The Peripheral – Season 1 Episode 2 “Empathy Bonus” Recap & Review

Empathy Bonus

Episode 2 of The Peripheral opens with Cherise Nuland (previously described as the queen bee of the Research Institute) talking with the man who attacked Flynne and the woman with her, Aelita West. Cherise tells him the breach is too dangerous. The man reassures her that a hit is out on Flynne and those connected to her.

Back in 2032, Burton tells Flynne to get her mother into the basement. His friend, Reece, tracks the oncoming assassins’ drone to make it look like the boys are still sitting around the fire. They ‘get linked’ and the marks on their arms glow as they gain the ability to see the drone’s visual feed. Burton and his friends get their guns and begin to take the men down. Meanwhile, Flynne hides in her house. When one of the men enters and tries to get her, Burton takes him down with a shot. Just when they are running low on ammo, Conner arrives and helps them out.

Wilf is dreaming. He thinks of a memory, a time when he approached Aelita on behalf of his employer. He tells her his employer wants information on the Research Institute, the place she is currently working at. Aelita is sceptical. Wolf asks her if she is truly happy.

Wolf, whose real name is Wilf Netherton, wakes up to a phone call from Lev Zubov, his employer. He tells Wilf to come over immediately. He says he has built a peripheral for Flynne, as she is their best hope of finding Aelita. After the phone call, Lev’s companion Ash tells him that she doesn’t think Wilf can be trusted with this assignment. Lev tells Ash that Wilf has a strong motivation and an immense capacity for violence.

Flynne logs back in and wakes up in a body made for her in 2099. Wilf arrives and introduces himself. He shows Flynne that this isn’t a sim but the future. Quantum tunnelling makes it possible for her to be in this body. He takes her to Trafalgar Square where she takes in the buildings and the giant statues around the city. He proves it is the future by showing her a newspaper with her mother’s obituary, four weeks from that day in Flynne’s timeline. He tells her they have already provided a medicinal drug for the mother’s glioma to the pharmacy in Flynne’s town and paid for it. So Flynne can save her mother and in turn, help Wilf find Aelita.

Back home, Flynne gets the medicine from the pharmacy. Her mother admits to knowing about the glioma and says she wanted to spare Flynne the sadness. She agrees to take the drug even though Flynne says it’s experimental.

Meanwhile, Tommy sees a cup of coffee seemingly floating in mid-air. He pokes around and eventually realises there is a car with some sort of cloaking device.

While Burton’s friends bury the bodies of the attackers, Flynne fills him in and tells him about the medicine for their mother. He is furious and says they can’t trust Wilf. They argue. Burton wants to log in instead of her but Flynne is against it.

The next time, Flynne wakes up in a house in Notting Hill. Wilf introduces her to Lev (who hired him and Ash and Ossian (who maintain the connection between the two worlds). She finds out that her ‘body’ has an eight-hour sleep cycle and is controlled by AI the rest of the time. They explain that when they come in contact with the past, the past branches off to create a parallel timeline which is known as a stub. The contact becomes the point of separation. Aelita worked for the Research Institute and was providing them with a trapdoor into it.

She asks what happened to her and her family in their timeline but they don’t tell her. She then finds out that the drug given to her mother only has a 57% rate of success. She tells them that once they help her and her family out, she’ll start talking about their missing lady.

Tommy finds a bullet in the car and goes up to meet Burton and asks him about it. Burton identifies the type of bullet but claims to know nothing else. When Tommy questions his friends’ trucks around the house, Burton says they had a drone fight.

In London, Lev tells Wilf to have some patience with Flynne. When Wilf asks Lev why he wants access to Flynne’s world, Lev remains cryptic.

Flynne tells Burton the people from the future are going to help them out and are starting off by giving them 250,000 dollars. They get in the form of a lottery won by their cousin. At the bar, Flynne tells Burton he should enlist Conner to help them out too. Burton is hesitant since Conner is usually drunk.

Burton brings up the game Flynne played for him at the beginning of Episode 1. He says Flynne let the sheep out of the fight zone and was rewarded with a tractor for her empathy. He calls it an empathy bonus and reminds her that there is no reward of a tractor in real life. Flynne retorts that even if there was one, he wouldn’t have found it.

Burton gives in and goes to meet Conner. Conner tells him one of the attackers had seen Conner but lets him go out of pity. That made Conner want to kill them. They talk about the rush of being in a fight again. Burton then tells him what’s going on and asks him to join and help, but he insists that Conner be sober.

Corbell Pickett is trying to enjoy the company of a beautiful woman in a sim when a British man interrupts. He is the same man who attacked Flynne and Aelita. He offers Corbell ten million dollars to get rid of Flynne and Burton. Corbell thinks it’s a joke and leaves the game.

Flynne tries to search the internet for references to Miladros Coldiron or Wilf Netherton but comes up empty. While doing so, her hand gets stuck on the computer mouse and she is unable to move it. Ultimately, she uses her other hand to pry it off and get it back to normal.

Corbell is in bed with a woman when he gets a message saying that he has received two and a half million dollars in his bank account.

Flynne wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing noises from downstairs. She calls Burton for help but finds that it is only her mother. She is in the kitchen looking for food. She tells Flynne that she was hungry and then reveals that she can see her. Her eyesight is coming back!


The Episode Review

Episode 2 continues to slowly set up The Peripheral’s world. We’re introduced to more characters with intriguing costumes and on one occasion, moving tattoos. As expected, we get some technical jargon with the word ‘quantum’ in them.

The visuals are as sleek as ever, with an interesting tonal shift between the countryside town in the USA and the gleaming, cyber-punk city of future London. Hopefully, the coming episodes will go from character introductions to insights so we as viewers can find a way to connect with those on screen.

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1 thought on “The Peripheral – Season 1 Episode 2 “Empathy Bonus” Recap & Review”

  1. I loved the book, I love the series so far. Slick, well acted, and plotted. How can Amazon do this so well yet fail so abysmally with Rings of Power ?

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