“The Peripheral” is undoubtedly one of the better-made sci-fi shows out there. Its first two episodes boasted some of the most impressive production design, costume design, VFX, SFX, CGI, sound design, and intricate world-building. The performances from the supporting cast are pretty excellent. But when it comes to character work, the hand-to-hand fight sequences, and Chloë Grace Moretz’s performance (who is the lead of the series, FYI), the show absolutely falters. Hence, when the show talks about reality and fiction, the process of time travel, the inevitability of humanity’s extinction, what makes a person, and the concept of free will, it is engaging and thought-provoking. However, when it uses Moretz as its vessel to tackle these profound and relevant topics, it becomes a slog. Although social media isn’t exactly buzzing with talk about the first two episodes of “The Peripheral,” it seems that a fair number of people are tuning into it. So, let’s see what the third episode has in store for us.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Flynne Spills The Details On Her Mission With Aelita
Episode 3 of “The Peripheral” opens with a flashback to the time when Corbell was still a middle-aged man and Jasper was just a kid. And it establishes one of the events that made Corbell the feared man he is in the present, which involves him suffocating a biker gang in a car and then crucifying them. I didn’t exactly get the reasoning behind it, but I am sure it had something to do with ruining the sanctity of Corbell’s town. But what I did get is that Corbell is truly diabolical, and he has Jasper wrapped around his finger. The only person who is as scheming as him is his wife, Mary, as she advises him to use Jasper and Billy Ann’s proximity to the Fishers to know what’s going on in their backyard and then take appropriate measures. Talking about the Fishers, first and foremost, Ella starts to show more signs of recovery as she is seen reading a newspaper. Secondly, Flynne just blurts out everything she has been through to Billy Ann. Thirdly, Burton buys the 3D printing shop Flynne works at with the money given to them by the Klept. While Flynne scolds Burton for overspending, Burton gives it back for letting Billy Ann in on everything, despite knowing that she’s Jasper’s wife, who in turn is Corbell’s nephew.
In the futuristic London timeline, when Lev starts to talk about Wilf’s violent past and then Flynne reiterates her mission with Aelita, and in exchange, Ash tells Flynne that Corbell is after her and her family, my mind begins to wander. Why? Because all this is either information that’s irrelevant (for the time being) or information that we already know. Yet, here we are, spending nearly 20 minutes in an approximately 60-minute-episode exchanging details that could’ve been limited to the recap section or presented in a much more visually engaging way. It’s evident that “The Peripheral” wants to talk about the complex nature of a relationship between a mercenary like Wilf and an android with the soul of a person who exists in a different timeline. It’s trying to establish the bond between Flynne and Burton so that when things actually go sideways (even more sideways than they already have), we feel something for them. But the character interactions are so dumb and repetitive, none of which is helped by Moretz’s absolutely dull performance, that nothing sticks. “The Peripheral” undoubtedly looks great. However, it’s difficult to keep looking at a bejeweled piece of paper that has a yellow-green tint on it for too long. Isn’t it?
Burton Threatens Corbell With Instant Death
We get a glimpse of the dysfunctional relationship between a young Aelita, a young Wilf (then known as Wolf), and their adoptive parents. The adult Wilf pays Mrs. West a visit to find out about Aelita’s whereabouts, and all he gets to know is that she’s apparently living in a place where “snow last fell in London.” Then the mother and adoptive son partake in some verbal sparring until Mrs. West loses her cool and tells Wilf to leave. Flynne shoots down Burton’s plans to straight up go and kill Corbell because he’s a threat (which is confirmed by The Klept). Burton tells her to come up with a better plan to protect themselves, or else they are going ahead with his plan. Instead of doing that, Flynne hops back into her peripheral to retrace her steps from the night she kidnapped Mariel Raphael. And while Wilf gives her a tour of the various devices installed in the peripheral, Burton walks up to Corbell and straight up threatens to kill him if he doesn’t take the $200 grand per week, he’s being offered to leave the Fishers alone. Talking about threats, Cherise threatens to kill Daniel if he doesn’t come up with an efficient way to get rid of Flynne.
The most interesting scene in “The Peripheral” Episode 3 is the conversation between Burton and Corbell. That’s not just because it’s competently shot and edited. Or maybe because Jack Reynor and Louis Herthum are killing it with their performances. It’s because the conversation expands on the information we already know about. We’ve seen what Corbell is capable of and what he has done in the past. We’ve seen his bungalow and his trophy wife. We’ve seen his posse and the kind of respect he wants. And through that conversation, he establishes why he’s the strong man everyone in the town loves to look up to. As for Burton, we’ve seen what he’s capable of doing with his Marine Corp team. We know the kind of pain the cybernetics in his body are inflicting on him. However, when he says that he isn’t just one soldier but a combination of everyone in his team, it hits hard. Because that’s when we understand that their pain isn’t just physical but psychological as well. They aren’t carrying their individual anxieties and traumatic memories with them. They are carrying each other’s weight as well. So, in a way, the pain harms them, binds them, and makes them more dangerous than anyone or anything in that quaint little town.
‘The Peripheral’ Episode 3 Ending Explained: Did Daniel Finally Kill Flynne?
During the concluding moments of episode 3 of “The Peripheral,” Flynne almost gets caught and forced to identify herself by a Met Police android. But Ash and Wilf get her out of that pickle. Cherise goes after an old friend of Aelita’s, i.e., Grace, and kills her. Jasper gets tricked into keeping tabs on the Fishers on Corbell’s behalf. Burton tells Flynne to be careful while Haptic Drifting (the connection that allows Burton’s whole posse to function as a unit) with Wilf because, if she’s not, it can feel like romantic love. With that information, Flynne jumps back into her “peripheral” and figures out Aelita’s clue with Wilf. They realize that Aelita wasn’t referring to the last snowfall in London but the death of John Snow (no, not the “Game of Thrones” character but the 17th-century physician who was pivotal in the development of anesthesia and medical hygiene and worked heavily on cholera outbreaks). This information leads the duo to the operating chamber in which Burton’s peripheral was operated upon. There Flynne and Wilf find two decaying peripherals, the replica of the Fisher household and Aelita’s implant. However, they are ambushed by Daniel and an android. Although Flynne and Wilf manage to defeat the two, it seems to cause some damage to Flynne’s physical body.
In “The Peripheral” Episode 2 and in this episode, we’ve been seeing that jumping back and forth into the peripheral is causing Flynne’s limbs to jam up. Well, it’s not stated explicitly. But that’s the only unnatural thing she is doing. So, her physical issues can be chalked up to that. When Daniel hits Flynne with that sonic blaster, we actually see a bruise appear around one of her eyes. Flynne has been hit with the sonic blast (when she was in the Burton peripheral) before, and it didn’t cause any damage to her body. The peripheral died almost instantly, but the injury didn’t travel through space and time. Flynne’s current peripheral, though, appears to be slightly stronger than the Burton one because it survives more than one sonic blast. However, it looks like the durability of the peripheral itself causes damage to its driver. Is that a good bargain? As for the replica of the Fisher household, it seems like Aelita’s plan to rope Flynne (or Burton) has more to it than meets the eye. The fact that the replica has Burton’s entire Marine Corps team in there doesn’t bode very well because it means she has probably seen a version of the kind of ambush they are going to endure in her timeline. Is she eventually going to help the Fishers? Only time will tell. All that said, the editing and fight choreography in that final fight scene were absolute garbage.