Altered Carbon S1E1 Television 

Five Thoughts on Altered Carbon‘s “Out of the Past”

By | June 2nd, 2021
Posted in Television | % Comments

Hello people that are in their actual bodies and not repurposed into a new body like Netflix’s science fiction show, Altered Carbon. I’m going to be covering both seasons one and two so let’s see how this all jumps off with “Out of the Past.”

1. My Body Feels Kind of Funny

Welcome to the future, specifically 2384 where everyone has what is called a “stack” built into their spine, right below where their brain is. It essentially is like a hardwire for your mind; it contains all your memories, habits, personality, etc. When a person dies, and as long as that stack is intact, it can be moved into another body. That does not always mean it’s the same type of body; for example, a seven-year-old girl ends up in a body of a middle-aged woman due to her family’s inability to afford a more suitable body. On the other end of the spectrum, a rich person can have, essentially, a clone shell of themselves created.

Moral of the story, no matter how far into the future a story goes, economic hierarchy will always reign supreme. Our main character, Takeshi Kovacs, goes from a mercenary build, played by Byron Mann, to a tall, svelte, male model looking man played by Joel Kinnaman. It wouldn’t make sense for him to a be big, out of shape guy trying to solve a crime, but it might have added some humor to the story.

2. What is an Envoy?

When Kovacs gets re-sleeved into the future, he’s been in the dark for over 200 years. The big commotion that everyone keeps asking him about is if he is really an envoy. In the first episode, it is a little difficult to gather an exact definition, but it seems to be a kind of rebel mercenary for hire. However, there are guidelines with being an envoy and they did have a common goal. They were all believed to be killed during a rebellion coupe, and Kovacs seems to be the last of their kind. It’s a little bit of a clichéd trope when it comes to be the last of anything, but it does add some pressure on that character, because if they die, then that is it for an entire race, species, or religious beliefs and practices. It is also fun when they are the last of a kick ass fighter/mercenary clan because there is guaranteed to be some fun fight scenes, hopefully where they use random objects to kill or subdue their opponents. Kinnaman does not disappoint with his envoy debut in the last moments of the first episode, especially with that much build-up, and he finds a way to take out a whole room of steroid-looking mobsters.

3. There is a Murderer A-Foot…With A Twist!

Mr. Kovacs was not brought back to the land of the living because of his good behavior or time served. No, he is brought back by Laurens Bancroft, a “meth” (a disgustingly rich person) to help solve a murder: Bancroft’s. He can afford to have his daily memories uploaded into his own personal satellite so, if anything were to happen, they could be uploaded into his new sleeve, good as new. However, someone managed to kill him before the daily upload was completed so he has no memory of the person who did it. The evidence shows it to look like a simple suicide. However, Bancroft is adamant he is not the kind of person to commit suicide. He clearly loves being rich and loves living for as long as he has, so why quit while he is so far ahead.

Another part of Kovacs’s mysterious background or “abilities” is that people believe he can read minds, so that kind of detective would be incredibly useful for Bancroft. Who doesn’t love a good whodunnit? Especially where the person who hires the detective is the same person who got killed! Kinnaman’s dry delivery is also perfect whenever he has to explain that envoys cannot actually read minds, they are just able to discern subtle patterns within unrelated events that others do not. It is like being a fake psychic within a group of people who want to talk to lost loved ones, and he’s like, “No I can’t actually talk to anyone but if I could, pretty sure they’d want to be left alone.”

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4. Edgar Poe

After a drug trip, Kovacs decides to end his night in an A.I. Hotel that is filled with robot prostitutes that many warn him is, “like sleeping with a stalker.” Whether it is due the drugs or because he believes it would be his final night alive, he could not care less about the warning. The weirdest part of it all is that this A.I Hotel is themed after Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven with the (Artificial Intelligence) owner created to look like Poe himself.

Now the biggest question has got to be, why? I mean it is one thing to have it named after the poem, but why have the owner themed as Poe himself? If this is to be the Watson to our protagonists’ Sherlock, than this will be a truly interesting ride. The poem makes some sense since it has to do with a guilty conscience or grief over the loss of a loved one, and with Kovacs being the last of his kind, there is a kind of survivor’s guilt. There were also flashbacks of his last death, where he was killed alongside a woman whose “stack” was destroyed.

5. Multiethnic Cast

One of the biggest things that really stood out in Altered Carbon is the diverse cast. Kovacs is played by both a white and a Japanese actor, Detective Ortega is played by a Mexican actress, Kovacs’ sister is played by a Nepalese actress, and a past love interest is played by an African American actress. Of course, there is a chunk of white actors and actresses throughout the show as well, but with a multiethnic cast it adds a stronger sense of unity for the audience. With everyone present in this story, there is something on the line or something to grab onto for someone watching at home.

This first episode feels like a small game of pinball, but I was not able to take my eye off the ball and will keep coming back for more. There is sure to have more envoy fighting, flashbacks, and a possible few new re-sleeves. Stay tuned for episode two!

//TAGS | 2021 Summer TV Binge | altered carbon

Alexander Manzo

Alexander is born and raised in the Bay Area. When not reviewing comics for Multiversity he's usually writing his own review for his Instagram @comicsandbeerreport. He's also a sports fan so feel free to hit him up on twitter with any and all sports takes @a_manzo510.


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