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The Three-Body Problem Ep. 10 Review: The Mystery of the Ye Women

The Three-Body Problem Episode 10 starts to delve into the parallel mysteries of Ye Wenjie's past and the death of her daughter Yang Dong.

Episode ten of The Three-Body Problem has been unlocked on Tencent's YouTube channel, and it's the last episode before things start to get intense. The first half of the episode is a character-based set-up again, with moments not from the novel but designed to keep the audience invested emotionally in the characters. Liu Cixin's book is dense but can be dry.

The Three-Body Problem: Chinese SciFi Epic Premieres in September
"The Three-Body Problem" poster art, Tencent

The Mystery of Ye Yang Dong

Wang Miao (Edward Zhang) and Shi Qiang (Yu He Wei) return from talking to Shen Yu fei (Li Xiao Ran) to headquarters to assess what they've found so far. Shi Qiang sees Shen Yu Fei's deep faith in the Frontiers of Science and their "lord" as signs of a cult zealot, a true believer. What Shi Qiang really wants to solve is the mystery of Yang Dong (He Du Juan) and why she killed herself months after her experiment failed instead of immediately. Wang gets defensive whenever Shi Qiang mentions her, which Shi finds kind of creepy and inappropriate. "You don't know her, but you wanted to know her," he says, suggesting Wang nursed some kind of unrequited infatuation. So he sent Xu Bingbing to ask Wang Dong's physicist fiancé Ding Yi (Eric Wang) to retrace the final weeks of Yang Dong's life.

Yang Dong had given up scientific research after her failure and agreed to marry Ding Yi. They spend their days shopping for new furniture and decorations to prepare for the wedding. Shi Qiang assumes Yang Dong had decided to settle down and be content with being an ordinary woman, but the flashbacks, the most artful shots in the whole series, show Yang Dong to be anything but content, more resigned. The book defined Yang Dong as someone on the autism spectrum, but the show doesn't bring it up. When her entire world was Physics, to be shown that Physics doesn't exist has to be devastating, but that didn't drive her to suicide. Months later, she was offered a new research position that she accepted, but three days after that, she died.

When The Three-Body Problem Investigators Argue Like Kids

Shi Qiang now believes the key to the mystery is in those three unaccounted days. The other mystery is why her mother, Ye Wenjie (Chen Jin), didn't seem to notice any change in her behaviour. He asks Wang Miao to use his growing bond with Ye to get some answers. The best part of the scene is Wang and Shi's argument, where Wang starts to resent being pulled from his research on nanotechnology to investigate the suicides when they've yielded no results. Shi argues that detective work is no different from scientific inquiry: they keep running the evidence looking for a conclusion.

The Bad Guys Continue to Act All Bad

Meanwhile, at the Frontiers of Science, Shen Yu Fei (Li Xiao Ran) uses MSM to message her "lord," confirming that Pan Han's (Johnny Zhang) faction is at odds with hers. His faction has directly targeted scientists worldwide and is responsible for sabotaging and destroying laboratories and research facilities that killed people.

The Three-Body Problem Ep10 Review: The Mystery of the Ye Women
"The Three-Body Problem" still, Tencent

Science Grandma's Origin Story Begins

Wang Miao agrees to give a lecture about his work to Ye Wenjie's old class at the university. He asks her about her past during the Cultural Revolution, and we get the first real flashback to her past. Once again, the show treads carefully, restraining itself from showing the brutality of the era. The young Ye Wenjie (Wang Zi Wen) is sent to a work camp in the mountains in the north with other youth to cut down trees to clear the path for the building of a top-secret observatory. There's no mention or depiction of the beatings, the punishments, or the brutal work details, just hints of the scarce food without mentioning the starvation.

Ye Wenjie befriends Bai Mulin (Bai Ke), a soulful journalist sent to cover the work the camp is doing. He shares with her a book called Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, a pivotal 1962 book about environmentalism and the dangers of pollution and pesticides. (We might note that if the book is openly named in the TV series, it is now not banned in China – it's still in print) He asks her to translate some of the books to accompany a letter he's going to write the Central Committee to tell them that the book's warnings can be applied to the consequences of deforestation at the work camp, again pushing the environmental message of the show. Ye Wen Jie offers to rewrite the letter for him so it's more legible after his hands became too shaky from working the chainsaws at the work camp.

And that's where the episode ends… before Ye Wenjie's life is blown up again. Fans of the book have been waiting to see how the show depicts that part of the story, which is the intense next episode.

We've hit the first third of the TV series of The Three-Body Problem at the cusp of another turning point in the story. At thirty episodes, the series is more of a mood and character piece in its first two-thirds before the plot accelerates. The writing breaks many rules Hollywood screenwriting follows, mostly in how slowly it stretches out the story. Fans are debating whether it should be so slow, but they all agree that this is a faithful adaptation of the book (apart from the censored parts) that Netflix won't make.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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