×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The ending of Upload season 1 explained

Just when you thought The Good Place had said everything that could be said about the afterlife, along comes Upload, a new sitcom from Amazon and The Office's Greg Daniels. While it might seem as if the series, which stars Code 8's Robbie Amell, is following in the footsteps of Michael Schur's philosophical treatise on what it is to be human once one's time on Earth is over, Upload takes a much different tack, using its version of life after death to explore questions of class and the dehumanizing effects of technology-driven capitalism.

See, Upload's afterlife is a digital one, into which a person's consciousness can be uploaded if they have the resources to pay for the procedure. What's more, different kinds of afterlife come with different price points, with the better-off deceased able to chill in a microtransaction-plagued paradise, while those on the lower end of the economic spectrum have to monitor every activity, lest they breach their data limit and find themselves frozen.

Into this thorny, purgatorial pool crashes Amell's Nathan, who, in life, had been working to create a free post-death experience. With part of his memory missing, Nathan sets out to explore his new world, falling for a tech-support "angel" named Nora (Andy Allo) and discovering that the ritzy ream in which he finds himself, named Lakeview, isn't all it's cracked up to be. By the time the end comes, Nathan's facing some hard truths and harrowing choices. Here's how Upload gets him there.

Upload's Nathan is not who we – or he – thought

For most of Upload's first nine episodes, we are led to believe that Nathan is a sympathetic character. His goal of starting up a free version of the afterlife seems noble, especially given the economic stratification created by the likes of the Lakeview system. His death seems entirely not his doing, as he's victim first of a car crash, and second, of his over-zealous girlfriend, Ingrid, who uploads him even though he might pull through. His romance with Nora is one for which we're meant to root, despite the mortal barrier between them.

As the season reaches its climax, however, both Nathan and the viewer learn that not everything is as it seems. After a system-wide update of the afterlife, Nathan finds the piece of his memory that had been missing restored, and it reflects pretty poorly on him. It turns out that he wasn't quite as altruistic as we'd been led to believe because, when Ingrid's father offers him a sum of money to sell out his business partner and hand over his code, Nathan takes it, betraying his friend and what we thought were his values in one fell swoop.

This is devastating for Nathan, but also a blow to his relationship with Nora, since his goal of a free afterlife was one of the reasons she fell for him in the first place. To make matters worse, Nathan, mortified by what he just learned about himself, pretends not to remember Nora at all thanks to the update.

The 2Gig is up on Upload

Nathan's stay in Lakeview was originally orchestrated, and funded, by Ingrid, which gave her a degree of control over his afterlife. With Nathan having terminated the relationship, however, the resources that fueled his post-death activities dry up, and Nathan is forced to retreat to the lower-rent 2Gig section, thereby restricting what he can think, feel, or do, lest he use up his available memory. Reaching out to Nora is worth the risk, however, so he uses his data to contact her and confess his pre-death crimes. Just when it seems like things won't work out, a man enters Nora's apartment with intent to do harm. Heroically, Nathan hacks the building's CCTV cameras to guide Nora to safety, then its elevators to send the hitman to his doom.

Unfortunately, that's a lot of stuff to do, and it taps Nathan's available bandwidth. Thus, when Nora logs back in to tell him that she loves him and he's actually a good person, he's completely unable to respond, having used all his data in the rescue effort. Heartbreakingly, Nora is left believing, instead, that Nathan chose not to respond, and is last seen departing the city, despondent.

Nathan's next moves on Upload

The torment, however, isn't over for our is-he-or-isn't-he hero, because no sooner has all this gone down than Ingrid appears, revealing that she's uploaded herself so she can be with Nathan. She gifts him with one gig of data, which he immediately uses up in his shocked reaction to her news. Just when it seems like things can't get any worse, the lights in the entire 2Gig section go out, plunging the characters, and the viewers, into a season-ending darkness.

It's a pretty robust cliffhanger, and it leaves Upload plenty of room to explore as it heads into a presumed second season. How will Nathan escape from Ingrid's clutches, if he does, at all? Will Nathan and Nora overcome the cross-mortality divide and somehow rekindle their love? What's the big conspiracy at the center of Nathan's death and the attempt on Nora's life, and were the people behind it also the ones who turned out the lights in the 2Gig section? Most importantly, will humanity ever find a way to escape the shackles of financial hardship, even after death? Here's hoping our patience has enough bandwidth to hold out for the answers if and when Amazon brings Upload back for another go.