The Peripheral [8/10]

Does “The Peripheral,” a high-profile eight-episode new show that attempts to corrall the classic William Gibson novel of the same name, deliver the goods? Many sci-fi fans doubted it would but I, like all the others I’ve read, concur that this is a wonderful adaptation. Scott B. Smith, the showrunner and chief writer, has not hesitated to mess with Gibson’s sprawling yet thrilling plot, and his scriptwriting chops are manifestly evident. It is hard to summarize The Peripheral, but essentially it is the tale of Flynne Fisher, a videogame jock (played with brilliance by Chloë Grace Moretz in a notably twangy accent) discovers that the sim she is in is no sim at all but the future and that she is a key pawn in an epochal battle. As always, Gibson’s science fiction feels almost factual and the storyline buzzes. The cinematography is lush, the action scenes are spectacular, the music works, and the direction is a tight at a whipsaw. I had forgotten how incandescent Gibson’s plots are, with plot twists that startle but seem perfect, and this series perfectly paces plot turns and more leisurely character development. The ending of The Peripheral hints at a sequel, which would presumably follow Gibson’s second novel in a projected trilogy, called Agency. I certainly hope so.

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