The Good Place—Season 1, Episode 3 (Tahani Al-Jamil)

With this episode’s title, I initially expected it to be all about Tahani and getting to know a lot about her. While this episode did explore Tahani’s character a little bit, it was more about Eleanor’s perception and suspicion of her.

The episode kicks off with Chidi giving Eleanor an ethics lesson to be interrupted by Tahani dropping by to give Eleanor a plant. After she leaves, Eleanor and Chidi argue over Tahani’s personality and intentions. Later, Eleanor visits Tahani and brings her a basket of pears, believing it is a better gift, only for Tahani to tell her that pears are a symbol of bad luck in Chinese culture and throws them in the trash without a second thought. When Tahani makes a comment to Eleanor about her desire to help others in the neighbourhood so she feels like she belongs in the Good Place, Eleanor immediately suspects her of sending the note. When Eleanor returns to her home and shares her suspicion with Chidi, insulting Tahani in the process, the plant starts to wilt.

Later Eleanor and Tahani visit the other residents to see how they are, finishing their day with tea at Tahani’s house. When Tahani leaves the room to start her apparently long and detailed beauty routine, Eleanor snoops around, eventually finding her diary and taking it home. When Chidi finds out and Eleanor tries to justify her reasons for taking it, the plant bursts into flames. Chidi tells her that the plant is a manifestation of her selfishness and treatment of Tahani, and also suggests that she wrote the note to herself as a manifestation of her guilt. Eleanor admits to Chidi that good people make her feel insecure.

While Eleanor is with Tahani, Chidi is with Michael and Janet. Michael wants Chidi to take up a hobby as he spent his life exploring ethics and philosophy. Michael tries to get Chidi into cartography, journalism and arc welding, while Janet is exploring different personality traits at Michael’s request switching from colloquialisms to trivia tidbits to overt sexuality (his suggestion to be friendlier took a wrong turn) to being cruel and distant. Chidi eventually tells Michael that he wants to continue working on his book, however Michael tells him that his overly long book is convoluted so Chidi asks Michael to be his advisor. Chidi later tells Eleanor what happened and she tells him that Michael doesn’t know everything and he should be proud of his efforts.

Eleanor returns Tahani’s diary and overhears her crying. When she goes to see her, Tahani confides in her that she’s upset Jason won’t break his vow of silence to talk to her, and asks Eleanor if she knows what it feels like to be in paradise and something not be quite right. Eleanor comforts her and tells her that they both belong here.

The next day, Eleanor wakes up to a hug from Chidi and it’s revealed that Eleanor’s comforting talk with Tahani resulted in the plant blooming. She also runs into Tahani and Michael, where Tahani tells Eleanor that Michael asked her to be his assistant but turned the offer down to focus on her relationship with Jianyu, so she recommended Eleanor. Michael tells Eleanor he would like her to be his assistant to help him figure out what’s wrong with the neighbourhood, which puts her on edge. She comes home to find another note saying, “we need to talk, meet me tonight, town square.”

Eleanor goes to the town square, trying to convince herself that a note was a manifestation of her guilt like Chidi suggested earlier, to find Jianyu waiting for her. He finally speaks aloud and tells her that he doesn’t belong in the Good Place either.

Overall I felt this episode was an improvement on the previous one. While the episode is named after Tahani and we may not have gotten to know everything about her, we got to know her a little through Eleanor. Both Eleanor and the viewers realise that while Tahani is at times a little snobby and condescending, she is not a bad person, and similarly to Eleanor, she has own struggle in the Good Place. The flashbacks again perfectly contrast Eleanor’s slowly continuing growth in the Good Place with the static selfish person she was when she was alive, this time with her pointing out to her boyfriend that bad things in the world are impossible to avoid, which is a valid point, until it is undermined by her revealing to him that she read his emails to his father about dumping her. Interestingly, while Eleanor stole Tahani’s diary, it’s never explicitly stated if she actually read it before returning it.

We also see Eleanor continue to grow as she gets to know someone else in the Good Place and goes out of her way to comfort someone else. Another mystery is added in the reveal that Jianyu is not supposed to be there either. On another note, Janet’s altering personality and ultimately going back to being herself after reading a self-help book Michael gave her, was a great running gag.

 

Stray Observations:

-Tahani Al-Jamil means “congratulations, beautiful” in Arabic.

-Chidi spent 18 years working on his book.

-Chidi’s book is 3,600 pages.

-Christopher Columbus is in the Bad Place.

-Chidi never named his dog and when it ran away he posted signs saying it responds to long pauses.

 

Hints of the Season 1 Finale twist:

-Jianyu reveals to Eleanor that he is not supposed to be in the Good Place either.

-Tahani’s misery over Jianyu’s refusal to break his vow of silence.

 

The Good Place—Season 1, Episode 2 (The Flying)

Now that the pilot has established the premise and characters of the show, the real fun can begin.

The episode picks up from where we left off with Chidi panicking over the ethical mess of helping Eleanor, and Eleanor requesting the blue and yellow striped clothes from Janet to avoid suspicion from others. When Chidi and Eleanor go to the emergency meeting, Michael says that repair work is being done and he is trying to figure out how to resolve the problems that have caused the chaos.

Eventually things settle down, with Chidi preparing ethics lessons for Eleanor. He asks her to tell him what she knows about him as a person, only for her to not remember anything he told her, while he remembered what she told him about herself. He tells her that she is the most selfish and self-absorbed person he’s ever known. This leads to the first flashback of Eleanor shirking the responsibility of being the designated driver at her work’s Thursday night drinks.

The next day, as part of day 2 of orientation, Michael tells the neighbourhood that they’ll get the chance to try flying. Moments later, Tahani gets on stage with Michael, Jianyu in hand, to volunteer to clean up the neighbourhood, requesting another 10-12 volunteers. Eleanor laughs at Tahani’s idea and some of the residents volunteering to clean up instead of flying to Chidi, only for him to volunteer her and himself, as it will help prove she’s not selfish.

While the cleaning up is occurring, Michael confides in Tahani that he feels he failed in designing the perfect neighbourhood, which culminates in a moment of him kicking a resident’s dog into the sun when he believes it’s a glitch.

