The Peripheral is the Matrix-esque Show We Didn’t Know We Needed

Dec 18, 2022

Amazon Prime’s The Peripheral is captivating television, bringing just about everything audiences loved and raved about with The Matrix to the small screen, an altered reality, intensely choreographed fighting scenes, and the main characters even wearing the coolness of all-black when they enter into the other reality.

However, The Peripheral differs from The Matrix in that it is set a decade into the future where new technology has changed society in subtle ways, affecting the lives of individuals as well as the collective whole, and where VR gaming is the biggest buzz. This becomes the launching pad of the series for the main character, Flynne Fisher, a VR gamer who is delivered a Peripheral, a kind of VR headset that is really a connection to an alternate reality that is a darker future of her own world and timeline.

The series is based on a 2014 science fiction novel by William Gibson of the same name, and very much like the novel, is about the present journey of the characters despite the story itself being about time-travel and the blending of realities derived from choice, ambition, and ultimately, consequence, all hallmarks of the human condition. Admittedly, it is the more simple lens of the lustrous sci-fi story that grounds it and makes it not only palatable but delicious, similar to the first installment of The Matrix where the character of “Neo” was more Thomas Anderson, a loner and hacker pondering existence.

Amazon Studios

Similarly, Flynne is a protagonist that’s a recluse but that is where the similarities of the two characters diverge. Flynne is a young woman in rural America, not a green-tinted metropolis like Thomas Anderson, and she has more people in her real-life than Thomas Anderson aka Neo. However, despite being surrounded by her brother, mother, and a small town of close-knit townies that seemingly know her better than she knows herself, Flynne is still very much alone, absent of purpose and a life of her own; Flynne is the caregiver for Burton, her brother, who has PTSD from fighting a war in addition to chronic pain from cybernetic-implants and lives his post-war life like a teenager would in a trailer not too far from the main house, and a terminally-ill mother who is blind.Related: Explained: The Philosophy of The Matrix Movies

This is why Flynne seeks refuge in VR gaming, it’s her escape, a chance to be someone else other than the version of herself that she is. So, where Neo wanted to get out of the Matrix into the real world to be free, Flynne is doing the exact opposite in order to find herself. But it is Flynne’s family and friends that alters this alternate reality/time traveling story for her and helps to make The Peripheral differ from The Matrix because feeling alone while still being around people, even those who are supposed to be the closest, is a real thing and is very relatable.

Indeed, what makes The Peripheral unique and stand on its own despite its Matrix-esqueness is the familial bond of the main character and the supporting characters within the very small rural town and how that grounds the story. So, while the story offers a mind-bending journey to a different reality and the potential for different timelines, it is also tethered to the innate human struggle of complex relationships and experiences.

Prime Video

How these relationships and experiences evolve and unfold is equally as important to the plot of the show as is the mystery that Flynne and her partner (and potential paramour) Wilf Netherton are attempting to unravel. The juxtaposition between the realities – 2032, which is Flynne’s present, and 2099 in a future-London – is both what detaches Flynne from her current struggles and draws her to greater purpose.

Prime Video

As a sci-fi streaming television series, The Peripheral is cut from the same cloth as some of the bests: The Man in the High Castle, For All of Mankind, Fringe, and Westworld, the latter actually sharing executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy with The Peripheral, while also offering its own nuances and elements. At the start of the series, Flynne uses VR in her reality to escape from the troublesome conditions and circumstances of her family, an extremely relatable choice, but when that same VR vehicle offers her not only a way out but a larger perspective of life and existence, the character is put on a path of self-actualization that feels both human and relatable.

Related: The Peripheral Review: Epic Sci-Fi From the Makers of Westworld

Subsequently, The Peripheral is a show that knows where it’s going and with so many potentially engaging ways to get there for audiences. But moreover, The Peripheral is providing the perfect jaunt of science fiction to tantalize and tease the mind the way science fiction is supposed to, simultaneously offering the much-needed introspection of self and society. This is what The Matrix did in film in 1999. And with the boom of streaming television, The Peripheral is the second-coming of that offering, something audiences didn’t know was needed.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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