The Peripheral Season 1 Ending Explained (In Detail)

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Peripheral season 1 finale.

Stakes could hardly be higher in Amazon Prime Video’s The Peripheral season 1 finale ending, but with multiple timelines, a variety of plans in motion, and plenty of setup for a potential season 2, The Peripheral leaves much to unpack. The situation heading into The Peripheral’s season 1 finale looked dire. Caught between the unenviable vice grip of the Research Institute’s Dr. Cherise Nuland and the Klept’s Lev Zubov, Flynne Fisher seemed doomed one way or another, and with the Jackpot bearing down upon her timeline, The Peripheral’s protagonist faced a triumvirate of deadly forces.

The Peripheral season 1’s finale shows Flynne finally seizing control, beginning to deal with Cherise, Zubov and the Jackpot. Alas, Chloë Grace Moretz’s action heroine has work to do in season 2. By forging an unlikely alliance with the Met’s Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer, Flynne protects her 2032 stub and gets Cherise off her back – temporarily, at least – by creating a brand-new splinter in history. The Peripheral’s temporal landscape is forever changed, but the threat of the Research Institute remains very much alive. War is brewing between the R.I., Klept and Met, and Flynne still sits in the middle of that toasty trio as The Peripheral season 1 ends.

The Peripheral Season 1 Finale Explains Why Cherise Must Kill Flynne

Previously in The Peripheral season 1, the Research Institute leader, T’Nia Miller’s Dr. Cherise Nuland, knew only that her company suffered a breach of sensitive data when Aelita West used a peripheral piloted by Flynne Fisher from 2032 to infiltrate her secret basement. Of greatest concern to Cherise was the R.I.’s design for a neural adjustment implant, capable of altering human behavior. If this secret became public knowledge, the backlash from the Klept, Met and general populace would likely thwart Cherise’s entire well-laid scheme.

Thanks to Katie Leung’s Ash, disgruntled from being threatened by Lev Zubov in The Peripheral season 1’s penultimate episode, Cherise finally learns the stolen data is stored within Flynne’s DNA, and decides triggering the Jackpot in Flynne’s 2032 stub is her only option. Cherise’s drastic thinking is because the stolen R.I. data has taken the form of bacteria inside Flynne’s real body, not her robotic Peripheral or conscious mind in the future. The Peripheral previously established that a key event in the Jackpot was a silo explosion in Flynne’s hometown of Clanton County, so while the Jackpot wouldn’t destroy the 2032 stub timeline completely, Clanton itself would be wiped out.

The silo would detonate, and Flynne’s physical body would be destroyed along with the data hiding behind her eye, keeping the Research Institute’s secrets hidden. Even if Flynne was piloting her peripheral at the time, the result would remain unchanged. Cherise avoided this option until now because the R.I.’s 2032 timeline is a testing pit for anti-Jackpot measures. Triggering the apocalypse early would mean all active Jackpot studies R.I. scientists are currently undertaking in the stub would be cut short and wasted. Before Ash’s betrayal, Cherise had no confirmation the stolen data was trapped inside a physical body within the stub, so the literal nuclear option was never considered.

Sheriff Tommy Has A Pickett Problem In The Peripheral Season 2

When The Peripheral season 1’s finale begins, Deputy Tommy Constantine appears to have covered up his double homicide of Corbell Pickett and the local Sheriff. Unfortunately, Tommy’s « doodad » proves less lethal than he hoped, and Pickett remains breathing. The gangster’s survival sets up big trouble for Tommy in The Peripheral season 2. Assuming Pickett eventually awakens, he seems unlikely to register an official complaint against the man who tried killing him. Instead, Pickett is the type to blackmail Tommy for his own benefit. Tommy’s final scene in The Peripheral season 1 subtly confirms he becomes the town’s new Sheriff, and Pickett can now gain leverage with the local law enforcement.

Doing Pickett’s bidding will not sit well with Tommy in The Peripheral, but he may find an unexpected ally in Jasper Baker, Pickett’s nephew. Spurred on by an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and memories of a nightmarish Monopoly game, Jasper semi-accidentally kills Pickett’s gang members in The Peripheral season 1’s finale. Jasper has always felt uneasy with his uncle’s criminality, and might find that, just like Sheriff Tommy, his life would be easier if Corbell Pickett were dead

Aelita’s Return Sets Up The Peripheral’s Next Battle

Amazon’s The Peripheral season 1 ending finally brings Charlotte Riley’s grown-up Aelita West back into the narrative. Aelita has spent her time away quite literally digging up the future’s dirty secrets, and eagerly shares this exposition with Wilf and The Peripheral’s audience. The Peripheral previously revealed inhabitants of the future are all fitted with implants that not only afford them cybernetic enhancements, but also protect from viruses that began during the Jackpot. Aelita confirms said implants secretly block out memories the establishment wishes to conceal. With this, The Peripheral finally explains why Wilf remembers so little from his early childhood, and how the Klept actually brought order to the apocalypse.