After briefly helping out, Eleanor ends up abandoning her efforts and hides trash to go flying, only for a trash storm to start. When Chidi finds out, he refuses to help her. Eleanor eventually starts to feel guilty for her behaviour and gets up in the middle of the night to finish the cleaning by herself, Chidi sees her through his window, and comes down to see her. Eleanor admits she felt bad about abandoning her cleaning up responsibilities, Chidi points out to her that she’s cleaning up because she feels bad and that while feeling remorse for doing something bad isn’t the same as doing a good thing, it’s a good start to becoming a better person. He then agrees to help her.

After the cleaning up is finally done, Eleanor goes to see Michael in hopes of finally being able to fly only for him to tell her that he’s banned it for 1000 years, due to the injuries caused by the trash storm.

The episode ends with Chidi moving into Eleanor’s guest room and Eleanor finding a note slipped under her door, which says she doesn’t belong here, revealing that someone else knows her secret.

Overall I didn’t feel this was the strongest second episode of a season and a show, it fell a little flat after all of the action in the pilot. However there was solid character development in Eleanor as she was shown capable of feeling guilty for her selfish behaviour, which was perfectly contrasted by the flashbacks of her constantly shirking her responsibilities as a designated driver for her workmates when she was alive. Also a new element was added to the story arc of Eleanor not belonging in the Good Place, with the reveal of someone else knowing her secret.

 

Stray Observations:

-All requests that the residents make to Janet are confidential. When Eleanor asks about the confidentiality of requests, Janet assumes she wants access to pornography.

-Chidi’s throwaway comment of whether he should help Eleanor as any efforts she would make to be selfless would be undermined by her corrupt motivations, pays off in a later episode.

-People puking on rollercoasters brings Eleanor joy.

-Apparently designing an afterlife where to-go cups don’t leak where the seam meets the lid was one of the hardest problems Michael had to solve.

 

Hints of the Season 1 Finale twist:

-Michael isn’t human, which is obvious due to his role as an architect, however it is not explicitly stated what kind of being he is.

-The trash storm.

-The fact that Michael banned flying, flying should always be available in the afterlife, even if injuries occur. Injuries when flying, especially when residents are new at it would be a given and as the residents can’t die, why would injuries or the possibility of them even matter in the first place? Also how are injuries even possible in the afterlife?

 

The Good Place—Pilot (Everything Is Fine)

The job of a pilot is to establish the show’s premise and characters. This pilot did its job perfectly.

Full disclosure, I have seen the entire series of The Good Place. So I’m reviewing this show with the season 1 finale, and plots and story arcs of its three other seasons in mind. I’ll try my best not to reveal spoilers outright, but rather hint about them.

The pilot begins with a close up shot of Eleanor Shellstrop’s (Kristen Bell) face, waking up in an office and a wall with the words “Welcome! Everything is fine” on it in front of her.

Within the first two minutes of the pilot it’s established that Eleanor is dead, she is in the next phase of her existence in the universe and we find out she died in an embarrassing way by Good Place architect, Michael (Ted Danson). Within the third minute of the show, we are told that the religious heaven-or-hell idea that a large number of people would have been raised on is only five percent accurate.

We then cut to Michael giving Eleanor a tour of the Good Place neighbourhood she is living in, explaining to her that the Good Place consists of multiple, unique neighbourhoods that are designed and calibrated for its residents. She then goes to sit with other residents to watch an orientation video, which explains the points system which decides whether a person goes to the Good Place or the Bad Place. Michael also tells them in the video that soulmates are real and everyone has one in the Good Place.

After the orientation video, Michael takes Eleanor to her home, a Scandinavian style cottage, which is next door to a huge mansion. He also shows her videos of her memories, which includes a human rights mission in Ukraine, and expresses admiration of her work as a lawyer who got people off death row. Her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) arrives and Michael introduces him to her.

Michael leaves, and Chidi and Eleanor starting talking to get to know each other. It’s moments into their conversation that Eleanor asks Chidi if he’ll stand by her no matter what and he promises to do so. It is then that Eleanor reveals that a mistake has been made and she’s not supposed to be here.

It is this revelation, 9.5 minutes into the pilot, which sets the entire series in motion.

Eleanor tells Chidi that while the Good Place got her name correct, the details of her life are wrong, and she reveals her true self to him and the viewers. She tells him that she worked in “sales”, which a flashback shows, meaning that she sold fake medicine to people, specifically the elderly.

Later when Eleanor and Chidi leave the house, Chidi suggests to Eleanor that her being in the Good Place by mistake is a test, but she doesn’t buy it. Chidi then asks Janet (D’Arcy Carden), the Good Place’s informational assistant, for information on the Bad Place. However she is not allowed to tell them anything about it, instead playing a horrifying audio clip of what is happening there right now. As they are walking around the Good Place, Michael introduces them to Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto), a wealthy British philanthropist and a Buddhist monk respectively, who are their next-door neighbours. Michael tells them that Tahani and Jianyu will be hosting a welcome party at their house later that evening.

When they attend the party, Eleanor immediately takes a disliking to Tahani, who comes across to her as snobby, arrogant and condescending. We then see another flashback of Eleanor’s life, which reveals how rude she was to a stranger, without a second thought.

After getting drunk at the party and going home, Eleanor apologises to Chidi, asks him if he thinks anyone cared if she died, and tells him he’s a nice person. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds the Good Place in chaos, with Ariana Grande music playing (she mispronounced Chidi’s last name as Ariana Grande), flying shrimp (referencing her stealing shrimp from Tahani and Jianyu’s party), giant giraffes (referencing calling Tahani a giraffe), giant bottles of the fake pills she use to sell, and everyone dressed in blue and yellow striped clothing (except her). Chidi tells her that her presence is causing these problems and that she doesn’t belong here, which clearly hurts her. She asks for his help as an ethics and moral philosophy professor to teach her how to be a good person so she can fit in, just as Michael knocks on their door to tell them about an emergency meeting.

While this is an overview of what happened in the episode, I’ll go into a bit of detail.

