially doom all of humanity. "Come. We cannot save ourselves. I will help you conquer this world."

3 Body Problem. Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in episode 103 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 3 recap: "Destroyer of Worlds"

A scientist at a Swiss nuclear research facility becomes the 32nd scientist to commit suicide. This time, Clarence gets a valuable clue—one of the VR helmets that have been showing up everywhere. This scientist, Dr. Schmidt, had one tucked away inside a safe.

Speaking of those high-tech gateways into virtual reality, Auggie finds Jack's when she and the others are at his place hanging out and discussing recent events. When she puts it on, she's immediately killed by Sophon since she wasn't officially invited. Auggie freaks out at Jack and Jin when she learns they've been playing the "game" frequently, especially after what she just went through with the countdown. She makes them promise that they won't play it again. They do, but of course they break their promise immediately as soon as they're alone again.

This time, Jack and Jin enter the VR space simultaneously with their respective devices. Two-player mode. They're in Tudor England appealing to the Pope. Jin has realized that the world has three suns, which is why none of the patterns have accurately predicted the eras yet. She's correct, but it's not enough to stop a rare tri-solar day, which lights everything on fire, including Follower, who Jin continues to try saving. Jack and Jin are the last two standing and Sophon congratulates them on making it to the third level.

Clarence takes Dr. Schmidt's helmet to Thomas Wade. After some study, they learn that the helmet has a retinal scanner, an oxygen meter, and a brain scanner. Someone is watching the players and harvesting their biometric data. Wade determines this "game" is actually a recruitment tool.

Given how deep Jin has gotten into the game, she doesn't even notice how much time has passed until it's 3 a.m. and Raj returns home. He takes Jin to dinner to meet his family. Raj's father tells his family a chilling story about the lengths he went through in war to save his people, even at the cost of many other lives. Elsewhere, Jack and Saul visit Alex in the hospital where he's receiving treatment for his cancer. Jack thinks Alex needs to tell Jin, but he believes Jin already knows, at least on some level.

Auggie runs into a road bump at work. Her boss is threatening to revoke her work visa if she doesn't get back to work on the nanofiber project, so Auggie attempts to restart it. The second she does, the countdown reappears. A desperate Auggie calls Saul and he promises to rush to her right away, but not before Auggie hears another woman in the background. Anyone else really not care about the show's romances? Could definitely do without them.

Back inside the game world, Jack and Jin find themselves in Kublai Khan's time. Two other players have created a primitive version of a supercomputer using millions of soldiers to compute the many different versions of the unsolvable three-body problem. It doesn't work and a syzygy occurs in which all three signs form a singular line, causing the planet to fall under the all three suns' gravitational force.

Everything is lifted from the ground and torn apart, including Follower yet again. Jin realizes the purpose of the game is not to solve the three-body problem, but to find a way for the denizens of this world to survive. Sophon returns and invites them to level four.

"Level four" turns out to be a real-world invitation to a secret meeting. The recruitment tool has been orchestrated by Mike Evans and the X organization. We're privy to a conversation between Evans and an unseen presence he refers to as his "Lord," and who he communicates with via radio. Through their conversation, we can glean that Evans is communicating with an extraterrestrial civilization, the same one that Ye Wenjie contacted in 1977. Evans is teaching them about human culture and morality through classic fairytales. They discuss the different way fear is felt between humans and the alien beings.

Jack and Jin arrive at the meeting place where they come in contact with Tatiana, who informs them that they're only two recruits from the UK so far. Tatiana invites them to put the helmets again to enter level four when they enter a wasteland and come face-to-face with Sophon and Follower.

From them, they learn that an advanced race of aliens, referred to as the San-Ti (which means three-body people in Chinese), have realized that the three-body problem is unsolvable and thus they flee their home world in search of a new one. They received Ye Wenjie's invitation to Earth and boarded an interstellar fleet of 1,000 ships. The San-Ti are on their way. (In the books, the alien civilization is referred to as Trisolaris, or Trisolarans).

Removing the helmets, Tatiana re-confirms what Jack and Jin saw inside the virtual reality. But Jack believes it's all a scam and leaves. Jin, on the other hand, finds herself believing Tatiana, especially when she somehow knows that Jin escaped a flood in Hubei as a child and moved to New Zealand. She is empathetic to the San-Ti and accepts an invitation to attend a summit with the other level four champions from around the world.

