Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

3 Body Problem: Judgment Day

Any resemblance to a prayer book intentional
"What do you really look like?"
"You wouldn't like it."

This is an amazing episode. It's the one that made me want to review the series.

Thomas Wade, leading the fight against the San-Ti, is an absolutely brutal man. It is clear that he will do anything he has to do. I particularly liked the thing with the thousand-year-old iron stirrups. Humanity needed to find out what sort of stirrups the San-Ti have. And wow, did they.

As Chekhov explained, if you introduce a diamond slicer at the beginning of a story, it will turn up later at the Panama Canal to slice up an oil tanker full of cult members.

That entire sequence was exceptionally well filmed and utterly horrifying, an amazing bit of filmmaking. I kept saying "Oh my god," but I couldn't look away. The emphasis was the victimization of the children – the kids' book bags and art work sliced in half, the panicked children running, Auggie seeing the severed leg of a child on the deck.

Auggie was Wade's human counterpart here. She felt compelled to do what she did, to allow her tech to be used to carry out a mass killing in order to save her own planet, but it was clearly agonizing for her. But Raj followed orders. He was like an officer automaton. He didn't even seem that broken up about all the death. I would have liked to have seen him even a tiny bit conflicted. He's not a good match for Jin.

The thing is, Wade was absolutely right that humanity needed intel, the intel was on Judgment Day, and that getting it would be nearly impossible. Auggie's nanofibers gave them a way to destroy the ship and leave the intel intact, although I kept thinking of ways that the data could have also been destroyed, anyway.

For me, the point of this episode was that what humans just did to other humans was monstrous. It was the Wolf eating Little Red Riding Hood. The humans in the San-Ti cult were misguided, and yes, that probably made them traitors to humanity. But people can be deluded. The world is a tough place. And children can't choose to join cults. We have millions of people in the U.S. right now that have succumbed to a cult of personality. Did the people on Judgment Day deserve to die so horribly?

Does this make humans the big bad wolves that the San-Ti suspect that we are, if we could kill our own like that? It's like the San-Ti realized that they couldn't trust their own cult because humans could be monsters, and we responded, yes, we are monsters.

3 Body Problem is exceptional storytelling, but flawed. They keep setting up characters and situations, like the Countdown, and then knocking them down when the audience had every reason to expect more. Like the Judgment Day cult. We just learned they existed, we know very little about them, and now they're gone. The older Mike Evans was played by Jonathan Pryce, an exceptional actor. We barely got to know him and his role in all of this, and whoops, he's dead.


Wade's raid indeed gave humanity intelligence that led up to the second big deal in this episode: the Sophons, the two pairs of entangled particles that the San-Ti sent ahead to Earth. The fact that the Sophons can affect what we see and hear, and can literally observe everything happening on Earth conveniently explains all of the weird, seemingly inexplicable mysteries set up in the early episodes.

In a brief return to the virtual reality game, Wade and Jin talked with the woman with the sword, whose character name has been given as "Sophon." Against the backdrop of a wasteland, Sophon explained that her people couldn't progress because they kept getting wiped out, and that in the four hundred years it will take for them to arrive, humanity will outstrip them and defeat them. Therefore, they're going to use their Sophon to stop us by killing our science.

Wait. Doesn't that mean that the San-Ti are lying to us?

In the previous episode, Mike Evans described intelligence agents as "pests" to the San-Ti. In this episode's big finale, the San-Ti reflected that back and told every person on Earth on every screen, in every language, "You are bugs" while creating an awe-inspiring reflection of the Earth pressing down and a giant eye watching. The San-Ti now see humans as pests to be exterminated, Dalek reference unintentional. If the San-Ti weren't an existential threat before, they sure are now.

And in the end, Wenjie realized this truth. She had been so certain of her beliefs, but the scientist in her couldn't deny the obvious. The look on her face as she realized that she had quite possibly caused the end of humanity, not to mention wasted her entire life on a lie, said it well. Another terrific performance by Rosalind Chao.


— Auggie and Jin continued to be the focus of the story. Will and Saul got very little time; the dying Will learned that he just inherited half of Jack's estate.

— Mike Evans was indeed Vera Ye's father. They never met and he only saw her in her coffin. Note the photo of Vera as a child in Mike's cabin on the Judgment Day; she was the Follower in the video game. (I didn't notice that myself; it was mentioned in a feature about the series.)

— Jin used to think of Wenjie as her sweet old auntie.

— The aliens have been attacking us with invisible people. The nanofibers were also invisible. Just saying.

Jin: "So we're going to defeat the aliens?"
Auggie: "Well, of course it sounds stupid when you say it like that."

The way that the three body problem screwed up the San-Ti civilization made me want to like them, to empathize with them, but there's never a moment when we can.

Four out of four iron stirrups,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I just finished watching the episodes that dropped, and am completely captivated. The science is so much better than the science in other shows! Note that Vera, the name of the daughter of Mike Evans and Ye Wenjie, means truth.

  2. I still can't stop thinking about this episode. This was the most horrific thing I've seen in a show. Was sorry to see the cult go so fast though.

  3. I loved this episode so much. It's also one of the more frustrating ones.

    Everything, from Judgement Day to the ending to the little (pointless) asides to Saul and Will, was fantastic.

    The children being on the ship is a Netflix addition, and it really changes the feel of everything. Adults have a choice. They knew what they were joining, or at least they chose to join the group of a reason. Kids are just kids. It's the only world they know.

    The worst part is that Wade was right. The kids had to die for the good of humanity. No wonder it messed with Auggie's head, especially when she looked around and everyone else seemed completely fine. Loved your observation about how Wade just proved the San-Ti right. Humanity are wolves. I never really understood why the fibers wouldn't damage the data, though. Wouldn't they still cut through the computers and ruin them?

    I just wish that this had been episode 8 and the finale. I talked about this in my own season review, but ending on "You are bugs!" would have been such a great, powerful moment. Instead, it was in the middle of a binge watch, where it gets lost and becomes just another thing. Delaying everything also would have let us have so much more depth in the countdown, and it would have let us get to know the cult more. Oh well.

  4. I still haven't seen the show because I canceled my Netflix subscription when they stopped supporting my TV set (yes, I could watch it on my computer but I was peeved). However, I have been following along the reviews and I agree with Honest Fangirl that putting kids on the ship changes things significantly from the book. It seems from the reviews that there's a more human warmth to the show than the novel, which felt quite cold to me.

    I would assume that most of the data storage devices would be small enough that they wouldn't intersect the nanofibers and if they did they'd be cleanly cut into two pieces and could be reconstructed. In the book, they made a big deal about doing it during the day so that the people would be up and around because the nanofibres might be too far apart to kill sleeping people but I felt that was ridiculous. Crew on a ship sleep in shifts.


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.