According to Aelita, the Klept – presumably with the backing of the Research Institute and Met – wiped out millions of citizens in a misguided attempt to quash the Jackpot’s spreading pandemic. These victims included both Wilf and Aelita’s original families, which plugs the gap of how each child ended up orphaned on future London’s streets, while also revealing part of the reason why population numbers are so low in The Peripheral future timeline. Lev Zubov is almost certainly aware of this truth, and the guilt of his father killing the Nethertons could betray the real reason the mafia criminal took Wilf under his wing.

Aelita also introduces Wilf to a group of her new friends, and these unnamed figures could be the mysterious Neoprims The Peripheral has mentioned throughout season 1 – a rebel movement that seeks to bring down the dominance of the Klept and Research Institute. Setting up The Peripheral season 2, Aelita confirms her people seek the data inside Flynne Fisher’s brain, and their plan is presumably to have Wilf convince his new girlfriend to share that coveted knowledge with them. Most useful to Aelita will be the R.I.’s weaponized koid robots, and since Flynne herself is no fan of Cherise Nuland, she may be willing to cooperate with Wilf’s sister.

Flynne Fisher’s Love Triangle Is Still Unsolved After The Peripheral Season 1

Between The Peripheral season 1 finale’s talk of apocalypses and revolution, the episode finds time to develop Flynne Fisher’s ongoing romantic triangle involving Gary Carr’s Wilf Netherton and Alex Hernandez’s Tommy Constantine. The Peripheral explicitly develops the love story between Flynne and Wilf when connecting via haptics allows them to directly experience each other’s intimate feelings. While Flynne initially suspected her growing attachment was a side effect Burton called « haptic drift, » this now seems unlikely. The haptic drift phenomenon was actually caused by the Research Institute experimenting on Burton and his unit, so whatever Flynne feels for Wilf must be genuine.

Nevertheless, The Peripheral continues to push a love story between Flynne and Tommy Constantine also. When Tommy rushes to the medical center after hearing reports of a shooting, his gaze is first directed toward Flynne in the back of an ambulance, rather than his doctor fiancée standing nearby. The scene subtly hints that Tommy’s heart is still pining for Flynne, despite his upcoming nuptials. According to Inspector Lowbeer, Flynne and Tommy married in The Peripheral’s original history, but that timeline was one where Flynne and Wilf never encountered each other, leaving the triangle decidedly undecided for season 2.

How Flynne Tricks Cherise – The Peripheral’s New Timeline Explained

The meat in the sandwich of The Peripheral season 1’s ending is Flynne’s ingenious plan to save the 2032 stub timeline from Cherise Nuland. Flynne’s first step is accepting she cannot win. In the very first scene of The Peripheral’s season finale, Conner Penske tells Flynne that he wishes real life could be rebooted like a video game level, and this conversation foreshadows the inspiration behind Flynne’s plan to defeat Cherise. Rather than winning, Flynne reboots the game.

The Peripheral details season 1’s grand finale plan largely through allusion and piecemeal flashback scenes, but the overarching purpose is to avoid Cherise triggering the Jackpot, while also somehow retaining both Flynne Fisher and the data inside her head. The first step in this convoluted scheme is Flynne infiltrating the secret Research Institute facility stubs are controlled from. From here, Flynne creates a secondary stub diverging from her own timeline – a splinter of the splinter – then destroys the R.I. pocket watch she used to make it. Essentially, this means an entirely new stub has been created that Cherise cannot access.

Despite outfoxing Cherise with a secondary stub, Flynne still faces a significant problem. The world Flynne hails from can still be accessed by agents in the future, and as long as the Research Institute’s data is located there, Cherise will enact her plan to incite the Jackpot early. To avoid this outcome, Flynne sacrifices herself, leaving Cherise no reason to destroy Clanton County in The Peripheral’s original 2032 stub. Flynne’s family and friends are saved, albeit left to mourn the loss of a loved one.

