Review: Altered Carbon: Season 1

Series: Altered Carbon: #1

That is a spectacular show. In a nutshell, it takes a cyberpunk future world where the technology exists to separate the ‘mind’/stack/DHF of a person from their body/sleeve. Really, it’s primarily a tool for the wealthy to accumulate even more wealth and a number of the characters mention that we aren’t meant to live forever… And that actually made me think. It’s been something I’ve always thought would be neat: to be able to repair or move into another body if this is damaged, to send me mind to other worlds, etc. But how in the world would people react to that sort of power and change?

At the very least, let’s hope it’s better than what we see in Altered Carbon. Hoo boy.

Plotwise, it’s part detective show that segues into murder/revenge/revolution plots with more than a dash of questions around identity in a world where bodies are quite literally and easily (if not cheaply) replaceable.

There’s a lot of rather graphic violence and nudity, but for the most part it makes sense within the context of the show. Certainly not one for the kids though.

The casting, I loved. Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs nails the ‘Envoy brought back’, Dichen Lachman as Reileen Kawahara is a wonderful example of long lives corrupting people . My surprise favorite? Chris Conner as ‘Poe’–the AI running an Edgar Allen Poe themed hotel that hasn’t seen a guest in years/decades. He’s such a surprisingly wonderful character.

That’s quite a spectacular show. Well worth the watch. Now the confusing it… apparently almost the entire cast was replaced for S2? It’s something that the concept of the show certainly allows, but I don’t know how in the world they’re going to pull that one off. I guess we’ll see!

Reviews of individual episodes (potential spoilers for previous episodes in each):

  1. Out of the Past

    Sex! Violence! So much worldbuilding!

    The glimpses of people abusing and rebelling against essentially eternal life in new bodies is petty cool.

  2. Fallen Angel

    Kovacs on the job! Stumbling into all sorts of other issues–who knows yet how it’s all related.

    Also Poe is kind of awesome. Weird as heck, but awesome. The AI poker game was… unusual.

  3. In a Lonely Place

    The Patchwork Man. Kids reading scary stories to one another is great. Gets dark of course�

    Don’t take this personally–but I don’t care about anyone.

    Poe remains my surprise favorite. New job, just as dedicated.

    So many worldbuilding complications. A married couple fighting to the death, time and time again to provide for their children. A daughter sleeping around in her mother’s body. A man sleeved into a snake.

  4. Force of Evil

    Virtual reality torture. They plug you and and can kill you over and over again. Good times.

    Also sleeving grandma–into a tattooed biker sort–for Dia de Los Meurtos. Oh the possibilities of this worldbuilding.

  5. The Wrong Man

    As if Bancroft weren’t enough, apparently Kovacs’ new body has some baggage of its own. Good times.

    Also Bancroft apparently has a bit of a messiah complex.

    New wrinkles: 3d printed and synthetic sleeves. I do wonder why 3d printed sleeves are so rare. Grow some algae or something for the biomatter and go ham on new sleeves for everyone.

  6. Man With My Face

    There are so many fascinating characters in this show and we’re still picking up more. Glad to see Ortega made it. Upgraded too.

    What would it feel like, dying at your hand, my hand. Your face, my face.

    Dimi is a fantastically twisted character.

  7. Nora Inu

    Young Kovacs! Oh my.

    Today’s crazy world building brought to you by child soldiers in adult bodies.

    Rei: I’d say we should find some potential allies but we just killed everyone we know.

    Quells underlying mission–the end of immortality–is fascinating. I see why the Envoys were hated.

    Quell invented Stacks? . That’s a twist. I like it.

  8. Clash by Night

    Dang. I hadn’t made the full connection to just how much Rei had done.

    Are you a believer?

    I believe you’re my sister’s bitch.

  9. Rage in Heaven

    Kovacs: Where have you been?

    Ortega: Killing your sister. A bunch.

    Except… It's actually Rei in Ortega's sleeve. That's twisted. She's been crazy a long time. .

    Also… Head in the Clouds is insane.

  10. The Killers

    Not sure which will mess up Ortega more… the torture or the truth.

    Micky! .

    Poe! .

    Less a body count than I’d expected honestly.

    Lizzie’s evolution into a weapon and finally remembering what happened… Oy.

    Altogether, that’s… quite a crazy story.

    Side note: so 653 would allow those with religious coding to testify against their killers. Which means the religious coding is … not a technical limitation? I’m not sure what to think about that.

So… what happened to that cloned Kovacs body (not the one he made, the original one that the fight guy made).