The Three-Body Problem Ep. 2 Review: Things Start Getting Weird

The second installment of The Three-Body Problem gets pleasantly weird, introducing a sense of foreboding and even cosmic horror to the mystery.


The second episode of The three-body problem has been unlocked to watch for free on Tencent’s YouTube channel, so we might as well check it out. Why? Because things start to get pleasantly weird after the table’s pilot episode.

“The Three-Body Problem” key art, Tencent

“Physics Doesn’t Exist” is immediately explored in this episode, starring Wang Miao (Zhang Lu Yi) out of pity for fellow theoretical physicist Ding Yi (Eric Wang) about Yang Dong’s death (He Du Juan). Yang Dong was upset by her mentor’s suicide – and her discovery that he had gotten the results of the particle accelerator malfunction before she got the results herself directly from her experiment. Could that have triggered the existential crisis that drove her to suicide? A drunk and sad Ding YI decides to test what would happen if Physic really stopped working during a simple billiards game with Wang Miao. Physics dictates that the laws of gravity and thermodynamics are fixed, but what if they are broken and no longer function? That would be a disaster, not only for scientific research, but for the entire universe and all life. The result is the first truly creative sequence in the show that lifts it above talking heads. It also establishes the real stakes of the story – it’s not just life and death, but the entire fate of the cosmos is at stake.


Wang Miao starts hallucinating about the failure of physics and gravity in everyday life, but are they just hallucinations? He eventually returns to Frontiers of Science (the increasingly suspicious think tank that Yang Dong and the other dead scientists had joined). He witnesses at least one scientist panicked by the hypothesis that there are frontiers of science that humanity has not yet crossed, and that their limited knowledge could put them in the position of Thanksgiving turkeys unwittingly waiting to to be slaughtered. This may not be just a hypothesis, but no one on Earth knows that yet (nor do viewers who haven’t read the novel). The three-body problem).

We find out that Shi Qiang was suspended from police duty, and his former army commander General Chang has given him a lifeline by transferring him to their secret organization to investigate the physicists’ deaths. Shi Qiang is just the kind of bastard who beats up suspects and thinks he has done nothing wrong. It’s a sign of Yu He Wei‘s performance that he conveys all that through his body language and tone of voice. As a cop, he has to ponder whether dozens of scientists who commit suicide out of existential desperation form a conspiracy to murder, but even he doesn’t know what will happen. Meanwhile, he does the job he does best: following Wang Miao and getting him to ask the questions that need to be answered, manipulating him into going to the Frontiers of Science, then attending Yang Dong’s funeral where another puzzle piece falls into Wang’s lap. The problem is that Wang is clearly being targeted by the unknown forces who want him for their agenda, and he has no clue or defense against them. Nobody does. Meanwhile, Shi Qiang and Wang Maio’s central relationship as the heart of the show begins to take shape, and the fact that they can’t stand each other keeps it refreshing.

The second episode of The Three-body problem ups the ante on the show and already delivers on the story’s promise. The feeling of almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror is something not found in any Chinese TV show. It’s still a slow burn – we don’t know who the mystery woman at the 1979 observatory is or how she’s connected to the mystery. The show’s decision to start late in the book with the deaths being investigated as a mystery gives the series its drive that will tie the different parts of the story together later on, as the big payoff is the best decision the writers have taken. At the end of the second episode, the show’s direction to the payoff is determined.

You can not only read our review, but also the episode of The three-body problem via the YouTube link.

Posted in: TV | Tagged: Liu Cixin, Review, science fiction, TenCent, The Three-Body Problem, three-body

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