Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon has cool visuals and fights, but it raises way more questions than it answers.

I think the creators of Altered Carbon had two goals in mind: pack each episode with as many F words as possible while keeping dialogue coherent and displaying as many breasts as possible in each episode. I watched the series on Netflix. I had never heard of the books on which it is based. Perhaps had I read them I would not have found this to be such a muddled mess.

Honestly, I got about half way through and wondered why I had spent so much time on with it. But I continued through to the bitter end. I am not sure I will watch the inevitable second season. What Altered Carbon did more than anything else was make me appreciate how Game of Thrones has been able to take separate plot lines and weave them together into a single coherent thread. Altered Carbon had multiple plot lines, but few of them seemed to full connect and several of those that did seemed forced.

The basic plot of the story is that the last surviving Envoy, a type of super soldier on the wrong side of history, is spun back up into the body of a police officer whose own mind has been suspended as punishment for a crime he might not have committed. The Envoy, ‎Takeshi Kovacs, is retained by the world's richest man to solve that man's own murder. A great many people would prefer it if the truth is never known.

In building up a universe complete with its own vocabulary, it left much undefined, including the premise. Alien technology is used to allow people to capture their souls into electronics stored in people's necks. Bodies become sleeves, easily discarded, and the encoded memories are embedded in new people's bodies. The richest of the rich clone themselves and their memories get placed back in their own bodies. The backstory on the aliens is never really explored, but it seems a human actually finalized the technology before leading a rebellion against the technology.

There are still religious people, called "neo-Catholics" who still believe in a Heaven and Hell. They refuse to be "spun" back into new bodies preferring a natural death. In fact, throughout the series there is a religious conflict within and between several characters, but that too is not fully explored. The song spire trees we are introduced to have some clear meaning, but that too is not fully explored. Even how one character was able to falsely code people as neo-Catholic so they could be murdered without being re-spun is downplayed.

The lack of exploration leads to confusion and muddling of the plot.

The show is visually captivating and entertaining as long as you don't start asking too many questions, which is also a plot point. Most Netflix series a few episodes before you want to commit to them. I committed early and wanted out before the end. The concept was neat, the visuals were cool, some of the acting could really have been better, but it just wasn't for me.

No. 1-4

I liked Altered Carbon. That said, there were seemingly a few disjoints in the hows and whys of case leads leading to breakthroughs. I thought it was especially delightful that Edgar Allan Poe would become a concierge avatar in a themed hotel. That was just friggin' scrumptious. I want to stay at The Raven. And Dia de Muertos as the backdrop for quite literally contacting the dead - troubling latin mothers with the reality behind what they rehearse in religion. And finally, the theme that immortals are feckless, bored, and decadent with angelic faces and ogrish appetites repeats itself in collective mythology. The series dipped into how gorgeous and mad reality can become when tech and religion blur.

I tend to be open to more paced genres like Blade Runner, which is my favorite Sci-Fi classic. And I understand that such is not for everyone.

Now I am a religious man, but I think that with the birth of AI and the advent of archiving consciousness to data substrates, religion and Christianity in particular will have to stare down some pretty tough questions about life, being, and what it means to be human.

It's not perfect but I like the series.


Erick, seems to me that this was quite a waste of time! Like trying to watch Walking Dead & finding something redeeming about it....


The single most memorable line in the entire series was Bancroft saying to Kovacs that there's two different kinds of people this world, the purchaser and purchased.

I think we just should thank God that through He is the sole purchaser of everything we possess and use in this world, he's not going to treat this world as Bancroft did cruelly. God has the attributes of holiness and righteousness, of which Bancroft and his ilk had none at all.

Altered Carbon is a frightening insight into the world where if man had this kind of power, humanity would be totally corrupt at its core, where there'd be no hope for its salvation, not even Kovacs could save humanity from itself.