What is a Stub in The Peripheral?

November 6, 2022
Adam Lock 1
Amazon Prime, News, Plot Points, Streaming Service
View all
Loading JustWatch data...

What is a Stub in The Peripheral? We discuss one of the key terminologies in the Prime Video show and deep dive into the meaning. 

Prime Video’s sci-fi series The Peripheral is packed full of futuristic technologies that come with their own specific space-age terminology. This cryptic wording and talk of alternate timelines and time travel can be quite daunting to audiences on their first viewing. In the first few installments, you may overhear characters discussing peripherals, stubs, and polts in a very matter-of-fact manner. This world-building helps to ground the series in some form of reality, making the scenarios feel a little more realistic, but it can also be quite hard to follow at times. Hopefully, this article can help explain the futuristic lingo created by sci-fi extraordinaire and author William Gibson in more detail.

What is a stub in The Peripheral?

One of the terms you may often hear in the series The Peripheral is the word stub. Flynne Fisher (Chloe Grace Moretz) is even referred to as a stub, although she doesn’t actually know what the term means. Wilf (Gary Carr) tries to explain the jargon in episode 2, “Empathy Bonus.” He states that when someone from his present makes contact with the past, the past immediately branches off and forms a new continuum or parallel timeline. So when Flynne donned the futuristic headset in the opening installment, that, in turn, started a new timeline for her, one that is very different from Wilf’s past. Wilf and Flynne’s timelines were identical until the connection was made. Now Flynne’s timeline is forever altered, taking its own distinct path.

It’s all very confusing, and the characters in the future find it difficult to discuss themselves. But in layman’s terms, in The Peripheral, the stub is a version of the past that has taken a new path after a connection is established with the future. This allows for the paradoxes of time travel to be completely avoided. Nothing Flynne does in her timeline technically affects Wilf’s timeline. In its extremes, that would mean if Flynne ended the world in her timeline, Wilf’s would still continue unharmed. That, however, doesn’t mean that Flynne has no say over proceedings or that her actions don’t have real-world consequences while she is in Wilf’s timeline.

Who creates the “stubs” in The Peripheral?

It would appear that numerous individuals have the power and resources to create these stubs in the London 2100 timeline. Lev Zubov (JJ Feild) clearly has the ability to tinker with the past and has been doing so for some time now. His ‘technicals,’ Ash and Ossian, are hired to maintain a connection between these two worlds, although this connection is described as fragile at best. The connection and data transfer are known as quantum tunneling, another phrase you may overhear from time to time.

The headset allows this data transfer from the past to the future and vice versa. Burton was sent the blueprint for this headset, which was then built at the 3D printing shop for Flynne for a trial run. It is unclear whether Aelita sent for Burton in the first place or if she intercepted the connection. But Aelita wanted to use Burton for her own end, and he did help her break into the Research Institute after all. Aelita may also be able to create stubs, yet this is still to be verified.

What are stubs and polts in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral?

As detailed in another article, there are many similarities between Gibson’s novel and the Prime Video series The Peripheral, as well as many differences. In the novel, a stub is described as a time fork that is created by a data transfer, they are digital links to computer systems in the past. Just like in the show, Flynne and Burton’s timeline has branched off into a new direction due to this connection with the future. Whilst polts, shorthand for poltergeists, are the actual people from the stub timeline. Burton is a polt in the novel who is hired to perform security duties for a celebrity. This leads to his and Flynne’s involvement in the disappearance of Aelita, which is, of course, slightly different from the series narrative.

Why are stubs important?

Stubs are integral to the plot of The Peripheral. Without them, the future timeline would have no connection to the past. Without this connection, there would be no polts to perform the future citizen’s criminal activities. Aelita used and abused Burton so that she didn’t have to technically get her hands dirty in her timeline. She framed the future as a simulation and manipulated Burton into taking a person captive and hacking into the Research Institute. The stubs allow for an array of sinful undertakings and experimentations without any real consequences on their part. It seems like a foolproof plan, although they probably got more than they bargained for with the Fisher siblings and their ex-Marine pals.

View all

1 thought on “What is a Stub in The Peripheral?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.