Everyone’s Hooked on Netflix’s Three-Body Problem

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The new Netflix series 3 Body problem Based on the novel by Chinese science fiction novelist Cixin Liu. Remembrance of Earth’s past trilogy is among the most viewed shows internationally. As expected, it is reviled by many fans from Liu’s books. It certainly doesn’t help that there is a longer Chinese adaptation that came out last year available on Peacock. Chinese viewers complain about the superficial treatment of Hollywood, the change of setting from China to the United Kingdom and the anti-Chinese bias they see in this new version, which has “globalized” both the characters and the narrative. Fans of the books lament the loss of the in-depth treatment of physics and the numerous changes made to the original.

I never read the books and coldly entered the new eight-episode first season, knowing nothing of the context. I found it clever and populated by too many pretty TV actor types, but still fascinating and very enjoyable. Ignorance can be a blessing when you look at it. 3 Body problem. It should be noted that the series has a great advantage with the portly, phlegmatic, pockmarked and unattractive actor Benedict Wong as the central figure of the investigation. I love this guy.

Adapted from Liu’s novels by game of Thrones creative team David Benioff and DB Weiss, along with Alexander Woo (Terror: infamy), the series is about a complex apocalyptic scenario. Particle acceleration experiments generated at major scientific research centers around the world are suddenly producing meaningless results that appear to invalidate ten years of data. Centers are closing and many scientists are committing suicide or dying under mysterious circumstances. And Wong’s character, intelligence detective Clarence “Da” Shi, is assigned to find out what’s going on with Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham), a ruthless spymaster working for an unnamed government agency.

Flashbacks relate these contemporary mysteries to incidents from the Cultural Revolution in China in 1966, when young Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng) witnesses the brutal death of her father, a physicist, after her mother denounced him during a session of struggle. She will not back down from her counter-revolutionary stance on the big bang theory (which revolutionaries claim supports the existence of God) and is beaten to death by young fanatical Maoists.

Trained by her father, Wenjie is identified as a possible candidate for clandestine scientific experiments conducted by the government in a hilltop fortress overlooking the prison where she is being held. Wenjie’s job becomes monitoring attempts to contact extraterrestrial life through a gigantic signal-sending device aimed at the heavens, technology that mirrors rival efforts in other industrialized nations. But Ella Wenjie is bright enough to find a way to increase the signal strength and gets a response. She is alone in the lab and appears to have contacted an equally isolated alien: a self-proclaimed pacifist. The alien sends him an ominous message from her warning him not to respond or communicate again, for the sake of human survival.

Frame of 3 Body problem. (Netflix)

Now fully convinced that humanity is incapable of saving itself from its cruelest excesses, Wenjie makes the fateful decision to respond anyway. The result of their decision is a series of alien attacks on scientists carried out both by fanatical agents on Earth who have embraced the aliens as our new gods, as well as by an alien probe called Sophon, a quantum computer folded to the size of a single proton capable of sabotaging the science of our planet. Computer gaming headsets that are too technologically advanced to be made on Earth are being sent to top scientists, plunging them into confusing hyper-realistic games set in ancient kingdoms, each with three suns (a reference to the title’s three-body problem ). The game focuses on a limited number of opportunities to save kingdoms before they collapse into destructive chaos.

Warnings from a far higher power are also sent, including an image of a time-coded countdown to an unknown but terrifying deadline that seems to burn into a scientist’s retina. An unlikely “angel of the Lord” figure, a vaguely hippie-looking young woman, appears to several scientists speaking in evangelical terms of the coming apocalypse and the possibility of being saved, but is never captured on any imaging device aimed at she. The general public is alerted to some monstrous challenge to earthly power and understanding when the entire firmament of stars in the night sky flashes several times, “winking” at humanity.

In short, it’s a fantastic premise, and there are so many mind-blowing visual effects spectacles that go along with it, that it makes the war of words The scene looks fresh again.

The weakest link in the narrative chain is probably the group of characters known as the “Oxford 5” from their days as university prodigies and friends who were expected to set the world of science on fire. Of them, two still show promise: the dedicated physicist Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and the noble Auggie Salazar (Eiza González), whose cutting-edge experiments with nanofibers have placed her at the top of her field.

Still seen as promising as a research assistant, Auggie’s friend Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo) has become an increasingly cynical marijuana addict. The kindly Will Downing (Alex Sharp) accepted what he considers his intellectual limitations and devoted himself to teaching, but his general lack of confidence also prevented him from connecting with Jin, his long-time secret love. And finally, Jack Rooney (John Bradley), a man of great life, has completely abandoned science to become a snack businessman, which has made him rich.

Much of the personal drama, romance, and comic relief of the series is generated through them, who together are something of an amalgamation of characters from the original books. It seems like a sensible adaptation measure, but sometimes the formulaic quality of the way they are implemented becomes irritating. All those YA plot devices about who’s hooking up and who’s out of who have to be put up with.

Frame of 3 Body problem. (Netflix)

Still, there are some good uses of the characters, especially in terms of arguing various premises about the possible fate of humanity if, in fact, aliens do indeed land on Earth four hundred years from now, based on calculations of how far they will go. have to travel (Although in reality, the aliens have already been shown to have so much power over the hapless earthlings, do they really need to physically land here in a spaceship?)

“Why don’t we all relax and have a dance because by then we’ll all be dead?” Saul asks, rejecting arguments that we must fight with all our might to defend the territory for our descendants.

This makes for some entertaining scenes when, for mysterious reasons, the United Nations appoints him as one of three “Wallfacers,” tasked with coming up with a way to fight the aliens who cannot be detected by their omnipresent surveillance. The theory is that aliens can’t read thoughts, so the Wallfacers must come up with a plan and then gain blind obedience once they take action. Saul, quite sensibly, refuses to be a Wallfacer, only to discover that he has landed with controllers following him everywhere, agreeing with everything he says but refusing to leave his side to be ready when he starts giving orders. to save humanity.

At the end of the series, one of the Oxford 5 volunteers to have his brain thrown into the alien fleet. The hope is that the aliens won’t be able to resist using advanced technology to resurrect him and learn more about humans; the idea is that once that happens, he will somehow be able to send information about the fleet back to Earth. But even willing to make that sacrifice, the volunteer refuses to sign an oath of loyalty to humanity against the aliens, because “What if they are better than us?”

This is certainly a burning question: really, how could they be worse? But from what the characters are deducing about alien traits and tendencies, Earth could very well be trading in one band of ruthless, kill-crazed predators for another. Regardless, it seems pretty clear, based on the reception of the series so far, that a large number of us are already hooked and will tune into the inevitable second season to find out.

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