Jack returns home and finds Tatiana waiting for him. She kills him. "All you had to do was keep playing." Clarence watches Jack's house from his car via binoculars, but we already know Tatiana can somehow make herself invisible, which is what she does, so Clarence doesn't see any of this happen.

3 Body Problem. Rosalind Chao as Ye Wenjie in episode 104 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

3 Body Problem episode 4 recap: "Our Lord"

Now we're in the 1980s London, a meeting between Ye Wenjie and Mike Evans. It's here where she tells him what she did.

Auggie and Jin are brought in to meet with Clarence and Thomas Wade. They show the two women the footage of Jack being killed. Tatiana doesn't show up on it at all, not on any one of the security cameras around his compound. Wade mentions the connection between Vera Ye and her five Oxford recruits, and now one is dead. Isn't it interesting that this organization wants Auggie to stop working but for Jin to keep working, for them. Wade suggests Jin attend the summit she's been invited to and get revenge for her friend's death.

Jin and Auggie have both come to realize that the San-Ti are probably real and they're coming. They might not know how to fight aliens, but they can fight the people who work for them.

Elsewhere, Clarence has also tracked down Mike Evans. He's living onboard a massive oil tanker called Judgement Day, likely home to over 1,000 people. Wade tells Clarence to hold off for now. Then we get a peek into the day-to-day life of the Judgement Day. The whole place is an exclusive home for people who believe in the San-Ti, or their "Lord," as they call them. Evans seems to have nurtured a cult-like environment that features people who believe, including their children.

Inside his office again, Evans chats with the San-Ti through the radio. The San-Ti spokesperson warns Evans that his enemies know where they are and they know about the summit. This scene makes it clear that the San-Ti are spying on, well, everyone. Knowing that, it seems kind of unlikely that Jin is going to be able to infiltrate the summit without the San-Ti becoming aware of her ulterior motive.

On Judgement Day, Mike Evans reads the San-Ti the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood and encounters a fundamental difference between humanity and the San-Ti. He discovers that the San-Ti are unable to lie, and thus they don't understand the story or why the little girl wouldn't run when the wolf made it clear he intended to eat her. Obviously, as we know, the wolf in the story dresses as her grandmother, so his intentions aren't made clear.

Evans realizes that the San-Ti do not understand the concepts of lying or deception. They communicate via thought and thus their intentions cannot be hidden. Evans teaches them a little about what lying reall is and how humans are capable of creating stories. In the San-Ti's view, "Little Red Riding Hood" is "a lie about a liar." Once they realize what humanity is capable of in terms of deception, the San-Ti tell Evans they cannot coexist with liars, as liars cannot be trusted. "We are afraid of you." Then they go silent.

The summit drops a few big reveals, like the fact that Ye Wenjie is Mike Evans' partner and one of the leaders of this human-alien organization. Not long after Wenjie makes her appearance, Clarence and Wade's men bust into the building to retrieve Jin. Tatiana notices them taking her out and realizes Jin is a traitor. She pulls a gun on her and all hell breaks loose with several other people getting shot in the process. Wenjie watches this all unfold, believing the Lord is letting things carry out as is necessary. Clarence intervenes before Tatiana can kill Jin.

Post-summit, Jin calls Alex and tells him everything she knows basically, including the fact that Wenjie and Mike Evans have been working together since the late 1970s. We see a flashback to the 1980s, when he brought Wenjie aboard Judgement Day. Apparently the two started a romantic relationship (I don't really know why the show interjected so many random unnecessary romance subplots?).

The episode ends with Ye Wenjie now in custody as she comes face-to-face with Thomas Wade. But Wenjie makes it clear she isn't intimidated. She believes everything that happened was at the behest of the San-Ti. They're coming, and when they arrive, she thinks humanity will be "so thankful."

3 Body Problem. (L to R) Eiza González as Auggie Salazar, Benedict Wong as Da Shi in episode 105 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 5 recap: "Judgment Day"

Whew, we're onto 3 Body Problem episode 5 and this is a big episode, one that is likely to appease book readers as we get at least one epic moment from the first novel. It starts with Thomas Wade visiting Jin's boyfriend Raj Sharma and recruiting him to his cause.

