When we talk about science-fiction IPs that comment on the future of human civilization, what are some of the names that come to your mind? Blade Runner (1982), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), The Matrix Quadrilogy (1999-2021), Black Mirror (2011-2019), Altered Carbon (2018-2020), etc. As you can see, the running theme or tone when it comes to dealing with this topic is dark, brooding, and morbid. Which isn’t a critique. It fits the setting and feel of those movies and shows. Maybe that’s why it’s always interesting to see when filmmakers and showrunners tell similar stories but on a lighter and more humorous canvas. Some such examples are Wall-E (2008), Her (2013), After Yang (2021), Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021), and the topic of today’s review, Upload Season 2 (2022).

Upload is created by Greg Daniels. Episodes of the show’s second season have been directed by Dee Rees, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and Jeffrey Blitz, and written by Daniels, Yael Green, Izzy Kadish, Owen Daniels, Megan Neuringer, Anna-Maria Ssemuyaba, Lauren Houseman, and Maxwell Theodore Vivian. The plot takes off right where season 1 left. Nathan’s (Robbie Amell) overbearing girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) has surprisingly entered Lakeview, thereby meaning that she’s dead. At the end of the last season, Nathan froze before being able to reciprocate his feelings for Nora (Andy Allo). So, she has moved on and become part of an off-the-grid anti-tech rebel group called The Ludds. And since Nathan still yearns for her, he has to figure out how to get rid of Ingrid, while also trying to solve the mystery behind his sudden death.

To be honest, that’s all that can be said about the plot explicitly because everything beyond that is a spoiler. Since said spoiler-y details are borderline jaw-dropping, it’s best if you experience them firsthand. Here’s everything that can be said implicitly though. Mortality is one of the biggest points of discussion in Upload as the show constantly wonders if a person’s consciousness is replicated digitally, are they really alive? Or if a person’s qualities are replicated digitally, are they really a person or just a copy? If a digital copy of a person begins to develop “feelings”, are they becoming human? If a person with a criminal past dies and appears in a new version of themselves, are they a new person who is absolved of their past crimes? And those questions about reality and artificial reality obviously give way to the show’s examination of morality.

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Related to Upload (Season 2) – 5 Reasons Why Season 1 of the Amazon Series “Upload” Fails To Work Its Charm

Throughout Season 1, there’s no distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. Nathan (and his family), Nora, Aleesha (Zainab Johnson), and Luke (Kevin Bigley) are presented as the good guys and Ingrid, Lucy (Andrea Rosen), David Choak (William B. Davis), and those in charge of Lakeview are presented as the bad guys. But at the end of the day, they are all under the umbrella of Lakeview and are benefiting from it or contributing to its existence. Season 2 attempts to draw a cleaner line with the introduction of the Ludds who hit out at the capitalist agenda behind Lakeview and its future IPs. However, the showrunners exhibit how the act of liberation can become an act of fascism if it doesn’t take the human factor into consideration. An agenda can be righteous to its core. That said, if it’s implemented in an inhumane fashion, does the means or the end justify the cause?

Yes, all this sounds like it’s capable of inducing a full-blown existential crisis because these issues are quite prevalent now instead of being a possibility in the distant future. But what makes it all digestible and fun to watch is Upload’s tongue-in-cheek, dark humour. There’s such a brilliant musicality to the dialogue-writing, the direction, Simon Chapman’s cinematography, the editing by Rob Burnett, David Rogers, Christine Armstrong, and Lise Angelica Johnson, and of course the committed performances from the cast. It’s this invisible rhythm in the visual and narrative storytelling that gives deeply troubling revelations, severed heads, and A.I. Guy’s (Owen Daniels) antics a sense of cohesion. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine any other movie or show pulling off Ingrid’s arc (which involves a very demented form of motherhood) and Allegra’s fascinating performance, while juggling the aforementioned topics, without breaking its overall tone. And that’s reason enough to give Upload a watch.

In addition to some of the best storytelling, production design, and seamless integration of VFX and practical effects, Upload’s biggest draw is its acting department. Robbie and Andy have what’s generally called “author-backing roles”. So, you’re naturally drawn to them and you root for them. But they go beyond that and deliver some of the funniest line readings. That said, this season they kind of run the risk of being overshadowed by the supporting cast, which is a good thing. Owen Daniels is probably the best actor in the cast. And this is a cast that has outstanding actors like Zainab Johnson, Kevin Bigley, Andrea Rosen, Josh Banday, Allegra Edwards, Mackenzie Cardwell, Paulo Costanzo, Hiro Kanagawa, and more. Heck, at one point it even features Jennifer Garner. Therefore, to outshine all of them is a huge task, and Daniels low-key does it. Also, extra kudos to all of them for being consistently funny in every frame. Comedy is tougher than it looks and this cast is effortlessly hilarious.

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In conclusion, if you are like me and gave Upload a miss for one reason or another, please consider fixing it right now. Binge through Season 1. Each episode is approximately 30-minutes long. Then watch Season 2. If you have watched Season 1 already and you were looking forward to Season 2, please go into it without any trepidation. It’s as good as Season 1, maybe even a tinge better. Plot-wise, it’s interesting to see the twists and turns the show is taking with its characters, thereby making it exciting to speculate where they’re going to go next. But more than that, it’s quite intriguing to see the showrunners skirt the line between predicting the future and commenting on the path being laid to reach said future. So, at the cost of sounding repetitive, please watch Upload and show it to your tech-bro friend who thinks pivoting to the Metaverse will solve everything.

Upload Season 2 is now streaming on Prime Video


Upload (Season 2) Links – IMDb, Wikipedia
Upload (Season 2) Cast – Robbie Amell, Andy Allo, Allegra Edwards, Zainab Johnson, Kevin Bigley

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