Prime Video’s sci-fi drama ‘The Peripheral’ follows its central characters navigating a futuristic world rife with perilous people and technologies, with scientific nomenclature for concepts that range from absurd to existential in nature.
Out of all the advanced scientific mumbo-jumbo in ‘The Peripheral’, one of arguably the most intriguing ones is “Stub”.
A sonically benign word, a “stub” denotes an immensely crucial element of the show’s story. Flynne Fisher first comes across the word when her new friends in the future London help her with the know-how.
It’s later in the season when Flynne as well as other characters come to see and get involved in worlds-altering affairs all related to this titular concept.
A buzzword hard to comprehend
Wilf takes Flynne to Lev’s house where she meets the Klept and his nerd underlings Ash and Ossian. There, for the first time, she learns about her absurd situation — this new post-apocalyptic world, the people that are after her and her family’s life, and why she has to be at the centre of all this.
Wilf and Lev try to tell her a bit about their world and how they are able to contact her in the past. However, Flynne has a hard time following this loaded expository dump.
One thing that comes up during the explanation is what Wilf and Lev call a “stub”. They explain it as an alternative timeline. Flynne is from one such stub, a timeline alternative to the one where Lev and Wilf exist in.
This means that Flynne is not from their past, but from a version of their past.
Tinkering with timelines
A stub is created when someone from the present goes back in past and alters the events in some way(s), thereby altering the course of history that’ll now take place in this new, altered timeline.
This timeline branches off from the one that would have been had the actor not interfered with the events in the original timeline. It is this very alternative timeline that’s called a stub.
In the case of Flynne, initially, it’s understood that her timeline became a stub when she was contacted by Aelita for the first time, and then a diabolical turn of events altered the course of Flynne’s world forever.
However, it’s later revealed that her timeline was being fiddled with long before Aelita contacted her and involved her in this mess.
A crucial cog in the story
Stubs in ‘The Peripheral’ are created and then destroyed, by some of the most powerful forces in the future timeline. The RI can create them, as the show reveals, they have already created many and also subjected them to morally questionable at best experiments and research.
Flynne’s stub is one such timeline that’s a victim of RI’s meddling and also the meddling of the Klept oligarchy. While Flynne contends with such forces for the entire season, especially that of the Research Institute, she is now in a position where she can use an alternative timeline to save hers.
With the help of Inspector Lowbeer, Flynne has now created a new stub, and by doing so, she intends to hide in one of the many such alternative timelines, away from her nemesis Cherise Nuland’s knowledge, while she knows where the doctor is at all times.
Through this new creation, Flynne has also helped save her own timeline from Nuland’s cruelty. While the doctor intended to catalyse the process of its destruction, no particular reason to destroy Flynne’s world remains now, since the girl has already fled her world.
As the story of ‘The Peripheral’ progresses, the viewers can expect to see and learn more about these stubs and how they impact the way the next chapters of this sci-fi unfold.
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