‘3 Body Problem’ Recap, Episode 6: The Stars Our Destination

3 Body Problem

The Stars Our Destination

Season 1

Episode 6

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

Photo: Netflix

After a few heavily plot-driven episodes focused on getting straight to what the hell is happening, “The Stars Our Destination” feels like a necessary cooldown. It’s a proper aftermath episode, slowing down to evaluate where everyone’s at psychologically, but also a pivot point to set up the final two episodes of this season.

This is what I’ve craved more of: some time to sit back and actually process everything. A trip to Will’s cottage on the beach is a nice way of getting the Oxford Four (RIP Jack) all in the same place again, trying their best to decompress even though there are many reasons to be … well, compressed. For one, Will is still dying of pancreatic cancer, with an imaginary countdown running in his head that is much more real than the one Auggie hallucinated. He’s also very much in love with Jin, which seems to cause him almost as much pain. But it’s nice to spend some actual time with Will when he’s usually off dealing with those problems in his own universe.

The love-triangle aspect of this story is still a little forced for me, but Jess Hong and Alex Sharp are good actors who are plenty capable of conveying a hidden well of yearning beneath their interactions, like in the beach scene when she drops a pair of paper boats in the water representing the two of them. This is the part in the romantic comedy where the best friend (Saul, in this case) says, “Go get her, man!” And the stakes are even higher for Will, who only has so much time to be true to how he feels. Eventually Saul and Auggie do manage to get him on a train to London to intercept Jin after her trip home for work.

Will has good reason to be skeptical of this plan: It’d be unfair to expect Jin to leave Raj for him, even if she does love him back, and crossing that line might make the final weeks of their friendship pretty uncomfortable. But I still rolled my eyes hard when he backed off at the last minute after watching Jin and Raj hug from across the street. The two might not be in the best place after Raj neglected to tell her about the Judgment Day mission, but they’re still in a relationship. If you’re going to take a risk like this, dude, you gotta be prepared to see them together.

In the end, Will elects for a more anonymous gesture: spending the millions he inherited from Jack to buy Jin a star through the Stars Our Destination, a charity to raise funds for planetary defense. Now, I have to agree with Auggie here. That money has a lot of practical uses that could help people today rather than assisting in some imaginary interplanetary war 400 years from now.

Still, I do like the moment when Will tells Auggie that she’s the one Jin needs right now, not some man. This is a good episode for Auggie, even if Eiza González is still easily the weak link in the cast. She’s the one character actually struggling with the thorny ethics of what she’s doing, binge-drinking to forget about all the families she helped slaughter with her nanofibers. When she eventually decides to work with Jin and put those nanofibers to questionable use again, she does it because she loves and has faith in her friend, not because she fully believes in the objective herself.

And what is the objective? Oh, just launch a reconnaissance probe into space at one percent of light speed to meet the San-Ti fleet halfway. Wade assigns Jin to make that impossibility a reality, so she uses her greatest-physicist-of-all-time skills to whip together a proposal and present it at Wychwood Manor, the off-grid new base of operations. The science here is dumbed down for us to easily grasp: By detonating a series of 1,000 nuclear bombs along the probe’s journey through space, they can accelerate it to the necessary speed. Sure, it’s obscenely expensive and hasn’t been tested, but that’s no problem for Wade. He even wants to send a human being on the probe to be picked up by the San-Ti during their extremely brief point of contact.

Some of the stakes here are a little abstract, and we’re left to just trust that what the characters are discussing makes some basic sense. As far as we know, these magical Sophons are all-powerful, with no real parameters for how much they can accomplish at once. “The Stars Our Destination” does make an effort to mitigate that vagueness, especially with Wade’s clever idea to start up the particle accelerators and keep the Sophons distracted. It’s just hard to define what these choices actually mean for the story. What constitutes half-omniscience? What won’t the San-Ti be able to perceive if one or both of the Sophons are otherwise occupied?

But I like the character focus in this episode, which extends to Wenjie, whose faith is sufficiently shaken after both the raid at the summit and the massacre on Judgment Day. A visit from Jin hits particularly hard; she calls her old auntie figure a traitor, excoriating her for letting her own daughter die. Wenjie has long taken pride in her ability to value the Lord’s greater plan over any individual human life, but the accusation still packs an obvious punch. As she later tells Clarence, Vera committed suicide sometime after finding Wenjie and Mike Evans’s correspondences. She never brought it up with her mom or even left a note.

Wenjie describes to Jin a poster she once saw that read, “Destroy the old world. Forge the new world.” She says this was the one time she ever agreed with Red Guards, and you sense how much it would crush her to recognize that similarity in philosophy, to become the thing she hated most. The Red Guards killed her father, but now her actions may have brought about an eventual loss of life that will make the Cultural Revolution feel meaningless.

It’s hard to know exactly what Wenjie intends at the end of this episode, once she’s back home and speaking aloud to the San-Ti about their change of heart, saying she has an idea or two left in her. Even if the San-Ti were capable of “forgiving” her, would Wenjie ever really be able to move on from what she brought about? Faith is a conscious choice; sometimes people only cling to their beliefs because considering the alternative means facing the horror of their mistakes.

• “The English really suck at beaches.”

• Saul calling Auggie “beautiful in a boring way” is definitely one of the funniest moments of the show, especially when he says she’d be “the bad girl in Speed 3.” That is also very accurate to González (who starred in Ambulance, a movie not entirely dissimilar to Speed).

• The show is having a lot of fun ridiculing Raj, like when he thinks Wade is testing him with an impossible task, only for Wade to easily open the window himself. Raj learns that the new base for ship assembly is on the moon, so maybe this is the latest external obstacle that will put distance between Jin and her clown boyfriend. (Okay, I do appreciate his genuine apology and words of encouragement once they get back to London.)

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