TV Show Review: Altered Carbon

Based on the novel of the same title by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is one of the many offerings from Netflix. It’s also cyberpunk at its finest. It’s got a lot of violence, a lot of nudity, sex, use of drugs, and profanity.

The premise of the series is simple: in this dystopian future, a person’s memories are stored in a disk-shaped device called stack, which is implanted in the vertebrae at the back of the neck. Bodies are called “sleeves” and are used as vessels that can accept any stack. There’s an entire world built around the idea of being immortal, or at least being given the chance.

Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a mercenary/terrorist, wakes up after 250 years of being “put on ice”(jargon for being in prison). He is given the choice to either spend the rest of time in prison for his crimes, or to help solve the murder of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Oh, I forgot to mention that he’s hired by Bancroft himself.

That’s all I’ll say about the plot.

There’s a lot of blood, a lot of death, and some intrigue and mystery. It’s like a crime story, only it’s not. There are quite a lot of flashbacks. There’s some sex.

It’s entertainment. The kind you can binge watch and then feel guilty you haven’t done anything productive all day.

Then again, there are some attempts at being taken seriously. There are some ideas about religion and its purpose, about immortality and the moral implications of achieving it, but those are messages that don’t carry enough weight within the context of the overall story.

The best character is an AI by the name of Poe, who’s a hotel owner, and acts as a sort of sidekick to Kovacs/comic relief.

Overall, I do recommend this TV series, and I honestly don’t understand why it’s so polarizing among those who have watched it. Maybe they were all taking it way too seriously. It’s not to be taken seriously.

Altered Carbon is pure entertainment. And it should be interpreted as such.

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3 thoughts on “TV Show Review: Altered Carbon

  1. Loved this show! And you are right about Poe! “Your relationship with honesty is… passing, at best.” He’s full of quotable and witty insights! For first time viewers, I found it enjoyable to watch the first five episodes and then go back and watch them again to see how much you missed with the new insights you gain. Then proceed to the final episodes and you’ll appreciate them a lot more!

  2. I watched the show and loved it. And you’re right … at the end of the day it’s just entertainment. But it some of the most engaging entertainment i’ve seen in a while.

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