Altered Carbon pulled all the stops in season one, introducing viewers to a cyberpunk world ruled by wealthy nigh-immortals and other people that, for a cost, can digitally transfer their consciousness into new bodies. However, with the viewer’s cynical proxy embodied by Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs, a soldier by a previous age who’s awakened to defend the strong, viewers might be wondering what’s going to happen now that the figures in season one are dead or have been forced to undertake different”sleeves” with fresh performers embodying them?
The good news is, Altered Carbon is in great hands with Anthony Mackie taking the role of Kovacs in season two, and the initial few episodes outline a strong narrative that honors the first character and the introductory adventure in its violent and dark glory. Actually, not only does the hunt for Quellcrist Falconer, famed opposition fighter and Kovacs’ long lost love, continue in earnest as signaled in the season one finale; it becomes more focused and perhaps more accessible to new viewers binging the string to catch up before the February 27th year 2 arrival.
Mackie’s sleeve is a military update to the muscle Kinnaman version, and some of the whistles and bells will be especially impressive both for its Modified Carbon audience and also for lovers of Mackie’s Marvel work. Using creative (and morally questionable) gene splicing and a personalized weapons augment with which Kovacs will call his guns to him a la Iron Man is especially badass. Though other antagonists, such as Colonel Ivan Carrera (Torben Liebrecht) of the Protectorate Special Forces, also possess such mods, the control-the-construct skills of this last Envoy make Kovacs much more dangerous than possibly Carrera and others expect, a detail that will thrill lovers of the show.
In reality, these skills are in particular demand since Kovacs has been forced into this updated sleeve by an elite group”Meth” called Horace Axley who is looking for Kovacs’ defense from an enemy. Altered Carbon viewers will be familiar with this formula from year one, in which Kovacs was hired to find the murderer of a Meth termed Laurens Bancroft, but this thread of consistency helps ground the narrative, especially in a period where so much of the cast was reimagined.
Chris Conner as the resort AI Poe also provides a bit of continuity as the sidekick and investigative assistant for Kovacs, both in his tracking of Axley’s enemies and in his search for Quell, the latter of which has been going on for thirty years at countless sleeves once the season begins. Poe has provided much-needed levity in a dark series filled with self-loathing brutality, and disillusionment, but viewers are also treated to some troubling conflict and side story for the intellect as well this year.
That being said, the tone of Modified Carbon is much more optimistic in year 2, owing mostly to Kovacs’ conviction that Quell is alive and possibly in need of his aid. Renee Elise Goldsberry reprises her role as the infamous freedom fighter, but her story is more complex than that of a damsel in distress. Audiences will spot the mystery surrounding the attackers, which offers a feeling of unity across the narrative of Axley as well as the relations between her plight.
Since Altered Carbon is popularly known for its specialized jargon with references to”spinning up” someone’s”pile” and individuals using”synth” bodies or”needle casting” their heads across enormous distances, the streamlined story makes this sophomore season of the hard sci-fi show much more accessible than its predecessor and easier on people who’ve grown accustomed to virtual torture chambers and induce grown clones. Has it lost a bit of its advantage in the procedure? Perhaps in the manner in which a hangover’s pain is diminished by the ingestion of alcohol. However dark.
Do not worry. With great new figures such as Trepp the bounty hunter (Simone Missick) and Danica Harlan, the ruler of Harlan’s World (Lena Loren), plenty of action is expected for the rest of the season. Plus you may just spot some familiar faces before the next installment is up, though not in how you’d expect. That’s the pleasure of Modified Carbon: death is not necessarily final.