Now, a moment of silence as we try to recall: What the heck was happening on Upload?
It’s been almost two years since Greg Daniels’ charming sci-fi series debuted on Prime Video. That’s a certifiable eternity in pandemic-era TV time, so a reminder of who’s who and what’s what in this offbeat dramedy about the afterlife is in order. (After catching up here, be sure to check out our review of the second season.)
Set in the year 2033, Upload breaks ground on a futuristic world where only the wealthiest can buy digital immortality. In season one, after a serious car accident, programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell) uploads his consciousness to Lakeview, an uber-costly “virtual afterlife resort” paid for by his vindictive girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards).
There, Nathan befriends more of the digital undead and even starts to fall for the still-alive customer support “angel” Nora (Andy Allo). But as Lakeview’s dystopian edges begin to show, and suspicion surrounding Nathan’s mysterious death mounts, the promise of a peaceful resting place turns into a nightmarish conspiracy that could leave characters dead—or worse: deleted.
Here are the key clues and cliffhangers to remember before season two:
Nathan is portrayed as a tech bro from the beginning. But it’s not until one of his Lakeview neighbors suggests he may have been murdered that we seriously consider what Nathan did for a living—and how it could have contributed to his death.
Before Nathan’s “accident,” which involved his self-driving car inexplicably overriding commands to stop, he and his business partner Jamie (Jordan Johnson-Hinds) were developing some new software. Missing files from Nathan’s memory make it impossible for him to remember what he was working on at first. So he and Nora, whose friendship rapidly turns into a romance, embark on a multi-episode mission to recover Nathan’s past.
Sleuthing leads the pair to discover Nathan was programming a free version of Lakeview’s virtual afterlife services called “Beyond.” Nathan and Jamie threatened to upend a multi-billion dollar industry with their egalitarian alternative. Together, they turned down numerous offers to buy Beyond, including one from Ingrid’s father Oliver (Barclay Hope).
Nathan’s cousin Fran (Elizabeth Bowen) vows to solve his murder. But when she digs into the specifics of what caused Nathan’s brakes to fail, she soon has her own self-driving car plunge into the ocean. Fran’s death isn’t confirmed, but an attempt to steal and destroy Nathan’s hard drive later in season one supports Fran’s theory of foul play.
So did someone kill Nathan because he refused to sell Beyond? We don’t know.
At first, Nora and Nathan suspect Jamie may have hurt Nathan because he wanted to sell when Nathan didn’t. But later, they decide Jamie could not have done it. (We do, however, learn that Ingrid and Jamie had a brief affair.)
Suspicions turn to Oliver and Ingrid, whose money and connections to Lakeview’s parent company Horizen keep Nathan a kind of high-tech prisoner. Ingrid torments the digitized Nathan by refusing to pay for afterlife amenities and even threatens to delete him at his own funeral.
Still, Ingrid claims to love Nathan and makes elaborate efforts to better connect with her virtual boyfriend. It’s clear she knows more about Nathan’s death, but refuses to explain when confronted about the murder at first.
Nathan becomes convinced part of his memory is still missing and (without Ingrid’s cooperation) decides he won’t know for certain what happened until he gets it back. Nora helps Nathan exploit the software system during a planned Lakeview update, which subsequently restores his memories.
This reveals to Nathan that he actually went behind Jamie’s back and sold a copy of Beyond’s code to Oliver, despite having turned him down earlier. Nathan is ashamed, particularly because Nora (they just kissed) cannot afford to have her terminally ill father Dave (Chris Williams) uploaded.
We learn through Ingrid that Oliver was indeed responsible for sabotaging Nathan’s car, but that she later reprogrammed the car to save her boyfriend. Who killed Nathan is still a mystery at the start of season two, but they are likely to go after Nora next.
After having his memory restored, Nathan pretends he can no longer remember Nora because he does not want to have to admit the betrayal. So Nathan decides to move to the lowest-tier package at Lakeview, relegating himself to languish in the “2 Gig” residences where extremely limited data means extremely limited thinking, talking, and moving—but also freedom from Ingrid.
Nathan calls Nora from 2 Gig to admit his deception, but she is attacked while they’re on the phone. Nathan uses an unauthorized data program to help Nora escape into the city and kill her unknown assailant with a hijacked elevator.
Once Nora is safe, Nathan wants to tell her he loves her, but he runs out of data before Nora can understand what he’s saying.
Nora leaves with her on-again-off-again love interest Byron (Matt Ward), possibly on the advice of her father to get off the grid after the attack. It’s not clear where she’s going or if she will see Nathan ever again.
Nathan is resurrected one last time in season one, as Ingrid arrives in 2 Gig triumphantly announcing she has uploaded herself. This way, she says, they can be together forever. Nathan uses up all of his data getting upset, forcing himself to shut down (and close out the season finale).
Ingrid’s feelings for Nathan were a major point of contention in season one. Not only did Ingrid seem to grow tired of her undead boyfriend shortly after uploading him, but her selfishness led him to finally break up with her in the finale, consequences be damned.
Ingrid’s decision to (presumably) die by suicide so should could “move” to Lakeview seems at best short-sighted and at worst like a calculated decision to punish Nathan forever. Perhaps she’s counting on a breakthrough in the experimental reanimation technology we saw kill a man (Creed Bratton) in episode 7. Or maybe she’s uploading herself to covering for Nathan’s real killer.
Anything is possible in Upload—even if forever isn’t guaranteed.