Spoilers below for the first season of Amazon's Upload, including the finale.
For anyone expecting creator Greg Daniels’ new series Upload to be extremely similar to his former creations The Office and the recently reunited Parks and Rec, those expectations were quickly pushing up daisies. An emotionally driven futuristic satire, Upload is bursting at the comedic seams, but also incorporates a serialized narrative concerning the attempted murder of Robbie Amell’s non-conspiratorial Nathan, and his bizarre struggles in a digital afterlife that hinges on consumerism.
Upload featured quite a few twists and turns in its ten installments, with each episode somewhat surprisingly ending on dour and/or suspenseful notes, including the Season 1 finale. Below, we’re going to discuss the cliffhanger manner in which Upload capped things off for the main characters, followed by insightful input from creator Greg Daniels and stars Robbie Amell, Andy Allo and Allegra Edwards.
How Upload Ended For Nathan, Nora And Ingrid
Episode 9 introduced the big update that cleaned up a lot of Lakeview's quirks, which meant that Nathan regained some truly damning memories early on in the Season 1 finale. It turns out his business partner Jamie was the sensible decision-maker regarding their freeware afterlife project Beyond, while Nathan was the shady and money-hungry one. The two backed away from a potentially lucrative agreement with the company run by Oliver Kannerman, but Ingrid's father honed in on Nathan and offered him a deal to sell off just the program's coding. Of course, Nathan's self-driving car accident seemingly occurred before he could get that lucrative sum.
Because he'd ended things with Ingrid over her tryst with Jamie, Nathan was transferred down to Lakeview's depressing 2GB floor, where his memory data was severely limited. Completely embarrassed and ashamed of his actions back in reality, Nathan initially pretended to have lost his memory of Nora. He later came clean about it, but that was after Nora got her own eyeful of Nathan's guilt, which obviously discolored her emotions.
That change of heart made things even more complicated when Nora got targeted by a freakish-looking murderer who was also at the site of Nathan's accident. The dude broke into her home and tried to kill her, though Nathan took care of him with a gruesome elevator incident. Without a real idea of who else might be out there trying to kill her, Nora decided to take a road trip with her casual sex partner Byron, who was clearly more into it than she was.
Meanwhile, Nathan remained stuck in Lakeview's dregs, having burned his data plan off through saving Nora's life. That is, until the finale's last-minute twist, in which Ingrid showed up in Nathan's 2GB room with the news that she'd uploaded her consciousness to Lakeview so that they could finally be together in one place. While that was certainly a shock, Nathan's fury over the situation wasn't surprising at all, since Ingrid may or may not have played a part in his death.
Why Upload Ended That Way, According To Creator Greg Daniels
Just about every project Greg Daniels previously worked on in his career was overwhelmingly comedic in nature, without hinging on deadly mysteries, and the upcoming Space Force looks to follow suit. In contrast, Upload's dark and sometimes stressful endings were always a jolt, and the finale dropped the biggest one yet, and all without actually giving audiences all of the pieces of the narrative's puzzles. When CinemaBlend spoke with Daniels, I had to question why he gave Upload such an ominous finale. Here's the first thing he said:
I mean, I want there to be a Season 2, and I want people to be thinking about what is going to happen in Season 2. So there's aspects of it that are quite unresolved at the end of Season 1.
The more basic impulse for Greg Daniels here was to give audiences enough of the main storyline and central character development to hook everybody, while still hiding just enough information to keep building out the genre-bending story. While it technically seems like Upload could have been an anthology series, with future seasons focusing on some of the other quirky characters and relationships within Lakeview and the real world, Season 2 definitely sounds like its sights will stay on Nathan, Ingrid and Nora's otherworldly love triangle.
Here, Greg Daniels spoke further about giving Upload an open and not necessarily happy ending.
I think that there's a lot of optimism in the show. The characters are struggling to kind of bring this technology to everybody, to make the technology more fair, and to resist some of the evil characters. And so for any kind of story where there is a bunch of conflict...like, Voldemort is still alive at the end of the first Harry Potter, you know what I mean? [Laughs.] So I don't know, that's how I was thinking, I guess.
Earlier in our conversation, Greg Daniels did speak about someone referring to Upload as a combination of The Office and Harry Potter, so that comparative assessment is on point. (Which isn't to say we should start referring to Nora's attacker as He Who Must Not Be Named.) In any case, Daniels' point is that despite any presumptions that everything will eventually work out for Upload's protagonists, the goal was not to eradicate all of the "evil" by the end of Season 1. Or even to completely identify all of the evil entities, it seems.
How Robbie Amell And Andy Allo Felt About Upload’s Ending
Having succeeded in bringing Nathan and Nora's non-traditional relationship to life in such a believable way, stars Robbie Amell and Andy Allo obviously had some thoughts about how Upload closed out their respective stories, with Nathan a black-and-white statue and Nora a fugitive from her own life.
