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3 Body Problem - Netflix Nails Science Fiction

Updated: Apr 10

The other day this weird science fiction series 3 Body Problem dropped on Netflix that was deliciously delirious and endlessly entertaining. It's got super-advanced space tech, aliens whose form you anticipate till the very end, and a cast that would put an Oscar ensemble to shame.


Before you even go through this review I want to save you the time to tell you - you NEED to watch this Netflix series. It is deep, meaningful, and thought-provoking in a way that most content is not.


Rosalind Chau in 3 Body Problem

The name of this show is based on a problem in classical mechanics. If three (astronomical) bodies that are similar are considered, it is impossible to predict their motion over some time. This might make you understand the problem that astronomers faced on Kalgash in Isaac Asimov's Nightfall with their Six Suns.


The Plot of 3 Body Problem


This is a great series with a lot of intriguing concepts that put things into perspective. I would say go into 3 Body Problem without any expectations, but it wouldn't make much of a difference. This isn't your average science fiction series. The concepts explored in this series are used wisely to tell a story that isn't predictable on most levels and aspects.


A Chinese scientist during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966) is killed in front of his daughter by a few rebels on a stage. This leads the troubled daughter Ye Winjie on a journey that has her joining Chinese researchers on a secret mission to contact aliens.


Zine Tseng in 3 Body Problem

She is picked up from a labor camp to work for the secret research facility that sets in motion events that change the fate of the world.


Scientist in 3 Body Problem Netflix Series

Fast forward to the present day and renowned scientists are killing themselves for no apparent reason at all. Also, scientific experiments all over the world such as the super-collider at CERN start failing and showing absolutely absurd results. These events seem to have no connection with each other but as the episodes go on it all falls into place.



Don't go by the disclaimers that tell you that you will have to Google a lot to enjoy this show - you don't. The details that you need to Google are not central to the plot which is great writing according to me. The story is the star here, not the actors which is my favorite kind of content.


The questions that this series goes on to answer in its episodes - why is science failing across the world? why are scientists killing themselves and are we alone in this universe?



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Fictional Technology


The fictional technology that they cover in this series is really fascinating, as Spock would say. The concepts explored in 3 Body Problem come from a place of logic and reasoning even if it seems far-fetched which is the hallmark of great science fiction.


We have already seen from technological advancement that science fiction inspires scientific innovation, making this premise intriguing.


Illusions in 3 Body Problem

My favorite fictional tech is of course the Sophon which is a computer that is embedded within a proton that is more powerful and advanced than all the computing power available on the Earth to date.


VR headset in 3 Body Problem

A distant fourth would be the VR headset which is hyper-realistic and conceptually stale. A close second and third would be how the aliens communicate with humans - through thought.



The Cast


It was jarring to see Rosalind Chau who played the Japanese exo-botanist Keiko Ishikawa on Star Trek TNG aged so drastically in this series. She plays the current-day Ye Winjie. It is also fun to see her swear, considering most of Star Trek TNG was PG-13. Zine Tseng plays the young version of Ye Winjie and does a great job of the same.



Eiza González plays Oggie Salazar a scientist on the edge of bringing nano-fibers into production for commercial applications. Jess Hong plays an accomplished scientist who reminds me of an aesthetically enhanced version of Annie Chang in DC's Peacemaker.


More scientists include John Bradley of GoT fame playing Jack Rooney and Jovan Adepo playing Saul Durand.



Marlo Kelly does a great job of portraying a cultist psychopath named Tatiana while looking startlingly young for her age in real life.


Marlo Kelly as a cultist psycho in 3 Body Problem

All actors in this series do a fantastic job of playing characters who are way in over their heads. The graphics here are on-point, but the plot does all the heavy lifting in 3 Body Problem along with a good script and editing.



Benedict Wong looks like a potato with eyes and bad hair in this series which has no bearing on his amazing acting. It did however remind me of his cameo in The IT Crowd as a spelling bouncer along with his role in The Martian.


The cinematography is tasteful as hell with snapshots of Inner Mongolia shown with what I would assume is at least good context if not great accuracy.



Should You Watch This? Yes!!


This series is content that comes once in a few years, regardless of the format (series/movie) and the platform (OTT/theater).


Pondering the lifespan of humanity

3 Body Problem makes you think not just about our planet but about the nature of existence and how close we are to understanding it.


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The review emphasizes the show's depth, originality, and its ability to challenge viewers. It praises the intriguing plot with its historical backdrop, unpredictable story elements, and mind-bending scientific ideas presented in an accessible way. The cast's performances are commended, particularly for portraying characters grappling with extraordinary situations.


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