Body swapping, digital consciousness storing and an AI fashioned after the gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe, are just a few of the mind-bending concepts you'll find in Netflix's futuristic sci-fi series Altered Carbon.
The show, which sees Colonial Tactical Assault Corps super-soldiers out for blood and a mercenary hired to solve a mystery, has a lot for you to unpack, especially after the season 2 finale (the first two seasons are currently available on Netflix).
If you need a little help following the show's jam-packed narrative, here's a short recap of season's 1 and 2, as well as a more in-depth look at the complicated season 2 ending. To cap things off, you'll find a look at Netflix's upcoming anime version of the show, arriving March 19 to stave off any Altered Carbon cravings you have following that season 2 finale.
Season 1 recap
Let's start with a few things to remember from season 1. In the world of Altered Carbon (based off the novel of the same name), a person's memories and consciousness can be stored in an alien-engineered disk device called a cortical stack. This device can be implanted into the back of a person's neck.
Stacks can also be transplanted into new human bodies called sleeves. A person's consciousness — referred to as Digital Human Freight (DHF) — can live forever as long as it moves from sleeve to sleeve. But if your stack is destroyed, you die. Only the wealthy known as Meths can afford stacks and the new human sleeves to place them in.
In season 1, the consciousness or DHF of mercenary Takeshi Kovacs (played by Joel Kinnaman for now) is downloaded into a new body, with the task of finding the killer of a murdered Meth. This body swapping concept sees the series explore identity, as some decide to swap genders or split their consciousness into two sleeves rather than one.
But mainly we follow Kovacs, who must solve the murder to stay alive. He's also got to figure out clues to his own past and his sister Reileen Kawahara (Dichen Lachman).
Season 2 ending explained
Moving on, Altered Carbon season 2 begins a whopping 30 years after the end of season 1. Kovacs, now in a new sleeve brought to life by Avengers alumni Anthony Mackie, is determined to find his lost love and revolutionary leader Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldsberry). Falconer also happens to be the original creator of the stacks and sleeves technology.
Kovacs is recruited to the planet called Harlan's World in the hope of finding her there. He also ends up investigating a series of brutal murders that may be connected to Falconer.
We discover Falconer is really the host for an extraterrestrial entity known as an Elder, who wants revenge on the Founders who originally took over Harlan's World. These Founders wanted to eradicate the other Elders and steal the technology behind the stacks.
The remaining Elder uses Falconer's sleeve to get close enough to murder the remaining Founders. But right as the Elder decides to kill off everyone (Founders and humans alike), Kovacs takes the Elder into his own stack and lets the uber-laser — an high energy beam weapon called Angel Fire — kill both him and the Elder in one blast to save the human race. Now that both Kovacs' sleeve and his stack are destroyed, he's basically really dead, right? Not so fast.
Kovacs' artificial intelligence buddy known as Poe (Chris Conner), who was supposedly destroyed in season 1 after being disabled by an electron destabilizer, suddenly returns in season 2. Poe memories are damaged along with his corrupted processor.
But after a full reboot, and help from another AI known as Dig 301, Poe is finally restored to his old self, complete with some welcome information. Poe has hidden data lurking inside his program that might lead to Kovacs' consciousness.
If that's the case, well, Altered Carbon might return for yet another series on Netflix. That also means fans could end up seeing yet another actor play Kovacs' new sleeve in another adventure. Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of season 3.
Altered Carbon anime
While we wait for season 3 to hopefully happen, here's more Altered Carbon to devour.
Netflix's anime version of the series, Altered Carbon: Resleeved, takes place on the planet Latimer during the first season of the show. The anime storyline shows Kovacs protecting a tattooist while investigating the death of a yakuza mob boss with the help of a soldier from the Colonial Tactical Assault Corps.
The anime series has Cowboy Bebop scriptwriter Dai Sato working behind the scenes, and debuts March 19 on Netflix.