Netflix’s original sci-fi series Altered Carbon is back for season 2 with a bang. Episode one of season two reintroduces viewers to Takeshi Kovacs but this time he is not played by season one star Joel Kinnaman, instead this seasons Kovacs is played by Anthony Mackie.
What follows is a spoiler-breakdown of everything important that happened in the course of Altered Carbon season 2. We’ve also filled in the context from the past and how it all ties in to the story from season one.
Less Sex And Nudity
One of the hallmarks of Altered Carbon season 1 was the show’s unflinching approach to sex and nudity. There was a lot of both. But for Altered Carbon season 2 things have changed and fans have noticed a drastic reduction in the show’s more hardcore, rated-R elements.
CINEMABLEND spoke with Altered Carbon season 2’s showrunner and she explained the change this way…
“My position on the violence and the nudity is that Altered Carbon is to be an unflinching show, but that should be in service of the story. Season 1, the story took you to places where that was very much a part of the mystery.
The mystery of Season 1 was taking you to the red light district, taking you to sex workers, taking you to Bancroft and prostitute’s flesh and you know. Season 2, that’s not where the mystery went.
So to create scenes just to be showing nudity… it’s not like I feel this series is trying to be Red Shoe Diaries. The sex and violence should service the story… I don’t think Altered Carbon purposely set out to be less R-rated.“— Alison Schapker
Explaining Where Altered Carbon Season 2 Begins
“This is a ghost story. Told in the age of eternal life.” It’s a moody beginning set in a moody atmosphere. As Mackie assumes the Kovacs role for Altered Carbon season 2, he also assumes the role of the narrator. As he continues, we focus on a singer and find ourselves in a nightclub. Appropriately she is singing a re-worked version of Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.
It’s a haunting version that truly sets the tone as a familiar character from season one finds himself where we have seen him plenty of times, behind the bar. This would be Poe, wonderfully portrayed by Chris Conner, the A.I. that helped Kovacs solve the mystery of season one.
Poe Isn’t Dead
An interesting note about the Poe character, the source material for Altered Carbon is the 2002 cyberpunk novel written by British author Richard K. Morgan. In the novel, the hotel that Kovacs resides (the one Poe creates) is themed after Jimi Hendrix. But the Hendrix estate refused to license his image for anything they considered violent, so the production had to shift gears and go with the Edgar Allen Poe likeness and named the hotel The Raven.
Season one viewers may find the immediate inclusion of Poe in Altered Carbon season 2 as a surprise seeing as how he met his demise in the season one finale with an electron destabilizer. Poe kicks off season two as he asks a patron what brings her to Maghda Prime. She tells him she is looking for Kovacs and Poe responds meekly by telling her Kovacs continues his search for his long-lost love, Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry). The woman then fails to bribe Poe with untraceable credits as Poe malfunctions.
A Bounty Hunter
Is this on purpose or because of his season one ending? We don’t get an answer though we do get the beginning of a joke. A man walks into a bar…and then a fight scene breaks out. This man comes in, asking for Kovacs, claiming he has the money he owes Kovacs. Suddenly quite a few men in the room stand up claiming to be Kovacs. The fight for the money begins and when all is said and done, it is the lounge singer who is able to walk out. She is Kovacs and she/he is desperate to get off Maghda Prime.
Turns out the woman talking to Poe is a bounty hunter. She confronts Kovacs in the alley outside the bar explaining to him that a Meth named Horace Axley would like to talk to him. Kovacs is immediately disgusted at the thought of working for a Meth again and begins to walk away. So, the woman shoots Kovacs in the back and takes his stack. “Phantom Lady” is off and running and so is Altered Carbon season 2.
Kovacs’ New Sleeve For Season 2
Altered Carbon season 2’s grand and somewhat surprising introduction is a nice reminder of where we left off and what is about to come, mainly the new sleeve Kovacs will wear, that being Anthony Mackie. When Kovacs finally meets Axley it is in a construct where Axley can show Kovacs his new sleeve and all the upgrades that come with it. The new one was for military use only but the upgrades, at this point, are mostly unknown.
Seems the reason Axley was in search of Kovacs for protection. At first, Kovacs is hesitant, that is until Axley promises Kovacs Quellcrist. Axley is very convincing in his pitch, which Kovacs eventually accepts.
This is Altered Carbon, so things hardly ever go according to plan. When Kovacs finally wakes up in his new sleeve, he finds Axley and his men brutally murdered. Kovacs is able to find out from Poe that they are now on Harlan’s World, home to Kovacs, though it’s been 30 years since Kovacs last set foot on the planet. And again, there’s that glitch from Poe. Something is definitely not right with the AI in season 2.
The State Of Harlan’s World In Altered Carbon Season 2
In Altered Carbon season 2 things are not the same on Harlan’s World as the last time Kovacs was there. First off, Konrad Harlan has abdicated his throne and his daughter Danica (Lela Loren) has assumed that role. She has begun peace talks with the Quellist leader Joshua Kemp which leads us to Colonel Carrera (Torben Liebrecht), who immediately shows that him and his team are up to no good.
As Kovacs begins to investigate the who’s and why’s behind Axley’s murder we are introduced to Tanaseda Hidecki with whom Kovacs has a history. Hidecki has long been pleased with Kovacs loyalty so when Kovacs asks for a favor, Hidecki is glad to pay it. Kovacs needs a place to stay while he is back on Harlan’s World and Hidecki is happy to provide.
Poe’s New Hotel In Altered Carbon Season 2
Once again, we are back on semi-familiar ground as Poe is brought online to create their new hotel. As it comes together, the hotel, which Poe fondly calls the Nevermore, is not quite complete. Poe quickly apologizes informing Kovacs that their new home is “much like myself, in a state of broken down disarray.” Seems that glitch is real and Poe must figure a way to fix himself before the end of Altered Carbon season 2.
Who Is Quellcrist?
Altered Carbon season 2 episode one ends moving us forward to what looks to be a fantastic Altered Carbon season two. Kovacs questions himself if he should continue his search for Quellcrist. She has become a figment of his imagination, as she shows up often in this episode.
As Kovacs is ready to write this figment of his imagination off, she informs him that his sleeve, his flesh, comes with memories and he needs to figure out how to regain those memories. Kovacs does this by stabbing himself, using the pain to pull out some memories. The memory he finds is that Quellcrist was the attacker during the Axley murder. So, who really is Quellcrist?
The Altered Carbon Spinoff Series
With season 2 already out there Netflix is working on an Altered Carbon spinoff series called Altered Carbon: Resleeved. This new series is animated, though it does seem to still follow Takeshi Kovacs. Kovacs though, has changed sleeves again.
See Kovacs’ new sleeve in the first trailer for Altered Carbon: Resleeved below…