Altered Carbon – Season 1

“Have you always been such an asshole?”

“Every sleeve, every time”

Takeshi Kovacs is not a nice guy. Even cleaned up and re-sleeved in a top of the line body.

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(And it certainly is) He’s still a “break nose first, ask questions later” guy.  Which comes in handy in the world of 2384 where death doesn’t necessarily mean death. Your consciousness is stored in a ‘cortical stack’, a storage disk in the top of the spine. Or even in a remote location if you’re wealthy. As one character says “Our clients are the wealthiest, most discerning, in the galaxy. They don’t do anything as pedestrian as dying”

The season revolves heavily around the conflict between the haves and have-nots. The haves being the ‘Meths’, short for Methuselahs who have the wealth to cheat death infinitely. There are some interesting questions raised around this more or less immortality. If you can take it with you, why let any go? How does one advance in a society where the top tier never die? (Imagine how much worse Rupert Murdoch would be if knew he’d be here in a century, or longer)

There are other questions regarding religion in this reality. The church aren’t too happy with the thought that heaven and hell can be put on hold and the show gives time to that discussion.

If all this sounds a little dry, don’t worry, these questions never get in the way of  some frankly brutal fights, shoot outs and sex scenes. There’s a lot of blood and flesh on display here (admittedly unbalanced towards female nudity) and it’s all very well choreographed.

At it’s heart, it’s a private eye story. The investigation of the mysterious death of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) the sort of wealthy man who literally buys and sells people, by Takeshi Kovacs, a military veteran brought out of storage at Bancroft’s beck and call.

The backstory of Kovacs leaves a lot of room for combat scenes and some extremely badass performances, from Dichen Lachman, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Byron Mann in particular. Mann plays the original body of Kovacs with Joel Kinnaman playing the present body. Just one of several parts played by multiple actors or actors playing multiple parts. It’s a tribute to the writing that this never becomes confusing or overdone.

The cast are uniformly great, I never questioned the performances, even when they were delivered from extremely different bodies to the characters

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(Pictured- middle aged woman)

As the header image suggests, this is very much influenced, at least visually, by Blade Runner  type of sci-fi but it’s a more fast paced, less contemplative beast than that. More from the Minority Report -esque end of Dick adaptations and all the better for it I feel. For 10 hours in length it zips past and is definitely a ‘binge watch’ show.

As a fan of the Richard K Morgan novels it’s surpassed my expectations and I hope to see a second season.