After the first episode featured the death of it’s lead character, and then once he spent a brief amount of time in the afterlife, his attempted suicide, I thought Upload was going to be quite a dark and twisted affair. So I’ve been increasingly surprised by how upbeat and funny the show has been, though it’s been a pleasant surprise as we’ve followed Nathan (Robbie Amell) come to terms with being dead and slowly fall in love with the woman who’s supposed to guide him through his afterlife, his “Angel” Nora (Andy Allo).
As well as the romantic aspect (which has been consistently adorable) the majority of the show has seen Nathan explore what it’s like to be dead, with the murder mystery element distinctly in the background. It’s been a fascinating and pretty amusing ride as the afterlife is full of unusual characters and locations, including a mysterious grey area which offers illicit delights which oddly they only visit once. Sure, there’s occasionally been bleaker moments as being dead has seemed sometimes been quite difficult to come to terms with, especially if you want to maintain relationships with those who are alive, but the majority of the time it’s been quite a light, playful affair.
They’ve doubled down on the darkness in this final episode of the season though, as at the end of the ninth episode the story arc finally kicked up a gear as Nathan was given the opportunity to regain his memories and find out what had happened to him, only to discover that the truth was that he could be a real shit, something which causes Nora to reevaluate her relationship with him. Even worse is that Nora’s life is in danger from a knife wielding psychopath, and Nathan might not be able to do be that much help as he’s been downgraded to a 2 gig life now that Ingrid is no longer paying for his existence.
Luckily Nora survives but the whole sequence is grim and disturbing, and though Nora and Nathan grow a little closer after it that’s only an extremely brief occurrence as after she confesses her love he runs out of data, and so is unable to reciprocate the sentiment. It’s here at the end of the episode that proceedings become amusing again, if in a rather twisted way, as we discover that Ingrid has made the greatest sacrifice possible in an attempt to save their relationship by being upgraded herself, much to Nathan’s understandable horror.
As with the final episode of Code 404 (a review of which will be online over the next couple of days), this final episode makes the decision to largely to jettison the humourous element and concentrate on the story and the emotional aspects between the two different characters, but I’m not sure it quite works. It feels all a little too jarring, with too much plot in too short a time, from their relationship suddenly all but falling apart to Nora’s life being in danger, and it would have been more effective if spread over two episodes.
Worst of all for me is the choice to make Nathan a cold blooded murderer, in scenes which are pretty deranged. With Nora’s attempted killer trapped in the lift (and certain of a prison sentence after he stabbed the police officer) Nathan could have left him there, or even just knocked him unconscious. But no, he decides to kill him, and in a manner which was fairly demented and so brutal that it caused one of the witnesses to the man’s demise to faint instantly. This episode already revealed that Nathan was something of a selfish turd, but to then have him kill someone in such a way, even if it was out of love, well now I’m not convinced I want Nora to end up with him in the end.
If you’re able to get over this (and I hope I might be over future episodes, though I’m not convinced that’ll be the case), the episode as a whole felt like too much of a tonal shift after what had come before. I’m not adverse to the dramatic elements at all but by having it suddenly become grimly serious it feels like a different programme, and one which was genuinely upsetting in a couple of places, with the decision Nora makes at the end of the episode being a desolate one as well as she rides off in to the sunset with a man she doesn’t love, or even seem to like that much for that matter.
Some of this won’t be a problem if the series gets another season, if we get to rejoin these characters and find out what happens next, but if it’s a ratings disappointment and Amazon decide to cancel it then it’s a deeply unpleasant ending for everyone involved. Hopefully it will come back and I can ignore such issues, or that if it does return the writers will address them in a satisfying manner, but if not after this finale it’ll be a show I’ll find far too bittersweet to ever want to return to for a second viewing.
Episode Rating: ★★★
Season Rating: ★★★★