Upload returns as a surprisingly confident version of itself in season two, essentially experiencing the opposite of a sophomore slump. Thanks to a tighter seven-episode run, the Greg Daniels-created series delivers a sharper punch this time around, no longer toggling unevenly between various interesting but scattered ideas. Instead, it solidifies its cognizant approach to topical Big Tech issues while expanding on its earnest elements.
The unique digital afterlife premise is still infinitely compelling, as is the sparkling chemistry between lead duo Nathan Roberts (Robbie Amell) and Nora Antony (Andy Allo). Seriously, the actors’ cutesy and convincing banter alone elevates the show. The two connect after Nathan dies and his consciousness is “uploaded” into a tech-company-created faux haven called Lakeview, where an extremely alive Nora works as his customer service rep, a.k.a. an “angel.”
Season one struggled to keep things on an even keel, often swiveling between being a charming rom-com, futuristic odyssey, and a paltry murder mystery about who killed Nathan. It’s not flawless in season two, but Daniels and the writers now navigate Upload’s plotlines with a (mostly) unifying thread tying them together, and stringing them into a potential third season.
In Season 2, it remains grounded in characters and relationships, with sight gags – terrifying virtual babies, giant Adirondack chairs and floating heads – and deep-cutting wit as a bonus to the emotional story.
The new episodes pick up almost immediately after the Season 1 finale, as programmer Nathan (Amell) deals with his rich, obsessive girlfriend's decision to upload to his heaven so they can be together forever, literally. Meanwhile, his erstwhile love Nora (Andy Allo) hides out with the anti-technology "Luds," investigating the conspiracy that led to Nathan's murder. Their relationship, while always tricky given that one of them is alive while the other isn't, is more precarious than ever.
The biggest strength of Season 1 was the romance between Nathan and Nora, so Season 2 suffers slightly as the plot forces the couple apart. When the actors reunite, they light it up with their innate chemistry, and the second half of the season has a zippier pace and lighter feel as a result.
Nora (Andy Allo) and Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) take their deceased charges for a walk in the second season of Amazon's "Upload."
The emotional distance between them, however, allows supporting characters to take more of the spotlight. Aleesha (Zainab Johnson), Nora's flippant coworker at the digital heaven company, is the major breakout this season. She represents the everyman of the "Upload" future, more concerned with getting housing larger than a shipping container than in government conspiracies, murders or fighting the system.
The seven-episode second season retains the first's ability to simultaneously present a cynical outlook on the future and also argue that love can conquer (almost) all. It's a tricky tone to perfect, but the sharp acting and sharper scripts help immensely. "Upload" has also developed a distinctive visual language. There is a golden surreality to the lighting, colors and decor of the digital heavens, a startling contrast to the dark, dirty real world.