The Peripheral: Haptic Drift   Books Included 
October 29, 2022 8:40 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

The investigation into Aelita's disappearance continues.
posted by mygothlaundry (19 comments total)
And I’m only about 10 minutes in and going …”what?” Why even base it on a book if you want to make a completely different tv show? Fair warning, y’all, much more unnecessary violence and trauma and I may nope out.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:42 PM on October 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Aaand - I doubt I will watch another episode. What a damn shame, they have a great cast, the sets and effects are fantastic. Just following the book more closely *cough* at all *cough* could have been great but torture and gore is not what I signed up for. Also none of this even makes sense.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:30 PM on October 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

To continue harping on about capitalization from the last post, the subtitles annoyingly capitalized both "klept" and "jackpot".

Understandable that it would be hard to depict an interface where implanted phones are controlled with the tip of one's tongue on the roof of one's mouth, so I get the change to the interface for the purposes of visual storytelling. However, I don't remember the shared sensorium going so far as to include sharing the symptoms of a hangover. This made me think of Case toggling between the matrix and Molly's simstim output in Neuromancer. Despite suspecting that Lowbeer will have less of a role than in the book (I'm also curious about changes to her character due to being played by an American), I found myself hoping that she'd appear when the Met Michikoid took an interest in Flynne.

Wilf's infatuation with Flynne was one-sided in the book and I hope it stays that way here (I was happy to see his facility for on-the-fly dissembling, the mention of having a hangover, and his taking nips from a flask), but I have my doubts considering Flynne's recollection of the moment after disconnecting from the peripheral and the looseness of the adaptation thus far, reinforced by the change so that Deputy Tommy Constantine is married rather than being "in Flynne's opinion the closest thing in town to an attractive single man".

Damage inflicted to the peripheral crossing over to the user (and the bleedover with Flynne's hand cramping up) seems like a change in keeping with the greater level of action overall; easier to put characters in danger this way. I guess Conner won't try to bodily dive-bomb a car from an upper floor of a building in the show.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 10:49 PM on October 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't remember the shared sensorium going so far as to include sharing the symptoms of a hangover.

Definitely not. It was just audio and video.

Wilf's infatuation with Flynne was one-sided in the book

Not entirely. There were scenes where she carried Wheelie Boy around affectionately and took him to bed that suggested there was at least some mutual interest, which was reinforced by some parts of the exposition of the second book.

Deputy Tommy Constantine is married

I think they're still just engaged and I'll bet that something will come up that will break the engagement.
posted by Candleman at 11:09 PM on October 29, 2022

I found the eye-scream scene in last weeks episode distasteful and annoying, but I found the opening mass murder even more annoying. The creation of a ‘bad man’ character who is willing to commit ultra violence for little to no reason is mostly a TV convention and makes this program as realistic as Magnum, PI. Otoh, I can see why Amazon wouldn’t want to run a program about people printing their own phones in the breakdown of capitalism, so we get cartoon bad guys and glowing lights.
posted by The River Ivel at 2:10 AM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Not entirely.
You're right, I overstated things when I said "one-sided", but my impression is that there was more interest on Wilf's side than on Flynne's. The absence of Rainey (other than as the name used in Wilf's spur-of-the-moment deception, which I appreciated) might also point to this amounting to more than in the novel, though this could also just be a matter of keeping the cast streamlined.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 6:30 AM on October 30, 2022

which was reinforced by some parts of the exposition of the second book

Jeez, I need to go back and read Agency again... I got absolutely nothing out of it.

I can understand the distaste at all the graphic violence, but it hasn't bothered me as much. I'm still very much on board, with the slight worry about how cartoonishly "Dr Evil" Cherise and the RI seem to be. She goes to ridiculously complicated lengths to kill, can't seem to capture one guy, and leaves her pyramid data portal of all human knowledge completely unprotected (but for the self-parting waterfall curtain) for any intruder with an eyeball, and a high threshold for pain, to access.

And, as I mentioned previously... if RI owns the stub and its access points, how is it they haven't been able to block access by Lev et al!
posted by pjenks at 7:12 AM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

All the comments here and in the Show Only thread are on point and I love y'all.

