The Three-Body Problem Ep. 28 Review Part 2: The Cop Steals the Show
The Three-Body Problem E28 (second half) is about people trying to figure out how to kill a ship full of bad guys as the cop steals the show.
The second half of episode twenty-eight of The Three-Body Problem feels like a different episode altogether. We're past the British-style murder mystery now that it's been answered. Wang Miao (Edward Zhang) has gone home after all the revelations of Science Grandma Ye Wen Jie's confession to ruminate quietly on the tragedy of it all. He hangs out with his wife and daughter and reads her favourite story about a wizard who has to fight a dragon, though she wishes they would just be friends. Then his wife tells him Shi Qiang (Yu He Wei) is at the door. "It's the dragon," his daughter says.
More Changes from The Three-Body Problem Book
Every scene in the series where Wang Miao is with his wife and daughter was not in the book and was created by screenwriter Tian Liang Liang to ground the character emotionally. In the book, Wang Miao is a cipher who's the reader's proxy and asks everyone else what's going on so they can explain the science and the plot. Edward Zhang plays him as a soulful, empathetic man, so the emerging friendship he has with Shi Qiang is also more emotional than in the book, where they're just there to be there. His desire to discover why Yang Dong died might come from this, though Shi Qiang ribs him for having a crush, which might be true – original author Liu Cixin never really explained why Wang Miao would want to investigate her death.
But the rest of this hour belongs to Shi Qiang. He pauses to note a nosebleed, a sign that getting hit with radioactive materials when he shot the homemade nuclear bomb at the ETO meeting has long-term consequences. This isn't in the book, but a detail added to the series. The second book in the trilogy, "The Dark Forest," reveals that he developed leukemia. The series decided to hint at it since it hadn't been renewed for a second season when they completed production. Shi Qiang going to Wang Miao's apartment, where they exchange playful, affectionate banter with the same lines as their first meeting, shows how far their friendship has come since their first meeting was all about Shi Qiang trying to intimidate a nervous and annoyed Wang Miao.
How to Kill a Ship Full of Fools
The rest of the episode sticks closely to the book, practically verbatim. Da Shi takes Wang Miao to a meeting at the Battle Command Centre, one they weren't invited to. They sit with Ding Yi (Eric Wang) in what looks like the civilian's corner while General Chang (Lin Yong Jian) and the other leaders discuss a plan to take Mike Evans' ship, Judgment Day, and seized all his information about the Trisolarans before he can destroy his computer drive. They have no map of the ship or where the server is, no spy on the ship to protect the data, so they need to take out everyone on it before they can push "delete" or just shoot up the server.
The rest of the episode is watching them discuss possible strategies, and it's fun to watch. A conventional armed assault wouldn't work and would result in casualties. Ultrasonic weapons are still in the testing stage and not strong enough. No gas can knock out the whole crew fast enough. Stun grenades wouldn't work. A neutron bomb wouldn't take out everyone onboard fast enough. A ball lightning weapon (completely fictional and the subject of Liu Cixin's previous book that featured Ding Yi as a major character) wouldn't work as it's too slow. (We could spend hundreds of words talking about how badly Chinese shows and movies cast white characters and how wrong the accents are, but we won't. We might later.)
That's when Shi Qiang interrupts the meeting. In a barnstorming speech taken verbatim from the novel, he berates the military leaders and says since conventional strategies won't work, the only thing left to talk about is bullshit. He plays that chip on his should for all its worth; clearly not the first time he tangles with his "betters" because he can think outside the box. This is a guy who loves getting into pissing contests with people who are supposed to be above him. First, he taunts Colonel Stanton, the leader of the North American section of the task force and when he was back in the Army, he led a successful operation across the border into Vietnam.
"I defeated an enemy that once defeated you!" he trolls. As a veteran cop, he's learned to think outside the box from the best special ops experts out there: thieves. That's what makes him qualified to be here. His idea is to use Wang Miao's nanotechnology to create a giant garrote stretched across pylons that Evans' ship would unknowingly sail through, nanowires one-tenth the thickness of hair that the eye can't see, spaced horizontally at 50-centimetre gaps that would slice the through the ship and the crew before they know it and preserving the drives on the computer in the process. Da Shi had the idea of using Wang's nanotech as a weapon all the way back in the pilot episode and had been keeping that in his pocket all along. By the end, Da Shi has earned Stanton's respect for coming up with the most creative way to kill a ship full of people.
If this were a US network show, the whole planning and strategy scene would have been seven minutes long and resolved before the next ad break.
This Episode's MVP
Yu He Wei plays Shi Qiang as a force of nature: surly, funny, and irreverent with a massive chip on his shoulder. Yu plays all the apparent contradictions of the character as one. Da Shi is a committed protector and guardian of the innocent and a gleefully ruthless killer of bad people. He's the guy you can't take your eyes off whenever he's on screen, thanks to Yu bringing unpredictable energy to the character, sticking to the dialogue but improvising flourishes and gestures to Da Shi's body language as he stalks the room like a tiger. Yu may not be the big, burly guy described in the book, but he dominates every scene he takes charge of through sheer willpower.
That leaves two episodes left in the series where things get really intense. It's hilarious that the cliffhanger ending of this episode is everyone watching a guy do math.