3 Body Problem review: Episode 4, "Our Lord"

We get to know our mysterious San Ti aliens a bit better in 3 Body Problem Episode 4. Are they omniscient gods or simpletons who can't grasp the meaning of Little Red Riding Hood?
3 Body Problem. Jonathan Pryce as Mike Evans in episode 104 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
3 Body Problem. Jonathan Pryce as Mike Evans in episode 104 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

Warner: SPOILERS ahead!

The shortest episode of 3 Body Problem, "Our Lord" picks up right after the end of "Destroyer of Worlds," with Jack Rooney's friends finding out about his death at the hands of a mysterious woman who can scrub herself from security camera footage, or whatever's going on there. They are appropriately shocked, especially Jin, who was playing the 3 Body game with him despite the advice of Auggie and Saul. Now working with Clarence and Thomas Wade, she's willing to serve as a spy at the gathering of 3 Body players she was invited to at the end of the last episode.

It's a decent enough setup for an episode, but now that the action is picking up, I'm noticing more gaps in the storytelling I'm afraid might widen into chasms. For instance, why would the San Ti — or the people who worship them — murder Jack in the first place? They'd have to know that would arouse suspicion and potentially turn people against them. It seems like they drove Jin right into the arms of the authorities, which is at odds with how nigh-omniscient they're supposed to be.

We're learning more about the nature of the San Ti, and the more we learn, the more opportunities there are for the show to contradict itself. The coolest scenes this week are spent with Mike Evans as he sits in a quiet room on the huge boat where he lives with his followers — he's a little like Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that way — and talks with his "lord," a representative of the San Ti on a spaceship making its way to Earth. (To start, I don't know how there's no lag in the conversation when the original messages took years to get to and from Earth to the San Ti, but I'll just give the show the benefit of the doubt and say the San Ti have some advanced technical solution.) We learn that the San Ti communicate telepathically, and that they have the power to protect Evans and his people even from far away. The show is at its best in these moments, where the San Ti seem unknowably powerful and strange. Moments like this send a chill up the spine.

But there are issues. Because the San Ti communite at the level of thought, they don't understand the concept of lying, which Mike Evans explains to them. My question there is: how is it that the idea of lying has never come up in all the time that Evans' organization has been communicating with the aliens? That seemed to stretch believability, but again, we don't know enough about the San Ti to be sure if this is a writing oversight or an example of things going according to some bigger grand plan.

In any case, the San Ti are put off by idea of collaborating with a race of people capable of hiding their true intentions, which might be why they don't intervene when Thomas Wade and government crash that gathering of San Ti worshippers that Jin was attending. They kill a few of them and arrest most, including...an older Ye Wenjie, who apparently is the founder of this whole movement!

I mean, I knew that reveal was coming since I'd read the first book, but it's still fun to see her back in action. She gets a good line during her interrogation with Thomas Wade, when she tells him that everyone will be "grateful" once the San Ti arrive on Earth and fix everything for us. There's that spine tingle again.

But how powerful are they really? How powerful are their followers, who seem to worship them like gods? It's time we start getting more information about everything, because until we do it's hard to know the true stakes of this story. As it stands, "Our Lord" is a decent interstitial episode of the show, but not a home run.

3 Body Bullet Points

  • We learn a little more about Benedict Wong's character Clarence in this episode, namely that his wife is dead and that he lives with his somewhat directionless son. It's nice background. Also, I think this is the episode where I finally realized they completely changed his name from the books, where it's "Da Shi." He was one of the most memorable characters in the novel but has less presence on the show.
  • A lot of the characters are relegated to background noise in this episode. Saul picks up Will from his cancer treatment and fills him in about what happened to Jack. Will wants to vacation in a cottage with the rest of his friends, but who knows if it'll happen? And Raj was nowhere to be seen, which is odd considering that his girlfriend was risking her life infiltrating a secret group of alien worshippers. Here's a familiar tune: I don't know if his absence is a writing oversight or an indication that their relationship isn't all that strong.
  • The least believable part of the episode is when the mysterious murder woman gets shot during the raid on the San Ti fan club meeting and is later seen crawling away from the building on her stomach. So the authorities arrested all the people here but somehow the woman without use of her legs managed to escape on her belly moving at a speed of .1 miles per hour? That's some classic hack TV writing stupidity right there.

Episode Grade: C+

dark. Next. 3bp 5. Review: 3 Body Problem rebounds in Episode 5, "Judgment Day"

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