‘3 Body Problem’ Episode 8 Recap & Ending Explained: Why Is Saul Chosen As A Wallfacer?

As this sci-fi political thriller comes to a close, I think it has moved something in me, and I can no longer seem to shake off the thought of the impending doom that awaits human civilization. Based on the book of the same name, 3 Body Problem is a commentary about the human condition and how circumstances that typically lead to self-actualization might even lead to recognizing the flaws of humankind. It wouldn’t be incorrect to assume that the fragility of human existence is no longer greater than our boosted sense of self-importance, and 3 Body Problem makes you notice this very nature of a species that might in the end lead to the downfall of another civilization. 


The conclusion of the series surely leaves its audience with a gritty afterthought, questioning the very point of evolution. If the Darwinian theory about the ‘survival of the fittest’ is still in the picture for humankind, how far ahead is human evolution from the structures of the Darwinian theory? If the laws of thermodynamics imply that the two components of the universe—the system and its surroundings—must always seek a state of complete thermodynamic balance, how far behind are humans on this path to destruction until the universe seeks the foretold balance? I make this statement because human intervention knows no bounds and we have left the primitive idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ way behind as our actions have already resulted in the extinction and endangerment of countless other species. 

According to my own understanding, the story of 3 Body Problem in itself proves a comparison between the nature of two civilizations that have had entirely different parameters that led to their evolution. These civilizations were born lightyears apart. Yet, they have entered a conflict because of, again, the very parameters that led to their evolution. In terms of Darwinism, the San-Ti would belong to the species that came into existence as a result of constant survival. It took the San-Ti over nine thousand turns to reach the point where they could decide to ensure their survival. In terms of years, nine thousand San-Ti turns would be eons longer than human years. On the other hand, there’s humankind, which has surpassed Darwinism, at least in a speciesist sense. Humans have not known threats as a species on the planet since they evolved from hunter-gatherers. Nature has had its ways of curbing humanity through the pandemics, yet as a whole, we came up with ways to prolong our lifespans. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Is A Wallfacer? 

The term wallfacer is derived from Buddhism. Especially in Zen Buddhism, wallfacers are people who face the wall, turning their backs to everything else while meditating. This method helps these practitioners keep their thoughts to themselves and focus better. The Wallfacer Project, sanctioned by the UN, picks three people, the Wallfacers, to lead the defense against the San-Ti invasion. The Wallfacers are granted massive amounts of resources at their disposal to devise their own plans, and pretty much like what the name suggests, they’re supposed to keep their plans secret. They’re to refrain from talking about it or even writing their plans down. The Wallfacer project was devised by Wade, the leader of the Planetary Defense Council. He came up with the idea of acknowledging the Sophons’ ability to be present everywhere. Except the Sophons cannot read the human mind, and that gives the Wallfacers supremacy over the San-Ti. 


Who Are Chosen As The Wallfacers? 

Following an attempt on Saul’s life at the hands of the Sophon, he is granted extra security. Wade appoints Clarence to remain by Saul’s side at all times, even advising him to wear a bulletproof vest at all times. This likely has something to do with why Wenjie met with Saul before she was killed. Wenjie saw something in Saul. Even her daughter, Vera, used to claim that Saul was one of the smartest people she knew. Perhaps, when Wenjie claimed that she had a few ideas up her sleeve, this might’ve been one of them. At the UN summit in New York, the Secretary-General announces the Wallfacers. The first Wallfacer is General Hou Boulin, a military leader known for his books on military history. The second Wallfacer, Professor Layla Aric, is an expert in asymmetrical warfare. But then, adding to his own surprise, Saul Durand is announced as the third Wallfacer. 

Why Is Saul Chosen As A Wallfacer? 

The other Wallfacers are proven leaders who have shown their expertise in military conflict and history. General Hou and Professor Aric are renowned for their contributions to their line of work, but Saul Durand thinks of himself as a low-level scientist. He has no military background and doesn’t think of himself as smart enough to lead the human defense.  As nervous as he is about his own role and the uncertainty of his future decisions as a Wallfacer, being an inexperienced man is what served as the very reason behind his being chosen. San-Ti’s omniscient supercomputers can predict a lot of things but can never read into the actions of a man who doubts himself. Another justification behind this idea might be that Saul was the last person who met Ye Wenjie. Once again, it is quite likely that Wenjie, being a genius herself who worked with the San-Ti, knew their weaknesses at this point. At this point, one might even draw similarities between Saul Durand and Schrodinger’s cat. Not even humans or the San-Ti can figure out what’s really going on with Schrodinger’s cat. 


Why Does Tatiana Receive The VR Headgear From San-Ti? 

In the previous episode itself, Tatiana was proven to be the only human that the San-Ti had faith in. Even though it is quite unclear why the San-Ti sent her the headgear, one possible conclusion is that the San-Ti intended to recruit Tatiana as a countermeasure to the Wallfacer program. Only a human has the best chance to understand what another human thinks, and Tatiana would prove useful in solving the secrets that humans have built for themselves. 

What Happens To The Staircase Project? 

Jin and Saul arrive at the launchpad, where Will’s probe is set to launch into space. The spacecraft takes off successfully as everyone crosses their fingers, hoping for good results. The spacecraft eventually reaches the first nuclear detonation point after successfully deploying its sail. Off to a great start, the second and third detonations turn out perfectly as well, but before the probe can reach the fourth warhead, one of the wires connected to the sail detaches from the probe, making it fly off the intended trajectory. In the end, the first attempt at the project is a failure, and Will is lost in the endless cosmos. According to Jin’s predictions, Will’s probe would keep traversing across the stars. There’s a slight chance that his probe might even cross the star DX3906, which Will bought for Jin. Perhaps she might indeed look at the star now and remember her beloved. 


Why Do The San-Ti Contact Wade? 

On his flight back to the UK, Wade’s jet is momentarily hijacked by the Sophons. It turns out to be an attempt by the San-Ti to communicate with Wade. They express that they feel sorry for Staircase’s failure and would have liked to meet Will Downing themselves. They add that they wish to meet Wade, and there will be a place for him when they arrive on Earth. Wade believes that the reason the San-Ti have tried to contact him is because he is making the right moves. This instance of communication likely was to make him fear their capabilities, but Wade is a fearless leader nonetheless. 

What To Expect In Season 2? 

With Saul being one of the leaders of the Wallfacer project, he is yet to decide why he has been chosen and what he needs to do to guide humanity in this war against the aliens. Wade will probably undergo cryostasis to oversee the Planetary Defense Council every year. While Jin comes up with further solutions for a way to achieve 1% of the speed of light. The war for humanity’s future has not even begun, but the human race has always been resilient. Indeed, the San-Ti are right; humans are pests on this planet. But that’s the thing with pests: no matter how much we try to get rid of them, they always come back. 


With the conclusion of the first season, the series makes a very crucial statement regarding the ‘Us vs. Them’ problem. Humans managed to get over ‘Me vs. You’ with the creation of society but have struggled to find a solution for ‘Us vs. Them.’ The problem often refers to the segregationist nature of humankind, be it racism, sexism, casteism, colorism, ableism, and whatnot. What I understand of this problem is that there may never truly be a solution, just like the ‘three-body problem,’ yet the only time humans consciously choose to look over these differences is when facing an external threat. The San-Ti are surely right to fear humans. Children are dying in a distant land with absolutely no repercussions. Humankind is indeed scary and running out of empathy. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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