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Tron: Uprising

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Many questions were raised after last week’s premiere episode of Tron: Uprising, and with this week’s installment picking up immediately after the massive Beck vs. Cutler “to the death” cliffhanger, we couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. Read on to find out what went down on this week’s episode, “The Renegade, Part II.”

Welcome to another installment of Tron: Uploaded, a weekly series where we take an in-depth look at the newest episode of Tron: Uprising. Taking place in Argon City, a new locale on the Grid, Tron: Uprising is the story of Beck, a program so inspired by Tron’s past actions he decides to take up the mantle of the hero many believed to be derezzed. Fortunately for Beck, Tron is alive and well, and he’s hoping to help Beck inspire a revolution against Clu.

“The Renegade, Part II”
Directed by Charlie Bean
Written by Kamran Pasha, Adam Nussdorf, and Bill Wolkoff

Last week, we were left wondering how Beck and Cutler were going to get out of the deathmatch they were pitted against one another in by Tesler. “The Renegade, Pt. II” wastes no time in getting to the action. Though Beck and Cutler try to provide a unified front by refusing to fight each other, Tesler activates a shrinking enclosure, and promises to derez them both if they don’t start fighting. Beck finally goads Cutler into fighting back, but can’t bring himself to derez Cutler when he has him pinned. We saw shades of Beck’s hesitation before in “Beck’s Beginning” and in “The Renegade, Pt. I,” and despite Tron’s mentoring, Beck still can’t bring himself to sacrifice a life for the revolution. Because of this hesitation, Cutler regains the upper hand, and has an opportunity to defeat Beck. Instead, Cutler outright refuses, and to save face, Tesler agrees to let Beck live. However, Cutler is set to be executed.

Unsure of what to do next, Beck leaves Argon for Tron’s secret hideout in the mountains. Once there, Beck again feels as if he’s let down the revolution and Tron by not being able to stop another program from being derezzed. Tron lets Beck know he hasn’t failed yet because Cutler is still alive, and they have until his scheduled execution to rescue him. Now as important as it is to see Tron mentoring Beck in this segment, the bigger thing to take notice of is just how progressively worse Tron’s condition is becoming. We not only see that Clu’s infection is spreading wider and more rapidly, but also that Tron has a healing chamber that’s pushing his body to its limits to keep him alive. If this sickness wasn’t already foreshadowing Tron’s transformation into Rinzler, this moment solidified that Tron as we know him doesn’t have much longer to assist Beck in saving Argon and the rest of the Grid.

Beck returns to Able’s Garage to recover his Tron identity disc, and we learn that Mara and Zed are heading out to track down the stolen Encom 786 lightbike. We’ll catch back up with them later. Beck’s plan to rescue Cutler involves hijacking a recognizer, and escorting Cutler out of Argon to safety. Donned in Tron’s full white knight suit, Beck jumps to Cutler’s transport, and begins to fly away. Things don’t exactly go as planned. Pavel spots the rogue ship, and orders it to be shot down. In a sequence reminiscent of Kevin Flynn’s recognizer chase in the original Tron, the ship careens into the buildings below, breaking down segment by segment until only the cockpit is left. Beck and Cutler rush down the rooftops, but Paige tackles Beck. She’s clearly been waiting for a chance to catch this mysterious Tron. Unfortunately for her, she leaves her wings open, and Cutler activates the fans on the roof, which sends Paige flying.

Beck and Cutler try to escape through the Argon streets. However, Tesler has cordoned off the area, and is raising the bridges to prevent anyone from getting out. Beck attacks a few of the guards, and he and Cutler make their way up the bridge as it raises in the hopes of making it to the other side before they can be caught. Though one of Tesler’s tanks gives pursuit, Beck and Cutler make it to the top. Unlike previous moments where Beck’s hesitation cost him, he wastes no time in making the dangerous leap to the other side of the gap. As he and Cutler make their escape, we again catch up with Mara and Zed who have tracked down Pearl to the docks. Zed and Mara are able to recover the 786 lightbike, but the bigger discoveries here are that there are gangs in Argon, and there are a variety of different colored lightcycles programs can have. In Tron: Legacy it was established that there are orange bikes for Clu’s soliders and blue bikes for everyone else. It makes perfect sense that there are more colors available to programs on the Grid, it’s just interesting to finally see more variation added.

Beck and Cutler’s path to escape has also brought them to the docks, where they hope to get out of Argon by boat. There’s another fight with Paige, which she again loses, and which is certain to become even more motivation for her in tracking down this new Tron later in the series. While learning about the different colors and gangs in Argon was indeed important, what you may have taken for granted thus far is that there are docks and boats here. The only indication we ever had that there was a body of water in the Grid was when Flynn described the Sea of Simulation to Sam in Tron: Legacy. Now we see that there isn’t just a body of water, but it’s also used for commerce much like our world.

This brings up the question of just where Argon is located in relation to the unnamed city in Tron: Legacy. A close inspection of a rendering of the map (it’s a little dated, hence the TR2N name, and the Sea of Simulation being called the Void) seen in Flynn’s office in the arcade basement reveals the intentions that Tron: Legacy basically takes place on an island. It makes sense then that there’s a great deal of shipping commerce in Argon, but it again raises more questions than it answers. Of course, this contradicts some statements made from the production designer on Tron: Legacy, Darren Gilford. In an interview with AICN, Gilford revealed the Grid was basically one big city, and the further away from the center of the city you got, the less definition and symmetry there would be in the world. The Sea of Simulation then would be the extreme of that distance where there is no solid mass, save for, of course, the portal opening back to the real world. The same logic could be applied to any city, so that could explain Argon and its surroundings no problem. There are some striking similarities to the way Argon is laid out in relation to the city in Tron: Legacy, so it’s entirely plausible that every city and the surrounding landscape breaks down to very similar components. At least that’s what I’m hoping because world building without a sense of the world can lead to all sorts of problems down the line.

Anyway, as Beck tries to get Cutler out of Argon by boat, the duo is confronted by Tesler’s gigantic ship. Pavel is also out there trying to take Beck’s boat out. The battle culminates in a quick slugfest on the outside of the boat, with Beck eventually winning. Tron himself arrives just in time by mini-sub to help Beck and Cutler get away before being shot out of the water by Tesler. It’s a pretty tense scene, but shows Beck growing into the role of the new Tron by overcoming adversity, even if he had a little help from his mentor. Cutler heads off on his own, though it’s not really clear just where he’s going. To this point we’ve only ever been introduced to Argon and the unnamed city from Tron: Legacy, so it’s probably safe to assume there are even more cities out there trying to escape Clu’s wrath. Whether or not we’ll get to see them remains to be seen, but the resistance is clearly out there somewhere.

Beck returns for his training with Tron, and with that the series is officially off and running. Beck has assumed the Tron persona, and though he’s got a lot to learn, it will be great to see him try to fill his mentor’s shoes over the next few months. As great as the series has been after just two real episodes, the pace in which questions are being raised is pretty remarkable. While I don’t expect to get answers to every lingering question, it would certainly be nice to see some explanations start coming from the series soon. We’re already formulating some ideas of where the show is headed, but feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below. For now, just keep checking back in every Friday for the latest breakdowns on Tron: Uprising.

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The incomparable Robert Valley (Gorillaz, “The Beatles: Rock Band” cinematic, and character designer on the upcoming Tron: Uprising series) has posted an animatic for a personal short film that he’s working on called Pear Cider and Cigarettes. Fans of Valley’s aggressively angular figures and dynamically staged animation will be in for a treat. No word on when the film will be completed.

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