First up, here's what Robbie Amell had to say:
I think it's beautiful and it's sad at the same time. Nora and Nathan can finally tell each other how they feel, and Nathan's frozen at the end. It's so, like, only Greg Daniels can hit you with that at the end of a comedy. And, you know, I think that they both know that there's still that thing there, but at the same time, she's got to look out for herself and take care of herself and survive. Everything gets really dangerous at the end. And then here comes Ingrid to upload into the 2GB. It's such a great button on the season, and now he's stuck with her again.
Robbie Amell had a wide spectrum of emotional reactions to Upload's finale, championing Greg Daniels' imagination while also lamenting Nathan and Nora's fractured relationship. At the same time, Amell was wholly amused by the idea that Ingrid has now joined him in the non-corporeal world, even though it opens up a whole new world of complications for his future with Nora, assuming there is one. Here's how Andy Allo felt about it:
I mean, I was kind of mad because I was like, man, Nathan got her into this mess, and now he's gonna leave her hanging. It's like 'Hello, hello...' . . . So it gives you a good cliffhanger where you get all the feels and the emotions, which I liked, but it also doesn't solve everything. I was really happy that they didn't kind of tie everything up in a bow, which gives you so much more to build upon and explore later on.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andy Allo was on the same page when it came to Season 1's conclusion, which rewarded a lot of Nora's detective work (as well as her evasion skills), but didn't give the character exactly what she wanted. My main hope for the character's future is that Greg Daniels and Amazon reach an agreement to create a series of shorts featuring heightened moments from Nora and Byron's trip.
What Allegra Edwards Thinks About Ingrid’s Big Reveal And Her Future With Nathan
As much as Upload dedicated its first season to evolving Nathan from self-centered to empathetic, the show managed to take the even more egocentric Ingrid down a similar journey of enlightenment. Granted, Ingrid's family is a pack of pride-eating predators, making it quite reasonable for her to want to shift away from them and closer to Nathan's family, including his adorable niece Nevaeh. The two characters' splintered relationship made her last-minute appearance all the more unpredictable and ridiculous, and star Allegra Edwards was absolutely pumped for that twist. In her words:
Boy, that was... I remember just reading it on the page and going, 'No way! Yes, yes, yes, yes! I get to play, I get to play!' Because the shooting of the first season was Ingrid dealing with her life in Los Angeles, while everybody else is either at Lakeview or in New York at Horizen. I was interacting with all types of other incredible characters, but I was very isolated, and so seeing that pop up on the page was very gratifying. It felt like a relief; like, what an opportunity to have so much more fun, and to mix and match these ingredients that are these characters, and to just see how they react with each other. So yeah, it feels like the kind of environment that Ingrid would really despise, and would want to get Nathan out of there as soon as possible. But she may also want to teach him a lesson and only put them on an allowance for a GB at a time and get him dependent on her again. And dangle the carrot from far away at the Lakeview lobby, you know? 'Don't you want to come back and read more of Harry Potter instead of the first five pages?' [Laughs.]
Considering Amazon hasn't made a decision about Upload Season 2 yet, Allegra Edwards obviously couldn't speak to what will definitely happen in these characters' futures. That said, she's already thinking about the possibilities, and is downright thrilled at the idea of engaging more with the characters that Robbie Amell's Nathan interacts with on an episodic basis. I can definitely see Ingrid and Luke making quite the must-watch pairing, given their vastly different wavelengths, but that probably depends on how her relationship with Nathan develops. She may very well become his and Nora's worst enemy in the potential second season, assuming Nathan gets enough data restored to even notice.
While speaking with Allegra Edwards (along with co-stars Zainab Johnson and Kevin Bigley), I had to get her take on exactly why Ingrid was uploaded to Lakeview, beyond any mere longings to be with Nathan. Given the briefness of the scene, audiences never learned the circumstances through which Ingrid's body was sacrificed so that her consciousness could live on, which left the question of how else it might have connected to the plot to have Nathan killed. Here's what the actress told me:
Yeah, you know, it's funny, because I, Allegra, don't know much and I kind of like it that way. I think some of that hopefully would be revealed if we do happen to get a Season 2, so that we can explore how that decision was made; If she decided, if somebody else decided for her, and then a myriad of other options, too. I like to think desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was a power move for sure, and that she has so much autonomy that she did it of her own volition. Maybe to, like, clap back at her dad a little bit. But who knows? It could be anything, and I'm excited to read what they decide.
Personally, I'm all into the idea that Ingrid took herself out of the life equation in large part as a big "fuck you" to her greedy and cartoonishly hateful father. I'm not sure that would have been the most ideal way to tick him off, in the way that choosing another company besides Horizen would have, but it would be a statement nonetheless. However, it might be more interesting narratively if Greg Daniels and his creative team have more enigmatic reasons for why Ingrid was uploaded at that point.