Firstly, the characterisation of Eleanor is fantastic in this episode. This is due to the episode partly being from her eyes, but also in the way she is presented to the viewers in the first five minutes of the episode. When she first meets Michael, he informs her that not only has just died but how. He informs her that she died after dropping a bottle of margarita mix in a grocery store parking lot—when she bent down to pick it up, a long column of shopping trolleys ploughed into her, sweeping her out into the street where she was hit by a mobile billboard truck advertising erectile dysfunction pills called “engorge-ulate”. To add insult to injury, one of the first EMTs on the scene was one of her ex-boyfriends.  The fact that Eleanor’s death was over-the-top and embarrassing is one of many comedic and quirky moments of the show. I also felt that her selfishness and vulnerability were balanced out perfectly, which is displayed when she acts selfish one minute but shows her vulnerability to Chidi the next, when she asks him if he thinks anyone cared if she died and when she is clearly hurt by his statement that she doesn’t belong in the Good Place.

Another quirky moment comes when Eleanor asks who, religiously speaking, was right about what the afterlife is like. When Michael reveals that all religions were only about five percent accurate in their guesses of what the afterlife is like, that a college student high on mushrooms was the only person in existence to accurately guess what it is like, and whether people end up in the Good Place or Bad Place is dependent on a points system based on how their actions affected the universe, demonstrates that the afterlife in the context of this show is morality and not religion based. This is also emphasised when Michael describes the neighbourhoods to Eleanor as being designed and calibrated based on its residents, as opposed to one general idea or design of Heaven that most people are accustomed to, such as angels playing harps on clouds and spending an eternity with Jesus or another Higher Power.

I feel that the pilot’s and therefore the show’s quirky elements will either be embraced by viewers or put them off completely. However one could argue that the many ideas of what an afterlife consists of, if it truly does exist, are quirky.

Overall I felt this pilot did its job perfectly in introducing the audience to the show’s premise and characters, and provided a great moment in the final seconds to be a springboard for the next episode and the rest of the season.

 

Stray Observations:

-According to Michael, in cases of traumatic or embarrassing deaths, the memories of it are erased to allow for a peaceful transition to the afterlife.

-There are 322 residents in each Good Place neighbourhood.

-According to Michael basically every artist ever (including but not limited to: Mozart, Picasso and Elvis), as well as every US President except for Lincoln are in the Bad Place. Florence Nightingale was close to getting into the Bad Place, but apparently didn’t make it.

-Chidi was born in Nigeria and raised in Senegal. He also speaks French but when he is speaking to Eleanor it is translated to English.

-Eleanor was born in Phoenix.

-Swearing isn’t possible in the Good Place.

-Michael has been an architect for over 200 years.

-Eleanor describes herself as a medium person and that she should go to a medium place. This comment pays off in a future episode.

-Some of the negative actions listed in the orientation video that can subtract from a person’s points total at the end of their life include but are not limited to:

  • Stiff a waitress.
  • Buy a trashy magazine.
  • Use Facebook as a verb.
  • Disturb coral reef with flipper.
  • Poison a river.
  • Use the term “bro code”.
  • Be commissioner of professional football league (American).
  • Rev a motorcycle.
  • Blow nose by pressing nostril and exhaling.
  • Ruin opera with boorish behaviour.
  • Tell a woman to “smile”.
  • Root for New York Yankees.
  • Steal copper wiring from decommissioned military base.
  • Harassment (sexual).
  • Commit genocide.
  • Overstate personal connection to tragedy that has nothing to do with you.
  • Fail to disclose camel illness when selling a camel.

Hints of the Season 1 Finale twist:

  • Saying “everything is fine” is a very mediocre description of the Good Place/Heaven/Paradise/Utopia.
  • Eleanor Shellstrop has been mistaken for another Eleanor Shellstrop. Her name is correct, but the details Michael provided of her life are not.
  • The Bad Place is one topic Janet is not allowed to tell the Good Place residents about.
  • Chidi’s constant stomach ache.
  • Eleanor tells Chidi the system is flawed. While this can be played off as Eleanor excusing her selfish nature in this episode, when the twist is revealed and as the series progresses, it turns out her quick description was accurate.

 

Upload—Season 1 Finale (Freeyond)

The episode kicks off with the Lakeview residents waking up after the update. Luke is happy that the bagels are now decent and Nora wakes Nathan up, greeting him the same way she greeted him in the pilot.

As Nathan is waking up, his damaged memories, now restored, are playing. It’s revealed that Nathan and Jamie turned down an offer from Oliver to buy their Beyond software, and that Oliver offered Nathan money for a copy of his software, and he accepted to get more money for his family. When Nathan finally wakes up, he doesn’t remember Nora and seems to have reverted back to his selfish attitude that Nora witnessed when she was rendering him in the pilot. Nora leaves her desk and cries in her locker, with Aleesha comforting her.

Nora eventually returns to her desk and starts to view Nathan’s restored memories. She views the memory of Nathan accepting Oliver’s offer. Once she does view the memories, she feigns illness and goes home. Meanwhile Nathan confides in Luke that he actually does remember Nora, as he’s packing up to move down to the 2Gigs floor.

When Nathan gets there, he loses the clothes he brought with him. He also meets another 2Gigs resident who tells him to be careful when using his now limited data. He calls Ingrid, who hangs up on him, he redials and she puts on her VR mask to visit him. He tells her he remembers everything about her and the time they’ve spent together. He also tells her about his restored memories and how disappointed he is in himself and apologises to her. She tells him that she can’t get past how Nathan treated Jamie and felt that he treated her the same way, and says that their relationship won’t work out anyway.

While Nora is talking to Nathan, the suspicious looking man that tried to destroy Nathan’s hard drive in LA, sneaks into her apartment via her open window. When Nora gets an alert that her front door is open, she leaves, however the man is hiding in her shower. When she sees her window is opened higher than it should be, she goes to close it and spots the man in her mirror. She climbs out the window and flees, she asks a police officer for help, but the man stabs the officer. Nathan uses the icon on the phone in his room to call Nora and assist her, by telling her to go into an office building and taking an elevator to the second floor. The man misses Nora’s elevator, using another one, Nathan hacks into its system, asking him who he is and why he’s after him and Nora. The man doesn’t answer and Nathan uses the elevator’s system to kill him. Nathan tells Nora she’s safe from him and she leaves the building as the elevator doors open to show the bloody scene of the man’s death.

