3 Body Problem – S01E08 – Wallfacer | Transcript

A high-level operation upends Saul's life. With emotions and expectations high, the probe launches into space as humanity enters a daunting new era.
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3 Body Problem
Season 1 – Episode 8
Episode title: Wallfacer
Original release date: March 21, 2024

Plot: A high-level operation upends Saul’s life. With emotions and expectations high, the probe launches into space as humanity enters a daunting new era.

* * *

[woman on TV] We don’t even know what they look like.

How do we defeat an enemy we can’t even imagine?

[man] Of course, we can imagine.

I mean, I’m imagining them right now, but maybe we’re asking the wrong thing.

The question isn’t, “How can we beat them?”

The question is, “How can our descendants beat them?”

Our children’s children, a dozen generations removed.

Do we have to listen to this?

[woman] …how to win. The question some experts are asking…

[TV clicks off]

[lover] You don’t find it depressing?


[lover] “What?”

There are aliens?

There’s an alien invasion.

They think we’re bugs.

Maybe we are.

I’m not a bug.

You have a lot of one-night stands, don’t you?

Why do you say that?

Do you even remember my name?

Of course. [scoffs]

[quietly] Okay. Can you just get me an Uber?


[door slams]

[Saul] I mean, where were my ancestors 400 years ago?

Somewhere in Africa, right? Most of them.

Could they imagine me in a world like this? No.

So why should I get bent out of shape

about what the world might look like 400 years from now?

I have no control over it.

Okay, well, if all our ancestors thought that way, we wouldn’t be standing here.

[scoffs] Really?


So, you think 400 years ago, in a field in Ireland…

I’m not Irish.


You think that they’d be wondering what their great, great

times 20-something granddaughter might be doing someday?

Awesome. I get it.

You’re a cynic.

Does it say how far away it is?

[Saul] Two minutes.

Listen, I’m not gonna have kids.

The family line ends with me,

so I guess I don’t worry about the far future that much.

There are other people in the world, though.

You realize that, right?

Like me.

I want kids. I worry about the future.

Yeah. Of course, I mean, that’s fair.

Oh, thank you.

Thank you, wise man who can’t remember my name.

[scoffs] What if you have one kid?

And that one kid has one kid.

Eventually, humanity will die out.

And then we don’t have to worry about these aliens.

I didn’t know two minutes could last this long.

It’s a block away. It’s a silver Prius.

[guy] Watch it!


[brakes screech]

[tires squeal]


[shocked chatter]

[unsettling music playing]


[music fades out]

[futuristic piano theme playing]

[theme song fades]

[fluorescent lights buzzing]

[Clarence exhales]

Sorry about Nora.

You a close friend?

Are you a cop?

Not exactly, no.

Am I… under arrest?

Why would you be under arrest?

Have you committed a crime?

Look, relax.

I mean…

I’m an old friend of Auggie’s.

I know your pal Jin.

I’m sad to say I know what happened to Jack and Will.

It’s been a rough year for you lot.

When you met Ye Wenjie at the graveyard, what did you two chat about?

What the fuck is this?

Here’s the thing.

Ye Wenjie met one person before she left the country, and that was you.

Three days later, she’s murdered in China.


Along with one of my men.

Ye Wenjie is dead?

That’s what murder means, yeah.

Then, someone tries to murder you.

No… No one tried to murder me. There was an accident.

The car that hit Nora was under autonomous control.

It was self-driving.

I know what autonomous means.

The two cars that collided on the street were under autonomous control.

We have reason to believe that someone or something

hacked into the onboard computers of all three cars,

seconds before the accident.

We have further reason to believe that they were targeting you.

Who are “they”?

Now, that’s the question, right?

Some kid on a skateboard bumped into you, that’s why you’re alive.

I don’t know what’s going on.

I believe you.

Five minutes, sir.

Put ’em on.

They’re bulletproof.

[tense, rhythmic music playing]

[plane engines whirring]

[wind whistling]

[blows raspberry]


You’re not gonna tell me what’s goin’ on?

Our job is to get you safely to your destination.

What’s my destination?

Someone will meet you when we get there and explain things to you.

Did anyone tell Nora’s family?

Her parents were told their daughter died in a terrible accident.

