by Abby Koch– The world of Altered Carbon has returned for a second season on Netflix, two years after the first with a mix of old and new faces. Despite the moral questions and edge-of-your-seat story the first season brought, the second season is a complete dud and fails to evolve the Altered Carbon universe.
In the cyberpunk world of Altered Carbon, the threat of death is no more,new due to the invention of placing human consciousness into devices called stacks. People’s stacks then can be interchanged with bodies, which are called sleeves. When a person’s stack is destroyed, they are officially dead.
Season two returns 30 years after the events of the first season, again following the exploits of “the last envoy” Takeshi Kovacs, this time played by Anthony Mackie. Kovacs is still in search of his lover and rebellion leader Quellcrist Falconer.
After being scooped up and returned to his home planet to investigate a series of murders, he soon discovers that the murders are committed by Falconer, making it a race to find her. With the help of the damaged A.I. Poe and other new characters, the entire season tries to find out why Falconer is murdering people.
One of this season’s highlights are the fight scenes. They’re very tight sequences with not a lot of janky camera work or cuts. Every fight sequence seemed to be well choreographed, which is one of the few things that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Another highlight of this season is that there is a better female cast. They all are represented in a way that they can put up a fight, compared to a lot of female cast last season who were typically just there for sexual excuses.
The show takes a shallow dive into all of the characters. Two new characters in particular, Colonel Ivan Carrera and Danica Harlan, are more interesting due to their differing perspectives. The two leaders tend to have two contrasting ideals of leadership and have conflicting plans to capture Falconer
Altered Carbon has widened its focus from Kovacs as the main character to include almost the entire character line up. There is no clear distinction between main and secondary characters, which is probably why there is such a shallow connection to characters. This wide focus hurts the story, making emotional moments with characters not so emotional.
The story in general is bland and predictable. I felt like all the offensive and moral questions that made the first season great were minimized severely. It felt disappointing that there was never a catch or a switch that made the story fun.
The character and personality of Takeshi Kovacs feels like it was hit the hardest by the minimization of offensiveness from the first season. Kovac of season one, played by Joel Kinnamen, was displayed as constantly drug and alcohol abusing, quick to violence, and overall a morally grey character. The Kovac this season was shown as a superhero figure, with few flaws, and was on a fairytale quest for his girl. This change definitely is confusing and removes a lot of the flawed charm of his character.
Season two felt toned down on everything, like the cases of nudity and violence that demonstrate people don’t care about their sleeves; they can just get a new one. That made the show a question of what humanity is. Some might prefer the second season because of how bland it is, but I feel like the vanilla offensiveness makes the show a shell of what it was.
Overall, Altered Carbon season two didn’t elevate the story, featured shallow characters, and lessened humanity questions that made season one great. I recommend watching season two if you are really dedicated to the show.
Altered Carbon season two gets 4/10 glow in the dark trees.