The ‘3 Body Problem’ Season 1 Finale Sets Up (Truly) Infinite Possibilities

3 body problem
Let’s Break Down the ‘3 Body Problem’ S1 FinaleNetflix

The concept of aliens is obviously no stranger to science fiction. Ever since extraterrestrials invaded Earth in H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, the little green men are everywhere you look. Over the years, stories of first contact have ranged from cute (E.T.)to terrifying (Signs). Now Netflix’s latest series, 3 Body Problem, may very well go down as one of the genre’s most cerebral efforts.

Adapted from Chinese author Cixin Liu’s celebrated book trilogy, the show focuses on humanity’s response to a threat that is coming in four hundred years. Over eight episodes, characters discover how a fateful decision made by one woman in 1960s China sent us on a (potentially) doomed path—while others seek to learn about the aliens who will one day invade Earth.

Brought to life by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—as well as True Blood’s Alexander Woo—3 Body Problem is a real brain-buster. The series weaves together multiple narratives, moments in time, and theoretical physics to explore humanity’s reaction to first contact. The story starts all the way back during China’s Cultural Revolution in the late sixties and ends sometime far into our future. But under all of 3 Body Problem’s unsolvable theories, espionage, and VR experiences is a question as simple as 1898’s The War of the Worlds: What would humanity do if we found out that we weren’t alone in the universe?

3 body problem
Note to self: Never put on the mystery headset.Netflix

Let’s Start with the Basics

During China’s violent Cultural Revolution in the late sixties, a young Ye Wenjie sees her father—a professor—brutally murdered, since he is part of the intellectual class. She is forced to work in a prison camp, but her physics background eventually bumps her up to the country’s military base, where the goal is to one day communicate with extraterrestrial life. She finally strikes gold when, one night, a pacifist alien warns her that responding to the message will lead to invasion. Despondent and angry with the world, she invites them to Earth.

Jumping to the present day, Wenjie is now part owner of a company that secretly seeks to bridge the aliens (called the San-Ti on the series) and humanity. They share a virtual-reality video game with the world’s top minds that explains the San-Ti’s dangerous situation. Essentially, they were forced to leave their planet because its weather is in constant chaos. This planet revolves around three suns, so its global temperature oscillates between extreme heat and extreme cold. As Oxford physics grads Jin (Jess Hong) and Jack (John Bradley) explore the game, they unknowingly learn more and more about the San-Ti in an attempt to work together to fix humanity. Meanwhile, the bright minds who refuse to comply are killed.

3 body problem
It’s up to you now, Saul!Netflix

How Does Season 1 of 3 Body Problem End?

Just about the entire story changes after the San-Ti learn about humanity’s ability to lie and deceive. These concepts are foreign to them—and they grow to mistrust us. Cutting off communication, they no longer believe that coexistence is a possibility. The San-Ti then create Sophons, which are powerful four-dimensional computers that function as an all-knowing surveillance state on Earth. The technologically is incredibly advanced, capable of displaying images that force us to be wary of what we think we know about the laws of science. Under these dangerous conditions, humanity must prepare for the San-Ti’s arrival in four hundred years.

The world’s greatest leaders unite to fight their new common enemy and appoint three people, called Wallfacers, to solve the problem of alien invasion without ever speaking it out loud. Since the San-Ti can’t read out minds, bright individuals must form plans for survival, only within their own brains. Two of the Wallfacers are esteemed military strategists. The third, Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), a physics research assistant who initially turns down the job. However, he learns in the season finale that it’s an impossible position to reject. So the finale sees a determined Saul—who is finally ready to push himself and apply his intelligent mind.

When Will 3 Body Problem Season 2 Debut?

Netflix has yet to renew 3 Body Problem for a second season, but the series just debuted all eight episodes on the streaming service this past Thursday. Still, the creators are hopeful that that'll have the chance to dive into the series' second installment. "The second book is far better than the first, and the third book just completely blew my mind," Benioff told the Hollywood Reporter. "So I feel if we survive to the second season, we’re going to be in a good place. Things wildly escalate and there’s one scene, if we get to it, we’re golden—like when we got to the Red Wedding on Thrones."

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