‘3 Body Problem’ Episode 4 Recap: The Raid


In reality, the organization run by Mike and Wenjie, for all its access to advanced alien technology and good old-fashioned petrodollars, is the missing scale in the alien invasion’s invulnerable breast. Its recruitment technique leaves something to be desired, for example. Did they really think Jin would be thrilled to join while the blood of her friend Jack, whom they obviously murdered, is still damp on the floor of his apartment? Isn’t it a problem for both operational security and public relations to keep using the same woman as both a recruiter and an assassin? Is it wise to make a billionaire, by definition a person who rarely hears the word “no,” the main interlocutor with the omnipotent alien invasion force?

And while the aliens may indeed have allowed the summit to be raided, the clues they’ve left all over the world hardly made it tough for the human authorities to do so, did they? Jin and Auggie’s secret plan to stop the aliens by taking down the people working for them may well have some legs.

Yet for all their apparent screw-ups, the San-Ti’s servants still appear to be on the winning side of Earth’s future history. Thanks to the script by Madhuri Shekar and the ghoulish confidence projected by Rosalind Chao as Wenjie, the arrival and triumph of the aliens is once again made to feel like a foregone conclusion — about as stoppable as a zombie outbreak in the opening minutes of a movie with the word “Dead” in the title.

If anything, I wonder if that’s the kind of story we find ourselves in. (For the record: I enjoyed “Game of Thrones” having already read George R.R. Martin’s source novels, and I’m enjoying “3 Body Problem” without having done so with Liu Cixin’s.) Unlike earlier apocalyptic series like “The Walking Dead,” which dispensed with the story’s prologue — the “uh-oh, something really bad is about to happen, in fact it’s already started” segment — in the first few minutes, “3 Body Problem” is taking a nice, leisurely approach to watching the blade fall on humanity’s collective neck. The tension is delightfully excruciating.

But the show makes room for human moments too. Clarence, for example, has a playfully contentious — or is it contentiously playful? — relationship with his young adult son, Reg (Aidan Cheng). When Reg responds to Clarence’s query about his job hunt by saying he’s an entrepreneur, Clarence quips, “That’s not a job, that’s a word you’ve learned to pronounce.” When Clarence criticizes Reg’s taste in men, his son shoots back, “Guess I take after my mum.”

It’s similar to the banter Auggie, Jin, Saul and Will once enjoyed with their murdered friend Jack. This kind of playful teasing continues even after his death, as the men half-jokingly try to sweep his apartment for adult entertainments before his parents arrive. Instead of pornography and sex toys, though, they find a lunchbox full of childhood memories, from photographs of Jack as an adorable kid to a tiny Man City footballer action figure. I’m glad the show took time to flesh Jack out in this way, even though he’s already gone. A lot of adorable kids who love “Star Wars” and Man City are going to head Jack’s way when our new overlords arrive.



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