‘3 Body Problem’ Explained: What’s a Wallfacer and More Ending Questions Answered

The sci-fi series’ showrunners also reveal that they want their series to last “at least three and possibly four” seasons

3 Body Problem
Benedict Wong as Da Shi, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand in episode 108 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Viewers would be forgiven for being confused by the “3 Body Problem” ending. Between atomic bombs firing off in space to the revelation of yet another complex secret governmental organization, Netflix’s newest sci-fi epic leaves a lot to unpack.

From exactly what happened in Episode 8 to how many seasons this particular Netflix original may last, TheWrap spoke with the stars and showrunners of “3 Body Problem” to break down Season 1.

“3 Body Problem” on Netflix, ending explained

True to the ethos of this twisting story, the first season of “3 Body Problem” ends with more questions than answers. At the beginning of Episode 8, Saul (Jovan Adepo) is taken into protective custody and is assigned Da Shi (Benedict Wong) as his personal bodyguard. Why? Because the alien race the San-Ti have targeted him for assassination. And if the San-Ti think Saul is worth killing, then he better be important.

Saul is taken to the United Nations and drafted into the Wallfacer program along with two other, far more qualified people. His many protests that he shouldn’t be involved in the program and that he’s not going to participate are met with winks and knowing looks much to Saul’s frustration. They think it’s all part of his plan.

Eventually, he reunites with Jin (Jess Hong) just before the launch of her Staircase Project. As a refresher, the Staircase Project involved launching Will’s (Alex Sharp) cryogenically frozen brain into space using a series of atomic bombs. The hope is that Will’s brain will land on the San-Ti planet and that the alien race would revive him, thereby making him a spy of sorts for Earth.

Alex Sharp in "3 Body Problem"
Alex Sharp in “3 Body Problem” (Netflix)

Though the Staircase Project goes well at first, the probe’s sail malfunctions, causing Will’s brain to veer off course as Saul and Jin helplessly watch. With what remains of Will floating in space, Jack (John Bradley) dead and Auggie (Eliza González) trying to atone for her sins by volunteering in Mexico, the Oxford Five has become the dejected Oxford Two. It’s only when Jin and Saul are at their lowest that Da Shi steps in and takes them to a field infested with locusts.

“People hate bugs. We’ve been trying to get rid of them forever,” Da Shi tells them. “Look around. They’re not going anywhere.”

It’s a moment taken right from the ending of Lie Cixin’s first book as well as a callback to the aliens’ original message to humans that they are “bugs.”

Speaking with TheWrap, Wong noted that in this “rabble-rousing” moment “science is failing around them.” “It’s like, ‘Pick yourself up because we need to crack on,” Wong said of the finale. “He’s got to crack the whip, really, and we’ll see where we go.”

3 Body Problem
Benedict Wong as Da Shi in episode 108 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Macall Polay/Netflix © 2024

What is a Wallfacer?

One of the most confusing elements in the first season of “3 Body Problem” is the concept of a Wallfacer. After humanity realizes that the San-Ti have been spying on them thanks to particles in the atmosphere known as Sophons, the world’s leaders realize that nothing they say out loud is safe. Enter the Wallfacers.

Three people are given access to unlimited resources to formulate and direct strategic plans to save Earth. The catch is that they can’t share any element of their plans out loud until it is time to enact them, thereby ensuring that the San-Ti don’t have time to formulate a counterattack. The people chosen for this endeavor are General Hou Bolin, Professor Leyla Ariç and — to his great surprise — Saul. Half of Episode 8 involves Saul trying to run away from this appointment, attempts that those around him ignore.

“He hasn’t had any time to sit with it at all,” Adepo said of the revelation. Between Saul learning he’s a Wallfacer and the end of Episode 8, Saul almost dies and watches what’s left of one of his best friends fade into space.

“Every time he tries to get the answers from people, he gets like this half answer. It’s like a poem or something,” Adepo told TheWrap. “By the end of our season, I think he’s surrendering to the idea that this is his new job … He doesn’t know what the hell is going on, which is frustrating because he’s super smart and he’s used to always knowing what’s happening.”

3 Body Problem
Liam Cunningham as Wade, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in episode 108 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024

Can Wade be trusted?

There’s one figure who consistently pulls the strings throughout the first season of “3 Body Problem,” and it’s not the San-Ti. From moving forward with Jin’s risky Stairway Project to utilizing Auggie’s filaments to slice a ocean liner and all its passengers, the mysterious Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham) appears throughout this installment, directing everyone and everything on the human side of this impending war.

“He is one step ahead of people,” Cunningham told TheWrap, referencing a line Wade has about wanting to go to Wimbledon after he’s awakened from suspended animation.

“He’s already planning to be in charge hundreds of years in the future,” Cunningham said. “He’s just placing himself at the heart of everything to make sure that everything goes according to his plan. I don’t think he’s really being duplicitous. He’s being organized. I can understand people thinking that he’s up to no good, but he’s tasked himself with saving humanity and takes his job very seriously.”

How many seasons will “3 Body Problem” have?

Netflix has yet to announce whether this sci-fi series will be returning for another season. That said, series showrunners David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo are hoping that their show will continue “at least three and possibly four” seasons.

“There are three books. The first season starts where the first book starts and ends where the first book ends,” Benioff told TheWrap. “If we’re lucky enough to get to the end, it would definitely take at least three seasons. The books get longer as you go. So I think the question would be can book three be actually accomplished in a single season?”

Benioff and Weiss have plenty of experience with this dilemma, of course, having steered “Game of Thrones” through its entirety and expanding the adaptation beyond where author George R.R. Martin was in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series.

The good news is the “3 Body Problem” creators have the complete story to work with here. Will viewership be enough to finish the tale onscreen?

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