Posted in: TV | Tagged: chinese science fiction, Liu Cixin, TenCent, The Three-Body Problem
The Three-Body Problem Episode 29 Review: Slicing a Ship
The 29th episode of The Three-Body Problem finally shows the book's big setpiece, and it's as spectacular and horrific as fans hoped.
We're down to the twenty-ninth episode of The Three-Body Problem and it's really just the beginning of the climax. Apparently the production saved a quarter of the show's FX budget for the big action climax of both the book and the series. It's what fans of the book have been waiting for.
So we come back to the cliffhanger from the last episode where Wang Miao (Edward Zhang) was doing the math for whether he can get enough nanomaterial ready in time for the Combat Command Centre to use against Mike Evans' tanker ship full of bad guys. Can he do it? Of course, he can! Otherwise, there's no rest of the show! General Chang declares Operation Guzheng a go. A Guzheng is a Chinese musical string instrument that's like a zither but sounds like a violin.
How to Kill All the Bad Guys in One Go
So off the troops go to the Panama Canal. Colonel Stanton oversees the operation while Wang Miao is flown in to provide tech support for the nanoblade. Military engineers built the two pylons overnight at the Galliard Pass, where Judgment Day will be sailing. You get a gung-ho montage of military troops driving and gathering that goes on for at least a minute too long, where the filmmakers show they've seen Top Gun and Michael Bay movies.
Then there's the bit the show adds that's not in the book. When Wang Miao worries that innocent people will be harmed, Stanton reassures him by saying there's nobody innocent on the ship. Aside from his cult of genocidal extremists, Evans has hired an army of terrorists, serial killers, and psychopaths to guard them against law enforcement, including Stanton's personal nemesis, an Italian psychopath named Enzo, who had murdered Stanton's young son. Cut to activity on the boat where a hapless cultist is appalled that Enzo and his fellow mercenaries have strung up another crew member for wanting to get off the ship for R&R after getting permission. The cultist tries to appeal to Evans, who's scrapbooking illustrations of extinct bird species and couldn't give a shit because his private army is just acting like the bad humans he believes everyone is. He doesn't admit that they haven't murdered him because he signs their paychecks. The show is so transparent in not making us feel bad about killing everyone on the ship that it's almost funny.
Then it's on. The Judgment Day sails right into the nanowires, and it's as intense as you thought. Wang Miao watches in horror through binoculars as the men on deck don't realise what's happening until it's too late. Even Kenan Heppe, who played Mike Evans, joked that he ended up with his own Three-Body Problem. What happens when you get sliced into three? You die horribly. The carnage is shown sparingly because this is public broadcast television that can only be PG-13 at most, but the little shown says a lot. Wang Miao feels like Robert Oppenheimer did when he realized his work has resulted in a weapon of mass destruction. Stanton praises him as a pioneer who's going to help them win the war. This is Asymmetrical Warfare where not a single shot is fired, and the enemy is completely defeated without any losses on the allied side. Evans died before he could destroy his hard drive, and the troops successfully recover all the ETO's data on the Trisolarans. The whole series had been leading up to this sequence, and it's as thrilling and spectacular in its high concept and its brutality.
The Three-Body Problem Game Comes Back with a Vengeance
It's not over yet. Back in China, General Chang informs Science Grandma Ye Wen Jie (Chen Jia) that they recovered information on how Trisolaran society operates. He suggests she rethink her unscientific belief that a starfaring civilization would be morally superior to humans. There's an executable game client in the files seized from Evans' computer, so Wang Miao and Shi Qiang log in. They find themselves in a listening post and the pacifist Trisolaran, who first received Earth's signal and sent a response begging Ye Wen Jie not to answer, or the Trisolarans would invade Earth and kill everyone.
The book never described what the Trisolarans looked like, and the game creates an approximation of what they might look like. They don't have individual faces but have personalities. Their bodies look foldable because they can dehydrate into flattened rolls to survive their unstable eras. The pacifist is brought to trial for sending out his warning and threatening the Trisolarans' chances for survival. He has fallen in love with Earth's society, one capable of culture and creativity because of its stable orbit. Trisolaris has become a totalitarian society completely focused on survival at the expense of all else. The leader decides not to sentence the pacifist to death but condemns him to live to see the destruction of the Earth he loves so much and orders the people to concentrate all resources on conquering Earth. As Wang Miao and Shi Qiang witness the beginning of the campaign to invade Earth, he glimpses that Ye Wen Jie has also logged into the game to see how wrong she was to reveal Earth's location by answering.
Now we have the finale of The Three-Body Problem coming next as it wraps up Liu Cixin's exploration of history, the cosmos, and existential dread.
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