Altered Carbon provides all the makings of a hit TV show and more. To my mind, there are no doubts whether or not this show should be a cult classic that lasts for decades, regardless of it having a second season or not (but hopefully it does).
Could you all believe that ending? Even with my notebook tying together all the evidence, witness accounts, and TV plot devices, such as zooming in on Miriam Bancroft’s face when Takeshi mentions Jack It Off, I couldn’t imagine the narrative piecing together as neatly as it did. It’d be a true feat if anyone could tie all of the information together before Reileen, Takeshi’s sister, spills the truth.
However, I think that’s the point. You get drawn in by this murder mystery, but all of the character arcs and the intrigue of the 26th century, where immortality has heightened the power of the rich, make the mystery take a back seat.
— YEOLO™ (@tzehern_) February 11, 2018
The rush of action in episodes 8-10, make the slow start in episodes 1 and 2 completely worthwhile. No. It makes the initial explanations and slow build-up completely necessary… contrary to the complaints in my review of Netflix’s Altered Carbon Episodes 1-5. If you miss the slightest detail in the beginning you won’t be able to understand the later episodes.
Episodes 6-10 don’t give you enough time to catch your breath, let alone try to piece together how Reileen orchestrated everything by manipulating and perpetrating every hole in the world’s system.
Reileen is hands down the best villain that has ever been created. Honestly, who else is this nuanced? Even when I wanted to hate her character, especially after she killed Ortega’s family, I couldn’t.
Everything she became was to survive what she’d been put through. She grew up in an unstable household, watching her mother get beaten every day. She learned that love can be intertwined with violence; however, initially, she was resistant because she had Takeshi.
— Will Yun Lee (@WillYunLee) February 10, 2018
When the father seemed to get too violent with Rei, Takeshi was the one who saved her. With their father’s blood splattered all over Rei’s body, her brother, again, reaffirmed violence’s connection with love.
To get her through her traumas, Takeshi constantly repeated that they would survive everything together, only for him to leave her and for her to be thrown into the hands of the Yakuza as a whore and a bodyguard. Can you imagine the trauma that caused her?
This in no way minimizes Takeshi’s own psychic traumas. I know everything he has been through is why he can’t communicate well and why he falls in love so quickly, looking for the safe haven he was never allowed.
— Will Yun Lee (@WillYunLee) February 14, 2018
When Rei and Takeshi see each other again it is just like old times, and they fight tooth and nail to be with each other. However, mere months later, Takeshi chooses something… someone… over her again.
When Rei tries to explain her reservations to him regarding Quell’s plan to end re-sleeving, Takeshi shuts her out. Her plea to him that they are family is only returned back to her with the words, “We are envoys” and how the envoys are their family.
Then, suddenly, we’re back in the 26th century and Rei’s eyes fill with tears as she tells her brother how much she loves him and she can’t lose him again, and somehow, I completely understand.
Takeshi: Rei, listen to me.
Reileen: Why? You never listened to me.
So angel in her first scene and then she turned a devil haha but Reileen Kawahara is my favorite one and she lives in my heart ♥️⚔️ Congrats @Dichenlachman for your good job 😍 #AlteredCarbon pic.twitter.com/NEj3N4yUnT
— mandy ✵ (@QueenHeda) February 8, 2018
All Reileen wanted was to take back her power — just as Lizzie wanted to attain her agency through self-defense, Detective Ortega wanted to find her spiritual purpose (a certainty the invention of stacks took from her and her family’s religious beliefs), and Mary Lou wanted to gain back control of her own death by jumping off of the Head in The Clouds’ bay.
Just like that, this story isn’t about Takeshi nor is it really about solving Bancroft’s murder. It’s about women taking back their agency, some in more productive ways than others.
Although this story is amazing, I did have a few hang-ups here and there. One issue I had was when Ortega somehow fends off Reileen in episode 8, “Clash by Night.” How?
Reileen has not only been trained by the Yakuza and the Envoy but has also had 300-odd years to hone her skills. It throws me out of an otherwise epic fight scene. To avoid this and still keep the plot point that prompts Rei to kill Ortega’s family, the fighting should’ve stayed long-distance with Ortega at the advantage with her gun.
Altered Carbon pic.twitter.com/Q34gJfekku
— Doofi ✈️🚀🌔 (@Dufondelespace) February 7, 2018
Secondly, I didn’t appreciate the inconsistency in the race of Takeshi and Rei’s bodies. They are supposed to be Japanese siblings, but they don’t look like siblings and they don’t look Japanese. That also threw me out of the narrative, as well. However, I quickly got over it due to the amazing performances of the actors. You win some, you lose some.
And overall, viewers were the real winners. It’s rare that stories this good end up with a relatively happy ending but here we are. Ortega finds religion and the answers she needed, Bancroft finds the limits to his existence and realizes he’s not the god he wishes he could be, and Takeshi finds his purpose in searching for the love of his life, Quell.
However, although this story may be wrapped up in a nice bow, Takeshi has a whole new story that has just begun. Laeta Kalogridis, the creator of the Altered Carbon series, took a basic footprint of Altered Carbon and spun a wonderfully orchestrated tale of the human condition, and all I can say is I want more.
All ten episodes of season one are now available on Netflix. What do you think of the remaining episodes of Altered Carbon? What new worlds do you think Takeshi will explore looking for Quell? Do you think he’ll find her?