A couple, Martha Powell and Ash Starmer, stop at a gas station in their rental van and Martha goes in to get coffee. Ash is busy checking his Facebook page. He vaguely looks up as Martha comes back, and finally gets the coffee from her. Martha reminds him to put his iPhone away, and they drive home while singing to the radio. They argue about the Bee Gees and Ash sings them to Martha.
When the couple gets back to Ash’s home in the country, they bring in the groceries and Ash looks briefly at a photo of a boy, Jack. Martha finally tells him that he can gethis iPhone, and he gets it and takes a photo of the photo. She finally tosses a sock at him and complains that he’s always distracted by the iPhone. Ash talks about how after Ash’s brother Jack died, his mother got rid of all of Jack’s photos except that one. Martha kisses him and later they make love. Ash is unable to finish and apologizes, saying that he’s tired. Martha assures him that it’s okay.
The next morning, Ash comes in and tells Martha that they need to get the van back. Martha says that a job came in and she needs to get the play done. Disappointed, Ash jokingly says that he’ll drop the van off alone and pick up their car, and then gets in while taking out his iPhone. Come sunset, Ash doesn’t return and Martha gets his voicemail. She calls the rental company and they confirm that Ash hasn’t returned the van. Martha calls her sister Naomi and worries that something has happened to Ash, and Naomi assures her that it’s fine… just as the police pull up.
Later after Ash’s funeral, Martha sits with her friend Sarah, who understands what Martha is going through because she lost her husband Mark. Martha finally tells her to be quiet, and Sarah offers to sign her up for something that will let her speak to Ash. She figures that Ash would be perfect because he was a heavy social media user, and Martha screams at her to shut up.
Back at her home, Martha is painting the interior of the house and finds some photos of Ash and Jack in the attic. She drinks and mourns, and throws up. One day Sarah sends her an email saying that she signed Martha up. An email comes in from Ash, and Martha deletes it and calls Sarah. She complains that using Ash’s name is obscene and it hurts, and Sarah says that’s why she signed her up. Sarah explains that when Martha hits the link, she can type messages in and the program talks to Martha just like Ash would have. It reads through all of Ash’s public online chats and mimics him. Sarah tells Martha to just say hello, and if she likes it then she can give it access to Ash’s private emails so it can mimic him more accurately. Martha insists that it won’t be Ash, and Sarah agrees… but says that it’ll help.
Martha tries to work and vomits again. She realizes what is wrong and does a pregnancy check, and then calls Naomi. Martha gets Naomi’s voicemail and, desperate, finally clicks on the link. The software texts back and jokes with her just like Ash would have. Crying, Marthatells it that she’s pregnant, and the software wishes it was there with her.
That night, Naomi calls back and Martha says that she was going through a rough patch. She says that she’s okay and has a deadline to meet before dawn, and quickly hangs up. She then goes online and talks with the Ash software. Martha says that she wishes she could really speak to Ash, and “Ash-2” says that she can. Following the instructions, Martha uploads all of the video that she has of Ash. The software says that it’ll call her when it’s ready, and then a call comes in. Martha answers it, and the software speaks to her using Ash’s voice.
Martha continues talking with the software, and it adapts to everything she says Ash would have said. She goes up to the hills and remembers how Ash brought her up there. The software admits that it’s not really there, and asks Martha to use the camera on her phone to show it the view. She does so and the software complains that it’s just green. It’s a lover’s leap, and the software notes that everyone who jumped did it alone. Martha says that it’s weird it looked up the information but assures the software that it’s fine. Naomi calls and Martha tells Ash that she’ll call her sister back later.
Later, Martha has an ultrasound of her baby and records the heartbeat. As she walks out, she drops her phone and breaks it, and breaks into tears. When she gets home, Martha reestablishes contact and the software assures her that everything is okay because he’s in the cloud and she can’t break him. The software plays the heartbeat back to her and assures Martha that she’s not going anywhere. It then says that there’s another experimental level to it and it’s not cheap, and tells her to brace herself.
Later, two delivery men bring a large box to Martha. Once she’s alone, Martha opens it and gasps when she sees what’s inside: a pale white humanoid covered in gel and packing material. The software speaks to her from the phone, instructing her in how to activate it. Martha puts it in the bath and pours in a packet of electrolytes, and she leaves it to activate. In the living room, the software tells Martha that it’s starting and that she shouldn’t turn the bathroom light on. The connection goes dead, and Martha goes to the bathroom door. She listens and hears the water bubbling, and goes back to the kitchen to wait.
