The penultimate episode of Upload (Prime Video) season three opens on Nathan’s new base of operations in Lakeview, a white space with a very comfortable chair. The idea of having Nathan (Robbie Amell) affixed to Nora (Andy Allo) like Iron Man’s “Football” armor is really appealing, especially when mobile. Their using the twenty minutes affectionally before Nathan uploads is the perfect setup for impending doom. I mean, the look of love in bed could make anybody delay the inevitable. It’s a tried trope for a reason. I’ll give them credit, they laid out the 1-2 punch of “that doesn’t sound good” and “once again for those in the cheap seats”. Happy “Upload Day”, IRL Nathan.
The one thing I’ve found most depressingly consistent in this season so far is dropping the ball with Ingrid (Allegra Edwards), and I’m confident to report this episode doesn’t disappoint. Her grilling Nathan 2.0 about the time spent in the Memory Parlor with Nora is truly grating, but not for the reason intended. I’ll fucking bitch about Ingrid’s portrayal until it’s remedied. Her asking Tinsley (Mackenzie Cardwell) to prepare Nora’s skin is not only creepy (which I’m sure is the point) but also very gross in a manipulative way on her behalf. It’s as if ya’ll didn’t realize there’s a common enemy that’s actually evil.
Ingrid playing Nora just feels wrong — not because it’s a white woman donning a person of color’s digital skin, but because it’s all in the context of the story, but rather because it just seems to be low-down, sickening behavior. We get it. Ingrid’s supposed to be the one you’re rooting against and jealousy’s a beautiful motive, but it shows no growth in the writer’s room concerning her and very much exemplifies that just because a series is set in the future doesn’t guarantee its mindset is caught up.
Luke (Kevin Bigley) requesting to meet Karina to sniff out her character seems like an apt enough choice in the script. It was only a matter of time until it happened anyway. But why now? Last season was so beautiful between him and Aleesha (Zainab Johnson). I have absolutely nothing wrong with Aleesha having someone in the real world, in fact, she is damn deserving of it. However, a juicy setup for a love triangle seems to be shot down when Luke is referred to as a ‘friend’ by Aleesha. On second thought, is yet another love triangle what we really need at this juncture? The penultimate episode should be for all the pieces coming together so we can start to blow them up by the end of our season finale in the next episode, so any unlit sticks of dynamite plot-wise they happen to throw in now just kind of seem like last minute additions.
Speaking of, Nathan 2.0 thanks Ivan (Josh Banday) about the Choak drives, but mum’s the word… between the three. Oh, AI Guy (Owen Daniels) heard it all, and I like that they’re peppering in his expanding humanity. His unbridled desire to tell a secret is enough fuel to propel the scene, in spite of otherwise milquetoast Ivan. I will say that Ivan’s exquisite garb in Lakeview is top-shelf, but even that just seems a glaring way to mask his character’s lack of depth. Josh Banday fucking owns the screen though when he’s on it, so no notes on the acting. He’s truly making lemonade.
Nora wants to make Nathan’s first Upload Day special, including breakfast, and a birthday-gram. Nathan knows you can only delay what’s coming, not eliminate it and as the universe would have it, Nora is called down by Holden (Kristine Cofsky) with a client getting cold feet. I’ll be honest; I eat this stuff up with a tablespoon, just shovel it into my brain, Upload. I love the inherent romance in tragic love. These outcomes you can usually spot from miles away only because they’ve been such an effective tool in storytelling for so long. Timing is so crucial in all of this and as sci-fi as this series is, time is the one uniting factor that makes this series effective in its immediacy. There are very few slow moments overall. The minutes forge on, whether the characters like it or not, and the constant chaos of life is something that could never be too out of reach for us as viewers to read as fiction. These grounding elements keep the clock ticking (and my mind guessing) as to how this will all play out.
The first hit of bad news comes when Choak’s shit is inadmissible by nature of being stolen property while Nathan is a no-go in the witness box because his mind’s owned by Horizen. With Nora still on the hook with Holden in her offices, this delay of celebration has kept me invested as I’m not even trying to think of when the cork will pop but how as he waits for his complimentary meal.
Having Luke set up a date for drinks with “Al” and Karina doesn’t seem out of place, and neither does Karina (Jeanine Mason) switching it to her private executive bar to display her power. Luke not capitulating to her pomp and circumstance but showing his hand by spilling the beans on his hacking ability was a great way to paint a target on his head. Oddly enough, as much as Luke is up there as one of my favorites, his dummkopf moments make a lot more sense than Ingrid’s. For those of you screaming at your screens, hear me out. I don’t care if Luke fucking served under Napoleon himself, even though he’s got a soldier’s heart and fight, him losing the awareness I’m okay with because it kind of would make sense. He ain’t on the battlefield anymore. Far as he’s concerned, this is goddamn Valhalla. He’s allowed to be a bit on the slower side as opposed to Ingrid, who still has a flesh-and-blood vessel in this constant battlefield of the real world. She ought to have a bit more self-preservation than someone who’s already lived their life on this mortal coil.
Ivan sweating a little in Lakeview because of the threat of AI outing him did absolutely nothing for me. It was a thread that went absolutely nowhere. Having Ingrid work in Lakeview because backup Nathan called her bluff didn’t do a damn thing for me either except throw another carrot dangled into the fire. The reason is that Ingrid’s defending of herself comes off as less of taking a brave stand and more of an explicit threat on “Nora’s behalf”, so the optics come off more as “I’m comfortably wreaking havoc in someone else’s name” than “You’ve affronted me and I’m going to verbally rip you a new one.” That’s some cold-hearted shit and if that wasn’t the intention, was a beat with the already comely Ingrid in the body of the also comely Nora weaponizing her sexuality against of bunch of IT nerds even fucking needed?
It’s a fake high. There is no growth, only static in the scene. You could have done anything else. Maybe I’m the dumb one here, but as much as Ingrid’s vapidity suited her well for a while, I’ve always suspected a smarter person on the inside, almost a Paris Hilton type… but the show’s failed us time and again with any depth to her.
If they wanted us to unequivocally rally around a pretty girl being chastised by IT nerds (which is so old-hat it ain’t even funny anymore when technology is so prevalent in our lives), “This is not the way.” Kids are smarter than you think, guys. Her Tiananmen Square moment seems more like a half-written attack on people who were disappointed in someone who couldn’t do her job. We don’t see her actually redeem herself on the remaining jobs. That could have been such a fucking stellar C plot. For a criminally underwritten part, Allegra truly sells what she’s given. The only difference between her and Ivan is I care about what the shit happens to her.
We wind down the episode with news of a surprise star witness as well as Holden offering Nora a job, surely a thread for next season, and get back to Lakeview with Nathan 2.0 wanting Ingrid to spill the beans. She doesn’t (what a shocker) and though this could have been another chance for her redemption, backup Nathan gives her a pass when the “L Word” is dropped. The more I think about it, the more it seems the show is making their relationship less and less meaningful with each passing deception.
The last few minutes of the episode play out in an almost arty way. It’s actually a glaring slow moment, which leaves me conflicted. On one hand, you have this beautiful dip in momentum, a moment of unbridled calmness and happiness. Honestly? Possibly the first real one I’ve seen this season. It’s meant to stand out for a reason so that the final moments of the episode play out in chaos.
I’m going to chalk this up to an unhappy U-Day, for reasons both intended and not. Who knows, maybe I’ll be duly impressed in the finale.