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Now that Netflix has renewed 3 Body Problem, here’s how Season 2 might go

Published May 15th, 2024 4:58PM EDT
3 Body Problem on Netflix
Image: Ed Miller/Netflix

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After burning through all eight episodes of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem — the alien invasion series that was one of the most anticipated Netflix releases of 2024 — I found it to be exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from the former Game of Thrones showrunners. It veers from dense and a little puzzling to extremely violent, sometimes disturbing, while also frequently spellbinding and more than a little addictive. Whether or not the show lived up to its ambitions is a matter of opinion, but enough people apparently streamed and sufficiently engaged with the show (an adaptation of Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past book trilogy) that Netflix has just green-lit a second season.

What that means is that viewers like me who, on the whole, appreciated the show in spite of its flaws can now breath a sigh of relief, since 3 Body Problem can set about pulling on some of the loose threads in the story that were left dangling at the end of the first season.

For now, Netflix is only saying that the show has been renewed. The number of episodes, as well as how many additional seasons it will get, will be revealed later. “We’re thrilled that we get to tell this story through to its epic conclusion,” co-creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo said in a joint statement about the renewal. “Ever since we read the last page of Cixin Liu’s magnificent trilogy, we hoped we’d be able to bring the audience to the end of the universe with us. Here we go!”

As for what new plot twists and set pieces the new season will bring, meanwhile, here’s a look at how some of the key details unfold in the books to give you an idea of where the story will go next. And, obviously, stop reading now if you want to come at the new season completely fresh, because possible spoilers will follow.

Ladies and gentlemen, (Will is) floating in space: Surely you didn’t think the last we’d see of Will is of him donating his brain to science and sending it floating off into space, where it’s knocked off course and potentially lost, after Jin learns the truth of Will’s feelings for her? Don’t worry. We may or may not get to this in Season 2 of 3 Body Problem, but the character in the books who’s an analogue for Will definitely returns.

As was mankind’s plan, the aliens acquire the brain and use it to complete rebuild his body. That character, Will’s counterpart in the novel, is resurrected in book three of the trilogy — and shares three fairy tales with the character in the books who’s analogous to Jin. The fairy tales essentially containing a coded message for how humanity can survive.

Brace yourself for another gory scene equivalent to the Red Wedding: The Game of Thrones showrunners just love the kind of set pieces that leave your jaw on the floor, and Season 1 of 3 Body Problem certainly delivered on that score in the form of the Judgement Day ship and all its inhabitants being cut to ribbons by Auggie’s nanotechnology. It was a gross, bloody, and kind of disturbing scene — and Season 2 may well include another just like it.

There’s a time jump in the show’s second book, carrying the plot forward by a few hundred years (remember, when things started, the aliens were four centuries away from arriving). Now, humanity has discovered an 11-foot droplet that looks to be comprised of liquid mercury that’s traveling ahead of the alien fleet. By this point, humanity has a robust fleet of fast and powerful interstellar ships that are racing to make contact with the aliens.

3 Body Problem on Netflix
Liam Cunningham as Wade in “3 Body Problem.” Image source: Ed Miller/Netflix

Let’s just say, though, that the liquid droplet is actually a terrible and violently destructive force that kicks off its own little Red Wedding right there in space.

Odds and ends: As for what else the new season needs to address, we also need to know what the Wallfacers will do now that humanity has realized the aliens can’t read minds. That’s why three Wallfacers have been chosen to concoct a salvation for humans in their own minds and pursue those plans, without telling anyone. If the show sticks faithfully to the books, Saul will be a nihilist (at least at first) who chooses to benefit himself thanks to his new position’s wealth and power.

Meantime, we also now know that Tatiana isn’t alone, and that there are other people already on Earth who are undermining humanity and working to prepare the planet for the aliens’ arrival. Also, here’s another important point to keep in mind leading into the new season:

Remember Ye Wenjie’s joke to Saul, about Einstein in heaven? If I understand everything correctly, that was actually a coded message to Saul about the book trilogy’s “dark forest” theory of alien contact.

3 Body Problem on Netflix
Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand in “3 Body Problem.” Image source: Ed Miller/Netflix

In short, this idea imagines the vastness of the universe as a dark forest. If you think about a forest at night, the sounds you hear could be coming from predators as well as gentle creatures that mean you no harm. Once you make yourself audible, though, you also make yourself a target. That’s what Ye Wenjie did when she made contact with the aliens all those years ago. In the context of alien civilizations, no one can be sure from the outset if the intruders are friend or foe, so the default posture is to assume violence. Thus, the aliens that are coming to subjugate humans, and the humans that are preparing to fight back.

The moral of Ye Wenjie’s joke, meanwhile, is not to make your presence known. Humans have already done that, which is why the San-Ti are on their way. But what if one of the Wallfacers decides to alert the universe to the presence of … the San-Ti? At that point, the hunter could in turn become the hunted, assuming there are other civilizations out there.

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.