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3 Body Problem





Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

“Science is broken.”

When Saul Durand spoke these words to his mentor and former teacher, Vera Ye, he wasn’t stating a problem so much as searching for a solution. But Vera couldn’t explain why the particle accelerator they’d been working with suddenly started producing results that were … well, quite frankly, impossible—at least based on modern science.

“Do you believe in God?”

It was the only reasonable explanation. But Saul refused to accept that God was the answer. And clearly, Vera had her doubts too, because later that night, she took her own life.

Vera wasn’t the first scientist to die by suicide in recent days. And the particle accelerator wasn’t the only one seemingly malfunctioning. Science was failing worldwide. Meanwhile, many scientists who didn’t end their lives were quitting their jobs and ending their life’s work.

Da Shi, an inspector searching for the commonalities behind these deaths learns that each scientist had a countdown only they could see leading up to their deaths or the ends of their careers. Auggie Salazar, another of Vera’s former pupils and brilliant scientist, believes she knows why.

Auggie began seeing the countdown herself not long ago. And it quickly becomes clear that someone, somewhere, is trying to stop science from progressing. That’s why the particle accelerators are generating absurd results. That’s why scientists are ending their work. That’s why those who refuse to end their work are dying.

But why is this mysterious someone trying to stop science to begin with?

Does it have something to do with the futuristic VR headsets found in several of the dead scientists’ homes? Could it be linked to the extraterrestrial communication project Vera’s mom, Ye Wenjie, worked on in China during the Cultural Revolution of the ‘60s?

It could all be coincidence.

Then again, every answer Da Shi finds seems to bring these mysteries closer together. And there’s one thing he’s absolutely certain of: Vera Ye’s former students and her mother are definitely involved.

More Than Three Problems

[Note: Spoilers are contained in this section.]

3 Body Problem is based on the book The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. And there are certainly more than three problems with this show.

As hinted at above, aliens are in the mix here as the story begins to unfold. As those who are concerned by what’s happening put the puzzle pieces together, it gradually becomes apparent that advanced alien technology connects all the weird events happening worldwide.

Some people begin to worship the extraterrestrials, even calling them “Lord.” And yeah, eventually governments here on Earth realize that they need to prepare for the arrival of those extraterrestrial beings causing no end of panic and chaos.

Unfortunately, that panic and chaos bring to light one of this show’s primary problems. Among the first violent acts we witness is a depiction of suicide. And we continue to see more and more characters end their own lives throughout the series (including one man who removed his own eyes in order to stop seeing the countdown imprinted on his retinas by the alien force).

Death occurs in other forms, too. Civil war begins in pretty much every country on Earth once the public finds out about the aliens. Rioting, murder and mass suicide all follow. People who play the VR game witness the destruction of several civilizations if they lose. A ship carrying thousands of people, including young children, is literally sliced to ribbons via a technology that Auggie designed. (And while we don’t see those children dying, what happens to the adults onboard doesn’t leave much hope for the kiddos.)

But violence is hardly the only problem here. Nudity is kept to a minimum and mostly occurs in non-sexual settings. (In the VR game, which is indistinguishable from reality, dozens of people who aren’t wearing clothes are resuscitated from a death-like state, and we see full frontal nudity on men and women.) Sex is present too, just not onscreen. Rather, we see folks kissing and lying down on beds, but the camera cuts away before things get too intimate. And there are some LGBT characters, too.

People frequently abuse alcohol and drugs (mostly marijuana but a few prescription drugs as well). Language is a serious problem, too, with multiple uses of the f-word among other profanities, including abuses of Christ’s name.

And speaking of Christ, He’s not really considered beyond Vera’s early pondering of His existence.

All in all, some might find 3 Body Problem to be an intriguing entry into the sci-fi genre. But between the multiple depictions of suicide, foul language, sexual content and spiritual funkiness, it’s probably one most families can skip.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 21, 2024 – S1, E1: “Countdown”

A flashback to China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966 depicts high school students beating a professor to death for teaching the Big Bang Theory and refusing to say that God doesn’t exist. “Science had given no evidence either way,” he responds when asked if he believes God is real.

When Auggie begins losing hope for her future, a woman tells her that “the Lord” has a better way. (Later episodes reveal that the woman is not talking about the Christian God.) Many mystical events take place, but further episodes reveal scientific explanations for these events. Scientists debate the existence of God, with most believing that He isn’t real. Buddhist monks perform a funeral service. Two people later participate in a Buddhist ceremony honoring the dead. A woman says nobody in her family is a believer (meaning, a Christian) because they are all scientists.

Da Shi investigates a suicide, and we see that the victim gouged out his own eyes and wrote messages on the wall in blood. Another suicide is depicted onscreen. We hear that many scientists have taken their lives worldwide.

A woman is forcefully arrested in China during the 1960s. We later see her freezing in a jail cell. Her captors try to coerce her into signing a document that would implicate other scientists, but she refuses to do so, since it would be false. And one of her captors dumps a bucket of urine on her as punishment.

In 1960s China, Ye Wenjie joins a government program run by soldiers, ostensibly to develop weapons. However, it’s later revealed that it’s an extraterrestrial communication project. During an experiment, the radio signal they use kills thousands of birds in the nearby forest.

A couple kisses and lies on a bed together. The camera cuts away, but it’s implied they have sex. A woman sings Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” at a karaoke bar. A woman kisses her friend on the cheek. Auggie and Saul’s friends ask if they are having sex.

People drink heavily and smoke. (A woman tries and fails to deter her friend from smoking.) A man smokes marijuana, and his friend states he uses the drug too often.

Characters lie and betray each other. People who have cut down a forest wonder if there will be consequences for so much destruction, and a woman secretly plants seeds in the upturned dirt. A woman sees zombies in a video game.

There are 18 uses of the f-word and eight uses of the s-word. God’s name is misused once; Jesus’ name is abused three times. There are also uses of “b–ch” and “d–k.”

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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