Peripheral, The – Season 1


“This ain’t just another sim.”

Main Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jack Reynor

Created By: Scott B. Smith, based on a novel by William Gibson

I am a fan of time travel stories. I also acknowledge that they are difficult and even the best showrunners struggle to keep them coherent. It’s a joy to see one come together as well as Amazon Prime Video’s The Peripheral.

The Peripheral begins in 2030, in a small town in North Carolina. Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) lives with her mother Ella (Melinda Page Hamilton) and brother Burton (Jack Reynor) while working at the local 3D printing shop.

Flynne has the world on her shoulders. Ella is ill and needs medicine they can’t afford. Burton is a war veteran who, along with his buddies, continues to suffer the consequences of his time in battle. The family is barely holding it together.

Flynne’s escape comes in the form of virtual reality games, which have replaced 2023’s video games with a more immersive experience. She loves VR and she is very good at the games (or sims, as they are called). When Burton is offered a lot of money to test a new VR headset based on Flynne’s expertise while using his avatar, it’s a chance they can’t throw away.

But this sim is not what it seems. Soon enough, Flynne and Burton are dangerously tangled in the politics of a different timeline. How they get there and what is happening to this world, and their own, make up the storylines of The Peripheral.

The Good

Characters and Performances

The characters in The Peripheral are both complicated and very simple. Neither heroes nor villains stray far from their respective lanes but their motives and actions are filled with contradictions.

Flynne is more than a beautiful young woman: she’s smart and fierce and driven. Burton, who seems at first to be unmotivated and uninteresting, proves to be far more than he lets on.

The villains (about whom you will learn nothing from me) are all oozing with malice, greed, and menace.

There are a few characters that don’t fall squarely into either the hero or villain camps. One of them is Wilf Netherton (Gary Carr). Wilf is not from Flynne’s timeline, does not initially have her best interests at heart, and is easily the most conflicted character on the show. He’s caught between his past and his present, and his loyalties are constantly tested.

The lead and main supporting cast in this series is excellent. Moretz has grown from a good child actor into a very capable adult actor whose character feels worn down and desperate, but not beaten.

I also think Reynor is a standout as Burton. There are a lot of flashy villain roles, but they aren’t as nuanced as this hero brother who has seen more than he ever wanted.

The villains? Suffice to say that every villainous actor seems to be thoroughly enjoying their nefarious roles.


The special effects in The Peripheral are fantastic. Watching Flynne or Burton play a sim is like being inside a video game. Quite a bit of the story takes place in London – but not the London of our world. This London is extraordinary and prone to changing before a stunned Flynne’s eyes.


Time travel stories live and die on the strength of the writing. While there are a few places to get confused in The Peripheral, they almost always find a way to work in some exposition to help the audience keep up. You might need to find a little explainer for the finale.

The Bad

This Guy

There is one villain who is too bland for my taste. While the greedy, soulless, sociopathic small-town overlord has the ring of truth, it is out of place with the other, more interesting baddies.

What Now?

There really isn’t a good way to avoid every single pitfall of time travel. The Peripheral’s showrunners do a great job, but there are a few things that slip through.

The Romance

There is a romance in here that doesn’t belong, at least not in this season. I would have been happier with hints at an attraction.

The Verdict

There’s not a lot of bad in The Peripheral, and I’m being deliberately vague to avoid spoilers. Overall it’s a very good sci-fi series with outstanding writing, performances, and a premise that’s unusual enough to keep the pace high throughout the eight episodes.

Unfortunately, The Peripheral will not be back, at least not on Amazon Prime Video. It was renewed in February by Amazon only to be summarily canceled in August, supposedly because of the actor’s and writer’s strikes. This kind of petulant move does nothing to endear me to the studio bosses responsible for the strikes and their lack of resolution. This is a good show. It deserved a lot better from Amazon. Here’s hoping another studio has the good sense to pick it up.

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  • Maria

    September 10, 2023 at 8:17 am

    I know so many people, friends, family, and coworkers who watched this show and found it exciting and can’t wait for season two. Maybe Netflix or paramount will pick it up. Such a stupid mistake to cancel it.

    • Sue Millinocket
      to Maria

      September 18, 2023 at 2:46 pm

      I sure hope someone else picks it up!

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