Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” has a story-telling problem.


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“3 Body Problem” Plot Summary

Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” is a sprawling, ambitious sci-fi thriller based on the Chinese novel “The Three-Body Problem” by Cixin Liu. Created by Alexander Woo and “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, this Netflix series puts a group of scientists on the cusp of dangerous discoveries about the world. Inspired by actual history and physics, “3 Body Problem” bends space and time to tell a story questioning who else is out there in the universe and what they want. Adapting Cixin Liu’s novels is a difficult task, and the show has a high price tag to make it happen, so the bigger question is: is “3 Body Problem” any good? 

“3 Body Problem” starts during the Cultural Revolution in 1960s China; a young astrophysicist named Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng) sees her father executed. The story then takes us to present-day London, where Clarence Shi (Benedict Wong) is investigating a string of mysterious suicides linked together by people all being scientists. One of these deceased scientists brings together a group of her students in mourning; these students are the Oxford Five. Saul (Jovan Adepo), Auggie (Eiza Gonzalez), Jin (Jess Hong), Will (Alex Sharp), and Jack (John Bradley) all reunite in shock over the death. But these scientists are about to individually encounter their own struggles with unexplained phenomena. 

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Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng) grappling with humankind in “3 Body Problem” (Netflix, 2024)

Mysterious countdowns, cults, video games, and murder are all connected to an alien species that’s coming to earth. While their intentions remain ambiguous and foreboding, what we do know is that Ye Wenjie’s actions in 1960s China led to this invasion of the world. The Oxford Five each have their individual roles in trying to uncover what’s going on and how exactly they should stop it. 

Three showrunners, $160 million, and eight episodes later, the verdict is still out on “3 Body Problem.” While the sci-fi thriller seems to know where it wants to go, it has a problem getting there. Stunted character interactions and pacing issues may make “3 Body Problem” feel more like a chore if you’re not a fan of sci-fi or the original book series. “3 Body Problem” may want to clap itself on the back for trying to adapt such an ambitious novel, but casual viewers may get lost in the multiple timelines, dimensions, and jargon of it all. 

Content Information

“3 Body Problem” is rated TV-MA for profanity, violence, torture, gore, smoking, drinking, sex, and nudity.

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Jess Hong and John Bradley star in “3 Body Problem” (Netflix, 2024)

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. “3 Body Problem” adapts Cixin Liu’s “The Three-Body Problem,” stirring some controversy after the show set the Chinese story in England and then changed the characters to reflect this too.
  2. Reportedly, the most expensive first season for any Netflix show.

“3 Body Problem” General Information

Network Netflix
Genre(s) Drama

Mystery

Sci-Fi

Thriller

Noted Characters
Ye Winjie (younger) Zine Tseng
Saul Jovan Adepo
Auggie Eiza Gonzalez
Jin Jess Hong
Will Alex Sharp
Jack John Bradley
Clarence Shi Benedict Wong

Renewal Status: To Be Determined

Directory: (Series Page | Character Guide)

“3 Body Problem” Review

Our Rating:  Mixed (Stick Around)

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Auggie (Eiza Gonzalez) examining the most deadly VR headset you’ll ever see in “3 Body Problem” (Netflix, 2024)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. What did you think of “3 Body Problem?” What did you enjoy, and what could it have done better? What questions still remain for you? 

Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes

Episodes To Anticipate

  • 1.3, “Destroyer of Worlds” sets up the full season’s premise and establishes that no character is safe. 1.5, “Judgment Day” conveys the danger of the alien species. 

Highlights

A Unique Television Experience That Takes Big Swings

“3 Body Problem” is a mystery, a sci-fi thriller, a historical lesson, and a melodrama all wrapped into a single hour within each episode. The show trusts its audience to understand what’s going on or, at the very least, be interested in seeing what happens next. The show dives deep into concepts like quantum entanglement and terrestrial hooplah. The stranger the show gets, the more fun “3 Body Problem” seems to be having. 

On The Fence

Stunted Character Interactions and Developments

“3 Body Problem” is an adult sci-fi show that primarily focuses on adults and their struggles in their 30s. The Oxford Five have a long history together that creates intriguing tension, yet they speak to each other in such grim voices and stunted conversations that the dialogue can be awkward to watch. Each character is a shade of sadness, to the point where all their personalities feel interchangeable with growth that is slow and frankly boring. If you can’t invest in the characters, you’ll have a hard time investing in the show. 

The Juggling of Multiple Questions with Few Answers 

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You may be staring at your tv like Benedict Wong in “3 Body Problem” (Netflix, 2024)

“3 Body Problem” is space-and-time-spanning. These elements require viewers to pay attention to multiple mysteries and plots within each episode that don’t feel contained or fulfilling. Like putting puzzle pieces together, the journey can be riveting, but the full picture may remain murky. This is not a show you can simply tune into. It requires full investment, and it teases its season arc out until halfway through the actual season. The result can be enticing to some viewers, but maddening to others. 

Good If You Like

  • More mature and complex sci-fi stories.

What I Hope To See

The show seems to want multiple seasons, but it needs to make its characters engaging and provide payoff a little faster to assure viewers that this is an experience worth taking. 

Recommendations

If you like this show, we recommend:

  1. Westworld
  2. Annihilation
  3. Game of Thrones

Check out our TV series page for our latest recaps, reviews, and recommendations.

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3 Body Problem (2024) Review – An Ambitious Swing at the Stars
Overall
“3 Body Problem” may want to clap itself on the back for trying to adapt such an ambitious novel, but casual viewers may get lost in the multiple timelines, dimensions, and jargon of it all. 
Highlights
A Unique Television Experience That Takes Big Swings
Disputable
Stunted Character Interactions and Developments
The Juggling of Multiple Questions with Few Answers 
75

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