But that’s not true.

Well, I guess meeting you was a terrible accident. [exhales]

All right. I’m gonna sleep.

I suggest you do too.

Big day ahead of you. [sighs]

[exhales sharply]

[plane engines whirring outside]

[window shade whirs]

[ominous music playing]

[window shade whirs closed]

[takes a deep breath]

[birds singing]

[ominous music subsides]

I’d like these seeds included in the Staircase capsule.



Is this chili pepper?

He loves spicy food.


Why not? They weigh 18 grams.

We’ve been trying to remove every milligram we can from the capsule.

You know that better than anyone.

Just pretend his brain is 18 grams heavier.

But it isn’t, is it?

Added weight leads to a slower final cruising speed for the spacecraft

that’ll delay the encounter with the enemy fleet.

Remember telling me that?

Besides, he’s just a brain now.

No mouth, no stomach. What’d be the point?

I’ll make the request to someone with authority.

You don’t know anyone with more.

Then I’ll resign.

No, you won’t.

You can’t stop me.

You’re right, I can’t.

But you won’t do it.

From now on, the only real science getting funding is for planetary defense.

If you don’t want to be a scientist anymore, then go.

I’m taking key members of the Staircase Project

to Cape Canaveral for the launch.

I’ll save a seat for you.

[door closes]

[indistinct radio chatter]

[gentle rumbling]


You get any sleep?

[tense, energetic music playing]

[Clarence] Welcome home.

Mr. Durand.

My name is Sebastian Kent. It’s an honor to meet you.

I know it’s been a difficult day.

I hope we can make things a little smoother from here on out.

Are you the one that’s gonna tell me what’s going on?

I’m afraid I’m not authorized to do that,

but you’ll hear it straight from the top. I promise.

If you’d like to follow me?

[energetic music building]

[sirens wailing in distance]

Ever been to the United Nations, Mr. Durand?

On a class trip.

[siren wailing]

[man] Got it. Clear.

[energetic music subsides]

The meditation room.

Dag Hammarskjöld had it built

so he could find peace in the midst of whatever crisis he was dealing with.

I brought a suit and tie for you to change into before the ceremony.

Had to guess the size, but it should be fine.

He’s wearing what he’s wearing.

What ceremony?

This is a momentous occasion.

We’re introducing the project to the world.

If I understand correctly, I’m in charge of his security.

He’s wearing what he’s wearing.

That’s fine, then.

We’re running late anyway.

What ceremony?

[secretary-general] The fourth meeting of the Planetary Defense Council

has arrived at the final item on its agenda.

The announcement of the Wallfacer Project.

We are at war.

The great battle might be centuries away,

but the San-Ti have declared war upon us,

and we must defend ourselves.

To them, we are an open book, one they can read any time.

Humanity has no secrets.

Every meeting, every conversation,

the memory of every computer.

The Sophons see and hear whatever they want,

whenever they choose.

They are the perfect invisible spies.

We face an enemy far more powerful than we are.

An enemy that thinks we are bugs.

An enemy that watches our every move.


how can we win?

How do we keep secrets from an adversary who sees everything,

who is watching us right now?

Ah, but I was mistaken when I spoke before.

Humanity still has secrets.

The Sophons have vast power, but they are not all-powerful.

They cannot read our minds.

This is the basis of what we call the Wallfacer Project.

We have chosen three people to formulate and direct strategic plans.

They will develop these plans entirely in their own minds,

sharing them with no one until the time is right to execute.

We shall call them Wallfacers,

after the ancient Buddhist name for meditators.

These Wallfacers will be granted great authority,

allowing them to exploit all our resources.

As long as they violate no international laws,

the Wallfacers never need to explain their actions and commands,

regardless of how incomprehensible their behavior may be.

Now, on behalf of the United Nations,

the first Wallfacer, General Hou Bolin.

General Hou’s books on military history are taught around the world.

He has proven his expertise,

both at winning conflicts and in peacefully ending them.

The second Wallfacer, Professor Leyla Ariç.

Miss Ariç came to prominence fighting ISIS in Raqqah.

She has exceptional experience fighting and winning asymmetrical battles.

And finally, the third Wallfacer.

Saul Durand.