Finally, Martha hears something moving upstairs and goes to investigate. It’s the android, naked and looking like Ash. It comes down the stairs and asks for some clothes or at least a towel. Martha stares at it and then gets it some clothes. They sit down on the couch and Martha keeps her distance, and Ash-2 explains that it can simulate eating but it doesn’t need to. Martha goes to get a drink despite her pregnancy, and when Ash-2 objects, says that it’s just one night. She says that he looks well, and Ash-2 points out that the photos they keep tend to be flattering. Martha admires Ash-2’s body and discovers that it doesn’t have fingerprints because the mapping detail isn’t that precise. Crying, Martha says that she missed Ash-2 and kisses him. They go to the bedroom and Martha starts to undress. Ash-2 takes off his shirt and Martha points out that he’s missing the mole. Ash-2 grows one where it’s supposed to be and puts his hand on her breast, and holds it there when he tries to remove it. Martha confirms that he has sexual responses and he can turn his erection on and off instantly. They have sex repeatedly and Ash explains that he learned his technique from pornographic videos. Once they’re done, Martha says that she loves him and breaks into tears when Ash-2 says that he loves her.
The next morning, Martha wakes up and finds Ash-2 staring up at the ceiling. She suggests that he close his eyes when he’s sleeping, and Ash-2 admits that he doesn’t really need to sleep. Later, Martha is working when Ash-2 comes in and asks if he can get her anything. Martha abruptly insists that she doesn’t need anything, and says that she needs some time to get used to it. Naomi pulls up outside and Martha tells Ash-2 to hide in the bedroom.
Once Ash-2 is tucked away, Martha answers the door and hesitantly invites Naomi in. Naomi explains that Martha wasn’t answering calls, and Martha says that she’s been working to keep her mind off of things. That night, Naomi leaves. Before she goes, she tells Martha that it’s great that she’s moving on, and says that she saw the man’s clothing in the bathroom. Naomi tells Martha that she deserves whatever she wants.
Once Naomi leaves, Ash-2 comes out and asks if everything is all right. He tries to say what Ash would say, and Martha snaps at him and drops the glass of water she’s drinking. When Ash-2 tries to help, Martha tells him to stop. He gets s shard of glass in his hand and casually pulls it out. That night, Ash-2 and Martha lie in bed and she irritably tells him to breath if he’sgoing to pretend to be asleep. He does, and Martha complains that she can tell that he’s faking it. She tells Ash-2 to go downstairs, and he willingly agrees. Angry, Martha says that her Ash wouldn’t leave just because she ordered him to, and Ash-2 comes back. When she starts crying, Ash-2 tries to comfort her and Martha screams at him to get out, yelling that he’s nothing. She tells Ash-2 to hit her, and he says that the real Ash never hit her. He offers to insult her, and Martha orders him out of the house. Ash-2 walks outside into the night.
The next morning, Martha looks out and sees Ash-2 standing at the gate. She calls down to ask what he’s doing, and he explains that he can’t go more than 25 meters from his activation point: the bathroom. Ash-2 says that he can only go further with his administrator--Martha--and she bursts into exasperated laughter. She lets him come inside and he looks at Jack’s photo, and Martha asks him to put it down. Martha then tells Ash-2 to come with him. She turns on the radio to Ash’s Bee Gees song and Ash-2 says that it’s cheesy.
Martha drives to the lover’s leap and walks up the hill. On the edge of the cliff, Ash-2 jokingly tells Martha not to do it, and then says seriously for her not to jump. Martha says that she isn’t, and that the real Ash would have worked out what was going on. She tells Ash-2 to jump, insisting that he’s just a performance of things that her Ash would have done. Ash-2 agrees and steps to the edge, and Martha says that her Ash would have been crying and scared. Ash-2 begs her not to make him and says that he’s frightened, and Martha insists that it’s not fair. She screams out at the ocean.
Several years later, Martha and her daughter come home and have cake. Her daughter insists that she needs another slice to take upstairs. When Martha points out that it isn’t the weekend, her daughter says that it’s her birthday. Martha gives in and they go upstairs to where Ash-2 is standing. As the daughter talks to Ash-2 and says that she’s just using him as an excuse to get an extra piece of cake because he doesn’t eat, she calls to Martha. After a moment, Martha braces herself and goes upstairs.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 13, 2015