After her run-in (or rather, run-through) with Detective Sato, Nora (Ally Ando), and Nathan (Robbie Amell) are on the run in episode 3×2 of Upload (Amazon Prime Video), titled “Strawberry”. It’s a device that, if done well, can keep me hooked until the very end. They end up at a farm where they meet Cheyenne (Amy Farrington) and her rifle-toting husband Bill (Tahmus Rounds). Before Nathan can get a hot lead facelift, their son Logan (Travis Burnett) plays a video of his brother, Elijah, who went to Upload. The change in landscape is pretty apparent. We’ve gone from the digital world and cities to the woodlands and now, America’s Heartland. It seems pretty logical to hit on the denizens of this country who are the most overlooked and under-represented, especially when politics come into play. Under the guise of “Sally-Anne” and “Ferdinand”, respectively, Nora and Nathan go from messengers to dinner guests in a matter of minutes. There’s a story to be told and questions to be answered, so I’m hoping there’s more of this along the way.
Craig Munthers being demoted so Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) could be promoted to professor to three hundred floors of A.I. (Owen Daniels) does make for a few funny moments. Her first class doesn’t go swimmingly, but I believe it’s more of a commentary on how much Luke’s imprinted on them than Aleesha’s failure to reach them, even though they do vocalize missing Craig. I personally hope this is setting up Luke and Aleesha as being more successful with their powers combined as an ultimate “guidance” to the A.I. I mean, shit, they’ve certainly seen enough in their own lives to run the gamut of feelings and emotions. That shows great potential for growth.
Speaking of or lack thereof, there’s still Ingrid (Allegra Edwards). For the moment, the only recourse she has for Tinsley (Mackenzie Cardwell), and her mistake is to keep the Angel in her back pocket as a slave. Her shaking down Tinsley for free premium shit isn’t really showing me much progress on her end, not even in the least. I think a hint of hope could have been written into the script where she could make Tinsley break protocol by helping out someone else. At least, that would have shown that she’s not all shallow and needy. It would have been a nice and unexpected palette cleanser for those of us who aren’t just yet Team Ingrid. That’s the way the croissant crumbles, I suppose.
I did kind of like what they did with “Ferdinand” and “Sally-Anne” and where they stand at children. The mercurial state of Nathan and Nora is a fantastic through-line because it’s actually credible. Long-distance relationships can be a trying thing, and though intense feelings may transfer fast and hard through pining for the other, when “in the flesh,” so to speak, a different story may unfurl. Nothing is guaranteed. Not life. Not love. The show has thus far done a good job of keeping their relationship compelling enough.
The political commentary is pretty punch-you-in-the-face this episode. They exist in a time where a ring finger lopped off on the job is worth naught more than a single paid week off. This isn’t very subtle, but that’s fine with me. This is sadly a path we’re headed down quicker in real life than we think, so why send a shot across the bow in the form of a digestible joke, lest we become products of that future?
Aleesha informs a grieving Luke (Kevin Bigley) that she’ll be taking a leave as well. Poor fucking Luke. It’s not enough that his bestie has flown the coop, and now his own Angel has as well, so he goes all self-service at “Lacuna Inc.” with Angel Batia (Yvetta Fisher) handing him the edit remote to his memories, replacing all the complicated ones with full episodes of Dragon Tales. Yup. At this point, his depression doesn’t give a fuck that he’ll have a head full of pudding by the end of the day. I will say that Kevin Bigley is the real goddamn angel in this role.
Nathan does try to set Logan straight on the grey area of the Ludds, but in keeping with lack of subtlety, middle America in this future is an existence where the gap between those who are rich enough to afford facts (you read that right) and those below the poverty line who are fed latent fiction is expansive enough to drive a yacht through. The info Logan gets on the Ludds reminded me of the ridiculous, wildly fictitious lore of the Jewish people in Jojo Rabbit.
The hits don’t stop coming though, as the next day, “Ferdinand” and “Sally-Anne” are put to work on the farm. It turns out that with CyberDiscountDay around the corner, everybody wants a printed ham, so even Amazon is poking fun at themselves. To be fair, with the next episode being called “CyberDiscountDay”, I’ll save my potential eye-rolling and vitriol for that. All I’ll say is that a multi-billion dollar company self-promoting through the lens of possible “self-awareness” isn’t actually clever, nor is it barbed. It’s a self-suck for the lulz.
Aleesha checks up on her better half, Luke, restoring his memories and letting him know he’s not alone, not when it comes to her. It’s a nice break in pace. The farm scenes thus far, though sunny, paint a very dim picture, and I’m sure that’s the point. We’re shown the lie and it’s depressing. Not even the levity of a near vomit-inducing cheese curd fight (you read that right) can pull me away from the horror-show that is what I can only describe as a ‘Cow-terpillar’ that functions more as a factory than a living, breathing source of nourishment. I guess this was the writers taking a bow. The poor bovine may be a bit extreme, but it’s already happening as we live and breathe.
Nora does question her standing with “Ferdinand” to Cheyenne, but Cheyenne’s response was kind of an eye roll to me. Why does alcoholism have to play into every “bad” family dynamic? Sure, it’s an effective disease to inject into a script, it’s something that will surely exist in the future, and it makes more sense to afford cheap liquor than to have a gambling addiction, but why not just say the husband’s cold and distant and has been since their farm was taken over by a big corporation? Maybe that’s why he turned to liquor. Come on, cause and effect, baby! We’re trying to spit on the image of big corporations, right? Oh, that’s right. This is an Amazon series.
Having David Choak (William B. Davis) feel as though he has something on Nathan is a great setup for tension, as this could make Nathan 2.0 a marked man in a world full of witnesses. We know that Choak is pretty fucking evil, so the damage he can potentially inflict in Lake View to maintain the upper hand sets my mind running down exciting potential plot paths. I don’t even think Ivan (Josh Banday) gaslighting him is enough to stop him and I’m here for it. Let’s get nuts.
Nathan and Nora somewhat squaring things away from their quarrel was a decent enough way to spell out the problem for us if we weren’t already aware of their present imbalance. As for Ingrid and Nathan 2.0, things may seem sunnier on the outside, but much like the farm, the murkier nature lies beneath. Even though it takes a new “identity” for Ingrid to verbalize her foibles, it’s a character trait I’m not mad at. Then again, even her confession to Nathan tastes more bitter than sweet.
The whole episode was already wobbly for me in parts, and Ingrid taking the battle won, but without telling Nathan the whole truth, was the final nail in the coffin for me, as she may have lost her own internal war. That is way more upsetting than farming porcine cancer simply because grows faster and tastes the same as an actual pig.