Thomas Wade In ‘3 Body Problem’ Explained: Why Did Wade Start The Staircase Project?

Gone are the days of seeing Liam Cunningham as the trusted deputy of Stannis Baratheon! The knight has now embraced modernity, as he’s playing the suit-booted Thomas Wade, leader of the Planetary Defense Committee, in Netflix’s 3 Body Problem. The show is rightfully touted as the next big thing, considering it’s coming from Benioff and Weiss, the same duo who once created a little something called Game of Thrones. And like the HBO show, this one is also based on a series of super popular books—only the genre is science fiction this time.

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Cunningham’s character, Thomas Wade, is the face of an organization fighting an alien race, San-Ti-Ti, whose primary agenda is taking over the world and ending humankind. Inarguably the sassiest character in the show, Wade is dynamic, very pragmatic, and also very courageous. He wouldn’t hesitate to murder a lot of innocent people in service of the greater good. In this article, we’re going to put the character under the microscope.

Spoilers Ahead

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Who Is Thomas Wade, And What Does He Want?

Not much is known about the backstory of Thomas Wade, but if we said the man has a lot of money and resources, then we probably wouldn’t be wrong. Wade is actually a character from the third part of the book trilogy who got incorporated earlier into the show’s narrative by the writers. And it has definitely added a layer to the whole thing. Wade’s goal is very clear from the beginning: he wants to prevent the invasion of the San-Ti, and for that, he appoints Detective Clarence as his right-hand man. As things keep getting messier one after another scientists keep killing themselves, Wade starts to look for people to expand his team, and the Oxford Five grab his attention. The Oxford Five is the group of scientist friends in the show: Auggie, Saul, Will, Jack, and Jin, all of whom are students of Vera Wenjie, who kills herself at the start of the show.


What Does Wade Do To Achieve His Goal?

Even though Wade is very much preSan-Tit in this entire story, he initially stays off the screen for a while. Only later do we realize that Clarence is actually working for someone, and that man is extremely powerful. Wade asks his right hand to look into Mike Evans when the oilman makes a strange appearance at Vera’s funeral. He also starts looking out for the scientists, considering they’re the ones who are in immediate danger. Only after Jack Rooney’s violent death (at the hands of the San-Ti assassin, Tatiana), Wade gets into full-on war mode. And he does succeed as well. He manages to convince Jin to break into the cult’s seminar, where it finally gets revealed that Ye Wenjie, aka Vera’s mom, is in fact the co-founder of the San-Ti sympathizer cult. 

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Once Wenjie and many of her followers get arrested, Wade realizes that, to acquire all the details about the enemy he’s fighting, he needs to steal it from Mike Evans’ oil tanker – Judgement Day. Even though it seems like an impossible mission to pull off, Wade conjures a team with the likes of Navi officer (and Jin’s boyfriend, as a matter of coincidence) Raj Verma and Auggie Salazar. Thanks to Auggie’s cutting-edge nanofiber technology, Wade practically crushes every human being, including Evans, in the fateful vessel and acquires the thing he was looking for.

Life gets further worse for the man after realizing his enemies are always watching him through Sophons, and they’re way ahead of the human race. The only advantage of Wade and co. is the four hundred years they have in hand—a more than substantial amount of time to prepare for the battle. And that’s where the staircase project comes in.

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Why Did Wade Start The Staircase Project?

“The Staircase Project” is basically Wade’s answer to the San-Ti. The idea obviously comes to Jin Cheng, but without Wade’s constant pushing, Jin wouldn’t have gotten involved in the alien-fighting organization in the first place. Albeit hard to execute, the fundamentals of it are rather simple, as all it needs is an arrangement of nuclear warheads in the form of a staircase. The purpose of it is to make the probe reach the San-Ti fleet with the help of the explosions of the warheads. There are a lot of ifs and buts in the project, but Auggie is someone who must be there, and after her experience with the barbaric, inhuman nature of Wade, she refuses to be part of any of this. But Wade does get what he wants, usually. He might not have Auggie, but he has Jin, who soon convinces Auggie to be a part of the project. However, Auggie decides to leave again when Wade plans to San-Tid a dying Will Downing along with the probe in order to gather information about the San-Ti fleet.


Does Wade’s Project Succeed?

In spite of a strong, hopeful start, The Staircase Project gets into troubled water when, in between the third and fourth warheads, the probe gets detached thanks to one faulty wire. As a result of this, Will Downing gets lost in the universe for eternity. Wade is contacted by the San-Ti, who express their disappointment with the failure of “The Staircase Project” and also tell him that he will have a place in “their” world if he stays around till then, which clearly means Wade has to go into cryosleep. Well, the man does want to stick around for that long anyway, by putting himself into cryosleep and waking up for a week every year to oversee how the preparation for the war against San-Ti is going!


Will Thomas Wade Be In Season 2?

It’s pretty much a no-brainer that the character, who, in my opinion, is a dark horse to become a fan favorite, will definitely be in the next season if the show gets renewed. Thomas Wade is, after all, humanity’s hope to fight the alien race that is coming to take their world, no matter how cruel some of his methods are. Maybe Wade’s practical, emotionless attitude is what mankind would need to fight and save the world!


Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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