[gasps softly]

[tense music playing]

Mr. Durand, if you please.

[secretary-general] Saul Durand.

An Oxford-trained physicist

who has studied with some of the greatest minds alive.

[voice fading] These three people have been chosen

for the most difficult mission in human history.

Shouldering this great burden,

they will pass through the long years alone,

turning their backs on everyone they…

[muffled] Let me speak for all humanity

and offer them our deepest respect and gratitude.

[music ends]

You’ve made a mistake.

[secretary-general] Perhaps.

We won’t know for a very long time.

It doesn’t make sense. I am a low-level researcher.

Leyla Ariç? She’s a hero.

People hang posters of her in their dorms, but me?

Why me?

[secretary-general] You always have to remember, Mr. Durand,

that we are being watched.

Especially now, the enemy will always be watching you.

So, why were you chosen?

Let’s just say the enemy knows why.

I’m not special.

They think you are.

“They”? The enemy?

No one asked me if I wanted this. No one explained anything to me.

If we had asked, would you have come?

Of course not.

That’s why we didn’t ask.

I refuse.

You may.

I reject the position of Wallfacer.

I reject all of the powers of the Wallfacer.

I won’t do it, okay?

You got the wrong man.

Ah. [sighs]


I understand.

So, I’m free to leave?

You’re free to do anything.

[Clarence] Could be dangerous outside. Let me get a security team to escort you.

[Saul] Don’t need security.

Mr. Durand.

I’m not a Wallfacer.

I’m never gonna be a Wallfacer, so unless I’m under arrest,

I would like to leave.


[Clarence] Uh… [scoffs]

We can only do as Mr. Durand instructs us. The rules are very clear about that.

At least let me walk with you.


[somber string music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[gun fires]


[crowd screaming]



[ominous music playing]

[Saul continues coughing]

Get a fucking ambulance right here now.

You’re gonna be okay. You just need to breathe, all right?

In and out.

[gently] Come on. That’s it.

[sirens approaching]

[Clarence] That’s it.

Not too much, not too little.

Oh. I kept peacock tail goldfish growing up. So, trust me.

Edgar, just don’t let him die. ‘Kay?



Good luck.


[mournful music playing]

[plane engines whirring]

[cell phone rings and vibrates]


How bad?



[inhales sharply]

Right, Clarence, don’t let that happen again.

The cicadas have returned in record numbers this year,

a phenomenon that scientists believe is linked to global warming.

Farmers worry there’s little they can do to protect their crops,

as experts say as many as 1.5 million of the insects can swarm in a single acre.

Hey. Hey, hey, hey, hey.

[Saul groans]

What’re you doing?

[sighs heavily]

How’re you feeling?

[Saul exhales]

You’ve got one broken rib, a little internal bleeding.

It’s not bad, considering you got shot by a .338 sniper round.

You saved my life.

Bulletproof coveralls saved your life.

I fucked up.

My job’s looking after you.

You end up in here, I’m not doing my job very well.

No, it was my fault.

You wanted to protect me, and I didn’t let you.

Will you let me now?

Thank you.

NYPD caught the shooter.

There will be others.

I’d like to see him.

You wanna see the guy that tried to kill you?


“Know your enemy.”

Didn’t Sun Tzu say that?

I don’t know. I’m from Manchester.

I wanna talk to him.

Look, it’s not my department.

I’m in charge of security, not arranging meetings with people who want you dead.


Let me talk to someone.

Thank you.

You’re a Wallfacer.

Your word is my command.

Yeah, but I’m… I’m not a Wallfacer.

[sighs] I turned it down.

Is everyone gonna smile at me like that from now on?

Like what?

Like they think they know something about me but can’t say.

Or they think I know something but can’t say.

[exhales sharply, sighs]

Hold on.

What the hell is going on?

I know it’s fuckin’ insane to triple-check the numbers at this point…

Did you dump me and forget to tell me, or…

…by a nanosecond, we’re fucked. It’s over. It’ll have been for nothing.

I don’t understand.

The timing of each detonation.

No, Jin. I don’t understand what happened to us.

No, I… I can’t do this right now.

Yeah, no. Jin, you can.


Yeah. You have five hours, and you’re stuck on a plane with me.