Then we jump back to Ye Wenjie, who is still in holding and now being questioned by Clarence. Because her Lord allowed her to be kidnapped, she believes she no longer serves a purpose to them and thus the knowledge she has is not a threat. Clarence wants to know why she reached out to the aliens. "Because our civilization is no longer capable of solving its own problems."

Through their discussion, we learn several important details, namely that Mike Evans is the biological father of Vera Ye and the San-Ti have some way of communicating with their followers on Earth near instantaneously. It takes four years for a transmission to go from Earth to the San-Ti home planet, and then four years to receive a response. But Mike Evans is spending all his time on a ship. What's he hiding there and does it allow him to instantly talk to the San-Ti?

Auggie and Jin are taken to a secluded location and protected by a bunch of undercover cops, though based on what we know now, that won't be enough to stop the San-Ti from finding them if they want to.

Wade and Clarence confer about Evans and Wenjie. They might have 400 years to come up with a plan, but they can't do that without intelligence. Clarence believes Mike Evans is keeping a record of his communications with the San-Ti onboard the Judgment Day. They need to neutralize everyone on the ship without damaging the data, which is likely a hard drive or something similar. Most normal options, like gas, missions, special forces, etc. could all risk damaging the data they need.

Funnily enough, teaching the San-Ti about lies has made them ice out their human comrades. Mike Evans keeps pretending everything is fine and dandy, but they haven't actually communicated with him since then. He remains resolute that everything that happens is part of the San-Ti's plan.

Clarence visits Auggie at the safe house and pleads with her to resume her nanofiber research. He needs it as part of his plan to get the data from the Judgement Day, a ship that recently booked a spot in the Panama Canal Authority. Putting two-and-two together yet? Just wait.

When Auggie reboots the machines to manufacture the nanofibers, nothing happens. The numbers don't return this time. Why not? Clarence wonders if it's because "the Lord has stopped protecting his flock." At this point, the San-Ti must already know what Wade is planning, if they let Auggie's research continue, maybe its to teach Evans and his people a lesson.

We pivot to Alex again to see what he's up to and it looks like Jack has left him like 20 million pounds in his will. Saul encourages him to find the best oncologist around and try to save himself, but Alex doesn't want to spend his final months being jabbed and prodded by doctors. Again, book readers might recognize this plotline as the start of a Death's End storyline, though technically it does happen during the timeline of the first book (pre-crisis). It looks like Alex is going to be getting Yun Tianming's storyline, the Staircase Project.

Meanwhile, Wade and his team, led by Jin's boyfriend Raj, prepare the nanofibers, stretching them across the canal where the Judgment Day will soon pass. We already know what Auggie's invention is capable of, remember the diamond? Well, that's about to happen to the ship and everyone on it, including the children. Auggie isn't exactly comfortable with it, but as Raj justifies it, "we're at war."

Well...anyone seen the movie Ghost Ship? That's what happens here, and I have to say 3 Body Problem does a great job here with the effects. Auggie's nanofibers work exactly like they're supposed to, killing everyone on board the ship and slicing it to pieces. The whole scene is EERIE, especially loved the bit with the paper dolls on the wall slowly tearing in half. This is truly one of the scariest moments in the show thus far and really sets the tone for what's to come. Mike Evans perishes in the attack whilst cradling a hard drive presumably containing his communication with the San-Ti.

The hard drive is unable to be cracked through conventional means because its layered with quantum encryption, but then it's suddenly open and allows Clarence and his analyst to look inside. A file labeled "sophons" is inside and it consists of over 100 million gigabytes.

Ye Wenjie remains in holding and Wade cannot resist a chance to gloat over their recent success, yet her faith remains unshaken. She believes everything is still going according to the San-Ti's plan. He gives her a recording that contains the conversation where Mike Evans taught the San-Ti about human deception and Wenjie realizes that convo might have changed everything. The San-Ti went from wanting to coexist with humans to being afraid, and now, perhaps, homicidal.

And then we get to another iconic moment from the books as Jin and Thomas Wade are invited once again to put on the VR helmets and see what the San-Ti have to tell them. Here is where we're introduced to "sophons." The Sophon I've mentioned before is merely an AI representation of them, but the actual sophons are particle-sized sentient supercomputers.