Later, the 2Gigs resident visits Nathan again where it’s revealed that he has used nearly all of his data by helping Nora. Meanwhile Nora is recounting the incident with Dave. Nora tells him about Nathan’s betrayal of Jamie, however Dave points out that Nathan saved her life and that Oliver Kannerman isn’t that powerful, implying that someone else more powerful is involved, if not behind Nathan’s murder. Dave suggests to Nora that she goes off the grid until Nathan’s murderer is found. Nora calls Nathan, unaware that his data is running low, and tells him about her discussion with Dave, that she is going into hiding, and that she loves him. However he is unable to respond as his data runs out as he’s listening to her and is frozen, with a tear running down his face.

The next morning, Nora leaves with Byron to go to the Poconos and Ingrid appears in Nathan’s 2Gig room, giving him an extra 1GB of data. When he’s defrosted, she tells him that she has been uploaded so they can be together forever. His angry, one word response causes him to use up the extra 1GB of data straight away. The episode ends with Ingrid yelling out for “tech support” as the light in his room flickers out, putting the room and Ingrid and Nathan into darkness.

The job of a season finale is to close off the current season’s story arcs and establish new arcs for the next season. I feel that Upload only did half the job. None of the current season’s story arcs were closed, in fact this finale left more questions than answers. While I can understand that Nora is upset with Nathan because she believes he ignored her when he actually ran out of data, why did she need Byron to go off the grid with? Who was the suspicious looking man/assassin that was sent after Nathan and Nora? Has Ingrid uploaded herself because she can’t accept the break up or is she really trying to protect Nathan? Who is the second person involved in Nathan’s murder that Ingrid mentioned in the penultimate episode? Is Ingrid going to stay with Nathan in 2Gigs or will she have them upgraded?

Overall I felt that Upload’s first season was mostly well done. The writing was tight with little to no continuity errors, Nathan’s character development was solid, and enough puzzle pieces of the murder mystery were given to the viewers to keep them intrigued and for development within the story arc, but not too many that the viewers are bored and that it’s solved prematurely. Not to mention that the irrelevance of morality in this show’s concept of the afterlife—that the afterlife is a given, there are multiple types of afterlives or Heavens, and that people can chose what kind of afterlife they can have, makes the show unique and provides more possibilities in its writing. My only criticism is that Nathan running out of data during Nora’s phone call was a little predictable (why couldn’t she use her VR mask?) and that Ingrid’s character is inconsistent—she is mostly superficial, however she was unafraid to show her vulnerability to Neveah. She seems determined to control Nathan, yet she was equally determined to protect him, but why wouldn’t she tell him her father and another mystery person was trying to kill him, or was at least after him in the first place?

I’ve enjoyed watching and reviewing Upload and I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing its second season.

 

Stray Observations:

-Luke tells Nathan he loves him after he gets off the elevator as Nathan is making his way to his 2Gigs room.

-The 2Gigs resident who talks to Nathan and gives him advice on how to manage his data is clearly an old hand, and it’s quite sad that she died so young (at least I’m assuming she’s young, there’s a possibility that she was older and that her teenage self is her avatar).

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 9 (Update Eve)

The penultimate episode of the season kicks off with people lined up in front of the Freeyond store – a free digital afterlife. Nora and Yang are walking down the street and see a long queue already formed, despite the fact that the store won’t open for two days. Meanwhile Nathan and Luke discuss Nathan’s decision to break up with Ingrid, with Luke pointing out the flaw in his plan to break up with her and then ask her for money, so he can continue to live at Lakeview until he figures out where else to live out his afterlife.

We then see all of the Horizen staff with VR masks on in a Lakeview-based staff meeting regarding Lakeview’s impending update. They are told that all Uploads must be asleep when the update takes place. Once the staff meeting is over, the staff prepare for their winter party. Lucy is pressuring Nora to admit her feelings for Nathan so she can fire her, however Nora doesn’t break, instead telling her that Byron is her boyfriend and she asks him to come to the party. Meanwhile Nathan and Viv are consulting with their lawyers to try and find an alternative afterlife for Nathan after he breaks up with Ingrid.

After Nathan and Viv’s meeting, Nathan calls Jamie again asking for financial assistance, it’s revealed that while Jamie isn’t taking the call, he can see Nathan leaving him a message.

While the Horizen staff are having their winter party, Lakeview is simultaneously holding an update party. Lucy tells the Lakeview residents that there is a golden egg hidden somewhere and that whoever finds it will get one million Lakeview dollars and their angel will get $1000 of their own.

Jamie calls Nathan back during the egg hunt and admits to hooking up with Ingrid and gives him $3000 to try and make amends. Nathan takes the money and decides to use it to live on the 2Gig floor for a few months. When Ingrid gets a notification of Nathan being demoted to 2Gig status, she goes to Lakeview offering to increase his allowance, however Nathan breaks up with her. Ingrid tells him she has to own him as some people “wanted him out of the way.” When Nathan asks her what she knows and if he was murdered, she gets upset and leaves.

During the winter party, Nora goes on a computer away from everyone and visits Nathan. Nathan tells Nora that Ingrid knows something, and he broke up with her. Nora suggests that Nathan stays awake during the update to restore his damaged memories. He also gives Nora a handmade gift—a brooch made from Lakeview materials. She also gives him an icon that she stole from one of the I.T. guy’s, a device that would allow him to view Lakeview’s computer code.

Meanwhile, a depressed Ingrid goes to the kitchen to get comfort food, angrily banging the packed food on the counter while her father, Oliver is on the phone discussing the Freeyond launch. When she tells Oliver that Nathan dumped her, he remarks that he predicted it and she drops pasta on the floor in anger. She tells him that she heard what he and someone else were planning and changed Nathan’s car setting to prioritise occupant. It’s then revealed that David Choak found the egg, even though Aleesha tried to help Luke find it, although she gets the money anyway as she’s also David’s angel. The angels then put everyone to sleep just before Lucy starts the update. Meanwhile as the party ends, Byron asks Nora if they are going back to his place, but Nora says no and that they aren’t right for each other. Byron somewhat refuses to accept this, although he says goodbye anyway and holds onto hope that they’ll get together someday.

Everyone leaves the office, including Nora, although she sneaks back in using pigs-in-a-blanket that weren’t served at the winter party as doorstops. Nora goes back into Lakeview to wake Nathan up, they end up kissing passionately on his balcony and the A.I. guys catch them. Nathan uses the icon to make them invisible and the A.I. guys lay down on the grass to be updated. Nora leaves so Nathan can be updated, however at the last minute she realises that the update could mean that he might lose his memories of his time at Lakeview so far. He doesn’t want to go through with it after she tells him this, but she updates him anyway, and leaves the office.

