Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Will Jin Cheng And Will Meet Again?


Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is an ambitious project that fails to touch the precedent set by Liu Cixin’s book. The first book tells us a lot about human society, its socio-political condition, and the internal and external conflicts of the character. We read about the Cultural Revolution in China, which had a great impact on its protagonist, Ye Wenjie. But in Netflix’s series, everything was a mess. As someone who has read the book, I’ll try to explain the elements of the book while breaking down the events of 3 Body Problem season 1 and explaining its ending to speculate on what we can expect next.

Spoilers Alert

Why did Ye Wenjie Contact The Aliens?

Ye Wenjie’s father, Ye Zhetai, was a physics professor at Tsinghua University when the Great Cultural Revolution started in China in early 1966. Zhetai taught the theories and equations of the West, which were banned by the new government. Being a traitor, he was humiliated and executed for his crimes in front of the whole college, and his daughter, Ye Wenjie, had to witness such a sight.

Wenjie was a graduate student in the Astrophysics Department, but after the chaos of the Revolution, she ran away from the city and started working for a construction corps in the Greater Khingan Mountains. But it wasn’t the end of her problems. She was betrayed by a journalist named Bai Mulin, which led to the Red Army arresting her for the possession of a copy of a Western book, Silent Spring. Life seemed to be ending for Wenjie when a familiar face from her past stepped in. 

Yang Weining, a former student of his father, had now become a chief engineer in the New Government. Weining had read Wenjie’s research paper on solar radiation and therefore brought her to a secret Red Coast Base to monitor the existence of extraterrestrial beings. At the Red Coast, Wenjie theorized that the sun could be used as a super-antenna for radio waves and therefore could be used to broadcast messages to the cosmic civilizations. She went against her superior and transmitted a signal, thereby establishing contact with San-Ti. In the book, Commissioner Lei Zhicheng found out about Wenjie’s communication with the aliens but decided to overlook the matter as she was pregnant with Weining’s However, Wenjie had suffered enough. She killed both Lei and Weining and made the deaths look like accidents. In the Netflix show, Wenjie got pregnant with Mike Evans’ child and we didn’t exactly see what she did to her superiors after calling the aliens.

In the book, a San-Ti listener who received Wenjie’s message warned her not to reply back because it knew about the crisis on its planet. They were preparing fleets to invade a new planet, which meant the death and destruction of civilization on the other end. But for Wenjie, an alien civilization was her only ray of hope. She had lost her trust and respect for humanity. Every country had developed nuclear warheads and could turn their existence into dust in a matter of seconds. 

Wenjie knew human history well. She knew humans well enough to understand the fact that they were quickly drifting towards madness. They not only killed her father in the name of revolution but also took credit for her work just to please their seniors. Wenjie wanted a foreign civilization to colonize Earth and save humanity from its impending doom. But Wenjie was unaware of the fact that San-Ti had no such intention. They didn’t want to colonize, but to erase the very existence of human beings so that they could occupy the planet. Unfortunately, Wenjie died without finding out the truth, and until the very end, she put her blind trust in aliens she never met. 

However, the death of Wenjie’s daughter, Vera, did compel her to rethink her decisions. It was the same cult and aliens who plotted against her daughter’s dream project and forced her to take her life. Wenjie couldn’t live with the fact that, unbeknownst to her, she was a conspirator in her daughter’s death. In the end, she went to the location of the Red Coast base in China to end her life there. She wanted to jump from the cliff, but a hitwoman of the cult, Tatiana, stopped her and suggested that she let her give her a more comfortable death. The aliens had no use for Wenjie anymore. She was exposed to the world and had become a liability. Perhaps it was the reason why they wanted to get rid of her, or maybe they took the Red Riding Hood story too seriously.

What was the purpose of the VR game?

In 3 Body Problem, the VR game acted as a recruitment device for the most intelligent minds on Earth. Through it, the aliens wanted to make humans understand their plight: how their civilization survived the extreme conditions on their planet. The entire point of the 3 body game was to create sympathy for their civilization so that humans don’t see them as an imminent threat and welcome their arrival. 

The likes of Mike Evans and Wenjie eventually believed in their lies, but Jin Cheng could see through them. Tatiana had murdered her friend Jack Rooney in cold blood when he refused to join their cult. Their reason was simple: they didn’t want their existence to be exposed to the human world, not just yet. However, due to a misunderstanding, the Sophons stopped protecting the cult, and it was at this moment that the law enforcement authorities brought down the entire cult and arrested the members who survived. With the deaths of Mike Evans and Wenjie, the entire cult was decimated. But their most trusted hitman, Tatiana, was still alive, which was why Sophon contacted her to plan the next move. Sophon even sent her the VR set so that they could plan their action in secret.

Who Was Attacking The Scientists and Why?

