The Peripheral Season 1 Review
When the trailer for The Peripheral came out, it promised a polished, sci-fi experience and an interesting story that answers big questions. Season 1 of the show lived up to the first of these expectations, but fell short on the second.
Peripheral follows the life of Flynne Fisher, a young girl living a simple life in a small town in 2032. He spends his time engaging in VR video games called the sims. One day, he and his brother beta test a new sim card that introduces them to a fantastic new world. But Flynne soon realizes that there is nothing virtual in this world – it is the future itself.
The 8-episode series is off to a good enough start. It takes you to two worlds – Clanton, USA in 2032 and London in 2099. Clanton’s scenes are shrouded in yellow fog, while future London has the polished steel and glass look of any futuristic setting. All the visual cues of the sci-fi series are present – sophisticated robots, high-end technology and, accordingly, avant-garde fashion.
While the high production value attracts the audience, the story lets them down. It feels like there are five different storylines at any given point. While each is interesting in its own right—whether it’s the relationship between a nephew and his abusive uncle or the politically motivated betrayal of an aide—they don’t quite fit together to form a bigger picture. The show struggles to balance all these storylines leading to a confusing structure.
To make the unevenly paced show even more unbalanced, The Peripheral is also peppered with tons of one-on-one conversations. The characters talk to each other a lot. They discuss future and past, memories and history, control and violence. While some of these conversations led to the show’s more poignant moments, most dragged the pace down without offering any particular insight.
The creators of the show said that they want to focus on the humanity of the characters. While these conversations are admirable efforts, they are far from powerful emotional impact. Unfortunately, some of them just talk rather than show.
The weak narrative feels even more of a letdown due to the show’s unique and interesting characters. T’Nia Miller’s charisma as the main antagonist is irresistible, and Eli Goree does a fantastic job as the disabled Conner. Charlotte Riley’s Aelita takes the cake. His sarcasm and incomprehensibility make him the perfect enigma. either Flynne nor Wilf Netherton, the main characters of the series, made it to this list. Both are compelling characters, but there isn’t much in the way of personal development and ultimately feel a bit flat towards the end.
In itself, this series could not decide what it wanted to be. And there were several options: looking at the relationship between technology and people and how one affects the other; a post-apocalyptic future with three major political powers constantly at war with each other; a battle that features colonial themes mixed in a romance between the past and the future. Instead, the show tries to put it all together, and it’s like mixing three very tasty dishes into one unappetizing whole.