Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 1: Out of the Past Recap

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My review of episodes 1-3 is HERE.

Altered Carbon is a wild cyberpunk ride through a dystopian future starring Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs, a centuries old supersoldier, rebel, and former mercenary who’s been imprisoned and asleep for 250 years. The method of his imprisonment is the removal of his “stack” from his “sleeve,” meaning the disc which contains his soul and consciousness was removed from his spine and stored until a wealthy man who requires his services pays for his release. His stack is then inserted into a new sleeve, also known as a body, that his patron bought for him to use while Kovacs works the murder case he’s been hired to solve.

Everyone in society is fitted with a stack when they are very young, but new sleeves vary in price. Functional immortality using clones and backup stacks is fashionable for the very rich. Normal people hope that their stacks aren’t damaged when they die so that they can be brought back, and that they can afford a decent new sleeve. Neo-Catholics believe that being spun up in a new sleeve is a sin and vow to live only the single life span their original sleeve allows them. Overall, life has become cheap because it’s so easily replaced, and corporate decadence rules society.

Episode 1 begins with images of modern Kovacs before he’s revived, dreaming that he’s floating in water. The view of his body is interspersed with images of original Kovacs being intimate with a woman, and mercenary Kovacs showering intimately with another woman, or at least another sleeve (although they start out covered in blood). The future gets confusing at times, with all of the body hopping. We can see the stack insertion scar on the back of the showering woman’s neck. The floor of the shower is littered with stolen stacks.

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Altered Carbon Episodes 1-3 Review: Out of the Past, Fallen Angel, In a Lonely Place

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Browse Altered Carbon Episode Recaps Here.

Altered Carbon is my new guilty pleasure. Do we still have guilty pleasures? I don’t care, that’s what it is. It may or may not make the cut for prestige television when the critics are done deciding, but, after watching 3 episodes, I’ve decided I’m just going to have fun with it. It’s not the best, or the worst, or the first, or the most, of anything. But it is a hardcore, pulpy, scifi cyberpunk neo-noir murder mystery with a detective who’s both completely futuristic and a total throwback. This show is not taking itself too seriously while still including all of the essentials of its genre(s). That means that we can all relax and enjoy the ride.

Altered Carbon is based on the 2003 novel by Richard Morgan. It stars Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) as Takeshi Kovacs, a former mercenary and legendary rebel soldier who fought against the Protectorate, the universal government of the future that’s run by the wealthy. He was caught and imprisoned 250 years ago.

Continue reading “Altered Carbon Episodes 1-3 Review: Out of the Past, Fallen Angel, In a Lonely Place”