Altered Carbon Season 2: Production Begins & Other News

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Time for an update on Netflix’s cyberpunk bodyswapping series Altered Carbon, which got off to a slow start, but, according to Google Trends, ended up being the 2nd most searched for TV show title of 2018. Netflix has been slow in releasing news about season 2, with little known so far about the plot or returning cast, but, finally, tidbits of information are starting to appear.

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Netflix’s Altered Carbon Renewed for Season 2: Anthony Mackie Takes Over as Takeshi Kovacs

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buzzfuss / 123RF Stock Photo

Netflix has given us some great news to start the weekend! They’ve finally officially announced the season 2 renewal of their neo noir sci fi thriller Altered Carbon. It seems they were waiting to make the announcement until they could also announce who the new co-showrunner and star would be.

Anthony Mackie, who’s most well-known for playing the Falcon/Sam Wilson in the MCU Captain America and Avengers films, will play the new sleeve of former Envoy and Protectorate soldier Takeshi Kovacs. Mackie has been in numerous other films, notably the critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker. His only other major foray into television was the 2016 HBO film All the Way, in which Mackie played Martin Luther King, Jr opposite Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon Johnson. That film was also well received.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 10: The Killers Recap

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It’s time for Tak and Rei to work out their sibling rivalry issues. In episode 9, Tak got Rei to confess to driving Laurens to temporary suicide, which solved the bulk of the season’s mysteries. But there are still a few new revelations in this episode, along with the big, season-ending battle between the good guys and the bad guys, which everyone takes part in.

Kristin climbs the stairs to her brother’s apartment. She finds him lying dead on the floor, just as Leung left him. She reaches for her gun, but doesn’t have it, so she picks up a candlestick and follows the sounds of gunshots to the boys’ room. There she finds the boys both dead, laid out on the floor in a growing pool of their own blood, partially hidden behind a couch.

She drops the candlestick in shock and starts to panic, but then she hears her mother’s voice. She searches the house until she finds Alazne, who falls into her arms, bloody and dying. As Alazne is dropping to the floor, she warns Kristin, “He’s behind you!”

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 9: Rage in Heaven Recap

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Episode 9 is a dark episode, arguably the darkest of the season. But we also hear the real solution to Bancroft’s mystery from the person who orchestrated his evening, so at least there’s closure amidst the real death, betrayal, and disturbing fetishes.

The episode begins with another brief fast forward, this time with two hands playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

In the present time, Tak sits at Poe’s bar while Poe examine’s Tak’s pardon. Poe pronounces the pardon exceptionally thorough, which is a welcome surprise. Tak says he knows what really happened to Bancroft, but Poe doesn’t take the bait.

Poe’s feeling a little pissy about Tak putting the entire gang in danger and making Poe kill a fellow AI, in order to give Laurens a solution that was a lie. Tak notes that the dead AI was no great loss, and he wanted to turn Lizzie into a sex slave. Poe comments that no one is ever going to hurt his little girl again.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 8: Clash by Night Recap

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The elusive pardon.

Tak’s voiceover: “What we believe shapes who we are. Belief can bring us salvation or destruction. But when you believe a lie for too long, the truth doesn’t set you free. It tears you apart.”

This episode picks up where episode 7 left off. Tak is reeling from the discovery of what his sister has turned into, or possibly always was. He can’t take in the fact that Rei is confessing to killing Quell, the love of his life, and the rest of the Uprising rebels, who had become the family he never had. Even worse, he can’t accept that it was premeditated murder, done in cold blood with no remorse.

Tak: Quell and the Envoys were our family. How could you kill our family?

Rei: They were just soldiers. You and I, we’re family. Our lives will be better now.

Tak: When everyone I ever loved was taken away from me? Do you know what that did to me? What I became?

Rei: I tried to find you.

Tak: How hard did you look?

Rei: And then you got yourself caught by CTAC. They locked you up so tight no one could get to you.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 7: Nora Inu Recap

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In episode 7, present day Tak lies unconscious while Rei heals him. He spends the time reliving his memories of their shared past, so that his brain can try to fit this new development into place. Tak and the audience discover some missing puzzle pieces about present day mysteries as well. None of it is encouraging.

Tak’s voiceover: “The danger of living too many times is you forget to fear death. We dismiss the Grim Reaper as a quaint metaphor. But fearing death- it’s good for you.”

