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


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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