3 Body Problem: Judgment Day   Books Included 
March 28, 2024 10:03 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

As threat levels rise, a secret mission to retrieve enemy intel ventures into dangerous territory. An ominous message reaches Earth.
posted by ActingTheGoat (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 


The nanowire, Jesus Christ
posted by Mogur at 4:50 AM on March 29


So special forces would be a bloodbath and kill innocents, a missile might destroy whatever device exists, and a gas wouldn't work because too many air vents, but they can slice everything in 3' tofu blocks and not do any of that? Those nanoknives missed dicing the red disk by luck, not plan.

Also, how is it that the San-Ti do not understand stories?! They created the mock world of the game full of characters who clearly didn't actually exist. In Hansel & Gretel, both of the children "lie" to the witch to deceive her. Plus, it seems strange that in 50-ish years no one has even inadvertently stumbled into the concept of lying and deceit while talking to Her Lord.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:14 AM on March 29 [10 favorites]


So special forces would be a bloodbath and kill innocents, a missile might destroy whatever device exists, and a gas wouldn't work because too many air vents, but they can slice everything in 3' tofu blocks and not do any of that? Those nanoknives missed dicing the red disk by luck, not plan.

I haven't gotten to this episode yet but I was curious how they were going to approach this scene. It's been a minute since I read the books, but I recall a rather lengthy war council where they discuss and discard all sorts of different ways to get the drive and land on this solution. I swear they talk about this exact point. Maybe something along the lines of the nano cuts are so precise that even if they slice the disk their data people think they can reconstruct the majority of the data? Maybe? I can't remember, but I have the impression of something like that. But obviously Cixin Liu just wanted an excuse to do something incredibly bad ass.
posted by kbanas at 7:34 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Yes, this was explained in the books (and another point of difference was that the disk was not small or mobile in the books), but doesn't quite make sense in the Netflix series because of the changes and omissions in the adaptation.

The "San Ti"* aka Trisolarans not understanding metaphors / stories etc is also explained in the books.



*It feels somewhat uncomfortable calling the aliens the "San Ti" for the Netflix adaptation - seems like in adapting the books for the English series the producers decided to (broadly) keep the villains/invaders Chinese, and make the rest of the characters UK-based / Western-coded. Not sure whether they really thought through how this choice would come across - they claim they just thought "San Ti" sounded better and more ominous but... idk, they might want to unpack why a foreign-to-them language name sounds more ominous to them.
posted by aielen at 8:18 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


The producers may have been trying to avoid referencing Trisol, since we sci-fi nerds have seen it before.
posted by SPrintF at 8:24 AM on March 29


Although, putting my nerd hat on more tightly, there's a potential collision with The Zanti Misfits, yet another story about the dangers of talking to folks from space.*

----
*"I'm not from space! No one is 'from space.' I'm from a planet just like everyone else! Just not this one." --- The Doctor.
posted by SPrintF at 8:33 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


That was gruesome and this story won a hugo? WTF? They convince her to start up her tech again and then get her to use it like that? And then they walk around showing the viewers the carnage? And the start of the story is the aliens driving scientists to suicide, but the one scientist who doesn't does this? And these are supposed to be the good guys?
posted by Catblack at 10:11 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I'm watching this with my spouse who has not read the books. was wondering how they were going to play that Panama scene.

it's truly gruesome, I think they nailed it. it's shocking and awful and bloody as fuck. to elide that would have been dishonest. show us the full horror of what they have done. (and yes, its difficult to believe Auggie would go along with it).

one of the things I really liked about the series is the sheer and utterly audacity of scale to just about everything.
posted by supermedusa at 10:18 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Yeah, this was the episode that lost me. As it's been pointed out above going from worrying about a blood bath to massacring every man,woman and child is just ridiculous. And so some old white guy and a washed up alcoholic detective get to decide everything? I understand the books may explain things but If you want the tv show to work you have to make it seem a little bit plausible. For me anyways.

Keiko was right anyways.
posted by Justin Case at 3:26 PM on March 29


I was really curious just how they might handle the shipwreck scene, and they pretty successfully pulled it off. I had totally forgotten about the nanowire in the book until it came up in the show.

.....
...but they can slice everything in 3' tofu blocks and not do any of that?

When military and political leaders clutch pearls over bloodbaths, they are pretty exclusively concerned about their own troops.

.....
And these are supposed to be the good guys?

They’re merely the humans
posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


OK, so nanofibers come up again somehow, right? Why use them on a ship on the fucking Panama canal? To be inconspicuous? No passing ship is going to notice the fantastic and inexplicable wreckage? We suddenly whip up a giant super-mandoline to get that dastardly Mike Evans? How convenient the connection of nanofibers and one of the main characters. It has to figure significantly later on.

So they create a sophon and activate it here, 400 years before they can actually arrive? Okay, I guess. To halt human progress, which will outpace San-ti technology by that time? They aren't themselves going to progress too, or are they permanently out of ideas?

I kind of like the idea of a sophon fucking with human perception such that we end up destroying ourselves. Humanity has always been on the precipice of doing that job ourselves. We only need a nudge. Hell, they managed to create a small death cult of humans that nobody seemed to even notice with the help of a couple enthusiastic humans. Ye Wenjie pushes the self destruction domino herself at the end of ep 2, that harrowing scene which could have been the end of the story. But it seems the San-ti are happy to just make our scientific equipment janky enough to make scientists around the globe throw up their hands.

Do the San-ti do time the way we do? Do they know more about humanity than they let on? I think a lot of my questions could be answered if they don't perceive or engage with time the way we do.

