Jack Rooney Dead Or Alive In ‘3 Body Problem’?

The latest Netflix series, 3 Body Problem is a commentary on the struggles of human civilization as a whole, which have led to modern-day problems like genocide. Fed up by the cruelty of human expansionism for selfish purposes, Ye Wenjie initiates a domino sequence to ensure the end of this evil that our species has created. In 1960s China, working at an observatory, she invited the San-Ti. Decades later in the present day, five Oxford-trained scientists end up caught in this ring of fire after their mentor Vera Ye dies by suicide. Jack Rooney is one of these scientists, although he has given up on science. 


Spoilers Ahead

Who Is Jack Rooney?

Jack Rooney is a former scientist who previously worked under Vera Ye, Wenjie’s daughter, but he quit afterward to start his own food and beverage venture called Jack’s Snacks. He’s one of the two British people in his group of Oxford scientists, while the others are immigrants living and working in the UK. In fact, his Englishness can be very much seen in different instances or even through his uninvited ‘cheeky’ humor. Jack is quite arrogant about the things he does and loves to annoy his friends, but again, he loves them dearly. As for his intellect, being an Oxford scientist is no easy feat, and despite his gratification-seeking behavior, Jack is quite an intellectual and witty person. He does use his creativity for his business and his treasure trove of humor, which he doesn’t quite know when to refrain from. He started Jack’s Snacks presumably after he quit working for Vera, and since then, his company has taken over the UK market. In his own words, his crisps are the third highest-selling in the entire country. Jack seems quite obsessed with his products, as he makes what he likes, and boy does he love junk food. Following the success of his company and accumulating a fortune, he does what any nerd would do after getting rich: buy Marvel figurines, video games, and a house for himself in a posh community in London during a nationwide housing crisis. 


What Is Jack’s Relationship With Will Downing?

Despite his carefree spirit and humorous exterior, he is quite a pure-hearted person and would do anything for his friends. However, out of all his Oxford friends, he is particularly close to Will Downing. Will is Jack’s best friend and is by his side at all times. Jack and Will share almost all their secrets, which is why he knows that Will is secretly in love with Jin even after all these years since their breakup. Quite obviously, Will also knows about Jack’s secrets, including his strange perversions. 

Jack’s regard for his friends is particularly evident when Will breaks the news about his pancreatic cancer. Jack doesn’t take this news favorably and declares the diagnosis as unreliable, coming from a random NHS oncologist. He remains adamant about seeking treatment and points out that Will is always very quick to give up. Will gave up on being a physicist, and then he gave up on his love for Jin, but Jack cannot seem to accept his friend’s decision to give up on his life. This prompts Jack to pay for the best medical care that Will can receive in all of UK. 


It isn’t quite clear if Jack knew he’d be dying, but he willed his estate to Will Downing, which amounts to approximately $20 million. Will does not quite know what to do with this much money and offers it to Saul Durand, but Saul points out that if Jack would’ve wanted Will to use the money to get the best medical care. Will was likely a very important part of Jack’s life; he was not always this wealthy a person, but his friend had been there for him. Perhaps it was his devotion and loyalty to Will that made him give his estate to his friend. 

Why Does Jack Receive The VR Headset?

Jack is known to be extremely fond of technology and even video games. Jin, on the other hand, doesn’t even have an Alexa, which is why she consults him about the headset. Quite naturally, Jack makes his initial deductions about how this headset is different from the Oculus and Sony’s flagship devices. Curious, he puts on the headset, and the first thing that he does is test the parameters of the virtual environment. Being a former scientist, he observes the graphics and the sensory perceptions that the headset can replicate. He even tastes the dirt and picks up a ladybug. Suddenly, the AI appears and slices his neck, startling him. But Jack, being Jack, remains unconvinced and attempts to put the headset on again a few times. He is attacked by the AI woman on each attempt. Subsequently, he makes an almost accurate deduction that the technology used by the headset is probably 150 years ahead of the current state-of-the-art technology that humans possess. Jack’s comments help Jin conclude that this headset indeed has something to do with the recent deaths of scientists. 


Jack was adamant about finding out about the secret behind the headset, putting it on despite the AI’s warnings that he was not invited. Perhaps it was this resilience that Jack demonstrated that made the San-TI invite him to play the game as well. Likewise, when he heads home, he receives an invitation to play the game and a copy of the headset as well. 

How Does Jack Die?

Unlike Jin, Jack is quick to figure out the parameters of the game. Additionally, he very efficiently supports Jin in figuring out the conditions of the world. Together with Jack, Jin solves the riddles of the apocalypse, promoting them to the final level when they’re supposed to meet Tatiana, the representative of the followers of San-Ti. Putting on the headset one last time, Jin and Jack discover the truth behind the San-Ti. They also find out that the San-Ti are on their way to Earth, and it will take them 400 years to reach it. This revelation starts to trouble Jin, but Jack, on the other hand, is in disbelief. He downplays the entire demonstration and the VR headset, which is coincidentally a product of really advanced AI. Jack simply cannot fathom that the aliens are indeed real, and he accuses Tatiana of being a scam artist trying to rip off money from a wealthy man who happens to love video games. 


Therefore, he leaves the venue and heads back home. However, he finds out that his house has no network reception. It turns out that it was his defiance and disbelief in the San-Ti that made him a target. Tatiana breaks into his house. She appears before him and stabs his neck, killing him on the spot. She clarifies that all he had to do was play the game, but he didn’t, and that is why he must die. 

Jack was indeed one of the first martyrs in humanity’s war against the aliens. It is quite tragic that he never found out about the truth behind the headset or even the San-Ti. But again, Jack lived his life around the people that he cared about, and he was devoted to these people. Even for Jin, he did everything in his power to help her solve the riddle, and that only proves the heart of gold that he possessed. 


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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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