What is the Jackpot in The Peripheral?

November 5, 2022
Adam Lock 0
Features, RSC Originals
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We discuss what the Jackpot is in the Prime Video series The Peripheral, and so it will contain spoilers.

Episode four of The Peripheral is titled “Jackpot,” a word that has been mentioned a couple of times before in the series, but always in hushed tones. This tragic period of time in humanity’s history is a key part of The Peripheral’s narrative, a vital turning point in the London, 2100 timeline’s past and a catastrophic foreshadowing in Flynne’s 2032 timeline, one that works as a stark warning for their fleeting future. The Jackpot seems to be the central theme of this instalment, but what exactly is it and what caused the apocalyptic event in the first place?

What is The Peripheral about?

Prime Video’s The Peripheral is a science fiction series from Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) that is executive produced by Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. The series is based on sci-fi legend William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name. It tells the story of a futuristic technology that allows VR gamers to inhabit a scarily realistic avatar and journey to a distant London almost seventy years into their future. While playing, they can feel and touch everything, even gaining the ability to sense acute pain, as well as pleasure.

The simulation turns out to be an alternate reality, and the player’s actions lead to real-life consequences in both their past and future lives. Flynne (Chloe Grace Moretz) is the gamer tasked with exploring this future world and she quickly finds herself entangled in a missing person’s case, as well as plenty of other criminal activities. With the help of her ex-Marine brother Burton (Jack Reynor) and their futuristic counterpart Wilf (Gary Carr), they follow clues to track down this missing Aelita (Charlotte Riley). But there is a price tag on Flynne’s head, and numerous villains are in hot pursuit of our fearless protagonist.

What is the Jackpot in The Peripheral?

The Jackpot is an alternative name for the apocalypse that awaits Flynne in her future and is an unforgettable scourge on the planet in the middle of the century, one that 2100 is still recovering from. It started off as a slow building of many truly awful events over a long period of time, accumulating in the perfect storm. Scholars argue exactly when it began, but it is revealed to have already started by Flynne’s present, 2032.

The first major signs of this ensuing apocalypse came in 2039, only seven years away from Flynne’s timeline. Hackers broke into the North American electrical grid and caused month-long blackouts continent-wide. These then became commonplace across the globe. Two years later, a pandemic ripped through society. Known as the Blood plague, this horrifying virus attacked the liver, spleen and intestines, causing the body parts to fill with blood until the abdomen burst.

After this came environmental catastrophes: drought, famine, antibiotic failure, and agricultural collapse. Animals went extinct and the population dipped by seven billion people in just over four decades. The final nail in the coffin came from a domestic terrorist attack in America. Terrorists blew up a nuclear missile silo in Spring Creek, North Carolina, where Flynne lives, which caused complete and utter annihilation of the country.

Why is the Jackpot important?

This chaotic and destructive period of time is vital to the plotting in The Peripheral on many levels. From Flynne’s perspective it is an event that hasn’t fully occurred just yet and could be avoided. It’s a terrifying prediction that means pain and suffering on an unparalleled scale, but it is something that she can now warn others about or at least prepare her own family for. The premonition will completely alter Flynne’s thought process and way of life, undoubtedly effecting her mental health and all of her choices moving forwards.

For the people in London, 2100, this is a tragedy that has already been and gone. Yet they are still recovering from the fallout of these apocalyptic events and it will surely take centuries of hardship to achieve anything near the prosperity of the early 21st century again. The Jackpot has created this post-apocalyptic world and shaped the characters in unforeseen ways.

Has the Jackpot already started?

It was confirmed by Ash (Katie Leung) that the Jackpot had already started in Flynne’s timeline. This is probably hinting at the current woes in our society to date: climate change, pandemics, war, and poverty. Flynne asks the question, which insinuates that her timeline is still quite productive and her life is yet to be personally affected by these horrors, but that perfect storm is slowly growing, and it is clearly on its way. In a sense, this reflects our society, on the whole, we live in an era that is frighteningly aware of the many issues that could destroy the planet, and yet we still carry on obliviously, ignoring our own plight.

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