The sixth episode of Upload (Prime Video) titled “Memory Crackers” spares little time in splitting up both halves of Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) leaving Leia Organa, I mean Luke (Kevin Bigley), a bit jealous. Though Nathan does promise to make time for him, the script gets off to a good start with Viv, now knowing of the truth, in possession of David Choak’s hard drive in the hands of Nathan’s mom, reminding us that time is something they have very little of.
Nicely juxtaposing, for Nora (Andy Allo), time is something that’s suddenly stood still. Aleesha (Zainab Johnson), now her Angel, attempts to calm her down with Karina in her ear, squeezing her for information instead of just squeezing her, whispering pillow talk in bed. The very alive, but heavily drugged Nora in a precise copy of a traditional Lakeview bedroom plays out quicker than I would have liked, as it could have put both women in a spot where they’re forced to be open and transparent with each other, but with Karina (Jeanine Mason) keeping a watchful eye over it all, I understand the logistics on that wouldn’t work in a half-hour time constraint.
Aleesha knows what they’re doing is the opposite of ethical, but Karina knows what buttons of hers to press. Nora does let slip a few vague details, but Aleesha’s able to penetrate the fog in her best friend’s skull enough to warn her before Karina arrives to grill her and guide her through mannerisms. Having Karina buy it and not Miro Mansour (Bassem Youssef) makes me think that they might be setting up Karina for a redemptive turn, as she still seems trusting. Whether they do or don’t though honestly makes no difference to me. A higher-up getting involved with an employee isn’t anything new, but Karina to me doesn’t seem more than a vehicle for Aleesha to get where she needs to be. I’m all for that, but taking that into consideration has me considering what I would have done with that character’s arc.
Cutting Nora loose and dropping her off in the middle of a park, where she finally gets in touch with Nathan doesn’t seem out of the blue as much as it seems abruptly. Sure, where else can they go in the script if she isn’t saying anything plot-wise, the show had a missed opportunity for some real talk between her and Aleesha. Still, the story has a decent motion with real Nathan heading to his mother as Nora goes back to Lakeview to meet backup Nathan, who isn’t taking any more of Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) and her patented deception.
Nathan gets a private few words in with a now-captive David Choak (William B. Davis) while Nora and Nathan 2.0 share a tender moment before all three go on a deep dive into the evil geriatric’s memories. They’ll be there for a while, so they try to fill in a few blanks with each other while hunting for the Choak’s smoking gun. See? That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s get intimate, let’s get vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be so fast-paced all the time. Give it room to breathe.
Backup Nathan getting Nora flustered when he hits on her throws an interesting fly in the virtual ointment. Holden (Kristine Cofsky) encourages it, but Luke (unwittingly) encourages backup Nathan to go for Nora, further murkying an already sticky situation. However, even then, when it comes to back-up Nathan’s views on Ingrid and her extreme devotion, fishing out the conclusion that she inadvertently helped him get with Nora by having his body grown unequivocally tells me his mind hasn’t caught up.
I mean, Nathan is still Nathan, no matter how ya slice him, dice him, bake him, and/or fry him, so lack of emotional maturity seems to be an intractable trait. Clearly, it’s a trait that Ingrid would happily take any day of the week, swilling down her woes at the Lakeview bar.
I’m ecstatic because it’s a reason to see AI Guy (Owen Daniels) who this season is wiping the floor with everybody, scene-stealing-wise. His smile alone is infectious and his hard-hitting advice earns him a kiss on the lips from a fully inebriated, doubtfully enlightened Ingrid. She’s off to make things right with… you guessed it, with Nathan.
Ugh. Come on, Upload. I don’t ask for much, but having Ingrid this long as the histrionic hen, pecking at both Nathans is now beyond reproach and now just a “moment of the show I can emotionally check out of” which is something you don’t want in a series. However, her showing up blitzed, casting woes onto Nathan, gives me temporary hope. Ingrid displays a more vulnerable facet with the bottle of hooch between the two, causing a very crucial but subtle shift to take place: Real-life Nathan may fall for Ingrid again.
The poking and prodding of Choak’s memories yields a few bombshells. We see that evil incarnate is short votes to flip the swing state of Wisconsin, prompting Miro to cash in on a favor, giving the board total dominion over the entire United States with law HR2235. The political angle, though not 100% prevalent, was a through line enough for me not to bat an eyelash at the reveal. I was more interested in that the law gives uploads the right to work. This speaks to something even more sinister, labor laws, which is something that doesn’t get much play in mainstream media, so a big kudos.
Nora does notice Karina in the file, who by the way is currently giving Aleesha such mixed feelings, she goes to the best font of advice she can think of, Luke, upset with Nathan’s new bond with himself. Leesh wouldn’t leave him out in the cold, however, fixing him up a steaming hot cup of undivided attention. Interactions like this bolster my hope that, despite little to no interaction so far this season, my favorite second-season duo (not Nathan and Nora) are getting more screen time.
When both Nathans, Nora, and Ingrid watch a memory containing her pops, Oliver (Barclay Hope) being paid off by Choak himself to rent him the uploads Horizen owns only to of them to save a half-billion dollars, the nail in the coffin isn’t for Choak but rather Oliver when he laments his pockets won’t grow fatter while his daughter still roams the earth. What sticks in my fucking craw is this very optimal moment for growth and grace on Ingrid’s part is unceremoniously shot down when she gets handsy with Nathan. Sure, the alcohol is a goddamn great solution for lubricating the id, but it’s almost as if this series is either too uncomfortable making her character anything but 2D or way too comfortable in portraying her as nothing more than “the mess” until an even bigger shit show arrives. There’s been no satisfying medium thus far and this moment seems like a solid nail in that coffin, which holds the real tragedy in this scene.
The only takeaway Nathan 2.0 and Nora have is that their ‘partners’ had a fun time without them and while it may not seem like much, jealousy is a febrile emotion, so it could set up for some heated talks in the next episode. Yes, Nora realizes that “the fantasy” vs. “the reality” are literally and figuratively worlds apart. Grey zones aren’t just unsanctioned wastelands of unlimited possibilities in a virtual afterlife operated by the evil rich and because nobody involved can afford to wax philosophically on the messy machinations of the heart, feet need to be planted and boundaries set, which Nora does. Injustice may win out in the end if people don’t start hauling ass, so though the episode ends on a bittersweet grey area between all four involved with the memories, we’re also reminded very much throughout this episode that the ‘clock is ticking.’
Owen Daniels’ (yes, AI Guy) first “Written By” credit for the series sets up the last two pretty decently. These days streaming seasons are 10 episodes or less (which is a great thing), so fires need to be lit quicker with a lot more punch than their network counterparts. Though shaky in parts and annoyingly intractable in keeping certain characters whose names I need not repeat from spreading their wings, relationship dynamics were shaken, and a very big fuse I believe was lit.
I mean, come on, you don’t just get over the news of your father wishing you truly were dead, especially while drunk.