Warning! Full SPOILERS follow for Season 1 of Altered Carbon.
Altered Carbon wrapped up its cyberpunk Sherlock Holmes story well enough, but there are still lingering questions that we want further clarification on if the series is renewed for a second season. Thankfully, there is plenty of source material in the form of two additional novels from Richard K. Morgan — Broken Angels and Woken Furies. Each book expands on the greater universe of Altered Carbon, while also delving deeper into what defines Kovacs as a person.
So what can we expect in Season 2? The new season isn’t greenlit so a lot is still up in the air, but here’s our best estimation of what to expect based on the future books and our interview with creator Laeta Kalogridis.
Will Joel Kinnaman Return?
Since Season 2 has yet to be confirmed, we can only speculate as to how and in what form Takeshi Kovacs will return. In “The Killers,” Kovacs tells Ortega that he will give back Ryker’s sleeve after clearing his name. Assuming that he honors his pledge, Kovacs will no longer be in Kinnaman’s body but will have to get a new sleeve — something he often does in the books. This could open the door for a new batch of actors to play in the leading role. Why stick to only one Kovacs when you can have several?
Another scenario could have Ryker playing a larger role in the story, which would allow Kinnaman to come back and also give Detective Ortega a reason to stick around. In a recent interview with creator Laeta Kalogridis, she reminded us that she’s not afraid to play around with the book’s timeline. An example of this is Kovacs’ relationship with Quellcrist Falconer — a character that doesn’t appear until the third book.
“By bringing some of the things that are in the third book, especially Quellcrist Falconer,” Kalogridis said, adding, “as being more of someone who Kovacs interacts with. I brought that forward from the third book into the first part, partly because I love the character, and partly because I didn’t know whether or not there would be a second season, you know, this might be it, so I wanted to have said what I wanted to say to some degree with that character and that relationship.”
If Kinnaman doesn’t come back, there’s still the question of how Kovacs is going to deal with the loss of Reileen? One of the interesting twists in the finale was Kovacs’ decision to keep the memories of his sister alive by sacrificing his other self who didn’t share that memory since he was off having sex with a hundred versions of Miriam Bancroft. Discovering what that tragedy would do to his psyche makes for a compelling story no matter whose sleeve he’s wearing.
The few mentions of Elder civilization relics and skeletons piqued our interest. In the finale, Miriam Bancroft shows off a fossil to a friend and wonders if that’s where humanity got its understanding of angels from. Broken Angels (book 2), explores the mystery surrounding those relics the planets they’re found on, including Mars. In fact, some refer to the Elders as Martians even though that’s not their homeworld. Kalogridis would also like to explore this storyline if Season 2 gets the green light.
“I’m pretty sure if we get a second season, it’ll be whatever Richard (Morgan) and I can come up with that we both like,” Kalogridis said. “I don’t think that it’ll be exactly the same as the second book, but I think the themes that the second book explores are things that both of us are fascinated by, and especially the idea of the elder civilization and their texts and the footprint they’ve left on all of the settled worlds. It’s very, very interesting to me.”
Planetary colonization and space travel is only briefly mentioned in Season 1 and there is still so much we don’t know about how the galaxy functions. Takeshi’s Envoy training helps him deal with those disturbing virtual reality torture scenes and crazy fight sequences; however, the series doesn’t explore how the mental exercises learned by Envoys help them cope with interstellar travel.
Faster-than-light travel is only achieved through subspace transmission, which is known as needlecasting. Once an Envoy’s consciousness is in a download center, they are resleeved into new bodies. The Envoys, unlike normal soldiers, are able to adjust to their new sleeves quickly — making them more efficient in combat. Learning more about this process and seeing it in action could be exciting since the fight choreography team proved they can create thrilling action scenes.
Strange New Planets
Takeshi’s home planet of Harlan’s World is also a place we want to revisit in Season 2. Most episodes confined the viewer to a closet where Takeshi and Raileen hid from their abusive father, and the occasional shot of the siblings prancing over the landscape. According to the books, the planet is covered by 90% water and is home to a mostly Japanese and Slavic population. The way these planets are ethnically colonized sounds intriguing, so hopefully we won’t be stuck in the rain-soaked streets of Bay City forever.
Even though Altered Carbon’s murder mystery ran a bit dry towards the finale, the world surrounding the main storyline begs to be explored. There are new planets, ancient aliens, and potentially many more versions of Kovacs still to come if Netflix pulls the trigger on Season 2.
David Griffin still watches DuckTales in his pajamas with a cereal bowl in hand. He’s also the TV Editor for IGN. Say hi on Twitter.