The Character of Follower in 3 Body Problem, Explained

Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ presents a strange world where a video game and an alien race’s connection bodes uncertain things for humanity. Following the mysterious suicides of scientists all over the world, a sense of doom lingers over the scientific community. Investigation reveals that something darker was going on with them, especially when it comes to their intellectual and mental state. It is to discover the truth behind one of her friend’s deaths that Jin Cheng decides to play the game her friend played before she died. In the game, Jin encounters a character named Follower, who, at the beginning, seems to be a random person. By the end, however, a shocking truth about Follower comes to light. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Follower Has a Shocking Connection to Vera Ye

When Jin Cheng starts playing the video game, she meets two NPCs—a man and a little girl, who look just as real as her. The man introduces himself as the Count of the West, and the girl is called Follower. As her name suggests, Follower’s task is to follow the Count, but what surprises Jin is when Follower dehydrates herself so that she can be carried around and brought back to life when she is rehydrated. Over the course of several levels and Jin’s attempts to solve the puzzle of the world in the video game, she meets Follower in different forms, but it is always the same girl. Even though she is an NPC and not real, Jin becomes attached to her, and it makes her even more adamant about solving the game and saving Follower once and for all.

What starts as an interesting and unique video game experience soon turns into something entirely different when the true purpose of the game comes to light. When Jin starts playing the game, she sees it as a challenge that can only be solved from a scientist’s point of view. It is after successfully unlocking a few levels in the game that she discovers that the setting of the game is real.

The strange world with the three suns in the video game is actually the real world of the San-Ti, who have learned to live in the Chaotic and Stable eras, and with their species on the brink of extinction due to the danger posed by the three suns, they are looking for a new home. After searching for a while, they eventually found out about Earth and how favorable it would be for them to live there, but they also knew that they needed to get a few humans on their side if they were to invade Earth.

When encountering an alien species, it would be obvious for a person to be suspicious of them. Seeing a San-Ti in their true form would be a shock for a human and would make it difficult for the latter to accept the alien, let alone befriend or serve them. This is why, while the game has three suns and the Chaotic and the Stable eras, the NPCs in the game don’t look anything like the San-Ti. They are all modeled to look human, making it easier for the players to accept the setting of the game and be eased into the world of the San-Ti rather than discovering everything about the aliens at once.

The San-Ti, through their Sophons, have the power to show whatever they want to a person, like making an ominous countdown appear in front of Auggie’s eyes. This means that they have the power to create whatever reality they want in the video game and make the characters look however they want. By the time Jin comes around to the game, the Sophons already know a lot about her. They don’t just want to give her a familiar face, but they also want her to be so attached to the character that she feels compelled to want to save the San-Ti, and this is where the Follower comes in.

On the surface, it might seem like Follower is just there to gain Jin’s sympathy, but there is another reason that the Sophons chose Follower to look like that particular little girl. In a later episode, we see a picture of Ye Wenjie with her daughter, Vera. Vera, as a child, looks exactly like Follower, and that’s interesting because it means that the Sophons deliberately chose Follower to look like Vera. Even if Jin didn’t recognize Vera’s younger version, she must have made a connection on a subconscious level, which would make her feel more attached to Follower, even if she doesn’t really understand why.

The Sophons also make Follower remember all her past lives, all the ways her world has been destroyed and she has died, unlike a regular NPC who is not supposed to remember the past versions of a player’s game. This makes Jin even more empathetic with Follower. This is an elaborate plan that is laid out to trap Jin through her kindness and empathy for a child because, in Follower, she sees all the children of San-Ti and how they are doomed to die if she doesn’t help San-Ti invade the Earth and save their children.

While Jin doesn’t fall to this ploy, several people who join Wenjie and Mike Evans and their cult of alien worshippers do. It would be safe to assume that in their case, the character of Follower looked different, someone designed to look more like someone the players loved or cared about, someone whose face would draw them in and make them attached enough to want to help the aliens. So, while the purpose of the Follower remains the same, what she looks like is different for every player.

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