3 Body Problem episode 6-8 review | Not much bang for a whole lot of bucks

3 body problem episode 6
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Will and Saul get involved in the plot and Jin does some questionable science as Netflix’s sci-fi epic nears its end.

NB: Spoilers ahead for 3 Body Problem episodes 1-5.

Eight hours and a whole lot of under-used office space later (yes, I’m still going on about it, it’s still very annoying), Netflix’s $160m bet on Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D B Weiss limps back into the bookies for an even money payout. It’s been a variable, occasionally bumpy ride: while a slimmed-down fourth episode finally seemed to key into the right register, forgettable characters and the earnest application of what I’ve politely dubbed “Moonfall science” have so far stopped 3 Body Problem from hitting the astronomical heights it’s aiming for.

The final three episodes, you’ll be surprised to hear, don’t do much to change the show’s course. They’re really no better than any of the series’ first half-and-a-bit, but neither are they any worse. If you’ve been having fun this far (and the show’s proved divisive enough that you may well have done) prepare yourself for a level of joy exactly equal to that of the previous five hours – perhaps allayed slightly by the amount of time spent setting up a second season which, at time of writing, hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Read more: 3 Body Problem episode 1-3 review | Game Of Thrones creators tackle chunky sci-fi

What the hell’s going on now, then? Well, after deploying her nanofiber cheese wires in episode five, Auggie’s gone all Oppenheimer and is feeling a bit guilty – so guilty, in fact, that she spends most of the rest of the season off-screen. Instead, the focus is back on Jin as she tries to work out what to do about the not-so imminent invasion, and Saul and Will who, in episode six, finally start to interact with the plot everyone else has been concerned with for so long.

I’ll say this for 3 Body Problem – these last few episodes are good at tying up threads. With multiple characters’ fates neatly coming to a conclusion in the final three hours, the slightly plodding pacing comes good here, neatly avoiding the rushed “bloody hell, we have to wrap this up now” feeling that can often mar the finales of sci-fi/fantasy epics like this one.

While a lot of these endings are nicely structured, though, they’re hampered slightly by the journey taken to arrive there. Will and Saul’s plotline in particular, largely isolated as it has been for most of the series, at least now has a clear reason for existing – if only the story itself had been a bit more interesting before now. Auggie, too, definitely wrapped up her most interesting story in episode five – now, she’s mainly treading water until the next season gets a green light.

Read more: 3 Body Problem episode 4-5 review | So that’s where the VFX budget went

There’s also an element of scientific shark-jumping going on. While the series so far has liberally deployed shiny VR headsets, blinking stars and nanofibers that can turn an oil rig into a Charcuterie board, the conclusion ramps up the scientific stupidity tenfold. The solution Jin eventually finds to the world’s little alien problem looks very silly written down – and only makes slightly more sense in context. Maybe there’s a genuine scientific explanation that makes it look a bit more plausible – if there is, the script doesn’t give it to us. For sci-fi more interested in scientific speculation than its characters, that’s a big problem.

With a plan that theoretically has at least another 400 years left on the clock, this absolutely feels more like a first chapter of a larger whole than a self-contained story in its own right. Benioff and Weiss are clearly banking on being given a second season – but with the show lingering at number four on Netflix’s UK TV charts just a day after release, it’ll need some pretty impressive legs to justify its hefty price tag. 3 Body Problem was always going to be a bold swing for Netflix – like our characters’ 400-year game of space chess, only time will tell if it can pull it off.

All eight episodes of 3 Body Problem are available on Netflix now.

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