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3 Body Problem—Season 1 review

Read Time:5 Minute, 32 Second

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I’m not disappointed, considering the amount of material the creators had to pack into less than 8 hours of screen time, when it took Tencent closer to 30 hours to accomplish the same thing in the Chinese version. And season 1 of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem includes material that happens in the next book.

Casting

I think all of the actors did well with their characters as they were written. My only problem is that they were all too young and, for the most part, too attractive. It’s not Starship Troopers level of 90210 meets alien invasion, but it’s pretty close. Of course, the cast was going to be have to be a little more diverse than the Chinese version, and I think they did well to choose to center the characters and action in Britain and not the US.

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Benedict Wong was a great choice as Da Shi. He brought just the right levity to a serious role and his character was well-written. Maybe because it’s one of the few characters that is lifted intact from the book.

I have a big problem with the casting Eiza Gonzalez as Auggie. She’s far too young to be an engineer in the position she’s in. I get it that Netflix wants to appeal to a young audience, but would it hurt to have a few age-appropriate scientists?

Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand works for me. This is a character who’s age isn’t as much of a factor. In fact, the younger the better. This character is a little like Ender from Ender’s Game. He, or she, needs to be a very young super genius.

The casting of Jess Hong as Jin and Alex Sharp as Will are perfect choices.

Story

Opening with the beating of Ye Wenjie’s father was crucial to the story and about as brutal as you would expect from the creators of Game of Thrones. It was over-the-top brutal, but you know, the Cultural Revolution was way over the top. This event sets the stage for the choice that Ye Wen makes later. It has to create a lasting impact on Ye Wen’s character. Also, the Chinese version wasn’t nearly as brutal as this because, I’m supposing, it wouldn’t have been allowed on TV in China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doesn’t take kindly to throwing shade on their past. Take a moment to be thankful that here in the US and Europe we are free to depict any political or historical event as we see fit, true or not. Not everyone has that right. So when you see something that is antithetical to your beliefs and wish we would pass laws to forbid something like that from being shown then feel free to move to China. You’ll feel right at home.

For the record, there’s a lot to love about China. Their cities make the US look like a dump. I’ve spent 18+ months in China over three different trips, and it’s always embarrassing to come back to the US and see the absolute garbage architecture we have. Please, let’s do better. And it isn’t like they live in a military state. For from it. There’s almost zero police presence anywhere, because there are cameras everywhere. But, I’ve never once not felt safe, even walking alone after midnight through a deserted park. I certainly wouldn’t feel that way here in the US.

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The Netflix version did a great job of making the story very clear. Sure, they completely changed a lot of what happened. For instance, when the universe flickered in the Chinese version it only happened for one person, not everyone on earth. Not that it really matters to the plot. But one thing that was never really clear to me from the Chinese version was the purpose of the VR-headsets. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a device for the writers to be able to let us see the history of the Tri-solarin’s. It makes much more sense that the purpose is to make the people who play the game sympathetic to the Tri-solarin’s struggle and help support them.

The Wallfacer project is, in my opinion, the most brilliant aspect of the story. It’s lifted directly from the books, although it doesn’t happen until book 2. That I think, is the most creative aspect of the story, how do you fight back against an enemy that can see and hear everything you do, except what’s in your mind?

Plotholes

The concept of aliens coming for us is nothing new to science fiction. The unique thing in this story is that it’s going to take the Tri-solarins 400 years to arrive. But in reality, if any star within 100 light-years had a civilization like theirs, they would have been here already. The Dark Forest concept has some merit but falls apart when probed. The idea is that civilizations want to hide from each other because if they don’t, then there’s a chance that a more advanced civilization will destroy them out of fear and self-preservation.

If this is the situation then any sufficiently advanced civilization would begin sending out probes to all of the nearby star systems, looking for other civilizations that they could then destroy at their leisure. Waiting for radio signals is about the worst way to try and find a civilization.  We have the technology right now to send probes to the nearby star systems. It will take 100+ years to get far, but it’s a start. And we’re basically in the stone age of space travel. What capabilities will we have in 100 years? 1,000 years? Unless there is some event that halts scientific progress, in 1,000 years we will know if there are any nearby civilizations. And 1,000 years is a blink of an eye on the timescale of planetary evolution. The Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light-years across. Within 10,000,000 years we will have colonized the entire galaxy even if we never go any faster than 1% light speed. And I’m sure we’ll do much better than that.

Unless aliens are already here, watching and waiting for us to achieve some level of technology that frightens them then it will turn out that we are the aliens to be feared in a very short period of time, galactically speaking.

Season 2

There has been no announcement yet, but I’m hopeful that there will be a season 2 and perhaps wrap it up in season 3. I just hope they end it differently than the books.

 

 

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