Noob Reviews: Altered Carbon (Season 02)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Altered Carbon?
With this being the second season of Altered Carbon, please see our review of season one for an overview of the story so far and character backgrounds.
However, that being said, there were quite a few differences between the first and second season, and they were…
Set thirty years after season one when the Bancroft case was solved, Tak is hired and re-sleeved into a high-grade military sleeve by Konrad Harlan. One of the founders of Harlan’s World who is currently in the crosshairs of an unknown and powerful assassin who has been killing those who originally founded Harlan’s World with him.
Renée Elise Goldsberry returns as Quell and is more heavily involved in the story. As part of his current assignment in which he was to help Konrad, Tak is tempted with details on Quell and her whereabouts.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official Trailer -
- Teaser Trailer -
You can also find the listing on Netflix here.
When did it come out?
Season two was released in February 2020.
As of writing this, there has been no official announcement that a third season has been approved (yet).
How many episodes are there?
The second series is slightly shorter than the first, coming in at eight episodes long as opposed to ten. Unlike the similar length episodes in season one, season two episodes vary in length from forty-three minutes to fifty-six minutes.
Who are some of the actors and actresses in the series that we might know?
Although we have many of the same actors and actresses returning for cameos in the second season, we do also have some newcomers, for example…
Anthony Mackie (has taken over the role of Takeshi Kovacs)
Dina Shihabi (Dig 301)
Lela Loren (Danica Harlan)
Torben Liebrecht (Jaeger)
I am delighted to confirm though that the original Poe actor (Chris Conner) from season one, returns in season two.
What did you think of Altered Carbon (Season 02)?
As you may be able to tell from the review of season one, I thoroughly loved Altered Carbon, true there were a few faults with it, but it was dark, gritty and very much from the Cyberpunk vein. I thought the first season had a solid ‘this is what we are and what we do’ sort of mentality. However, the second season loses this and I did not find it as enjoyable. Now I know that is a sweeping statement, but I will attempt to clarify why I feel this way.
The main thing that ruined Altered Carbon season two for me was the final episodes, this will be a spoiler, but for the seventh and eight episodes it becomes clear that Harlan’s World once belonged to aliens. The story had been average until that point and watchable, but I began losing interest after that revelation. Admittedly the alien CGI is done well, the design of the aliens themselves is very imaginative, and the story of why the alien is seeking revenge is touching, BUT it was so unnecessary. On a scale of one to ten, I would probably say it is an Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull level ending. I love the lore behind Altered Carbon and would like to find out more about stacks and the wider universe, but what was a human-focused espionage and dodgy political story right up to those episodes was mostly tossed aside. The lengths of the episodes were also very questionable as many that needed more explanation were cut short and never readdressed and others that could have been shorter, just seemed to be filled with intimate scenes or pillow talk. Although Anthony Mackie is unquestionably of a good physique, we don’t really need the ‘sex sells’ approach. Especially if it was at the expense of quality content.
Secondly, the change from Joel Kinnaman to Anthony Mackie was an iffy one. Whereas Joel gave Tak a brooding, mysterious air to the character, Anthony is dull. There seems to be little to no personality, the combat scenes are left lacking, and the majority of scenes are carried by co-stars. I will hold my hands up and say I do like some of Anthony’s work in other projects he has been in, but I feel he was wrong for the role of Tak and it comes across quite frequently.
On that note, though there are some terrific characters introduced into the second season like Dig 301 who is attempting to restore Poe to his full functionality. Although he survived the first season, it was not without its issues, and Poe is suffering memory loss and confusion frequently. Jaeger who was referred to in the first season is also fantastic in the second, the character is the sort of antagonist season two could have done well with and his screen time is memorable. Both when he is living up to the antagonist mantle. But also when he begins to question what is happening behind the scenes on Harlan’s World.
Unfortunately, what starts off exciting and engaging really lets itself down hard. As mentioned above, episodes seven and eight are some of my key dislikes, but even episode four, that sees a lot of the cameos from the original cast is lacklustre. They come onto the screen as cloned sleeves meant to distract and confuse Tak, they have a bit of a fight, die, and we move onto the next. There is barely any dialogue, and they fail to even deliver the soul purpose the cloned sleeves were used for.
Overall season two is worth a watch, but I would not go into it with high hopes, and try to keep an open mind. Should a third season come out, I will definitely be watching it as I loved season one and even the Resleeved anime film was quite enjoyable. But I hope it gets better. I hope if a season three does get approved, it finds what sort of genre and identity it is looking for and sticks to it.
What rating would you give Altered Carbon (Season 02)?
I would give the second season of Altered Carbon a 3 out of 5 bananas.
I went into season two excited and wanting more having just rewatched all of season one; unfortunately, I found season two falling very short of the standards set by the first season. Although season two is not a complete write-off and is an okay watch, I personally found nothing to rave about and hope that if a season three is approved, there are a lot of changes made to both the setting and characters. Although season one was gritty and dark, I think season two went off on a different creative path too far into the actual season itself and failed to successfully pull it off.
Thank you very much for checking out the review, and if you are interested in Altered Carbon (Season 02) and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.