The penultimate episode is usually a springboard for the finale. Overall I felt that this episode did its job in that a new suspect in Nathan’s murder is provided in the form of Oliver, the update raises the stakes of Nathan and Nora’s relationship, and Nathan’s choice to break up with Ingrid and move to the 2Gigs floor will change his life completely. I appreciated the cliffhanger of not knowing whether the update worked properly in restoring Nathan’s damaged memories and if his memories of Nora would be erased.

On a smaller note, I enjoyed the scenes between Luke and Aleesha as Aleesha tries to assist Luke in finding the golden egg to no avail. I also appreciated that Nora finally decided that her and Byron shouldn’t be together.

 

Stray Observations:

-Mr. Caputo’s hard drive, which Aleesha had to look for in an earlier episode, can be seen on top of the office’s hanging lights.

-Luke offers to be Nathan’s “sugar daddy” and pay for his accommodation if he finds the hidden egg at Lakeview.

-A unicorn appears during the update.

-Aleesha is also David Choak’s and Mildred’s angel.

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 8 (Shopping Other Digital After-Lives)

The episode kicks off with one of Nathan’s damaged memories being played in the memory parlour, showing him and Jamie fighting about their software, with Batia remarking she has never seen anything like it before. Batia tells him that enhancing stressful memories isn’t recommended, instead suggesting he enhance a happy memory.

He chooses a memory where he and Nora were hanging out by the lake and Nora tells him that he can walk on water if he wanted to, when he tries, he discovers that she was pranking him, but he manages to get payback when he asks for her help and pulls her into the lake. When the memory is playing he refers to her by name and she mentions her office, which leads to Lucy suspending Nora for fraternizing with Nathan and access to her avatar is removed.

We then go to Nathan and Luke walking through Lakeview, with romantic pop-up ads annoying Nathan. Luke questions him about it and on his relationship with Ingrid, where Nathan informs him that his relationship with her is worse than ever. Nathan calls for Nora and her avatar appears, however it’s under Lucy’s control. Nathan admits his feelings for Nora to her avatar to Lucy’s shock, but she keeps listening. Lucy bluntly turns him down, brushing it off as an Upload being attracted to their angel and leaves.

After this interaction, Nathan tells Viv he wants to check out other afterlives, while Nora asks her friend, Yang, who works at AT&T&T to look into Josh Pitzer’s phone records. Yang tells her that Jamie texted Nathan’s Upload ID to an unknown number. Meanwhile Nathan leaves Lakeview via a tube, which Aleesha finds out about when she sees the alert on Nora’s computer. Viv takes the hard drive from a Horizen store. Aleesha calls Nora to let her know and she decides to fly to LA to find out what’s going on.

Viv goes to a travel agent who uses questionable technology to show her and Nathan the variety of afterlives available within her price range. While she is there, Nora goes to see Ingrid and tells her about Nathan’s departure from Lakeview. Ingrid is unaware of it and realises Viv has him. Ingrid calls Viv and they argue about her going “Heaven shopping” without telling her. While Ingrid is on the phone, Nora looks around Ingrid’s apartment and finds a box of Nathan’s stuff and looks through it. She finds a shirt of his and smells it. When she hears Ingrid finish her call, she quickly puts everything back in the box and they leave to go to the travel agency.

While they are travelling to the agency, Ingrid asks Nora why she came all this way for an exit interview. Nora explains it by saying Horizen cares about customer service. They also discover they have a common interest in their enjoyment of the Botox Babies TV show. Just before they walk into the agency, Nora spots a suspicious looking man watching them. When Ingrid questions him on his choice to leave Lakeview, she offers to pay more money for him to enjoy himself and tells him to stay at Lakeview as she’ll be uploaded there. When he sees Nora, he decides to stay.

When the travel agent gives Nathan’s hard drive back to Ingrid, her and Viv fight over taking him back to Lakeview. Nora decides to intervene and gives him to Ingrid as the Horizen account holder. As they are leaving, the suspicious looking man snatches what appears to be Nathan’s hard drive out of Ingrid’s hand and throws it into a fountain. However Nora quietly tells Viv she gave Ingrid one of the travel agent’s broken drives and she has Nathan’s hard drive in her bag.

Nathan returns to Lakeview to find Luke waiting for him and he gives him a digital souvenir he got from the travel agency. When he goes to the pier Nora appears and hugs him, she also tells him that someone else knew he was being ejected and asks him who it could possibly be, but he doesn’t know. He also tells her about his interaction with her avatar yesterday and she realises Lucy took control of her avatar. She reveals that her suspension was lifted as Ingrid gave Nora a good review to Lucy’s boss. Nora walks on water and encourages Nathan to give it another try, only to prank him again.

Overall this was an interesting (but not the best) episode as Nathan finally admitted his feelings for Nora (even though Lucy was in control of her avatar at the time) and we got to see other digital afterlives. We were also given another puzzle piece when a mysterious person tried to destroy Nathan’s hard drive, although we didn’t find out who he was.

 

Stray Observations:

-The pop-up ad designed  for Luke reads: “You’ll never believe these 10 signs you’re invading someone’s personal space. Number four will freak you out, Luke!”

-There is an Economy Minus class on planes.

-Apparently planes are double decker in the future.

-The flight attendant makes the following announcement on Nora’s flight: “Welcome to Frontier-Spirit-United. Thanks for trusting us again, now that we’re safely airborne, feel free to adjust your seats to maximise your comfort and convenience.”

-There are not a lot of self-driving cars in New York.

-Apparently there is a Disney afterlife called Disney Eternity.

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 7 (Bring Your Dad to Work Day)

The episode kicks off with Lucy asking Aleesha about Mr. Caputo, a missing Upload. Lucy tells her that if she doesn’t find Mr. Caputo, she will be playing his role until his wife dies. She then tells Nora that if she stays overnight in Lakeview again, she will lose her good customer service star rating.

We then cut to Nathan and Nora playing Chess discussing her overnight visit and the possibility of another one. She tells him that Dave is visiting today and asks Nathan to give him a tour of Lakeview to sell him on it. She beats him at Chess and leaves, and it’s revealed that he was trying to get help from a miniaturised A.I. guy hiding in the bookshelf with his own miniaturised Chess board.

