Have a safe and happy New Year’s, everyone.
I commented on the first three episodes of Amazon’s The Peripheral, their adaptation of Book One of the Jackpot Trilogy by William Gibson. While I liked many parts of it, I was ultimately disappointed. The show improved by prodigious leaps, however, once the character Ainsley Lowbeer appeared on the screen, and the last five episodes set up a decent storyline, ending on an acceptable cliffhanger. Acceptable, I should say, if Amazon gives us a second season.
Ainsley Lowbeer is a character of Future London, a member of the Metropolitan Police. In the books she is a great deal more, a nearly invulnerable character with extraordinary legitimate and informal power. In the series, while she is still powerful, it seems that Cerise Nuland (T’Nia Miller) from the Research Institute is her equal, or at least nearly. And the series still clings closely to the events in near-future South Carolina, in “the county.” At the end, while Corbel Pickett is decommissioned, he’s not out of the story yet, and Deputy Tommy Constantine is walking a tightrope of secrets. Flynne (Chloe Grace Moretz) has hatched a daring and cunning plan to stop Future London from killing her family and herself. With Lowbeer’s help, she may achieve it (in Season Two). The biggest departure from the books is the origin of Netherton (Gary Carr), and his relationship to Aelita, who is his sister in affinity in this version.
Alexandra Billings immerses herself in the enigmatic character of Lowbeer. The series cast a trans woman to play a trans woman, with one hundred percent success. I’m biased, because Lowbeer was my favorite character in the book, but once she showed up, my interest in the show perked right back up.
The showrunners are still infatuated with the Boy’s Club aspect, focusing the story on Flynne’s brother Burton (Jack Reynor) and his army buddy Conner (Eli Goree). In the season-ender, though, Flynne, wearing her Future London peripheral, gets to be the badass fighter, and, in a moment with plenty of resonance with Doctor Who, uncovers a tool that will allow her to access timelines “upstream” from her 2032 “present.” (No, it’s not a TARDIS.)
Wilf (aka Wolf) Netherton’s story has become more complicated, as it appears his sister is part of the Neoprim movement, which the season spend almost no time developing.
Watch this show for the excellent cast, some very fine written dialogue, and good special effects, even if the story manages to be somehow more portentous and less coherent than Gibson’s source material.