The San-Ti have realized that humanity will progress past them in the 400 years it will take their fleet to arrive on Earth, so they found a way to prevent humans from progressing. They created four sophons, two stay with them and two were sent to Earth months before to spy on humans and mess with all of their science.

These sophons are responsible for the scientist suicides, as they can make people see things (like flickering stars and countdowns) and cause all science to give meaningless, chaotic answers, preventing development and discovery. Humans will be unable to surpass the San-Ti in terms of technological and scientific creation before the aliens can arrive. As Sophon tells them, they will make humans fear again. And then they hijack every screen in the world to broadcast a message to humanity.

"You are bugs."

Even Ye Wenjie is freaked out by that one. One of the sophons also envelopes the world entirely to create a creepy all-seeing eye staring down at everyone, so if anyone was in doubt that the San-Ti are real, there's the proof. Things are about to get real intense from here.

3 Body Problem. (L to R) Alex Sharp as Will Downing, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in episode 106 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

3 Body Problem episode 6 recap: "The Stars Our Destination"

With the reveal that the San-Ti are on their way, chaos breaks out across the globe. People commit suicide, act erractic, and some form religious cults devoted to the San-Ti. Even though the aliens won't arrive for 400 years, people are already terrified after what the San-Ti have shown they're capable of—i.e. the sophons and the "you are bugs" message.

Humanity must prepare to fight back. Thomas Wade puts together a group of scientists that includes Jin to build a reconaissance probe so they can spy on the San-Ti the same way that they're spying on humanity via the sophons. Jin's plan is to launch a probe using nuclear pulse propulsion to infiltrate the interstellar fleet.

Elsewhere in the world, wealthy people have started buying stars as part of the Stars Our Destination program as part of a fundraiser for the war efforts against the incoming invasion.

Raj wants to continue working for Wade after the successful Judgment Day mission. Somehow he's learned that Wade is working on building a space fleet despite it being well above his clearance. Wade agrees to let Raj work on the fleet, but he'll be assigned to the moon base.

Auggie isn't happy that Raj and Jin are getting in deeper with Wade, who she regards as a "fascist f**k." She's even more pissed when Jin tries to pull her into her plan by asking her to design a special nanofiber sail that they can use as part of the space probe. Auggie is concerned that her research will be weaponized. Unlike Jin, she's not really concerned with the San-Ti, considering they're over 400 years away and everyone she knows will be long gone by then.

The secret is out about Will's cancer. Jin finally learns the truth and the two spend a nice moment sailing little paper boats on the beach. Those who have read the book have likely figured out by now that Will and Jin appear to be the show's version of Yun Tianming and Cheng Xin from the third book, Death's End.

They seem to be setting up those plotlines much earlier in the show (which does make sense since the books aren't told chronologically, so timeline-wise, it would be happening now vs. later). To further this point, we later see Will reading a book of fairy tales, which will become important much later in the series.

Circling back to Auggie, she's not exactly doing well after the Judgment Day thing. She's been drinking herself to sleep (or to sickness) basically every night since it happened, unable to deal with the guilt. Jin also isn't thrilled with Raj's insistence on working for Wade, but he thinks she's being hypocritical since she's also working for him. Jin says that it's not the same. I mean Jin's mission hasn't killed anyone (yet).

Along those lines, Will and Saul are able to convince Auggie to meet with Wade. They trust that Jin wouldn't do anything that would be harmful and Auggie knows they're right. We also find out that Wade has an interesting plan for his "probe." He doesn't intend to send a camera into space or anything like that. He wants to send an actual human being.

3 Body Problem episode 6 gives us some additional insight into Ye Wenjie. Jin Cheng visits her while she's still in holding at the police station and questions why Wenjie thought it was her decision to decide for all of humanity that fateful day. Despite everything, it seems even Wenjie's faith in her Lord has been somewhat shaken in the aftermath of the "you are bugs" message, though she blames humanity again, believing that our darkness and ability to lie is what pushed the San-Ti away.

When Clarence finally releases her, he assigns someone to follow her. Wenjie returns home where she pleads with the San-Ti to listen to her, revealing that she might still have a few ideas left that could shape the eventual fight between the San-Ti and humanity, or maybe prevent a fight altogether.