The River Ivel summed it up the most painfully... I re-watched the first ep a couple times and kinda dug the surgical scene the third time through, but this opening scene is much more questionable. Hadn't we already adequately established what a piece of shit Pickett (who I don't even remember from the book) was? I can accept violence, but less so when the e.g. gratuitous child abuse and torture porn don't serve much of a purpose.

And pjenks that is a good question. In the book, it was a black box in China that maintained the connection to the stub. At least Dr Evil Cherise's lair and the whole damn show is gorgeous to look at when it's not delivering torture porn for inane reasons? And the lighting is really good? I do love what they've done with the arch-villain. The show wants to go over the top on every single thing and I respect it for that.

Nobody's mentioned that the characters in the books have control of when they'd like to exit from their connections to stubs/peripherals/etc, at will. That is a cheap way to raise the stakes, and the stakes were already very high in the book. It has made a big difference in the narrative already.

I don't want to see Wilf and Flynne make out again.
posted by tovarisch at 7:40 AM on October 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I don’t think I’ve mentioned in the Books threads yet, but my personal headcanon replaces the stub location with the town of Letterkenny, Ontario.

It makes perfect sense! A brother and sister duo with complementary skill sets, lots of boys fighting, the Toughest Man In Town contest…

Where are you going? I haven’t even told you about Squirrelly Dan for President!
posted by sixswitch at 10:57 AM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I can accept violence, but less so when the e.g. gratuitous child abuse and torture porn don't serve much of a purpose. QFT. Couldn't agree more. Both scenes - the cars and the bees - do nothing except establish that a Bad Character is actually Bad, Very Bad. I guess, if this show is much smarter than I think it is, an argument could be made that the use of innocence (the kid, the bees, maybe even the cars themselves) to destroy is the whole point, but I don't think it is that bright. Anyway, they had a perfectly good underlying thesis in the idea of the bystander, of Wilf and Flynne and to some extent Lev, just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting swept up in events. That's what I think the overarching idea of agency in the whole trilogy is all about: in the face of the jackpot, we don't have any. Maybe Lowbeer has some, but nobody else. But the TV show has tossed that idea in favor of a really simplistic narrative which is bumming me out. It looks so sophisticated and it sounds good and the acting is great - to deliver a straight up good guys vs. bad guys plot? Bah. Lazy, uninspired, cliche ridden - watch Burton and his good guy haptic crew shoot the Bad Guy's beer glass? Please. What happened here? It seemed so promising and then this episode just, I don't know, I have crashed right off it. Enjoy, y'all, I'm out. Maybe I read the books too recently or something, but this isn't working for me.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:50 AM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Nthing what everyone is saying. I'm really disappointed that they turned whatever the Macguffin plot driver of the book was (I've forgotten) into yet another evil corporation with mustache twirling badguy (no matter how stylishly she dresses the Bad Dr is still a mustache twirler who'd be right at home as a Bond baddie).
posted by kokaku at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2022

Weakest of the three episodes, by far, and I will keep watching anyway. Did not like: Action Wilf; rapid puzzle-solving (Snow, the clock); Corbell's dealings with and disposal of the motorcycle crew; Wilf and Flynne kissing. Gibson's writing is so much smarter than all of that, and this episode went for plot and action instead of evocative, impressionistic mystery.

That said: Wilf the bullshit artist gets an outing. We've seen him worried, we've seen him brooding, but this is the first indication that he is a creature of the moment and can spin something up at need. I think book Wilf has an affection for Lev; show Wilf is as much a tool of the klept as Jasper is of Uncle Corbell. (Really? Flynne just somehow forgot that her bestie is related to Pickett? COME ON, WRITERS.)

Book Corbell's sin is that he's a greedy builder, and has a hand in indirectly killing folks. Bad enough. For Flynne, anyhow--she despises him for destroying her town. But crucifixion? Making young Jasper an accomplice? Too much, writers; his book-evil was to scale.