Ingrid has joined an “After Wives” support group for wives and partners of Uploads. While she is there she admits that kissed and slept with Jamie after he came over to look for a hard drive of Nathan’s. She also tells them that she is contemplating freezing Nathan until she can be with him, as she doesn’t want to ask her dad for more money to support both Nathan and herself.

While Nora is at her desk, she watches a news report on death of Josh Pitzer and nine others who were taken in by a counterfeit Upload scam, paying $1000 each to have their heads burnt off by a fake scanner. She goes back to Lakeview to tell Nathan about his death and that one of his damaged memories was him trying to sell his Beyond software to Pitzer. While she’s there, she gets a notification that Dave is in a Horizen store, getting ready to visit Lakeview. When he first arrives he freaks out, takes the VR mask off and throws it against a wall. He calms down and puts it on again and takes a tour with Nathan.

In the dining hall, Dave sees Mildred and Luke sitting together, and finds it disgusting that Mildred is in black-and-white as she’s over 100 years old. Nathan tells him that they would have never met if not for Lakeview, however he is unaware that Mildred and Luke are aggressively flirting with each other. Once they leave, they get into a debate over whether souls exist, with Dave asking Nathan what he would say to convince him to Upload, when he believes his wife is waiting for him in “real” Heaven. Nathan says nothing. They continue on to a memory parlour where Dave asks to see Nathan’s last memory of his father, which reveals that Nathan’s father left him when he was a child and he doesn’t know whether his father is alive or dead.

While Lucy goes to lunch, Nora sneaks into her office to look on her computer for information on Nathan’s damaged memories. She finds an email from someone by the name of Luddlyfe, telling her that they have proof that someone is selling Upload memories on the black market and threatens to go public. She also looks for information on who has accessed Nathan’s avatar and finds an unknown employee ID. Meanwhile an unknown person bombs Lakeview’s servers causing affected computers to go in power saving mode temporarily, which causes Lakeview’s residents to turn block-shaped.

Later, Aleesha takes Mrs. Caputo dancing while controlling Mr. Caputo’s avatar and shocks Mrs. Caputo and everyone around her in Lakeview with “his” modern dance moves, which contrast with the soft piano music.

The episode ends with Nora and Dave catching the bus together where Dave admits he likes Nathan, and tells Nora that he wishes she met Nathan when he was alive. He also tells her that despite the successful tour, he hasn’t changed his mind about going to Heaven. Nora then asks him to say hi to her mother for her when he gets there.

Overall this was a solid episode with plenty of humour, especially with Mildred and Luke’s flirtation and Dave’s reaction to Lakeview when he first arrived. This surprisingly became an emotional and deep episode when Nathan and Dave get to know each other and debate about Heaven, with a heartbreaking ending when Dave tells Nora he still won’t Upload and she asks him to say hi to her mother for her, as she clearly will Upload.

We are also given more, intriguing puzzle pieces to the Nathan murder mystery, however where they will lead remains to be seen.

 

Stray Observations:

-Uploads are stored on a hard drive.

-Aleesha lost Mr. Caputo while she was printing a sandwich that got stuck between two fat printer cartridges and set his hard drive down.

-Apparently Horizen has a mandatory HR video preventing scan-angel romances for its staff.

-Nora’s current customer service star rating is 4.8.

-Batia is pickling something in jars at her desk.

-Dave calls Nora ‘Noni’.

-Yakety Sax is the end credits music for memory parlour movies, even if the movie itself (as shown with Nathan’s memory of his dad) is sad.

 

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 6 (The Sleepover)

This episode kicks off with Nora on a virtual bike ride with Dave, where he takes her to a spot he and her mother use to sneak off to. She tasks her VR mask off for a moment when she receives a text from Byron, which she ignores. She tells him about Byron and he encourages her to get to know him rather than spending her time with Nathan. She texts Byron asking him out on a real date for the next night and he agrees.

We then see Nathan lying in bed, woken up by his niece, Nevaeh. She is currently at school and is visiting as the substitute teacher told the students to watch a VR about the rainforest, but she took the opportunity to visit. Nevaeh tells him about Fran’s disappearance and Ingrid inviting her to a sleepover. She is reluctant to accept the invitation but Nathan encourages her to go. Nathan introduces her to Nora, but their introduction is cut short when Aleesha tells her about an emergency staff meeting.

At the staff meeting, Lucy informs Aleesha that Luke has made more complaints about her, and that the company has a promotion going on with Nokia Taco Bell for their virtual Gordita Crunch and to push it onto Uploads.

Nathan is then walking by an art class and runs into Nora, who tries to push the Gordita Crunch on him and tells him about her impending dinner date with Byron. Meanwhile Aleesha catches Luke sneaking into a member’s only hot tub by piggy back riding on the A.I. guy. Aleesha plugs in her own microphone so she can reprimand him without being recorded and takes one of his middle fingers when he flips her off. She tells him he’ll get it back when he improves his attitude, he taps her in a few places, which sends her away to another area, revealing another glitch.

Meanwhile Nevaeh goes to Ingrid’s for the sleepover, where she is having dinner with her family. Ingrid’s family constantly insults her and have no qualms about insulting Nevaeh. When her mother calls Nevaeh a piggy, she kicks them out and suggests to Nevaeh that they do their hair the same. Nevaeh worries that this means Ingrid will straighten her hair, but she actually ends up curling her own. Ingrid gives Neveah one of Nathan’s jumpers, which she grabbed out of his car when she snuck into it to turn on the “prioritise occupant” setting. She asks Neveah if she thinks Nathan’s lonely as she feels he would be, which upsets her and Neveah comforts her.

Luke continues to access items he shouldn’t without paying for them when Aleesha discovers he has a bathtub filled with Gordita Crunches. When he flips her off again, she removes both his middle fingers. When he continues to insult her, she removes his penis, so he calls Lucy. Aleesha gives him back his penis but Lucy still appears and discovers his fingers are missing. Luke tells Lucy he won’t submit a complaint if Aleesha apologises. Aleesha reluctantly does so, Lucy leaves and Luke insults Aleesha again, only to discover that Aleesha put six of his fingers on one hand.