Young Rei sits on the floor in the Kovacs family kitchen on Harlan’s World. Her father tells her to take off her necklace, but she refuses because it was her mother’s. It’s a pendant in the shape of the infinity snake that matches the tattoos Rei and Tak will get on their forearms as adults.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 6: Man with My Face Recap

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In episode 6, Tak gets Kristin the treatment she needs for her wounds, and they continue their investigation, leading to a major confrontation with Dimi the Personality Fragged Twin. Vernon remembers how to be pretty good back up and a pretty good friend, though he’s an impatient dad. Lizzie makes some progress and reveals a new clue. Isaac is exonerated in the murder case, at least according to Tak’s Envoy intuition. We meet a new mysterious new character, Hemingway, and Tak’s sister Rei returns from the dead. Themes of family, protection and revenge run through the episode, culminating with Rei’s reveal.

The episode begins with a brief flash forward and a return of the Mad Mykola song. We see through Tak’s eyes, but his head is covered by a ragged black cloth. He looks down and sees his hands in cuffs and chains.

In the here and now, Tak and Kristin are being driven to the hospital, while Tak tries to keep Kristin alive. She’s bleeding profusely from her wounds. He keeps her talking so she doesn’t pass out. If her sleeve dies, he can put her in a new one, but her mother and the rest of her family, all devout Neo Cs, will never speak to her again.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 5: The Wrong Man Recap

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Kovacs: “When everyone lies, telling the truth isn’t just rebellion. It’s an act of revolution. So think carefully when you speak it, because the truth is a weapon.”

Tak and Kristin spend most of episode 5 dealing with the aftermath of Tak’s torture. She tells him the story of how her partner and boyfriend, Elias Ryker, ended up on ice. They find a way to spin up the stack from Dimi’s disembodied head. Poe gives them a tip that begins to pull more of the disparate strands of the separate cases together. They grow closer to each other as they work together and learn they can trust each other.

And Captain Tanaka brings on disaster, just like I knew he would.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 4: Force of Evil Recap

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Gird your loins, kids, this is the torture episode. Tak’s in the virtual reality torture chamber for much of the episode. Though it was difficult to watch, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, based on the warnings. The Outlander season 1 rape/torture episode was much, much worse. Maybe I’ve just seen too many seasons of creatively dragging entrails on The Walking Dead. Which isn’t to say this episode isn’t violent, gruesome, and, you know, tortuous. But it’s not very different from what we’ve already seen on Altered Carbon.

The real torture is in the emotions that the characters suffer over the course of the episode, especially in Tak’s flashbacks. We learn more about his life, his relationship with Quell, and how heartbroken he still is. We also get to see more of Ortega’s personal life, and begin to discover why she’s so interested in Tak.

So. Probably the most disturbing part of the episode is the Wei Clinic, an interrogation facility which specializes in “extracting data from unwilling subjects”. Torture is such an ugly word. The facility is large, clean, brightly lit, fully staffed, organized, and obviously part of a larger organization with franchises or branches. There’s a routine and a schedule for torture extraction sessions. The Nazis would be jealous.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 3: In a Lonely Place Recap

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Laurens: “In this world, the only real choice is between being the purchaser and the purchased.”

Kovacs: “We stick together, Rei. Never face the monsters alone.”

In this episode, Laurens invites Tak to a dinner party attended by all of Lauren’s closest friends enemies. Both spend the evening evaluating and testing people, though Tak is trying to assess how likely each is to be a murder candidate, while Laurens is assessing how likely they are to challenge his dominance or resist his authority. Laurens makes a point of publicly humiliating Tak, to remind Tak that he’s owned, because Laurens owns almost everything. Laurens also goes out of his way to humiliate Ortega, and to remind his wife that she belongs to him. He’s very possessive and territorial, and this hour drives it home.

Tak, on the other hand, begins assembling his own team in earnest, doing favors and making deals. Poe and Vernon are his first two prospective team members. He brings in another guest for Poe, Lizzie Elliot. Her virtual psychosurgery requires a large amount of Poe’s time and attention, just the thing for a lonely AI. That frees up Vernon to act as Tak’s back up at the party, once they’ve visited the friendly neighborhood arms dealer. Vernon gets to investigate Bancroft connection to Lizzie’s attack while he’s there, and Tak doesn’t have to face the monsters alone.

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