Is this about Will?

Of course it’s about Will.

I stole the last weeks of his life from him,

and now we’re blasting him into space on a totally untested mission.

And God knows if he’ll even make it off the launchpad.

You know how complicated this is?

Do you understand any of it?


If he makes it to space intact, we still need the radiation sail

to deploy at exactly the right time.

And then we need him to pass 300 atomic bombs

at exactly the right time in exactly the right location.

It’s like threading a needle 300 times in a row,

all while traveling hundreds of kilometers per second.

I get it. I’ve seen the diagrams…

And the capsule needs to be undamaged by each of the 300 detonations.

The chances of him making it…

It’s not him.


You keep saying “him.”

But it’s not Will.

Will is dead.

No, he’s not.

He’s a living brain, being kept at negative 150 degrees.


If the San-Ti decide to pick him up,

you know how easy it would be for them with their technology to rebuild his body?

And what are the odds of that?


You loved him.

I love him.

He’s still alive.

Well, I hope it works.

I really do.

[somber music playing]


People around the world are asking the same question today.

“Who is Saul Durand, and why was he… “

[knocking on door]

Can I talk to him alone?

[Clarence] I’m gonna stay.

This gentleman knows what he’s doing.

What happened to your face?

I resisted arrest.

Are you injured?

I’m okay.

[shooter] I’m sorry.

You shot me with a sniper rifle.

You’re sorry?

I’m… sorry I didn’t aim for your head.

Then my mission would be complete, and you’d be free of yours.

[Saul] I’m already free of mine.

I told the secretary-general.

I’ve rejected the Wallfacer position.

Your superiors wasted an assassin.

You’re a funny man.

I’m just telling you the truth.

You think you’re clever?

[tense music playing]

It’s not your fault.

I thought I was clever too before I learned the truth.

[Saul] Which truth?

Well, you… you call them my superiors, but they’re your superiors too.

If they’re so fuckin’ superior, why do they care if I live or die?

I don’t know.

You tried to murder a man that you’ve never met

on the directive of aliens that you’ve never met.


What the fuck is wrong with you?

I’ve gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord.


[Clarence sighs]

[Saul grunting]

[Clarence] Hey, hey. Take it easy.

I’m fine. I’m fine.

[sighs] Who do you work for?

Used to be MI5. Then it was SIA.

Now it’s PDF.

No, that’s not right.


P… It’s just letters…

What is your job?

Now? Protecting you.

Had two attempts on your life in the last 48 hours.

I wanna get out of here. I wanna go home.


Travel runs through Kent. Hold on.

[Saul scoffs]

Mr. Durand, glad to see you on your feet again. How’re you feeling?

What is your job?

I’m your day-to-day liaison with the Planetary Defense Council.


Day-to-day liaison?

[Kent] Yes, sir.

But I’m not a Wallfacer anymore.

Of course not, sir.

The Wallfacer Project, it’s… it’s public now, right?

Oh, yes. The whole world knows.

And they know that I… I refused to be a Wallfacer.

[Kent] Yes. That was included in the announcement.

What did it say?

After the conclusion of the UN special session,

Saul Durand declared his refusal of the Wallfacer position and mission.

So, why are you still here?

I’m in charge of your day-to-day liaisons.

[chuckling] I’m sorry. ‘Cause it’s like we’re…

We’re not communicating.


I am not a Wallfacer.

[Kent] No, sir.

I rejected the offer.

[Kent] You did.

[exhales deeply]

I wanna see the secretary-general.

She’s waiting for you.

[tense, rhythmic music pulsing]

[Saul] I just wanna go home.

This isn’t my department,

but I’m not sure your current home would meet your new security requirements.

If I’m not a Wallfacer, why do I need new security requirements?

I’m not sure it matters whether you truly are a Wallfacer.

What matters is what people believe.

And non-people.

You think they’re watching us right now?

I do.

Then they understand that I’ve rejected the position.



A Wallfacer’s work is carried out in secret.

In the solitude of the mind.

I don’t know what’s inside your mind.

Neither do they.

I do not want this job.

I don’t blame you.

It’s a terrible job.

Then why was I chosen?

And don’t tell me that the enemy is watching, because I don’t care.

