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I wasn’t ready for the Red Wedding-level of gore in 3 Body Problem’s ‘Judgment Day’ episode

Published Mar 26th, 2024 9:10PM EDT
3 Body Problem on Netflix
Image: Netflix

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In hindsight, I’m glad I never finished reading Liu Cixin’s sci-fi masterpiece The Three-Body Problem, the critically acclaimed novel on which Netflix’s similarly named 3 Body Problem alien invasion series is based. Coming at the show with basically no clue of where it’s going helped me especially appreciate so many of the surprises and big wow moments, like the “twinkle in the sky” and the long-distance contact between humans and aliens. The same goes for the jaw-dropping VR game sequences that become crucial to humanity learning about the aliens and their motivation.

At the same, given that the Game of Thrones showrunners are the TV hitmakers who brought 3 Body Problem to life, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that one particular episode in the show is basically tantamount to its Red Wedding episode. If you’re still scarred by memories of that bloody, gore-filled hour of Thrones, be warned: 3 Body Problem has something similar in store for you, and I’ll try to talk about it below without revealing any major spoilers.

(That said, skip everything below entirely if you want to enjoy 3 Body Problem completely on your own.)

The episode of the show in question is Episode 5, titled Judgment Day. That’s also the name of the ship carrying a large satellite as well as a group of humans who all seem to have bought into the inevitability of the technologically advanced San-Ti alien race taking over Earth. The humans who live and play on the ship, including adults as well as children, answer to Mike Evans — a reclusive business titan played by Jonathan Pryce who communicates with the aliens via what looks like some sort of two-way radio system.

The humans who’ve begun to lay the groundwork to fight against the arrival of the aliens (an arrival, by the way, that won’t happen for another four centuries) include scientists like Dr. “Auggie” Salazar (Eiza Gonzalez). She’s developed a super-strong nanofiber that’s thin to the point of being invisible to the naked eye — and, in this particular episode, the humans decide to use her nanofiber against the Judgment Day vessel in what appears to be a pilot of sorts for eventual use against the aliens.

3 Body Problem on NetflixImage source: Netflix

That last part, by the way, is actually just supposition from me. At this point, I only have one episode left to watch (the finale). But one of the key facts that 3 Body Problem has gone to great lengths to establish about the aliens is that they’ve deployed advanced particles to Earth that act basically like a real-time spy camera for the aliens. Those particles, “sophons,” allow the aliens to watch everything we do to prepare for their arrival, such that the aliens can likewise prepare to counteract it all accordingly.

One thing that makes Dr. Salazar’s technology so incredible, though, is the way that it, in fact, can’t be seen.

In the Judgment Day episode, the humans — led by Liam Cunningham’s Wade, the snarly leader of Earth’s defense — build what amounts to a kind of lattice structure in a river where the Judgment Day vessel is floating along. Imagine a net stretching across the river that this boat is eventually going to float into, except the net is comprised of super-thin and super-sharp fibers that you can’t see. The boat drifts right into that “net,” while the anti-alien humans who put it there hover over computer monitors, watching for whatever happens next.

It’s not obvious right away.

You start to see the “innocent” effects first. Objects like paper start to be cut in half by what looks like an invisible knife. The boat passengers start to notice, dumb-founded, and then they each collapse one by one into a pool of blood and guts, as if they’d been sliced by a multi-pronged set of invisible scissors. The boat eventually starts to break apart, cut into individual “slices.” The surviving passengers scream and run all over the place, each of them ultimately getting cut down into a chopped-up and bloody mess. It’s unnerving, it’s gross, and it’s one of the most jaw-dropping scenes of the entire show.

My theory: Given that Dr. Salazar’s technology is invisible to the naked eye, I suspect it’s going to be a crucial weapon in the fight against the aliens — again, a strength of which is that they can already “see” everything we do in advance. Presumably, though, they can’t “see” this. All the same, the effects are very visible and very stomach-churning.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.