San-Ti In Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ Explained: Why Didn’t Aliens Understand The “Red Riding Hood Story”?


For some, change is their only chance of survival. The San-Ti (originally called Trisolarans in the 3 Body Problem book) had survived the tragic loss of more than 200 civilizations. A thousand more followed. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that death and destruction have become common phenomena on their planet. And in time, to cope with the loss of such tragedies, the Trisolarans suppressed their feelings. The only emotion left among them was to survive at all costs. They focused their entire energy on solving the 3 Body Problem; unfortunately, there were none.

Spoilers Ahead

What did the San-Ti want?

Trisolaris, as the name suggests, had three suns in their solar system, which made life extremely difficult on the planet. Due to the effect of these three stars in their vicinity, their civilization constantly witnessed long spans of harsh climates called the Chaotic Eras. The book even hints that the gravitational pull of these three suns had destroyed the other eleven planets in the Trisolaran stellar system and, in one thousand years, could have consumed the last surviving one, too. Another pressing issue was that no scientist or philosopher could predict the beginning and end of these chaotic eras, because of which their civilization failed to advance at an accelerated rate. These aliens had the ability to dehydrate their bodies during the Chaotic Era, because of which they survived long Trisolaran hours without food. As the stable era would begin, they would rehydrate themselves in large wells and come back to life to make technological advancements. They maintained the cycle of “hydrate” and “dehydrate” for their survival, but the question was: for how long?

As portrayed in the Three Body Game, several past kings and emperors spent their lifetimes finding ways to predict the chaotic and stable eras, but no scientist or sage was ever able to solve the looming issue. At the end of Civilization 192, the Trisolaran civilization finally came to the realization that there was no solution to the three-body problem. As the revelation hit, they changed their goal, and instead of solving the issue of their planet, they focused on finding new avenues to rehabilitate their civilization. The 192 had reached the atomic age and the information age, because of which they had coined ways to construct a Trisolar interstellar fleet. The recorded history played an important role in the technological advancement and evolution of these alien species. It was because of these recorded notes that they didn’t have to start from scratch, at least theoretically. But preparing an interstellar fleet wasn’t enough; the Trisolarans needed a location to start their expedition, and hence began the hunt to find other signs of life in the galaxy and make contact with them in order to find their precise location.

How Did San-Ti Find Out About Earth?

It was at this moment that a curious astrophysicist from Earth, Ye Wenjie, established communication with the Trisolarans with the help of the Red Coast Project. At first, the listener who received Ye’s message sent a warning not to reply to the message, as the alien knew what his civilization’s main motive was. But Ye did what she had to do, and she had her reasons to do so. Meanwhile, on Trisolaris, Princeps not only executed the listener who tried to sabotage their only chance of survival but also waited for Ye’s reply to calculate the exact distance between Trisolaris and Earth. 

It would take more than 400 years for the Trisolaran fleet to reach Earth. There were grim chances that most of their fleet would perish on such a long interstellar journey. The Trisolaran council discussed the success rate of their expedition before taking grave steps. In short, they were skeptical of the entire scheme. However, Ye’s reply made them certain that there must’ve been traitors among humans who weren’t happy with their civilization and, therefore, were ready to sacrifice their own people for a foreign entity. The Trisolarans wanted to make use of such traitors to find out more about humans. However, generic radio communication took years to transfer the message, and the aliens needed a faster method to plan a strategy. It led to the creation of a supercomputer, or Sophon, that established communication between humans and aliens in real-time. 

The Sophons not only helped the aliens spy on humans and tamper with their technological advancement, but they also learned more about their civilization. In the end, the only advantage Trisolaran had over humanity was the fact that they had an older civilization that had survived for eons. But humanity was pacing up rapidly, and therefore they needed to stop their progress to be able to capture them in the near future. It was their only way to win this battle and take over the planet.

Why did the San-Ti stop communicating with Evans?

During the 1970s, the son of an oil baron, Mike Evans, laid the foundation for the Second Red Coast Base. He had turned his father’s sixty-thousand-ton oil tanker into a radio tower to contact the aliens. His ship was called Judgment Day. Through the likes of Evans and Ye, the Trisolarans developed a VR video game to include more people in their science cult so that they could be used as a resistance force against humans. However, their main objective was to stop humanity from developing weapons or technology that could stop the Trisolaran invasion and destroy their fleet.

Evans had spent a lifetime teaching the alien civilization about the ways of humans, but there came a time when Trisolarans couldn’t grasp the meaning of a few synonyms in human vocabulary. For humans, “think” and “say” are not the same thing. We don’t often say what we think. However, in the case of the Trisolarans or San-Ti, the thoughts in their brains emit electromagnetic waves at all frequencies, which are visible to everyone around. In simple words, their thoughts are publicly displayed, and hence, for them, thinking is speaking. The aliens communicate through brain waves, which is why they didn’t need a separate communication organ.

Evans tried his best to make the aliens understand the importance of lies and deceit in strategic planning and, therefore, narrated a version of “Red Riding Hood” to explain himself better. He narrated how the savage wolf killed the grandmother so that the animal could take the disguise and use it to eat the little girl. However, once again, the aliens failed to understand how the wolf tricked Red Riding Hood. According to them, the animal shouldn’t have communicated with her in the first place because the moment he did, the animal’s thoughts should have been revealed to the girl. In short, the wolf’s true intention would have been displayed. At this point, Evans could understand the point of confusion. He tried to explain further, which freaked out the aliens and made them distrust the humans. They most likely believed that Evans, being a fox in the story, was hiding his true intentions and might betray the Trisolarans when their fleet arrived on earth. Evans couldn’t display his thoughts like his alien counterpart and therefore had no means to prove his loyalty. In the end, the aliens broke all ties with Evans and stopped communicating with him.

What will The aliens do next?

Trisolarans had sent Sophons to spy on human beings, but they were still unaware of the thoughts inside their heads. As such, Trisolarans failed to predict humans’ next plans of action. The situation worried them, and therefore, they needed a new strategy to fulfill their objectives. Humans, on the other hand, used the same technique to develop the Wallfacers Project, where a few accomplished scientists and military experts were selected to plan a strategy against the alien invasion. But everything had to take place inside their heads, which they wouldn’t be sharing with anyone until the Doomsday Battle. The San-Ti’s (or Trisolarans) failed to crack the plan and, therefore, instructed Sophons to raise an army of its own on the planet to stop the Wallfacer Project. In 3 Body Problem season 2, we are likely to see a resistance force called the Wallbreakers, who will try to stop the UN specialists from devising a plan against the aliens.

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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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