Synopsis: Set in the future when technology has subtly altered society, a woman discovers a secret connection to an alternate reality as well as a dark future of her own.

Format: Eight episodes, releasing weekly on Prime Video

Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jack Reynor, Gary Carr, JJ Feild, T’Nia Miller, Louis Herthum, Katie Leung, Melinda Page Hamilton, Chris Coy, Alex Hernandez, Julian Moore-Cook, Adeline Horan, Austin Rising, Eli Goree, Charlotte Riley, David Hoflin, Miles Barrow, Hannah Arterton, Chuku Modu

Directors: Vincenzo Natali (episodes 1,2,5), Alrick Riley (episodes 3,4)
Writers: Scott B. Smith (episodes 1,2,3,4,6,7,8), Bronwyn Garrity (episode 4), Jamie Chan (episode 5), Greg Plageman (episodes, ,8)

If you’re somewhat distraught over the news that Westworld has been cancelled by HBO and won’t get a final season, you can find Jonathon Nolan and Lisa Joy’s next project over on Prime Video right now. The two have teamed up with creator/showrunner Scott B. Smith to bring William Gibson’s novel, The Peripheral, to life on screen. 

Much like Westworld and recent cyberpunk-infused series and movies, the world of The Peripheral can quickly get confusing. If you struggled with Westworld, this isn’t as vague, but there’s undoubtedly a reliance on the audience to understand things like video games and time-travel basics. 

The Peripheral stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynne Fisher, a young adult living with and looking after her sick mother (Melinda Page Hamilton), in 2032. Her older brother, Burton (Jack Reynor), lives in a trailer down from their mother’s house. He is an ex-military, and in the year 2032, the military has chosen to use cybernetics-infused squads to help heighten the sense of a unit and be able to work together on missions as one person. However, it does leave Burton with some side effects he has to cope with daily. 

In his downtime, Burton helps gamers through levels in virtual reality games; using his military speciality, he has the upper hand. However, it quickly becomes evident that Flynne is a pro at the games, even if she has a reckless quality that her brother, with military training, does not. But when Burton is sent a new type of headset to try, and with the promise of a big wad of cash they need for their mother’s medicine, he can’t say no — but he asks Flynne if she could enter the game as him, since she’s the one who’s performance (in his game) earned them such a special invitation in the first place.

What’s revealed throughout The Peripherals premiere episode is that when Flynne enters the ‘game,’ she is entering a body that’s been created for her consciousness in the future; this is where the title of the show comes from, as she is entering a ‘peripheral.’ The year Flynne is now is 2099, and she’s in London. But it’s not the London you and I, even Flynne, would picture; its edges are filled with towering skyscrapers, and on the outskirts, destruction debris and signs of a world falling apart. 

Why Flynne has been dragged into the future is, of course, just one of the show’s many questions that are left on your lips when the premiere finishes, but not one that’ll get answered quickly. I’ve watched the first six episodes, and although the world-building is here, it’s a decisively slow-building one. I’m not complaining, however, as each episode left me wanting more as Flynne learnt about why she and her brother got tangled up in this mess, all the while dealing with assassins sent from the future, a druglord on the edge of discovering their secret in the present, and attempting to work with a group run by JJ Feild in the future to get what they want, and what she wants. 

Vincenzo Natali directs the premiere and a couple of other episodes, bringing his thriller/horror routes through to The Peripheral. There’s a rather scary moment in the premiere, which I wish the show had more of, but it does have some scary characters in the likes of David Hoflin and T’Nia Miller’s character, who are looking to put a stop to any time travel. The show touches on transhumanism and some more cyberpunk elements and themes. Still, I hope it will delve more into that direction in either the final two episodes or the following season, especially when the show’s set-up is that you can travel into a body that is or isn’t designed to look like yours sans the time-travel element. 

If you’re sad about Westworld, The Peripheral is your next logical step. It’s not quite the same, but the show has some of the same elements and even feels inspired by The Matrix. The show is also a lot more approachable than either of those two things I just mentioned, which isn’t to say it’s dumbed down; it simply gets around to clearly explaining some things later in the season rather than letting them linger for years. 

You can stream The Peripheral on Prime Video now.