The Peripheral only keeps getting better the further it delves into its science fiction. Authentic, yet also… terrifying, what works best for the William Gibson written series is how the show’s become one of those foreboding tales about what happens when technology takes it too far; as much of it feels like the natural next step of where technology is currently going, especially regarding VR and Robotics.
For a society glued to smart phones and search engine results, the hook for the series is how it’s only slightly off-kilter to the technological realities of today. Which is sort of what the consequences of this episode showcases: when we’ve gone over the line, also known as, what happens when technological breakthroughs hit the JACKPOT of human progress (the answer is simply: regress, though I’ll avoid the whys for spoilers’ sake).
When we last left off with episode 3’s Haptic Drift, the audience was left to learn more about the series more villainous players, particularly in a well-portrayed Corbell Pickett and doctor Cherise, both of whom, have obviously excelled in their roles as stoic bond villain (Cherise) meets breaking superbad (Pickett). What this leads to in this week’s episode revelations are less direct though more implied, all for ways that raise the stakes of the series’ direction heading to its ultimate end.
Continuing on their seasonal arc, Wilf continues to look for his sister Aelita. Through some flashbacks, slow dancing, and a lot of hints we learn a bit more about… well not a whole lot. What we do learn, regarding some of the more science fiction storyline thrown at the audience, is that without Aelita’s necessary immunity booster (the device apparently everyone has in future London) we don’t know how long she can last before she dies of, what I can only assume at this point, will be ultra-covid-variant-17 given the series is predicting a future reality (also kidding, but watch the episode to find out what the great future threat is in this episode).
That said, some storylines seem like they’re not going anywhere. Police deputy Tommy grows suspicious given he saw Pickett and Burton’s handshake but that’s about it regarding that story. Though it’ll likely be details meant for a more present-centric conclusion to the Pickett-centric storyline, it’s growing to be the less interesting of the plots given that the only real thing drawing us in for that story was when there’s a southern-styled gunfight much like the series’ first two episodes. I’ll also admit, the stakes for the stories from the main timeline versus the future one feel unevenly weighted, because with their mother’s cure and the threat of Pickett being at bay thanks to last week’s payoff, there’s not much to worry about just yet.
For the better storyline, it’s obvious Flynne herself is losing it due to peripheral technology as there’s weird things she’s beginning to struggle with such as simple tasks like squeezing the toothpaste tube. This episode delves into the costs of haptics and synergized technology, as though she could transfer her data into the future, coming back is starting to showcase some neurological effects. A hard black eye. Losing her shit. This episode is a bit of a recuperation episode for Flynne, causing her to take it easy and re-explore some home movies, giving the viewers some sincere backstory about her and Burton growing up.
What’s nifty is that because she’s out of commission we see Conner step up in a big way. As characters get pushed to the edge take action. From a screenwriting perspective, I will admit: this is what makes this show fantastic. It levels up the stakes every time. There is always something new at risk in every scene and this tension, is what keeps the plot moving forward. I also really like how every ensemble member is proactively trying to help or contribute, as each person gets a mini-story arc and no one feels like they’re there simply to uplift or provide context to a separate character. Oddly, The Peripheral is a show about people… and their strange loss of humanity in the face of technological adversity, as it’s the very progress of tech that’s killing off what it means to be human.
The science fiction mind you is only even cooler this week. The passive usage of futuristic technology that accentuates the drama is a very good look at what’s done well, with this week, showing off not just bots and VR… but something game changing, as we get one of the biggest reveals of the series regarding what’s happened. Fans of time travel and Back to The Future logic, see the sort of the inevitable conclusion given the inherent time loop in the series. What happens as a result though… is going to be the big takeaway for the series. Speaking of which…
Though The Peripheral is definitely much more slow-paced now compared to how it started, what’s great about it is the science fiction. It’s our strangely very realistic world of tomorrow that’s as equal parts beautiful as it is bleak. Jackpot was not only a perfect title for this episode, but a culmination of what’s been really great sci-fi. Kudos to the world the team has built here at Amazon.