Chloë Grace Moretz Is One Ready Player in Amazon’s ‘The Peripheral’
If you’re looking for a series to fill the maze-shaped hole that Westworld has left in your heart, you should check out Amazon’s The Peripheral. The cerebral science fiction series, from Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, is an adaptation of William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name. And it contains many of the same hallmarks of Westworld: dubious Southern accents, too-immersive gaming, and a twisty plot thread that will have you breaking out the red string.
The Peripheral centers on Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) an expert gamer living in the Blue Ridge mountains ten years in the future, who is struggling to pay for her sick mother’s (Melinda Page Hamilton) medical treatment. Flynne’s brother Burton (Midsommar‘s Jack Reynor) is a Marine veteran of a special “haptic” recon force, who now makes money playing video games and advanced VR sims. But it’s Flynne who is the real gamer in the family, and Burton recruits her to test a new game that offers lucrative opportunities.
The game takes Flynne to 2100-era post-apocalyptic London and embroils her in a game of spies, sex, and murder. But is it really a game, or is it a portal to a very real future? And is she playing an avatar, or is there a flesh and blood element to the intensely real experience? Flynne soon encounters the wealthy Lev (JJ Feild), and his fixer Wilf (Gary Carr), as they search for Wilf’s estranged sister Aelita (Charlotte Riley).
Much like Westworld, The Peripheral plays with questions of reality, time, and the nature of existence. But will the series be able to ground itself in coherence, a challenge that Westworld has struggled with as it gets more and more esoteric? Many modern science fiction properties have fallen into a trap of being either too mysteriously vague or too reliant on its source material at the expense of actually being entertaining (I’m looking at you, Foundation). There’s a world where science fiction can be both cerebral and un-alienating. Lisa Joy herself directed a terrific and underrated sci-fi noir with 2021’s Reminiscence. We’ll have to wait and see whether The Peripheral can draw us in or leave us wanting to pull the plug.
(featured image: Amazon Studios)
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