As for Will, he's inspired by The Stars Our Destination program and using the money he got from Jack's estate, he intends to buy a star.

3 Body Problem. Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in episode 102 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 7 recap: "Only Advance"

Will spends millions on a star for Jin. He shows Saul the star in the sky and then passes out, ending up in the hospital where he's essentially put into hospice care. When Jin gets a big box containing the certificate and documents for her star, she is baffled as to who would send it to her, believing it might just be someone messing with her.

Jin and Wade's probe project is still underway and titled the Staircase Project. Their team of scientists has successfully put a chimp into hibernation and brought him out, but the primate immediately vomits after eating something. They realize that sending a person is probably not going to work and Wade's next plan is to send a human brain into space. It'll work because the San-Ti will be eager to get their hands on something like that. The problem is that they need someone willing to die who is also very smart. Enter Will.

Not wanting Will to go through with the process, she tries to convince him not to, but ultimately it's his choice and he agrees with Wade to do it. But when it comes time to sign the final documents, Wade asks him to sign a document stating his loyalty to the human race. Will refuses. Why would he say he'll be loyal to humanity if the San-Ti might be better?

It's Will's refusal not to sign the oath that convinces Wade that Will is the perfect person for the project. He really might not be humanity's man, which means he could actually be of benefit to infiltrate the San-Ti. If they sense that he doesn't have any loyalty to humankind, he'll be of much greater use to them.

When the day comes for Will to go through the final process and begin euthnasia, he's given five prompts he must answer to confirm his consent. During this, Saul tries to convince Will to reconsider. For all he knows, he might spend 10,000 years being tortured by the San-Ti as they test the brain to see how much pain or suffering he can handle. Who knows what could happen to him out there? But Will has made his choice and he confirms his death.

Just before Will dies, Wade reveals that he bought Jin the star and she rushes to the hospital to see him. Sadly, she arrives too late, Will is gone.

Auggie's storyline is far simpler this time around as she has decided she's done working for Wade and she doesn't want her research to be in the hands of men like him or her boss. She leaks all of her specs and information to the entire world so that anyone smart enough can use it, and even includes some paperwork on how they can protect themselves from being sued by the parent company. Then she boards a flight to an unknown destination.

Out of all of the Oxford Five members, it's Saul who might have the most interesting journey ahead. Even though he's kind of a minor character compared to the others this season, this episode sets him up to take over Luo Ji's storyline. It seems like the show is setting him up to become a Wallfacer. We already see Wade coming up with his idea for project Wallfacer and then we get the rather famous opening scene from The Dark Forest with Ye Wenjie and Luo Ji (in this case, Saul) in a graveyard together.

She tells him a joke with a message about "not playing with God," and then leaves him with that to consider. In both the show and the book, this conversation is meant as a way for Ye Wenjie to potentially give human beings a way to fight back against the San-Ti as she provides Saul/Luo Ji with a valuable clue that will come into play later. By this point, we've seen that Wenjie has begun to regret, or at least reconsider, her decision to invite the aliens to Earth.

It's too late to change anything, but her convo with Saul could give humans a fighting chance. Wenjie's journey is coming to an end, so she returns to Radar Peak one last time to watch the sunset before planning to kill herself by jumping off the cliff. Tatiana arrives to spend her final moments with her. Out of everyone, Tatiana has been chosen by the San-Ti to help continue their mission.

3 Body Problem. Benedict Wong as Da Shi in episode 105 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

3 Body Problem episode 8 recap: "Wallfacer"

The 3 Body Problem finale actually launches us right into the plot of the second book in the series, The Dark Forest. In a scene that's basically ripped straight from the book's pages, Saul has yet another one-night stand with a woman whose name he can't even remember (It's Nora). They go on a walk outside his flat after and a crazy car crash happens seemingly out of nowhere that results in Nora getting killed.

Saul finds himself sitting face-to-face with Clarence who finds it strange that Saul was the last person Ye Wenjie had a conversation with before she left the country and then got murdered three days later in China (Tatiana did say she'd help Wenjie die in a way less painful than the jump). Right after that, someone tries to murder Saul. Yes, that "accident" wasn't exactly an accident. The car was self-driving, meaning someone controlled it so it would try to hit Saul. Only because a kid on a skateboard was nearby and ran into Saul did he get pushed out of the car's trajectory.