Nathan calls Jamie and finally gets a hold of him, only for Jamie to end the call abruptly. Nora goes on her date with Byron and finds out that he volunteers at the Y helping kids. Nora takes Byron to work to show him around but he mocks Lakeview and Nathan for painting, so she ends the date early.

While Nora is hanging out with Nathan after her date, she tells him about his damaged memories, her efforts to fix them and that she also believes he was murdered. She ends up falling asleep, staying overnight in Lakeview. She is awoken in the real world by Aleesha and is caught by an angry Lucy.

Overall this was another solid episode, while it wasn’t exactly Nathan-lite, the spotlight was once again thrown on the supporting characters. Both Nevaeh and the viewers get more of an insight into Ingrid, and she is actually an endearing character in this episode. Meanwhile the interactions between Luke and Aleesha were once again hilarious, especially as Aleesha is not above punishing him, albeit unconventionally and severely. However I felt that Byron’s characterisation was inconsistent, one minute his good qualities are emphasised and the next minute these qualities are completely undermined by his bad ones. It was honestly hard to know whether I was supposed to like him or not.

It will be interesting to see what Nora’s punishment will be for staying overnight in Lakeview.

 

Stray Observations:

-At real world pharmacies when a man is buying condoms, he is scanned for condom size and if a man picks a different size, a loud announcement is made “condom size dispute, aisle 4!” Apparently Byron’s condom size is medium.

-Luke’s surname is Crossley and Dylan’s surname is McNadd.

-Only Upload could make a dark joke out of the quote, “children are the future.”

-Nora was able to stretch Nathan’s ears.

-Painting in Lakeview involves taking mobile phone-like photos of the landscape and putting them on the canvas.

-Apparently an avatar can speed up an angel’s speech if they wanted to.

-Apparently Aleesha has a “fingers and dicks file”, implying that Luke isn’t the first male Upload she has removed fingers or genitals from.

-Uploads can pay extra to experience the common cold. A sneeze costs $1.99.

-Apparently Angels are also outsourced to Finland and Kenya.

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 5 (The Grey Market)

The episode kicks off with Dylan video calling his mum while his younger brother is getting ready for a school semi-formal he is attending with his girlfriend. His mother is clearly still struggling with his loss, but in the background his father is sitting on the couch watching a football game, and his brother is demanding that his mother talk to Dylan later as his girlfriend is due to arrive at their house.

We then see Nathan and Ingrid trying couples therapy and Ingrid brought her own therapist. Ingrid tells Nathan she feels he is pulling away, while he tells her that he feels he doesn’t have his own life anymore because Ingrid essentially “owns” him.

We then go back to Dylan and Nora playing a board game together, where Dylan expresses his frustrations that his avatar isn’t matched for his age. We go back to Nathan and Ingrid’s therapy session, where Nathan asks her if she knew that his vitals were going up before he was uploaded, and Ingrid reluctantly admits that she did know but claims she uploaded him so she wouldn’t lose him.

Nathan goes downstairs and sees Nora and Dylan, where Dylan takes his frustrations out on him. Dylan reveals that he died falling in the Grand Canyon and his death was captured on video and posted online. Nora encourages Dylan and Nathan to be friends, while she is doing so she is getting calls from her dad but she is unaware of it. Meanwhile Luke is browsing Nitely profiles and Aleesha catches him and tells him to get off the site, but he continues looking for a hook-up.

While Nora, Dylan and Nathan are playing, she gets a voicemail from her dad via the A.I. guy telling her he is at the hospital. They tell her to go and Nathan promises to look after Dylan. While Nathan and Dylan are at the bar, Luke rushes in to tell Nathan he got them matches on Nitely and they are meeting them on the hotel floors, where the living come to visit and party. Luke tells Nathan he’s going to the Grey Market—a VR equivalent of the dark web to get a hack to be able to go to the hotel floors. Nathan reluctantly agrees to go with Dylan tagging along as Nathan has to babysit him. As they walk through a hedge on their way to the Grey Market, a timer appears above their heads, which leads to Luke revealing that Uploads are tracked every hour to make sure they aren’t lost.

While they are at the Grey Market, Nathan pays money to spy on Jamie to find out why he has been avoiding him. He doesn’t get a clear answer when he observes Jamie in a meeting regarding their software. While Nathan is watching the footage of Jamie, Dylan disappears. Nathan and Luke eventually find him getting a puberty power up in the form of a tattoo. They manage to return to Lakeview at literally the last second, with Nathan putting a tired Dylan to bed, while Dylan is sleeping his power up starts to kick in.

While Nora visits her father in the hospital, she tells him about Nathan without identifying him, and on her way out asks a doctor whether Upload scanners ever damage memories by accident. The doctor tells her they never do and that memory damage is the fault of either the person designing the avatar (angels) or someone else is messing with the avatar. She asks him if there is anything she can do to fix the memories, he gives her a download card for the Memboost Turbo app. When Nora uses the app, she manages to restore another memory and discovers that most of the damaged memories in the folder she set up are missing.

Luke goes down to the hotel floors to meet with his and Nathan’s Nitely matches, and Dylan finally wakes up unaware that his puberty power up has made him female, and walks around Lakeview topless. The A.I. guy notices and tries to cover him up, leading to Dylan calling for Nora’s help. Both Aleesha and Nora go to Lakeview to reprimand Nathan and Luke, Nathan apologises and Aleesha goes to find Luke. Aleesha makes her presence known to Luke by dancing towards him and letting his matches know he isn’t living. Dylan asks Nora to change him back. Luke comes back to ogle Dylan’s female body, only to be disappointed he missed out on seeing it. Dylan points out to him how demeaning that is, and reminds him that when he was alive he wouldn’t have wanted his missing legs to be the only thing people noticed about him.

The episode ends with Fran in her self-driving car on her way to meet Josh Pitzer. She is reading an article about Pitzer’s attendance at a CodeDisrupt conference when she notices Jamie in the background of the article’s accompanying photo. Her car starts to malfunction and she begs for it to stop. The car stops for a moment when a pedestrian walks in front of it, Fran tries to beg the passenger for help but he doesn’t hear her and walks away. The car starts again and drives Fran over the edge of a pier.