In another stroke of genius, Flynne makes Conner Penske pull the trigger from afar, and suggests to Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer that the Met take credit for the assassination. Cherise will now believe Lowbeer is on her side and helped bring down the original stub’s Flynne Fisher. In truth, Flynne and Lowbeer would be conspiring together to bring the Research Institute down permanently.

Thanks to Flynne’s plan, The Peripheral season 2 will now have two 2032 stub timelines. One would be the original, while the second will be the new stub Flynne created by hijacking the Research Institute’s technology. This timeline presumably begins shortly after Flynne decided what her plan would be, otherwise her newly-created alternate wouldn’t know how to proceed, and would more or less continue directly from The Peripheral season 1’s 2032 narrative, with Flynne, Burton, Tommy, Conner, and the other Clanton residents all continuing as if nothing happened, but without Cherise bearing down upon them.

Is Flynne Dead In The Peripheral’s Season 1 Finale?

Flynne Fisher is both dead and not dead after The Peripheral season 1’s finale. The version of Flynne The Peripheral has been following since episode 1 is shot dead by Conner to deter Cherise from sending that entire world into an early apocalypse just to eradicate the data inside Flynne’s body. Having said that, The Peripheral season 1 then ends with Flynne awakening in a peripheral body alongside Inspector Lowbeer in future London, proving she is very much alive.

This version of Flynne is from the secondary stub timeline created in The Peripheral season 1’s finale – a genuine Flynne Fisher with all the memories, emotions, traits and knowledge gathered over the preceding eight episodes. The Flynne in The Peripheral season 1’s ending is not, sadly, the character audiences have watched thus far, but a parallel duplicate. Calling back to the season finale’s opening scene, Chloë Grace Moretz’s hero has performed a video game reset, restarting the level from a previous « save game » after her previous incarnation ran out of lives.

The Peripheral’s Toast House Is Falling Down – Post-Credits Scene Explained

Away from Flynne Fisher, The Peripheral’s delicate social structure is falling down. As explained in episode 4, the post-apocalyptic future is underpinned by three forces: the Research Institute, the Klept, and the Met. Traditionally, these factions have begrudgingly cooperated for the sake of peace, but that arrangement looks destined to collapse in The Peripheral season 2.

The Klept has already angered the Research Institute and the Met by attempting to open its own stub, and now The Peripheral season 1’s finale pits the R.I. against the Klept when Cherise and Ash conspire to assassinate Lev Zubov. Their attempt to kill the untouchable oligarch will likely transpire across The Peripheral season 2, and could trigger all-out war between the R.I. and Klept. Thanks to Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer, meanwhile, the Met is secretly gunning for both the Research Institute and the Klept, since both are breaking the rules of the three-way agreement.

The Peripheral’s toast house falling down is further teased by the season 1 post-credits scene. Lev Zubov, who is otherwise absent from the episode, is approached by higher-up members of the Klept mafia. Though the veterans applaud his infiltration of the Research Institute, they cannot afford to be caught, and demand Zubov « cauterize the wound. » Implicitly, this means killing Wilf Netherton, Flynne Fisher, Burton and his allies, Aelita West, and anyone else who connects the Klept to the 2032 stub. Zubov is visibly hesitant at the prospect of murdering Wilf, but his orders mean the Klept will become a bigger threat to Flynne when the Amazon sci-fi TV series returns.

The Peripheral Season 1 Finale Ending Sets Up Season 2

The Peripheral season 1 ends with Inspector Lowbeer asking Flynne if she’s ready to « get to work, » and this line directly leads into season 2’s story. Despite Flynne saving the original 2032 stub, Cherise remains a threat in The Peripheral. Her ability to open stub timelines and the Research Institute’s plan to fit the future’s population with neural adjustment implants are problematic for Flynne Fisher and Inspector Lowbeer alike. Should Flynne then learn from Wilf how the R.I. altered wiped his memories through technology, Chloë Grace Moretz’s character will have an even more personal motivation to continue her battle against Cherise.

Just because Flynne’s newly-opened stub is shielded from Cherise’s influence, the factors contributing toward the Jackpot remain unchanged. Flynne must now access the data inside her head to prevent the apocalypse, but this poses its own problems. The Research Institute, Lev Zubov and the Klept, and Aelita West all want to share Flynne’s inside intelligence, but possessing this DNA-based information is having a degenerative impact upon its host’s health. The Peripheral season 2 will see Flynne attempt to balance her physical well-being with the need for change in the past and present, all while fending off unwanted attention from those who seek her secret knowledge.