Alter Your Netflix Binge with ‘Altered Carbon’

Joe Exotic has taken over my timeline. I refuse to watch him or any other Netflix series until I go home next week. However, I made one exception for a show called “Altered Carbon.”

At its core, “Altered Carbon” explores the concept of immortality. Human consciousness is stored onto discs called “stacks” implanted in the backs of necks. When their bodies die, their consciousness remains intact and can be transferred to another body, which they call “sleeves.” Because of this, people can start life anew with a new body. As long as their stack is intact, they cannot go through “real death,” which is when a stack is destroyed, effectively killing the person.

A couple weeks ago, “Altered Carbon” released its second season. In season one, audiences saw Joel Kinnaman (of “RoboCop” and “Suicide Squad”) playing the main role of Takeshi Kovacs. In season two, Anthony Mackie (of “The Hurt Locker” and “Captain America: Civil War”) takes over as Kovacs. Kinnaman portrayed Kovacs as a strong man who always did whatever it took to protect those loyal to him and vice versa. A thing that worried me about going into a second season was whether the actor who took over as Kovacs would take the same approach as Kinnaman’s. When Mackie appeared for the first time in the season premiere, I began to have faith in him and was able to accept him as Kovacs. He brought the same character to life, while also creating character development. It was enjoyable seeing Mackie, and I enjoyed seeing him act outside of a Marvel film or “Black Mirror.”

My only qualm was the little discussion of race and how it correlates with socioeconomic status in this immortal world. The wealthy live forever because they buy their way through everything, cloning themselves to maintain the same body they were born with. If you notice, the super wealthy are mostly white as well as a couple of Asian people. Assuming they’ve been cloning their bodies since they could afford it, their current bodies were the same ones that helped start this immortal world. I would have loved to see how race impacted that as well as social perception. Kovacs was born as an Asian male, then resleeved as a white male, then an Asian woman and most recently, as a black male. It makes me wonder how other citizens view sleeves of color and how it affects their daily way of life. One would think that characters would develop empathy because they have probably been in a sleeve of a different race.

A great improvement from last season is the character development of minor characters. We explored the life of his AI assistant, Poe, and his identity struggle while working for Kovacs. We watched the rebellion leader Quellcrist Falconer as she struggled to exist in a world that she created and wanted to destroy. We even got LGBTQ+ representation in season two with the lovely couple Trepp and Mika, two strong women who face adversity and show us normalized LGBTQ+ life in this future.

I felt no disappointed at all in this season. It came out around the time that coronavirus reared its head and brought great delight to me. It’s one of the few shows that I binge, and it was well worth it. If you have the chance and want to find a new sci-fi show to enjoy, then “Altered Carbon” is for you. Stream both seasons on Netflix now.