I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been in a fight,

except for when I was 12, and Khari Shavers beat the shit out of me.

I have no fucking idea how to fight aliens.

And they won’t be here for another 400 years. So…

[sighs] Why don’t we all relax

and just smoke a J because we’re all gonna be dead by then.

I’ve had the same thought many times,

but we owe it to our descendants to fight for them.

Why was I chosen?

No one knows.


No one knows.

There’s gotta be a reason why you’ve picked me.

You know, out of eight billion people on the planet.

Yes, but only an indirect one.

No one knows the real reason.

You’ll have to find your own answer.

What does that even mean?

You’ve ruined my life, and now you’re giving me this bullshit?

And I’m sorry. Truly.

What’s the indirect reason?

I believe you’ll know when the time is right.

It’s been a pleasure to meet you again, Mr. Durand.

In the future, Mr. Kent will take care of anything that you need.

We’re taking a huge gamble on you.

I don’t expect to live long enough to see whether it pays off,

but I pray that it does.

[somber music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[Saul] Mr. Kent?

Yes, Mr. Durand.

My friend is being launched into space tomorrow.

I’d like to see him off.

Of course, Mr. Durand.

[somber music fades slowly]

[birds singing]

[unsettling music playing]

[unsettling music building]

[unsettling music swells]

[dramatic orchestral music playing]

[lock clicks]

[launch commentator] Capsule secured. Payload telemetry interlead at nominal.

Bearing is sealed and ready for launch.

Receiving green status from all 300 bombs.

All units are in position for probe trajectory.

[Jin inhales sharply]

All stations report go for launch. We are ready to resume terminal countdown.


Eighteen grams.


If they can clone his body, copying a few seeds should be child’s play.

You don’t want the lad to go hungry.

They’re in there?

Wheat, corn, peas, chili pepper.

I heard he likes spicy food.

[commentator] T-minus 15 seconds.

Why did you change your mind?

[commentator] Ten, nine,

eight, seven, six,

five, four,

three, two, one.


[dramatic theme playing]

[dramatic theme fades slowly]

[excited chatter]



Should you be here? Is it safe?



Is Will in space yet?

[Jin] Almost. He’s in the exosphere.

[Wade] You were lucky.

[Clarence] I know.

They really want him dead.

That’s why we know he’s worth it, right?

My enemy’s enemy.

You’re gonna be handcuffed to that kid for the rest of your life.

You okay with that?

Do I have a choice?


Then I’m okay with it.

Hey. Good to see you’re all right.

Yeah, thanks.

There’s actually a couple of hours

before the capsule reaches the first detonation.

You wanna get some air?

[gulls calling]

[waves crashing in distance]

He goes everywhere with you, huh?

It’s part of the deal.

Remember last year,

when we were worried about whatever the fuck we were worried about?

I wanna go back in time and punch myself in the face.


So a Chinese general, a Kurdish war hero,

and Saul Durand?


[Jin] Mm-hmm.

It’s completely insane.

They didn’t tell you why you were chosen?


I have an idea, though.

Nah. [chuckles] Stupid.

[Jin] Have you talked to Auggie?

[Saul] No. Why? Is she okay?

She hates what we did to Will.

I hate what we did to Will.

He made his choice.

And he would’ve done anything for you.

God, he loved you.

Sorry. I’m not trying to be a dick, but…


He did.

I hope someone loves me that much someday.

[Jin chuckles]

Maybe someone already does.

[in Spanish] These nanofibers, they filter everything?

Yes, everything.

Pesticides, parasites, bacteria, viruses, algae, heavy metals…

What else do you have?

We have good filters already.

If you had good filters, you wouldn’t have a dysentery epidemic in the village.

[man] How many microns?

Point zero one nanometers.

That’s point zero zero zero zero one microns.

You fit these properly, and I’ll make sure that you do,

and the epidemic will end.

Wow, that’s very impressive.

[cell phone ringing]

Excuse me.

[speaking Spanish indistinctly]

[call disconnects]

Okay then.

Are we going to stand here all day talking about it, or should we give it a go?

[group speaking Spanish]

[tense music playing]

[exhales slowly]

[commentator] Standby for first stage booster separation.

First stage booster ejection in ten, nine, eight,

seven, six,

five, four, three, two, one.

