The Peripheral takes the heroine, Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz), and sets her in two different future worlds at the same time in this sci-fi thriller. She struggles to survive in both worlds.
The Peripheral is densely layered with many characters. The story is not always easy to follow. In my description of the plot, I’ll try to be as clear and simple as possible.
A Plot Summary
The year is 2032. Flynne lives near a small town. She lives out in the woods. She works in a 3D print shop and is an expert gamer. She takes care of her mother, Ella (Melinda Page Hamilton), who is blind and ill.
Flynne’s brother Burton (Jack Reynor), also a gamer, lives in an Airstream outside the house. He hangs around with his Marine Corps buddies. They are all connected by “haptics” embedded in their arms.
Burton gets an offer to earn money by checking out a new headset for an experimental VR game. He takes the job because his mom’s medication is expensive. Then he convinces Flynne to try out the game for him, since she’s a better player.
When Flynne enters the game, she finds herself in 2100 London. It’s a real place, not a simulation. She’s traveled through time. She operates as a robotic version of herself called a peripheral. She meets Aelita (Charlotte Riley) who takes her deep into the forbidden laboratories of the Research Institute (RI).
Aelita shoots a beam of light into Flynne’s eye. Flynne quits the game saying it was the best SIM she’d ever seen. She doesn’t know something real was downloaded into her brain through that beam of light. It makes her a target for people from both her current reality and the future timeline.
The remainder of the story deals with the danger Flynne and her family now face because people from both worlds want to get back what she has in her brain and then kill her. Season 1 ends in such a way that everything is set up for a second season to begin immediately, but I haven’t seen any word on that as of this writing.
In the 2032 world, Flynne runs into problems with Corbell Pickett (Louis Herthum), the local rich and powerful bad guy. Tommy (Alex Hernandez), the deputy sheriff and a former crush of Flynne’s, is married to her best friend Billy Ann (Adelind Horan). They both become involved in her situation.
Burton and his buddies are great in a fight and help with everything. There are plenty of fight scenes.
Wilf (Gary Carr) becomes Flynne’s guide and friend in the 2100 world. Aelita is his sister.
There are a couple of evil types in the future. Lev Zubov (JJ Feild) wants the info that was downloaded through Flynne’s eye. So does the head of the RI, Cherise (T’Nia Miller). They both want Flynne dead once they have the info back.
Late in the season (episode 6), Inspector Lowbeer (Alexandra Billings) wants access to Flynne, Burton, and Burton’s friend Connor (Eli Coree). All three are in the game as peripherals. She knows everything and turns out to be an ally for Flynne ready to head into season 2 with her.
General Thoughts on The Peripheral
The logic of the story was muddy and hard to grasp, but managed to be interesting. That was partly due to good looking sets and well done special effects. The mysteries and suspense of the storyline were less well done.
The acting seemed a little on the wooden side, but how much emoting is a robot supposed to do? Chloë Grace Moretz is always good and this was no exception. Alexandra Billings made her entrance like a diva and dominated every scene she was in. She electrified her part.
I thought the idea of “the Jackpot” was interesting. The jackpot was already underway in Flynne’s timeline. It consisted of climate change, pandemics, and a nuclear disaster. Almost 80% of the population of earth died before it was over.
Scott B. Smith created the series based on a novel by William Gibson. I think it will appeal to the dedicated sci-fi and gaming geeks more than other types of viewers.