Overall this was another solid episode due to being Nathan-lite, with the spotlight on the show’s supporting characters. I enjoyed the exploration into Dylan’s frustration of his avatar not matching his age, something which was touched upon in an earlier episode when he tried to call his best friend without success. I also liked seeing another Angel-Upload relationship with the interactions between Luke and Aleesha, which were hilarious.

 

Stray Observations:

-Running gag: Everyone around Nathan commenting on how he looks in the skinny jeans Ingrid bought for him.

-Dylan’s 19th birthday is in three months.

-Dylan died falling into the Grand Canyon and dabbed on the way down.

-Uploads aren’t allowed on the hotel floors.

-One of the Nitely matches wasn’t okay with Luke being an Upload and the other match was a teenage boy catfishing them.

-Nora asks Dylan if his female body is more in line with his gender identity, and both her and Nathan offer to support Dylan if he is gender fluid.

-Apparently Dylan’s female body was the talk of the lobby, according to Luke.

-Some of the files on Fran’s self-driving car’s desktop are a photo of Nathan, notes on her investigation into Nathan’s accident, a photo labelled “stupid dog”, a file labelled “21 Reasons Phoebe’s Smelly Cat is Your Soul Mate”, and ukulele-for-one class notes.

 

Upload—Season 1, Episode 4 (The Sex Suit)

The episode kicks off with David teaching Nathan how to play golf. David asks the A.I. guy to get him an Arnold Palmer bot so he can gloat about his golfing skills.

Nathan tells Nora about his golf lesson with David and that he is looking for purpose in his life, but Nora tells him that Uploads can’t work. Nora tells Nathan she wants to show him something and takes him to see the “2Gigs”—Lakeview’s lowest class of upload. They only get 2GB of data a month and once they run out they can’t afford anything. As Nora gives Nathan a tour, we see these residents have the amount of GBs they have left displayed above their heads, and the windows in their rooms are blue with a pop-up asking them if they want to add a view.

Nora reveals that the 2Gigs don’t have access to a shower or view of the lake, and that Lean Cuisine sponsors the cafeteria to try new recipes. Residents are also given the first five pages of a book as a “free sample”, if they want to read the whole book they have to pay extra. When Nathan says hello to a little boy reading a Harry Potter book and tells him he loved the magic in the books, the boy reveals he doesn’t know there’s magic in it, turns black and white, and freezes. Nora reveals that as the little boy has run out of data, he is frozen until next month, unless someone adds money to his account. She also reveals that most of the residents don’t have money of their own and don’t get access to the basic sweat suit included in the plan. Nathan sees a man walk into the cafeteria, naked and without a penis. Nathan is outraged at the inequality of the system and tells Nora that maybe his purpose is to help them. Ingrid calls Nathan to tell him that a journalist from Vogue is waiting to interview them about making a relationship between a living person and an Upload work.

Throughout the interview, tension between Ingrid and Nathan is present, especially when the journalist asked how their relationship has changed since he was uploaded and how their sex life is. Later, Nathan asks Nora if relationships between living people and Uploads work. She reveals that sometimes they do but it’s hard, nevertheless she roots for the couples that try to make it work.

The next day Ingrid shows up to Nathan’s room unexpectedly to have sex with him, with her wearing a VR sex suit in the real world. However things don’t go to plan when Nathan can’t perform and Ingrid calls for “tech support”. Nora eventually gets Ingrid’s request for help but ignores it at first. She eventually shows up when she is told ignoring the request will affect her customer service star rating. Ingrid takes off her virtual reality mask when her cat, Clyde, starts knocking things over in her bathroom. Nora touches his shoulder and chest, and they almost kiss, only for Ingrid to return, so she leaves. Afterwards, Nora expresses her frustration of her lack of intimacy to Aleesha, who tells her to reinstall Nitely. She does and is matched with someone straight away. However to her dismay, her match is Byron. They are both disappointed with each other’s new alias but hook up anyway. During their hook up, Nora pictures her last encounter with Nathan. Byron gives her five stars and Nora gives him four stars for payback on his rating of her after their last hook up.

Back in the real world, Fran has gone to Bloomingdale’s to get their security footage from the night of the accident.  At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Ingrid tampered with Nathan’s car.

Overall this was another solid episode and an improvement of the previous one. There were nods to previous episodes with Nora and Byron’s hook-up, Nora sending Nathan a Paw Patrol lamp, and Fran going to Bloomingdale’s. I felt that the concept of capitalism in the afterlife, which has been touched on in previous episodes was unique and portrayed beautifully, especially as it was the first time we actually see it for ourselves. I also felt the exploration of sexuality and intimacy in the afterlife was both appropriately humorous and tasteful.

It’ll be interesting to see where the episodes go from here now that Ingrid is the main suspect in Nathan’s murder.

 

Stray Observations:

-Running gag: Ivan hanging around the Upload office after doing the night shift, especially hanging around Nora and Aleesha.

-The Harry Potter book the little 2Gigs boy is reading is Harry Potter and the Abbreviated Adventure.

-Apparently a person can get their shoulders sharpened in the future.

-Apparently farting is less embarrassing than admitting to a sharpening shoulder blade ripping a cushion.

-Ingrid’s father got Ang Lee to edit a sex tape of her and Nathan of their first night together.

-The stories in the Lakeview newspaper rotate in a similar to how pictures moved in Harry Potter.

-Nora walks past protestors on her way to walk chanting that Upload is a human right.

-The robot at the cash register in Bloomingdale’s offers Fran the following options when she asks to speak to a human manager: “If this is a problem with a product, say ‘product.’ If the store is on fire, say ‘fire’.  If you are stuck in the door and the store is on fire, say ‘screams’. If the bathroom is unstocked say ‘tissue paper’. If a patron is having a baby, say ‘miracle’.”

-The robot at the cash register in Bloomingdale’s can’t tell the difference between a dehydrated fruit salad and a queen bed.

-The motions that the robot makes when giving Fran options, especially when it says “if you are stuck in the door and the store is on fire, say ‘screams’”, and putting its claw down when Fran calls him a dummy for inaccurately guessing when she could speak to a human manager, was hilarious.

-After seeing Ingrid fall asleep in a clearly uncomfortable position in her bathtub, I’m wondering why she didn’t have her encounter with Nathan in the VR sex suit in her bedroom.

-Neither Nathan nor Nora figured out why music was swelling when Nathan made his passionate speech on helping the 2Gigs.