Altered Carbon (season 2)

I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of this adaptation of Richard Morgan’s book(s), but it took me a while to get around the the second. Truth be told, I have very little recollection of the second and third books, so it took a bit of research to say that this second series is based on the third book, Woken Furies.

A bit of background… in the far future, the science of ‘stacks’ allows for a person’s memories to be downloaded and turned into DHF (Digital Human Freight) to be sent across the stars faster than a human could ever travel. The galaxy has thus been populated. A side effect of the process, though, is that the very rich can clone their bodies and download their consciousness into them regularly – thus achieving immortality.

Takeshi Kovacs is a soldier. No, more The soldier. He’s trained to fight from the instant he wakes in a new ‘sleeve’ (body), without the usual period of readjustment.

Following the events in season 1, Kovacs finds himself returning to his home planet, Harlen’s World. But there’s no time for nostalgia between the politics, the repeat glimpses of a former lover who is surely dead, and oh yeah, the serial killer going around causing ‘real death’ – one that can’t be undone with a clone and a backup – of the society’s founding families.

I will admit that Joel Kinnaman was a big part of the appeal of season 1, and not just cos he kept taking his shirt off 😉 Any show that swaps out the lead actors has an uphill battle, so kudos to them for nabbing Anthony Mackie for the new Kovac sleeve. Better known as one of the Avengers, Mackie is excellent with the physicality of the role and does almost as well as Kinnaman with the not-quite-emotionless soldier.

However, I still ended up being less than impressed with the second season, and that’s because of the story. Series 1 was about world building and the fantastic tech that’s caused so many changes – with a huge murder mystery thrown in on top of amazing visuals. Here, though, it’s all about Quellcrist Falconer, Kovac’s lost love and head of the rebellion, and it just wasn’t as interesting a story as I wanted. Sure, by the end there are stronger background threads, but by that point I’d struggled to hold as much interest.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t really remember the second and third books. I can’t comment on how closely they stuck to the text, but it feels like something was a bit missing in making all the elements work more smoothly – and entertainingly – together.

Still worth a watch if you liked the first season, but go in with much lower expectations.

First broadcast: February 2020
Series: 2
Episodes: 8 @ ~50 mins each

My rating: 7/10

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