‘3 Body Problem’ Episode 3 Recap: What Is Syzygy?

The second episode of 3 Body Problem shows Ye Wenjie’s journey as she develops contempt for humankind and its inherently invasive nature. As she sends a message of invitation to an unknown alien species to conquer the planet, the plot finally reveals one of the major themes of the series. The mysterious events happening on Earth are indeed associated with an extraterrestrial entity. Because of the revelation of an alien presence, it finally makes sense why Auggie was plagued with hallucinations of the countdown, and as soon as she puts an end to her research, the image disappears. Jin, on the other hand, explores the game inside the VR headgear. The NPCs inside the game inform Jin of her mission to help the civilization survive an apocalypse during the chaotic period of the planet. It seems the game is invite-only, and when Jack puts on the headgear, an AI beheads him in the game. However, Jack returns home only to find that he has also been invited to play the game. Jin tries to help save the civilization but fails miserably in predicting when the chaotic period will end, and the inhabitants end up freezing to death. However, she establishes the importance of science over heresy. 

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Meanwhile, Clarence reveals to his boss, Wade, that Mike Evans has been notorious for his involvement in funding anti-science propaganda. Mike met with Ye Wenjie in 1977 in China, which was part of the reason she was influenced to turn against humankind. He likely has an interest in extraterrestrial happenings.

Spoilers Ahead 

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Why Does The Planet Experience Chaotic Periods?

During a meeting with the friends, Jin tells Auggie about the helmet, which makes her panic given her own experience with the extraterrestrial events. Auggie makes Jin and Jack promise not to play the game again, but after an empty promise, they go back to solve the riddle of the apocalyptic virtual world together. Till now, Jin has already lost the second level several times. She has been obsessed with finding the reason this world is experiencing the chaotic period, which ultimately leads her to propose that the planet is part of a triple solar system. In itself, the planet revolves around a single sun, but because of its close proximity to two other suns, the planet finds itself trapped in the gravitational pull of the three suns, which is why it experiences periods of extreme weather. Upon entering the game in a papal-themed world, they fail to convince the leader, a pope this time. The world ends up burning as a result of a tri-solar day, a rare stellar event when the three suns of the star system align on a singular axis. As usual, Jin and Jack end up losing the game, but because they figured out the star system and the reason for the planet’s calamity, they proceeded to the next level of the game. 


What Is The Solution For Saving The People Of This Planet?

In this episode, the series finally addresses the three-body problem. Theoretically, there is no solution to this problem in astrophysics, and because of that, Jin cannot find a way to save the inhabitants of this planet, which is caught in a three-body solar system. In the game’s third level, the planet is destroyed again, despite Alan Turing and Isaac Newton’s scientific solution via a human Turing machine. However, no computer has been able to predict the movement of a body in a three-body system. This time, the inhabitants of the planet are annihilated when the three suns align in a singular line, forming a tri-solar syzygy, and the collective gravitational force from the alignment ends up consuming everyone on the planet. Jin and Jack reach the conclusion that the objective of the game is not to find a way to save the planet but to find a way for the people to survive. However, in the face of a problem that has absolutely no solution, the only way to rescue the people is to help them flee and find another home. Having figured this out, the AI woman appears again to inform them that the world has been destroyed again, but they have finally figured out the objective of the game. 

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What Does Wade Find Out About the Headgear?

Clarence is investigating the death of Dr. Schmidt, who worked at CERN in Switzerland. Searching through Schmidt’s house, Clarence finally gets his hands on the headgear. After Clarence returns to London, he reports the findings of the engineering team to Wade. Apparently, the headgear is equipped with technology way ahead of its time, signifying more than just a gaming experience. It has retinal scanners, an oxygen meter, and a brainwave sensor. The headgear is presumably collecting biometric data, which makes Wade conclude that this VR game is a tool of recruitment being used by Mike Evans’ organization.


Who Are The San-Ti Ren?

San-Ti Ren are the original inhabitants of the planet depicted in the game Jin and Jack have been playing. As it turns out, the game was indeed alien technology granted to humans by the San-Ti to help the humans understand their story. The first person to establish contact with them was Wenjie, a Chinese person, which is why they’re called San-Ti Ren (三体人), meaning ‘three-body people’ in Mandarin. After Jin and Jack solve the third level and move up to level 4, they are summoned to a designated location to meet with Tatiana, the mysterious woman Auggie encountered in the first episode. Tatiana explains the San-Ti’s real identities and tells them that the San-Ti have found this planet and that humans must accommodate them. 

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Putting on the helmet again in Tatiana’s presence, level 4 of the game turns out to be an explanation from the AI woman about the past of the San-Ti. The planet that the San-Ti lived on was plagued by chaotic periods that annihilated them completely, until they realized that the only way to ensure existence was to find a planet to inhabit. After they receive Wenjie’s transmission from Earth, they find a solution to their problems and set course from their home planet in the unstable star system, 4 lightyears away. Additionally, Mike Evans’ organization is indeed involved with the San-Ti Ren and has even been conversing with one of the San-Ti, telling them children’s tales. It seems Mike is teaching the San-Ti about the moral values that dictate the lives of present-day humans. 


How Does Jack Rooney Die?

Hearing the story of the San-Ti, Jack is in disbelief. He is unable to believe Tatiana and suspects the San-Ti of being a fraudulent organization trying to make money from people like Jack, a rich man who happens to love video games. He tries to rationalize the technology as an advanced work of modern-day AI, and despite Jin’s protests, Jack leaves the venue and heads back home. As soon as he arrives home, he notices that his house doesn’t have network reception. Suddenly, he was confronted by Tatiana, who’d entered his house without any hassle and stabbed him in the neck. Tatiana’s organization was disappointed in Jack and couldn’t let him have the secrets of the San-Ti, considering he wasn’t convinced by the organization’s intentions. As a result, Jack bleeds out and dies as Tatiana walks away while her image on the CCTV is automatically erased. 

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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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