It would take more than 400 years for the San-Ti to arrive on Earth. Due to such a long duration, the aliens feared that humans would evolve beyond their imagination and develop weapons to easily take their fleet down from their base on the moon or another planet in the solar system. This fearful anticipation was why they developed a supercomputer called the Sophon and sent it to Earth to monitor human progress and sabotage their projects. Under the “Kill Its Science” program, the Sophons tampered with the research projects, and most of them were shut down. Vera Ye’s accelerator program was one of them. In the aftermath, she died by suicide. Many other scientists around the world experienced traumatizing hallucinations like a countdown (as seen in Auggie Salazar’s case). The Sophons used these hallucinations or miracles to push them to the brink of madness, and they eventually died by suicide to escape the horrors. 

Even after the aliens’ existence was known to the world, the Sophons didn’t stop tampering with government projects. With the help of their VR sets and supercomputers, the aliens raised a resistance force of their own, which would eventually be called Wallbreakers (as mentioned in the book). These Wallbreakers started attacking the scientists of the world whom they believed to be dangerous in the grand scheme of things. They didn’t want humans to become more technologically advanced than they already are, or else the aliens would lose the battle for which they had waited such a long time.

What Will Saul’s Future Be Like?

In the first six episodes, Saul’s only contribution was to nurse the ailing Will Downing after his best friend, Jack Rooney’s, death. Saul, whose character is based on the protagonist of Liu Cixin’s second book, was a crucial part of the UN’s Wallfacers Project and could be seen as the savior of humankind. The only reason Saul Durand was chosen for the Wallfacers Project was because the aliens tried to kill him. The UN believed he might be a person of interest and therefore needed to be protected.

As explained above, the Sophons, existing among humans, could listen to their words and spy on their actions, as a result of which all their strategy was futile against the aliens as they would already know their next step. But what if a war specialist or a scientist develops secret strategic defense plans inside their head? It was a little misunderstanding that San-Ti had with Mike Evans. They weren’t aware of the fact that humans have a separate communication organ, which means they don’t always say what they think. The United Nations wanted the three chosen individuals to work on a strategy inside their heads that they would use during the Doomsday Battle to combat aliens. Saul, however, had no such plan in his mind, but eventually, he will find out, and love is going to play an important role in that. So, will Auggie return to America next season? Most likely, yes. At the end of 3 Body Problem, Auggie not only left Thomas Wade’s CIA program but also made her nanomaterial research public so the capitalist society couldn’t exploit it. In the end, we saw Auggie living a peaceful life in San Luis Potosi, Mexico; however, it could be speculated that her journey hasn’t come to an end. She would most likely become Saul’s inspiration to create a weapon against the San-Ti that would eventually help humanity stop the invasion. 

Will Jin Cheng And Downing Meet Again?

Will Downing was in love with his college mate, Jin Cheng, but never gathered enough courage to propose to her. Unfortunately, life happened to him, and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with only a few months to live. Amidst such chaos, he lost his friend Rooney, who left a considerable amount of money for him. Will used the money to buy a star for Cheng as a reminder of his love when he was gone. However, he never revealed the truth to her.

A few weeks before his death, Will found out about the CIA’s Staircase Project where the humans were planning to send a probe towards the San-Ti Fleet to gather intelligence about them. However, in order to make the probe travel at the speed of light, its mass had to be minimum. Wade suggested using a human brain instead of a full human being which could lower the mass of the probe considerably but for that, they needed a person who was already dying and was willing to make that sacrifice. Will fit the bill, but Cheng didn’t want her friend to lose his life for a science experiment. Will, however, was willing to take the chances because he wanted to put a dent in the universe and it was his only chance to do so. The first human brain in outer space that traveled through the speed of light.

In the meantime, Wade coldly revealed to Cheng that it was Will who bought the star for her, and she couldn’t stop herself from visiting the hospital to confront him for one last time. She wanted to see her friend one last time, but it was too late. Will’s brain had already been extracted from his body and Cheng had no means to express her feelings to him. She wanted the mission to succeed as it was the only thing that might have made Will’s sacrifice worthy, but the mission ended up being a complete disaster. The surviving members of the Oxford Five lost one more friend. 

During 3 Body Problem’s ending, Cheng and Saul decided to work in their respective fields to not let Will’s sacrifice go to waste. So, to address the question, Will is not dead—I mean, not theoretically. As mentioned in the third book, Will’s brain would be picked up by the aliens, who would reconstruct his body (or clone his body) and give him a new life. He would make use of San-Ti’s technology to communicate with Cheng through Fairy Tales, the book that she gave him days after his birthday. The stories are a reminder of their love, and their love story hasn’t come to an end, not just yet. They would meet again in the future, maybe to part ways again, but this time on happy terms. The reason why Will’s love story is an extremely important plot point for the series is because it is a reminder of the fact that only true love can save humanity. Will’s ultimate sacrifice will make Cheng live for eternity and maybe it is the only thing love is about. To not kill anyone for love, or take one’s life in love. Instead, make your love or lover immortal. Saul has to learn the same lesson to fight against aliens, and we hope Auggie will be there by his side to teach him the same.

Other than these philosophical notions, the second season of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem will make use of the Hibernation Project and Moon Space Station to move the narrative further. Because these two are massive spoilers from the book, I have tried to explore them in the other article.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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