Altered Carbon is a world of pure cyberpunk, a world that has evolved to the point where your entire being is loaded onto a device that’s inserted into your neck, a device known in the show as a Cortical Stack. This stack can be interchanged between replaceable bodies – or skins – meaning people can live for hundreds of years. But bodies are expensive, therefore the rich live long and prosper in gorgeous, enhanced skins, whereas the poor suffer in anything they can get their hands on.

In Season One, this world was fascinating. It explored the class inequality, delved into how people perceive their morality when death isn’t final; it was a dirty world with a lot of problems and it wasn’t afraid to show them or to really explore what such technology could do to society. This was all on top of a twisting plot of intrigue and deeply interesting characters.

Season Two unfortunately just does not follow suit; it’s different, and not in a good way. Firstly, the whole atmosphere and look of the show has changed. In contrast with season one’s rusty aesthetic, everything now looks clean and polished. It has gone from Blade Runner to Star Trek. The new characters don’t work as effectively either. Lela Loren’s politician Danica Harlan is a prime example. She has little-to-no development and just isn’t engaging – strange for a politician. Simone Missick, as Trepp the bounty hunter, is one of the few saving graces of the season. 

Season Two of Altered Carbon, like many of the characters in the show, has changed its skin and come out looking worse for it. Whilst the production value is still very high, the story and characters have been dulled down too much. A once interesting and boundary-pushing show now resembles the vast black hole of Netflix’s forgettable attempts at the sci-fi genre.

2 stars

Image: Movie DB

Thomas Hirst is a screen contributor at Forge Press.

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