Clarence then hands Saul a bulletproof jacket to put on and tells him to follow him. Clarence and Saul board a plane and go to a ceremony at the Planetary Defense Council where they plan to announce the Wallfacer Project. The Secretary General reveals that the basis of the Wallfacer Project is that the sophons are not all-powerful. They cannot read minds. The Wallfacers are named after the ancient Buddhist name for meditators. Three people are chosen, a Chinese general, a Kurdish war hero, and Saul Durand.

These Wallfacers will be given basically unlimited resources and power to do what they want so long as they don't break international laws. The goal of the plan is for them to come up with plans entirely in their own minds without revealing details to anyone. Their wishes have to be granted no matter how incomprehensible they might seem.

Saul is absolutely flabbergasted by this decision and he tells the Secretary General that they chose the wrong man. She makes it clear that their enemy knows why he was chosen, even if he doesn't. He rejects the position of the Wallfacer, but remember, the whole point of the Wallfacer Project is for them to tell people weird, bizarre things so prevent their enemy from knowing what they're thinking.

The fact humanity can lie and say one thing while doing another is whole reason for the project. How does the General know that Saul hasn't already started his work? Clarence suggests he has some security to leave the building, but Saul rejects it. Moments after he steps outside, someone shoots him. Good thing he was wearing that bulletproof outfit!

Meanwhile, Jin requests for Wade to send several packets of seed inside the probe along with Will's brain, but he refuses. They need to keep the weight to a minimum. Jin says she'll quit, but Wade knows she won't, not if she wants to keep working on their research. Later, she boards the plane with Wade to oversee the launch of the Staircase Project. Clarence contacts Wade and tells him what happened with Saul. Wade tells him not to let that happen again.

Saul is okay, though he has a broken rib. Clarence makes it clear he's there to protect Saul, that's his job. Saul asks to see the guy who shot him. The guy apologizes for not shooting Saul in the head. If he had, he would have fulfilled his mission and Saul would be free of his. This guy is just eager to be a soldier for the Lord.

No matter who Saul tells that he rejected the position of Wallfacer, it doesn't matter. He's repeatedly treated the same, as if he is a Wallfacer. The Secretary-General tells him he'll have to find his own answer to the question of why he was chosen. No one knows what's going on inside his mind, which is why people can't take anything he says at face value, including the rejection of the position. It could all be part of his master plan. And considering the San-Ti have tried killing him twice already, they clearly have reason to fear Saul.

Instead of focusing on his Wallfacer duties, for the time being he goes to support Jin at the launch of the Staircase Project. Just before launching, Jin admits she loved Will to Raj. Their relationship appears to be over. Saul tells Jin he hopes someone loves him as much as Will loved her someday. Jin thinks someone already does. Where is Auggie anyway? She's abroad helping people get clean water with her nanoresearch.

Unfortunately for Project Staircase, things go wrong in space and the probe with Will's brain gets knocked off course, meaning it could end up anywhere. At least Wade was nice enough to agree to putting the seeds in there.

As for Wade, on his flight home, he gets a disturbing visit from Sophon who tells Wade that they will have a place for him during their invasion. Wade intends to go into hibernation soon, so the San-Ti believe he'll be alive when they arrive. But the visit is still ominous as they tell Wade they will make him see whatever they want him to see. Tatiana also gets a message from the San-Ti. They send her one of the VR helmets with a message that says, "if one of us survives, all of us survive." It looks like we'll have to wait and see what her greater mission will be (Maybe a Wallbreaker?).

The episode ends with Jin and Saul both feeling quite dejected by the turn of events. Clarence tells them to come with him for a drive. He takes them to a place infested with cicadas and says yeah, maybe the San-Ti considers human beings to be bugs. But humans have been trying to get rid of actual bugs for hundreds of years to no avail. We've sprayed pesticides, zapped them, stepped on them, etc. Nothing has worked. It's not as easy to get rid of bugs as one might think. They've all got work to do.

And thus, we're done for now! I suggest picking up the books between now and (hopefully) season 2!

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