First stage boosters one, two, three, and four have been ejected successfully.

Expecting telemetry confirmation of pyro firing

and deployment of the sail for harnessing nuclear detonations.

[breathing shakily]

[mission control applauds]

[Jin sighs]

Deploy lead confirms nominal sail deployment.

Probe acceleration via successive nuclear detonations imminent.

She did it.



Approaching the first of our nuclear detonations.

Expecting detonation in ten,

nine, eight, seven, six,

five, four,

three, two,


[explosion blasts]

[tense, rhythmic music playing]

First detonation successful.

Navigation indicates the capsule is traveling at 57 kilometers per second.


Approaching second detonation in five, four, three, two, one.

Good telemetry on second detonation.

Navigation now has our speed at 68 kilometers per second.

He’s flyin’ now.

Approaching third detonation in five, four, three, two, one.

Third detonation successful.

Now traveling at 80 kilometers per second.

Still receiving good telemetry from the spacecraft. Thermal values are…

And the systems show we have a positive power margin.

[ominous music playing]

[alarms blaring]

[staff murmuring]

[commentator] All hands, be advised we’ve had an anomaly.

Trajectory is deviating from the predicted value.

Let’s get second set of eyes on this.

GNC Mission,

can you confirm these readings with the Doppler from Green Bank?

Attitude, Mission…

Are you able to confirm any of this with the IMU data?

[breathing shakily]

[somber piano music playing]

[somber music building]

[whispering inaudibly]

[somber music fades]

[engines whirring]

[Wade] I have no idea, but he’s Hou Bolin. If he wants it, get it for him.

[man on phone] Of course, Mr. Wade. We’ll see to it right away.

[electricity thrums]

[static crackles]

[static crackles]

[crackling continues]

[Sophon] We hope you’re enjoying your flight, Mr. Wade.

[tense music playing]

We’re sorry the Staircase Project failed. We would have liked to meet Mr. Downing.

And we hope to meet you, if your hibernation technology works.

Human beings are so fragile.

[electricity crackles]

[Wade gasps]

[engines roaring]

[fuselage rattling]

If you’re watching me, I must be doing something right.

Yes, you’re a strong leader.

We want you to know there will be a place for you when we arrive.

You are part of our plan.

[static crackles]

[tense music fades]


[electricity crackles]

[Wade yelps]

[Sophon] We’ll always be with you.

Every room you enter, we’ll already be there waiting for you.

Whatever we want you to see, you will see.

[energy thrumming]

[Sophon] Until the day you die.

[screams, grunts]


[wind gusting]

[crickets chirping]

[neon lights buzzing]

How long you think he’s gonna float out there?

Based on his final heading,

6,000 years before he passes another star.

Don’t think he’ll fall into its gravity well.

Maybe another five million years before he leaves the Milky Way.

You are the two saddest-looking bastards I’ve ever seen.

Don’t give me a speech, man. I can’t take any Henry V bullshit.

You know, I played Henry V in third year.

True story. Got a great review in the school paper.

Sometimes being depressed is an appropriate reaction

to whatever is going on in the world.

Fucking hell.

Lost a few battles and now you’ve given up the war?

You don’t get it.

Wade told me you got that probe moving faster than any man-made object ever.

It was a failure.

You ever see those old World War II movies

with the Allies launching planes off aircraft carriers?

Know how many pilots they lost before they got it right?

You understand that we’re still a few million times slower than the San-Ti?

We’re slow, we’re dumb, and we die easy.

We’re bugs.

Come on. We’re going for a drive.

I don’t wanna go on a drive.


[unsettling music playing]

[dramatic string theme playing]

[crickets chirping]

[Clarence] Bring the rum.

[cicadas buzzing]

People hate bugs.

Been trying to get rid of them forever.

Spray pesticides from planes.

We put poison in the ground.

We try and sterilize ’em.

We swat ’em, zap ’em, step on ’em.

Look around.

They’re not going anywhere.


For the bugs.

[bright, futuristic piano theme playing]

Let’s get back.

We’ve got work to do.

[cicadas buzzing]

[theme song continues]

[theme music fades]

[epic orchestral music playing]

[orchestral music fades]


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