‘Upload’ Season 3 Review: Prime Video’s Afterlife Comedy Doubles Down on Satire
The first season of Upload felt like it arrived at just the right time. Michael Schur‘s afterlife comedy The Good Place had just come to an end and everybody was looking for something to watch in its place. Upload offered the right mix of cynicism, comedy, and satire. Season 2 arrived two whole years after the first, with an abbreviated run of episodes, yet it still garnered enough of an audience to get Prime Video to renew the series for a third season. Thank the digital afterlife for that, because Season 3 of Greg Daniels‘ hit series may just be the best yet.
Picking up shortly after the events of the Season 2 finale, Nathan (Robbie Amell) is still adjusting to being “downloaded,” and is now official with Nora (Andy Allo), after two seasons of a will-they-won’t-they love triangle. Now working alongside the anarchist group known as the Ludds, as well as Nora’s jealous ex-boyfriend Matteo (Paulo Costanzo), the once unlikely couple are in a race against the clock to stop a dangerous new plot by Freeyond. Meanwhile, back in Lakeview, Nathan’s overbearing and wealthy ex-girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) has found a new love in life. Well sort of. A duplicate of Nathan has now been accidentally uploaded into Lakeview with the caveat that his memories from the past six months are completely gone.
‘Upload’ Season 3 Continues to Wage War Against Rampant Capitalism
The first two seasons of Upload struck a balance between being the kind of comfort television that Daniels has been long known for and being a satire on rampant capitalism, all while not too far off from reality. From heads exploding à la Scanners to an ultra-quirky but lovable AI bellhop (Owen Daniels), the series has always had a knack for being more off-kilter. With Season 3, Upload still plays with the surprisingly sweet romance and somehow engaging love triangle between Nathan, Nora, and Ingrid, but it’s also angrier when delivering its satire, and it’s all the better for it.
Upload has always had a strange but very distinct sense of humor that has set it apart from much of Daniel’s other series. There are shades of Parks and Recreation here, especially with how it tackles the inherently sketchy nature of corporatism in America, but it is also allowed to be more risqué and get weirder with its comedy. From VR workout sessions full of dancing unicorns to talking sentient coconuts, Upload isn’t afraid to go to places where it runs the risk of falling flat on its face. The reason why it succeeds so well is that there is a clear point to all the insanity that is unfolding on screen. The third episode of Season 3, titled “CyberDiscountDay,” centers around a holiday built around scoring deals through online retail, although it’s abundantly clear that it’s really just a replacement for Thanksgiving, especially since Nathan claims the holiday is really about being with your friends and family.
The messaging may be a little on-the-nose (okay, it’s very on-the-nose), but that doesn’t make it not effective. It works because the two worlds that Daniels has created in Upload, both the real world and the digital afterlife, feel real. In fact, despite the series taking place a decade into the future, many of the scenarios in the show might become a reality much sooner than just 10 years from now. While it is already ironic that Prime Video is home to series like The Boys and Boots Riley‘s I’m a Virgo, which are staunch in their anti-corporate themes, Upload Season 3 doubling down in its satire makes it just the latest series on the streaming service to rip on its own home. It is bold and clever, and it isn’t playing things safe. This is clearly part of Daniels’ vision for the series.
‘Upload’ Season 3 Hints at the Beginning of the End
When you first hear the premise for Upload Season 3, the comparisons to The Good Place that haunted the series during its first season might come echoing back, regardless of how far it’s gone to solidify itself as its own thing. Bringing the character of Nathan back to the real world and out of the digital afterlife feels like something that would happen in the final season (or the penultimate one), but Season 3 proves that Upload has yet to run out of steam. However, the real question is, how much steam the show has left, and whether its streaming home will try to stretch the limits of the concept. These new episodes are fresh, but how much more of a story can you tell after this? Only time will tell.
The entire cast remains charismatic as can be. Robbie Amell and Andy Allo’s chemistry remains exquisite and, after a questionable storyline in Season 2, Allegra Edwards’ Ingrid might have the best arc of the characters this season. Bringing in a duplicate of Nathan could have felt like a cheap way to keep the character interacting with the digital world as well as the real world, but thanks to a heartfelt romance with Ingrid, it ends up sweet and gives the once-grating character of Allegra the redemption she deserves. Unfortunately, some of the other characters, including Zainab Johnson‘s Aleesha and Kevin Bigley‘s Luke, are given the short end of the stick. While they do have some satisfying moments this season, their storylines are a tad underdeveloped. It’s almost as if the series doesn’t really know what direction it wants to take them in.
Upload Season 3 continues to prove that this series is more than just an R-rated version of The Good Place. It doubles down on its satire while also being unafraid to throw a curveball at its audience. Daniels and his team take some massive swings and, once again, they’re able to pull it off and exceed your expectations, wherever they might be.
The Big Picture
- Season 3 of Upload is angrier and more satirical, delivering a pointed critique of rampant capitalism, while still maintaining its sweet romance and engaging love triangle.
- The series sets itself apart with a unique sense of humor, taking risks with its comedy and exploring strange scenarios, but always with a clear point and purpose.
- Despite being set in the future, Upload feels alarmingly close to reality, with its commentary on corporatism and the increasing prevalence of online retail.
Upload Season 3 premieres on October 20 on Prime Video.