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Upload Season 3 Premiere Review: The Second Hand Doesn’t Give Second Chances In “Ticking Clock”

The season three premiere of Amazon's Upload continues the roller coaster were suspended in last episode and dares to crank it up.

At least his farts won't smell as bad in the open air, right?

Last season, things got pretty awkward between Nathan (Robbie Amell) and Nora (Andy Allo). Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) lied to Nathan about her being dead to exist with him for all of eternity. She desperately wanted to raise a child with Nathan, but the cat was out of the bag (as she’s in the body suit in her bathtub). Angel Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) got closer to the ever-loveable Lake View resident Luke (Kevin Bigley). The Ludds are fixing to strike harder than they did on the Freeyond L.A. branch. David Choak was the one who took out a hit on Nathan… and now, newly downloaded, the ostensible Adonis is a ticking time bomb with his first nosebleed.


The season premiere, “Ticking Clock,” starts out with Nathan’s perfectly quaffed head exploding, (if only in Nora’s headspace), definitely setting the tone. The show’s surely not been one to play it easy with their singular gore move, and honestly, the effect still works on me. It’s gruesome and satisfying each time. The one thing that isn’t exactly satisfying is the way Matteo (Paulo Costanzo) is treating Nathan. I get that, as Nathan puts it, the dude “lost his girl to a dead guy,” but Matteo’s whiny, passive-aggressive nature feels like the writers were just really not liking the character rather than his misplaced ideals. He was always petty, I get it, but in that case, why give him to Nora as Nathan’s romantic rival last season if he was never truly worthy to begin with?

I mean fuck, if Nathan is basically this perfect specimen, wouldn’t it make more sense to throw someone in the mix who isn’t so easily hateable? Make the audience work for the payoff. For my money, if you polled the audience, I bet few are rolling with Matteo. The dude’s a dick, but Nathan’s taking it in stride.

David Choak (William B. Davis) couldn’t stay away from our view, looking for Nathan in Lake View. Easily one of the most vile characters in the series, he always gives a top performance. Something about the way William portrays him makes it like I can physically feel the atmosphere around me become a vacuum of happiness whenever he appears onscreen.

We check in with Aleesha, still burned from the NYC expedition where the wool was pulled over both her and Luke’s eyes by Nora and Nathan, with whom Luke is also a bit miffed on account he won’t be back for a spell. I’m happy they’re keeping the group cleft in twain for the time being. If the quartet is solid, when divided, the duos should hopefully exhibit new skill sets that would make for some interesting moments down the line.

We see that Nathan’s transition to his new body isn’t without its stumbling blocks. Gastrointestinal issues abound, and that’s about probably the worst fear most of us would have. If I came back as a download and my body wasn’t 100% on board with things like food, I’d reconsider re-uploading. To be honest, I sense something much bigger in this “hiccup”. I think this is truly a DNA situation with Nathan, and I ain’t talking about silly nosebleeds.

I’m going to say I like Detective Sato (Hiro Kanagawa), and I don’t care who knows. There’s something in the way Hiro plays him in an almost Clouseau manner, right down to the tiny, little car. He knows it all, but his threat isn’t palpable to Nathan or Nora. I mean, he’s on the right side, right?

In Lake View, Ingrid may finally be gaining some independence, and I’m totally for it. She wants to love herself first and foremost, which, I’m like, “fuckin’ preach.” All the raiment she’d ever purchased to keep things spicy was never worn, which speaks to a great fact of life: Just because you’re hot doesn’t mean you have it made. Sometimes there are things that matter slightly more, like maybe having integrity and some goddamn self-respect.

Of course, who says “when” when it comes to the number of foils you can have? Tinsley (Mackenzie Cardwell) kicks an even bigger dent in her already touch-and-go employment status at Horizen when she surreptitiously uploads a backup Nathan, who materializes right after Ingrid moves out of their digital space, waking up nearly reminiscent of how Joel woke up in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Luke has a little bit more shine in this episode, but not much as he interviews a potential replacement for Nathan. His going bananas without Nathan is surely being hit on with zero uncertainty, but so far, it’s not feeling like it’s as overbearing as it could be. Besides, Nathan and Nora are fighting for the good fight out there, so I kind of want to tell him to chill as well.

In Choak Tower, we see a side of Nora we’d not glimpsed previously. She’s always had an almost screwball dynamic with Nathan, so her kind of bagging on a sore spot for him, that being him not adaptive in the moment seems out of the blue at first, but I totally get the whole “testing out the waters” thing. Still, I guess I didn’t picture Nora as getting sore at him balking, but it’s actually closer to real life, which makes it more compelling. The odd thing is Nathan seems more than a bit… awkward. I get careening sharply away from the physical schtick of getting used to a new body, it’s been done a million times and it wouldn’t be organic to shoehorn into a series like this, but is giving him possibly a degenerative disease that will attack his brain the most effective way to go to show incongruity between him and Nora in the flesh?

For the time being, they’re in, and I will say that the Windows XP-themed original Freeyond program is pretty dope looking, maybe even tapping into the zeitgeist of Vaporwave these days with a soupcon of Minecraft. I dig it. What I don’t dig is yet another dig at Jersey, which is where the data farm is. Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well as The Other Guys pulled the same move. The only true joke to me is the cities they cite, in this case, Elizabeth. You always aim for the Jersey cities that are so close to New York, they’re basically indistinguishable from the city that’s making fun of them, ya fuckin’ mooks. Grow a pair. Try aiming for Central and South.

Having Choak and other bigwigs in a meeting, Kamyar Whitbridge (Larry Wilmore) and his boss, Miro Mansour (Bassem Youssef) are among those in attendance seemed like the only logical move to get the ball rolling this season. Reveal the players early on so we know what’s at stake. David’s pushing the timetable for Freeyond was merely starting another “clock” among the plots concurrently running.

Ingrid almost becomes autonomous in this episode. Almost, which kind of let me down. She almost has the gumption to cancel her second clone of Nathan before backup Nathan gives her a call. The pull is far too much for Ingrid to ignore, so she’s willing to at least hear him out. Look, I get it. We all want a good character arc for her this season, since last season I started out pro-Ingrid and ended up very much not-pro. Everybody deserves a shot a redemption, but having her not cancel the new clone feels dirty to me, like giving the look that she will never change. Maybe that’s all it is though. Misdirection. It’s a good device for a reason.

Putting Nathan’s mother, Viv (Jessica Tuck), and Mauricio (Peter James Smith), Nathan’s near upload agent, in the Freeyond Los Angeles line was an interesting decision. Thus far, this series hasn’t done much without purpose (Ivan’s fuckin’ fetish, I’m looking at you), so… I hope this goes down an interesting route.

Keeping Matteo shitty isn’t really doing anything for me. To be fair, it would be nice if he were goddamn erased from the whole equation. Alas, Nathan and Nora are split up once more, and for what? To keep the stakes high? It’s not really doing much for me in terms of tension. If you want the audience to feel it, you put both beloved characters who are iron-clad together in a situation where the outcome is extremely uncertain. You put the winds of the gods against the two pillars to see if they can truly hold each other up. Then again, this is only the first episode.

I will say that the mass leaking of Freeyond’s press release was a genuine moment of joy for me. It also gave me pause. It reminded me that as grim as things may look at times, we currently live in an era where more power is in the hands of the people than it has ever been before. It also reminded me that the inspirational nature of that fact belies the very present danger in it. However, the only thing more dangerous than any fact is ignorance… just ask ya boy, Matteo.

Oh, wait.

4/5 Stars.

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