The ending of The Peripheral explained and all your questions answered
- December 9, 2022
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Prime Video’s gung-ho sci-fi series The Peripheral kicked off a stunning Season 1 finale, to say the least. Flynne Fisher (Chloe Grace Moretz) made some literally life-changing decisions to protect her family while alliances leapfrogged the rails in the distant future.
It was action-packed, suspenseful and just a little bit confusing – we wouldn’t expect anything less from the time travel thriller. In the spoiler-packed section below, let’s address the biggest questions raised in this twisty finale.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Why does Flynne technically kill himself?
From the very first episode, the Research Institute (of future London in 2099, some 70 years before Flynne’s time) took a swipe at Flynne simply because she’d seen the mysterious Aleita too much, thanks to the little “SIM” game configuration. She was pursued by mercenary bounty hunters, local Clanton County drug lord Corbell Pickett, and retired assassin Bob. She successfully left them all in the dust, but Dr. Cherise Nuland, a prominent figure at the Research Institute, is relentless and eventually plots to blow up a Flynnes County silo that would surely wipe out her and everyone she loves.
But Flynne comes up with an ingenious plan to save herself and her town, even though it seems she may have disappeared from the scene. In future London, she lets Inspector Lowbeer guide her to a “stub portal” (a “stub” is an alternate shard timeline) where she can reconnect with her body in the past. She convinces Dr. Nuland that she finally escaped by destroying the coordinates (enclosed in a fancy antique-looking clock) and wakes up in the (fictional) mountain town of Clanton, North Carolina – a reboot that creates a new shard timeline , or stub, a Dr. Nuland won’t be easy to get hold of.
As this dooms her old, unmanned body to die of malnutrition while connected to the headset, Flynne decides to turn that doomed self into an opportunity. She lets Connor shoot her to save Dr. Freeing Nuland from her back and Dr. Acting to Nuland like a favor from Inspector Lowbeer, leading Nuland to think the Inspector is an ally. Flynne then wakes up in future London, where she and Lowbeer get back together. Now they can start working on their master plan: accessing the world-saving data in Flynne’s brain that will help them prevent the jackpot apocalypse (actually a series of catastrophic events, from bee deaths to a global pandemic) from ravaging civilization ever extinguished.
In this final trick, things get tricky at the Westworld level. Due to the show’s editing, it appears as if the dead Flynne’s consciousness was transferred to Flynne’s periphery (the future robotic body accessed via the special headset). However, the former Flynne died without wearing a headset. This could be that because Flynne created a new base stub, she was just a pilot in her old body. When it died, she returned to her new stub, and from there, still wearing the headset, she was able to jump into her future peripheral. Good luck decrypting!
dr Cherise Nuland and Grace Hogart, a researcher at the Research Institute.
Why does the research institute want to kill Flynne?
The research institute intends to eliminate Flynne because something has to do with bacteria in her brain. That whole ultra-realistic “SIM” game sequence in Episode 1, in which Flynne controls her brother Burton’s peripheral (the robot the headset is connected to), turned out to be part of Aleita’s plan to deliver “the entire library” of files steal and hide from research institute. Aleita thought she could download the stolen files into Burton’s haptic implants and store them in the past timeline where they would be untraceable. Because Flynne doesn’t have implants, “the headset translated the data into bacterial DNA,” Ash says. This data then began to “colonize” their brains. (That explains all the seizures Flynne had.)
Which dates exactly? Data on something called a “neural adaptation mechanism,” which sounds like a mind control doodad. In episode 5, Research Institute staff member Grace naively reveals to Aleita that they are behind the haptic implants embedded in US soldiers in the stub, including Burton and Connor. These implants can “subtly affect” the subject’s “neural chemistry” in the brain’s “compassion center.” The research institute believes that with this technology, it can prevent mob violence and influence society on a larger scale. Grace lets it slip that they are already implementing some of these changes.
dr Nuland wants to make sure this information is never made public, fearing both backlash and the increased risk of the technology being hacked and weaponized. For these reasons, she intends to do whatever it takes to destroy Flynne and the priceless data in her brain.
Lev Zubov’s green-eyed “technical” worker Ash, who uses “quantum tunnels” to communicate with the stubs, reveals that she would like to sequence the bacteria and present the data to the neoprims, or neo-primitives – those who survived the jackpot and aren’t the biggest fans of the future world’s power structure. (It’s possible these are Aleita’s people, all of whom have gouged out the implants behind their ears, which are used to make “neuronal connections” with others and give an “immunity boost”, but also suppress memory.) Ash hopes that the neoprims “will end the world and build a new one in its place.”
What is the Research Institute doing in Flynne’s timeline?
In Episode 7, Inspector Lowbeer Flynne reveals the Metropolitan Police’s fascinating intel. She reveals that Connor did not lose his limbs in the Texas War in the original timeline before Flynne’s stub was created. The haptic technology that he and Flynne’s brother Burton are integrated into hasn’t been developed in a couple of decades. In this original timeline, Burton – who fought as a common soldier rather than an upgraded one – was killed while Connor survived unharmed.
Lowbeer says the research institute opened up Flynne’s butt and tinkered with it at least a decade earlier than Flynne thought. The result is major discrepancies between the two timelines, the most pressing of which is the accelerated advent of the jackpot apocalypse. only dr Nuland knows why the research institute pushed it.
Lev Zubov slurps all the tea.
Is Lev Zubov a villain?
He’s rich, Russian, and has an impressive goatee, so he must be a villain, right? However, by the start of the season, Zubov had been positioned more as a good guy, working on the same page as his friendly friend Wilf. However, tensions in the Zubov compound soon begin to simmer until Ash reveals that Zubov is a “killer”. Flynne learns from Wilf that Zubov is interested in cloning – another red flag – and Zubov begins both lying to Wilf and dodging his questions, including one about what Zubov’s motivations and goals really are. “Be careful what you ask… I would hate to consider you a friend,” says Zubov.
In Episode 4, Zubov really rocks his villain status. Unable to bear the thought of other versions of himself living out there in multiple timelines, he hired assassins (via a “quantum tunnel” that allows him to communicate with the past) to protect his family about 70 years ago to murder splinter timelines.
At least Zubov reveals more about his intentions: All along he was paying Aleita to steal the research institute’s data on how to open a stub so that the Klepts – wealthy families like Zubov’s, who benefited from the jackpot and became de facto rulers of the world – can use the splinter timelines for their own immoral means of making money. For example, Zubov’s brother Alexei used butts to test drugs on human populations in the past.
Of course, Aleita turned against Zubov after destroying an implant that had suppressed her memories. Now she remembers that it was Zubov’s father and the other Klepts who wiped out her family and Wilfs along with 5 million others for fear of contagion, and Aleita joins forces with other children of the deceased to wage war with the Klepts to start. All they need is the Research Institute’s technology, the blueprints of which are stored in Flynne’s mind.
What Does The Peripheral Post-Credits Scene Mean?
In a brief but eerie post-credits scene, we get a pretty clear idea of what Zubov’s intentions will be in future seasons. Zubov and his wife go to a prestigious place for lunch, where they spot three older men waiting at their table. Dominika fears the worst from the influential members of the Klept, says goodbye to her husband and quickly leaves the area.
Meanwhile, Zubov receives a lesson in cauterizing wounds from the Klept masters, who imply that he must root out Aleita – who could pose a threat to her status – and her ilk, just as the Klept rooted their families in the “transit camp” decades ago all of England.
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