Upload (2020) s01e05 – The Grey Market

Does “Upload” have a show bible the writers ignore—in this case Mike Lawrence, who at least writes a funny enough episode even if it completely breaks with the show’s established future logics-or does the show not have a show bible. Because it doesn’t lean heavy enough into the sitcom to not have its utterly broken reality not appear utterly broken.

And it manages to do it on multiple levels.

The Grey Market is where Robbie Amell takes fellow Upload (dead person’s consciousness uploaded to The Matrix ™) Rhys Slack to the shady digital app vendor spot. Where you can get unofficial patches and upgrades to your Upload avatar, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but hey, it’s been long enough “Chappelle's Show” rips can be homage and not rips.

Slack is a kid—who fell into the Grand Canyon, making him a YouTube hit—whose parents keep him the same age as when he died even though he wants to go through puberty. It’s the foulmouthed kid trope, but at least it’s funny? This episode’s got more laughs than any other episode of “Upload.”

It also has a decided lack of Allegra Edwards, which works out. It shouldn’t be such a boon given the major reveal in the previous episode’s cliffhanger but Edwards is such a energy suck it’s better to skip the A plot than involve her.

Anyway. Amell’s babysitting Slack and Kevin Bigley—who oscillates from as bad as he seems to less bad than he seems—convinces him to go to the grey market so they can get hacks to go to the VR floors, where living people have avatars, and have virtual sex with real women… only without letting these real women know they’re dead guys.

It’s charming.

The episode does get to the right places eventually—surprisingly so—but it’s cheaply done. But also funnier than usual and without Edwards. Plus more Zainab Johnson, who’s at least good, even if her writing is thin.

Andy Allo’s got a subplot with her dad, Chris Williams, who’s nowhere near good enough in what should’ve been a stunt cast. But Allo’s effective even with the bad future setting writing.

And the cliffhanger is genuinely distressing.

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