I'll be happy if the stupid vr video game aspect is pretty much over. And we have a zealot supergirl still wandering about. And does Ye Wenjie have second thoughts upon hearing the San-ti have no concept of lies? Did she misread their intentions? Did she not believe them when they told her what they intended? I wasn't quite sure how to read her reaction. And by "bugs", I'm thinking they mean "pests".
posted by 2N2222 at 10:18 PM on March 30


If the Sophon has a quantum entangled twin that the San Ti are using to monitor Earth, is it not precisely mimicking its actions as well? Which would make using it like a "cellphone" or whatever kind of pointless, as it would be zipping about messing with phantom particle accelerators, drawing countdowns, etc, like the Below People in Us ?

There are lots of cool concepts at play with this show - and they really, uh, went for it with the nanowire scene - but plausibility isn't one of its strong points.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:45 AM on March 31


It would have been so much easier to infiltrate this ship and steal a drive than Manhattan Project a Slap-Chop.
posted by zippy at 6:22 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]


With how they've rearranged and reorganised who the protagonists are compared to the books and their respective narrative functions, I suspect the ship slicing and Auggie's role in it is a big old telegraphing of a moral dilemma that tbvh the book's author firmly landed on the "ends justifying the means" conclusion so much it was never really a point of dishonour much less debate (less of an Asian thing but a 'modern China in current times that's survived both Mao and Deng Xiaoping into good times' thing). This is really where I stood up and paid attention to the adaptation - I'm not giving it too much credit but inadvertently or not, but the lean onto western cultural and moral mores here felt deliberate or rather inevitable so I'm sticking on with interest to see how they'll resolved it especially since while the team has a great track record with remixing and adapting already written material, they're so much more shaky with fresh stuff, and where Auggie is going is already, by this point in the series, very off the map, storywise.
posted by cendawanita at 3:22 PM on April 1


So they create a sophon and activate it here, 400 years before they can actually arrive? Okay, I guess. To halt human progress, which will outpace San-ti technology by that time? They aren't themselves going to progress too, or are they permanently out of ideas?

They said that only a fraction of their population could fit on the ships, and if it's the ones back home doing research, they may expect to have to go into dehydrated fruit leather stasis during yet another tri-solar civilization collapse.
posted by zippy at 1:07 PM on April 2


I just realized on rewatch that the nanowire scene has some very definite parallels to an event near the end of the series, at least from the perspective of the passengers.
posted by bjrubble at 3:01 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I haven't been watching the 3 Body Problem, but I've read enough posts about the nanowire scene on Io9 and The Mary Sue to decide that I'm not ever going to watch it because of how 'adept' the producers were at pulling it off.

This series is not for me.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:19 AM on April 5


Echoing zippy’s feelings on the matter - I had assumed all the divers and such in the canal were there to plant bugs and stealth onto the ship so that they could grab information. The Earth Defense crowd didn’t seem to know whether they were looking for a server, or something else… so what guaranteed that rendering the ship into spaghetti would let the information survive? And I understand that it’s narratively easier for the aliens to just engage in evil monologues, but I don’t think it makes any plot sense for them to bother explaining the sophon at all.
posted by tautological at 12:38 PM on April 10


Even in the book, I thought the scheme with the cheesewire was absurd and ridiculous, but credit where credit is due: it looked pretty much as was described. Props to the visual effects team.

Unfortunately it also marked the point in the book where I found it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief. I didn't expect them to tackle the whole multidimensional proton computer in the same episode, but again I suppose it's faithful to the book.

As mentioned above, where the book could spin out a bunch of justifications and explanations that made it easier to swallow, the show can't really do that. They also seem to be steaming through the source material, leading me to wonder where it goes from here, particularly given what happened with GoT.

They said this book was unfilmable - I think they saw that as a challenge. To quote Ian Malcolm: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
posted by Acey at 4:04 PM on April 10


so what guaranteed that rendering the ship into spaghetti would let the information survive?

If you slice things at the molecular level, you haven't "destroyed" any data - not even one molecule of it - and it can be easily reconstructed. It's like using a scissors to cut a newspaper, you can tape it together and still read it afterwards, as opposed to destroying it with a bomb.

In fact, again, if I'm not confabulating things - a natural consequence of monomolecular wire cutting through a ships hull is that after you've sliced it all the metal should vacuum weld back together again.

It's like that paradox, how do adjacent metal molecules in a lattice know whether they belong together or apart? That's how two pieces of the same metal will weld themselves together in space. Only organic beings die being sliced apart because they don't vacuum weld back together again, but all the metal objects will "heal" themselves.

Personally if I was the director I would have gone down that route with maybe a few seconds explanation (this is a Science show after all) - I think it would have been extremely cool... after the slicing the ship is mostly intact but the organic beings and non-metal objects are cut to ribbons.
posted by xdvesper at 5:52 AM on April 11


> If you slice things at the molecular level, you haven't "destroyed" any data - not even one molecule of it - and it can be easily reconstructed.

* The humans in this show haven't been shown to have the technology to reconstruct a gross object at that fine a level.
* The slicing by the nanofibre may be very precise and narrow, the cascading collapse shown after that is a series of brute force impacts.
posted by daksya at 6:34 AM on April 11


Was the cascading collapse described as such in the book? I read an interview with the show's creators taking pride in having consulted scientists or engineers about what the result of the slicing would look like, the boat's new layers sliding off of each other into a heap, and it made me wonder if they might have ruined the plausibility of the whole plan by insisting on that (supposed) realism.
posted by nobody at 1:26 PM on April 14


From conception to written description to visual depiction, the entirety of Panama Canal set piece falls squarely under the Rule of Awesome.
posted by whuppy at 9:38 AM on April 21


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