I feel like the show has mis-managed Wilf's romantic streak. Yes, he has a little crush on Flynne--confesses as much to Rainey, in the end--but book Wilf is offended by how others romanticize the past, whether it's his observations of Ash's modifications, his dislike for the cosplay zones, or his revulsion at the patchers. He certainly doesn't want to go back, but he has a gimlet eye for how others express that mourning for an earlier time. That very much gets lost in the show, gone in favor of sentimental for people action-and-kissin'-Wilf. Pity.

Too much villain! Dr. Nuland (and oh my God, her stunning outfits!!!) should be more of a hidden hand, more like the Remembrancer and Hamid. But a good callback to Aelita calling her "the queen bee" in Ep. 1. Likewise Corbell (also the perfect face for the role). Wilf's parents are no prizes either, though I find myself interested in what kind of service to king and country they were doing when they adopted Wilf and Aelita. (Aelita owns a peri in her own image? And her mother sort of has one too, that singing maid? Were they spies? Diplomats? Both, as was book-father?)

Liking Conner a lot. I imagine Gibson stuck in traffic behind a Penske truck, and generating the seed for a character who wants to be violently in motion at top speed. And while I didn't like the content of the shit-giving between Conner and Burton, I appreciated its presence, that back-and-forth of brothers in arms (in more ways than one).

Fingers crossed for the fourth episode and more geo-political intrigue.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I reread the book between episode 2 and 3, and found myself wishing I had either not done that, or was rereading Agency instead of watching this. (And I didn't like Agency much.)

The only scene that I really liked was the flashback to Wilf getting adopted. That filled in some interesting detail about the post-jackpot recovery time, and showed how Wilf is not part of the klept despite being close to it.
posted by joeyh at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I had been finding Jack Reynor's version of Burton to be a bit boring in the first couple eps but I found his performance in the scene w/ Pickett at the cafe to be riveting. I really like watching his micro-expression work.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:45 AM on October 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm very much enjoying the casting and the performances of the actors (Conner is exactly what I pictured from reading the novel, as is Wilf, and Grace-Moretz is disappearing into Flynne) and the world-building is amazing. But yeah... the writer of the show is not at Gibson's level and it shows (although re: eyeballs and crucifixion there is definitely some precedent for disgusting body horror in Gibson's work though it is odd seeing it on screen when so much other stuff is cut from the story).

I'm on board and enjoying the show so far.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:36 AM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Still enjoying but bit was already a good story - how far are they going to go with it? Still looking forward to seeing the Tipstaff inspire semiotic dread.
posted by aesop at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2022

One thing that's bugging me is the whole stub enthusiast thing. In the books it was described as something with a pretty low barrier to entry, at least for the filthy rich. It was just a matter of deciding to do it. In the show, Lev describes himself as a stub enthusiast, implying that it's a not-unknown hobby such that people would casually know about it, but is unable to get into a stub himself despite having the fabulous money and power of the klept without resorting to corporate espionage. Doesn't line up.

I find myself interested in what kind of service to king and country they were doing when they adopted Wilf and Aelita.

I had understood the concept of service that the adoptive parents mentioned as being religious service rather than political, but I might have missed something.

Jeez, I need to go back and read Agency again... I got absolutely nothing out of it.

Eh. I did recently and it was as bad as I remembered. I hope they go in a different direction for the series, assuming it gets a season 2.

Dr. Nuland (and oh my God, her stunning outfits!!!) should be more of a hidden hand, more like the Remembrancer and Hamid.

The book went way too far with that. There was basically no emotional payoff for me with the last minute reveal that there really was no foreshadowing of, especially the Remembrancer.
posted by Candleman at 10:25 AM on November 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

I agree that the killing scenes were unnecessary although for Pickett it does help to show why he isn't too scared by Burton's "stick" and is able to stay calm. I do think they missed a trick by not having the cars be Jankel armoured Toyota Hiluxes though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:07 PM on November 2, 2022

This was a weaker episode but I'm still liking much more than the book. I'm still trudging through the novel but holy shit nothing ever actually happens in it. I'm glad that they added some plot to the series.
posted by octothorpe at 7:14 PM on November 3, 2022

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