Upload Episode 3×8 Review: Is “Flesh and Blood” Meaty Enough for a Finale?

In the season closer for the Amazon Prime Video series, dangling threads are addressed and new threats are presented.

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We know all victories have a shelf life in the world of Upload.

Review

With Dr. Kapoor now six feet under because he knew too much, the season finale of Upload titled “Flesh and Blood” throws us right on the trial, where Holden (Kristine Cofsky) exposes Horizen’s ad campaign aimed towards children for Lakeview. While putting Lucy (Andrea Rosen) under scrutiny is mildly satisfying to me, it’s downright bliss to Karina (Jeanine Mason), which skeeves out Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) with each passing comment. I get their relationship and where it plays in it all, but if they wrote this relationship to be only shallow, I’ve absolutely no problem with that. I don’t know if there’s much there worth exploring outside of a means to an end.

Nathan (Robbie Amell) proposes to Nora (Andy Allo) a trip to Montreal but there’s little to no room left for guessing why. They all but shove it in Nora’s face. What I’m taken about slightly is that she’s taken aback. Sure, she’s got a lot on her plate, but knowing the location is a honeymoon destination and not putting two and two together I ain’t exactly buying. It is interesting, however, to know that in the projected future, North America will have its own Paris in Quebec.

Nathan asking Luke (Kevin Bigley) to be his best man is a pretty joyous moment and for a second, I think that the same thing’s going to happen when Luke gets a call from backup Nathan asking him the same but with regards to Ingrid. In a classic tale of wires getting crossed, Luke would think Nathan’s getting “Upload dementia” or something, inadvertently spilling the beans harder than Kevin in The Office, setting up for a very messy outcome at the end of the episode. Nope. No such luck.

In this episode, we keep Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) Luke’s priority, which is what I’ve been waiting for. They want to take down Karina, enlisting Tinsley (Mackenzie Cardwell) and AI Guy (Owen Daniels). Tinsley’s ditzyness is momentarily played up a bit more than usual which would typically be annoying to me, but at this point, I don’t care. It’s not that I’ve thrown up the white flag on Tinsley but in a finale, moments have to pop, and her splash of uber-gullibility coupled with AI’s desire to feel more human brightens an otherwise simple setup to a fun plan that’s not super distracting to the rest of the story, as I’m a fan as any of group hijinks, which is a department they’ve been lacking in, so I’m happy with whatever the show throws me in the 11th hour.

I’m also a fan of the one person who can seemingly fall Horizen is not only the most accessible but also the hardest to flip. Looks like Nora and Nathan have to wine and dine Ingrid (Allegra Edwards). Hoo boy. The design of the swanky LA restaurant is based on the fucking horror show that is the Red Lobster lobby, except with livestock. It’s definitely a more effective satirical jab than the shock and awe of a fucking Cow-terpiller, but they actually work better together as a commentary.

Even though Nora is ravishing in red, all I see is red with her not picking up on the whole Montreal thing at dinner. It’s simply out of character for the typically on-the-take Nora, but I’m immediately distracted by Nathan 2.0’s good news to both IRL Nathan and Nora. I’m giddy because this means that some shit’s about to go down in the worst way. I love a series that has a talent for making hopeful territory fertile ground for catastrophic outcomes. That isn’t a slight in the slightest.

Ingrid does take some convincing, but Nora delivers on that with quite possibly the most important opening statement of her pre-law career before we check in with backup Nathan and a disaster waiting to happen at a beautifully lit area of Lakeview’s woods when he pops Ingrid the question. It goes as well as you think it would in the world of Upload, but at least we get to see AI Guy in his best outfit this season. This does lead to one of my bigger caveats with the episode.

Ingrid right before stepping into court is probably the most paralyzed and vulnerable we’d ever seen her but giving her very little choice in being a hero isn’t giving her much of a sympathetic angle from all of the horrid behavior she’d exemplified this season. There is absolutely nothing for her at stake since she’s already cut off from her family. There isn’t any risk of death or even losing her own Nathan for the sake of upload-kind.

Ingrid’s questioning of her standing with backup Nathan is completely valid seeing what Nora went through, but her waterworks do not seem earned. Even with Allegra giving it her all, it’s not punching hard enough because she was kept annoyingly spiteful and insecure the entire goddamn time. I’ll sidestep that for a brief moment to address Nora’s blind spot with Montreal.

Montreal ain’t the problem. It’s the damn lack of communication between her and Nathan throughout these eight damn episodes. With Nathan now a flesh-and-blood reality, they ironically couldn’t be farther apart in their interactions. Yes, their whole arc this season had flashes of unbridled warmth and inspired brilliance, but also many moments of utter aloofness and embarrassing vacuity.

I’ve proposed a few possible explanations. A.) Nathan truly hasn’t been carrying his own weight in showing affection B.) Nora’s the one who’s checked out C.) They both don’t care anymore D.) Their dynamics have unintentionally failed this season. E.) Their relationship is way more complicated than we think and is more representative of the true caprice in human beings.

With this being a comedy-drama, not the other way around, my money sadly is on “D.” It’s fucking hard to paint a hopeful picture of something that you may be too close to that can hold a lot of pain. The doubts in Nora and even Nathan throughout this whole season represent something so fucking raw and real with long-distance relationships. How do you inject hope into something with such a dismal success rate? Clearly, Upload hasn’t cracked that code yet. Their relationship this whole season seemed way more closed off when out in the real world and though most signs point to them getting together in the end, I’m just not rooting for them nearly as much as I should be.

Ingrid putting a target on Nathan through her impassioned declaration of love for an upload was a nice noose-tying of her own because it was an honest and heartfelt mistake, which is what makes what happens after her day in court when she comes home to Lakeview and a very understanding and loving Nathan a bit more… promising.

I was given the glimpse that Ingrid would have to lose majorly this season early on when they refused to show any real improvement in her character. Major shifts in a character’s personality are so much the fashion these days as a prologue to a major event in the finale, it’s not even shocking anymore. However, throwing something majorly painful at Ingrid is the only way we’ll see any character development in her. She’s not suffered enough to know what true happiness is, so I’m hoping that’s where the fourth season goes.

Ultimately, a battle’s been won in court but the war wages on. Sure, Horizen’s been fingered in the suit, and a landmark case had been won, resulting in a payout and peace of mind for the Freeyond victims, but IRL Nathan is no longer the property of Horizen which keeps him undocumented and now, detained. What’s more, Horizen’s still got the upper hand with a rebrand, now allowing all uploads to work, which will most likely bring in some lofty labor law commentary. These two revelations are a great setup for next season. I love that the people we care about are in for a Sysphean uphill battle. That’s the great part of this show. They put these people through the wringer… just some more unduly than others.

But that’s not what you’ve read up until this point are here for. What do I think about the final cliffhanger? I think it’s drawn me back in. For all of the gripes I’ve had with this season being more fulfilling than last season, but less punchy than the first, for the first time this season, they’ve given me a hopeful moment that I can count on in the elimination of a Nathan. Maybe we can start moving along with some true character development for Ingrid now?

4/5 Stars.

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