Rings of Power ended, with a Sauron-laden note last week. Amazon is committed to the show for the long term, so it will return eventually, but in the meantime, they are attempting to fill the void. If Rings of Power was Amazon’s attempt to replicate a massively popular fantasy series like Game of Thrones, The Peripheral is their attempt to replicate HBO’s Westworld to some extent, employing many of the same actors. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, are the series’ producers.
Furthermore, The Peripheral is based on a novel by William H. Gibson, author of Neuromancer and a driving force behind the current “metaverse” craze in technology.
“The Peripheral” appears to have been created for people who thought “Tenet” and the fourth season of “Westworld” weren’t complicated enough. This Amazon series, adapted from William Gibson’s sci-fi novel, deals with themes of virtual reality and sort-of time travel, but in a grinding manner that should push it to the periphery of one’s “watch” list, if not off it entirely.
The series is directed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (the team behind “Westworld,” with the former a frequent collaborator of brother Christopher Nolan, director of the aforementioned “Tenet”) and takes place in two future timeframes: Flynne Fisher (Chlo Grace Moretz) lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the year 2032.
Flynne’s future-incarnation handler, Wilf (Gary Carr), fills her in on what’s going on, at least in part; however, he initially omits key details, such as what happened during the Jackpot, the ironic nickname for a series of disasters that depopulated much of the world and spawned the power struggle in which she has become a pawn.
Because of Flynne’s role in that future, threats continue to infiltrate her present, which is as perplexing as it sounds. The real issue, however, is that the scenes as written by Scott B. Smith (who created the show with Nolan and Joy) are long and talky, which may explain why the first three episodes each run over an hour.
Amazon has made several big bets on its streaming efforts, including “The Boys,” which went gold, and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which received a more mixed reaction.
“The Peripheral” isn’t a massive bet, but given the circumstances and genre, the series feels like a glaring flop. Granted, the criteria for success in streaming are frequently difficult to read, but for a show that explores two distinct futures, it doesn’t seem to have much of one.
“The Peripheral” premieres on Amazon Prime on October 21. Warner Bros.