The director of Upload Season 3’s final two episodes commented on that big cliffhanger.
Warning - This article contains spoilers for Upload Season 3, Episodes 7 and 8.
The core premise of this new batch of episodes is that the original Nathan Brown is now downloaded into a new body while a duplicate of him is still living in the digital afterlife of Horizon Lakeview. It’s a complicated state of existence, no doubt, but the two seemed to be doing alright given the circumstances.
That changes in the finale, however, when both Nathan's get rounded up by the authorities. Even worse, one of them gets destroyed.
But, much to the dismay of audiences around the world, viewers end the season not knowing which Nathan is still around.
Upload Season 3's Massive Cliffhanger Explained
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Upload director Sarah Boyd, who helmed Season 3 Episodes 7 and 8, talked about the cliffhanger at the end of the recent finale.
The scene in question reveals that one of the two Nathan Browns was destroyed—but no one in the room knows which of the two is gone.
When asked how she prepped the actors for the intense scene, the scene “spoke to the actors pretty clearly” and they “tried different levels” of how intense their reactions would be:
“I think the scene sort of speaks for itself. So it spoke to the actors pretty clearly, they all knew what they needed to do. And we just had the opportunity to try different shades of how excited they would be to see him and how worried they would be when they heard the news that at least one of them had died. And so we tried different levels of that. Again, for the comedic value versus the abject horror.”
Boyd added that “it was always written that Nota was the one who quickly realizes” that they don't know which Nathan is on the video call with them:
“But it was always written that Nora was the one who more quickly realizes that she should, therefore, figure out which one they're actually talking to. So we very purposefully made it so that there were no clear clues as to which Nathan it is so that it really could be either Nathan.”
If fans look hard enough, are there any clues that give away the answer? Boyd affirmatively declared that people “[are] not going to find them:”
“My opinion, you're not going to find them. I mean, maybe you can make something up, and you'll end up being right, but you have a 50/50 chance you might be wrong.”
When asked which character’s story she enjoyed working with the most, she joked that her “cop-out” answer was Nathan, though she quickly narrowed it down to Download Nathan’s “more complicated situation:”
“Well, is it a cop-out if I say Nathan because they're actually two Nathans? ... I think Download Nathan has a more complicated situation. But that's just story, yeah. I think he has a more complicated situation, right? Because he's in a bind. He's not a real person. He doesn't have any rights. He's the property of Ingrid Kannerman. And I love that idea, that he's lost so much of himself in this new downloaded version that she's even stamped on his head.”
She then noted how “tricky” it is for that Nathan, who is “getting cut down by the realities of corporate ownership:”
“So, I think that makes it really tricky for him. He wants to be a productive member of society. He wants to win the court case because he really wants to be able to get a job and go back to living his full life, to be able to propose to the woman he loves and feel good about that. And yet, in every turn, he's getting cut down by the realities of corporate ownership and things that the upload has led to, you know, be his fate.”
The finale also sees a big courtroom scene with Allegra Edwards’ Ingrid Kannerman testifying before a jury.
The Direct asked Sarah Boyd if the sequence was inspired by any real-life situations, to which the director noted that they mostly “just wanted to do the script justice:”
“I think that mostly we just wanted to do the script justice. And I think that even though there's a lot of heart and soul in the words that Ingrid is saying when she's on the stand, there's also a sort of bizarre comedic reality to the show, which is that Ingrid is the kind of character who will, if things aren't going well on the witness stand, she'll just get up and think she can walk away. Which no one in their right mind in the real world would probably do…”
Boyd called attention to how the series “exists on a level” far different from our own, providing “a slightly heightened comedic landscape:”
“So the 'Upload' exists on a level where that's potentially going to happen in this world. So there's always a slightly heightened comedic landscape to even the more realistic courtroom scenes.”
The conversation then shifted to how she handles filming scenes in the virtual space compared to the “real world."
Boyd revealed that they are always keeping the differences in mind. For example, when there are scenes in Lakeview, they want “every flower… blooming” to lean into “the niceness of Lakeview:”
“Well, definitely, Lakeview is meant to be this picture-perfect, more heightened, fantastical world. And so, yet we're filming in the real world and pretending that it's Lakeview. So there are things that we're aware we're going to do in color correction later. But things like, every flower should be blooming, not, you know, dead or something. Just the level of production design that has to go into the niceness of Lakeview is always on our minds.”
Then, for the show’s real world, they want to make sure that everything in the background isn't as tidy or vibrant as the virtual reality. Boyd shared how they’d do simple things like “[making] sure that [their] garbage cans [were filled] with trash:”
“And when we choose a location or choose even what area of the park we're in, we want to make sure that there are no garbage cans with trash. And the opposite: that when we are in real life, real life is not so great. So we want to make sure that our garbage cans [were filled] with trash; we want to make sure it doesn't look too beautiful. You know, because there's a real big difference between the sad state of affairs in real life in this future world that we see versus in the uploaded virtual reality.”
What's Next for Upload's Nathan Brown?
Some fans might be upset to learn, as confirmed by director Sarah Boyd, that there are no hidden details to be found. The identity of the remaining Nathan will remain a mystery until Season 4. However, it’s hard to imagine people won't speculate anyway.
The twist is quite bold and a respectable choice from the creatives of the series. Now, the show just needs to follow through with the aftermath and any consequences that come from it.
It’s hard to imagine the series killing off the original Nathan Brown (aka the downloaded one). Out of the two options, that direction would notably feel like a step backward for the series—especially for Nathan and Nora’s relationship.
While the loss would be tragic for Ingrid, maybe it's time for her to move on. After all, most of the season was about her realizing how intensely reliant she is on Nathan; the next logical step would be her seeing what life is truly like without him.
Upload is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.