Binge and Repeat: Altered Carbon explores the perils of immortality
Netflix’s most recent series, Altered Carbon, takes viewers into a future where death is only for those who can’t afford to purchase a new body to live in. In this future humans have found a way to cheat death by creating chips that their minds can be downloaded into and moved from body to body.
Altered Carbon follows the story of Takeshi Kovacs, who is placed in a new body after spending 250 years “on ice” in prison and is tasked with solving the murder of a wealthy stranger in exchange for his freedom. Throughout the series, viewers are gradually given clues about Kovacs’ past and the events that led to a future of immortality.
Secrets and puzzles are peeled back like onions in the series. The characters are faced with questions such as who murdered Laurens Bancroft? What happened to the girl who fell from the sky? What happened to the Envoys during the rebellion? Should the human life be infinite?
Altered Carbon is a visually stunning series. While it does have a bit of a Jetsons futuristic vibe in some scenes, it excels when the audience is transported to the forests of a foreign world. Joel Kinnaman’s portrayal of the battle-hardened and traumatized Kovacs excels at bringing the character to life during the calmer scenes. Chris Conner adds light moments of humor to otherwise dark events as the AI hotel manager Poe, who longs to be human. Martha Higareda’s fiery performance as the overzealous cop Kristen Ortega breathes life into the overall plot as she gets into scuffles with suspects and other officers alike.
The series provides a commentary about what happens when scientific advancements are taken too far and the dangers of allowing the minority to exploit technology for their own means. Are we still human if we live like immortals? It also dips into theology as the characters sidestep zealous protesters arguing that humans don’t have the right to more than one life and that by hopping from body to body they are destroying their souls.
Altered Carbon has 10 hour-long episodes and is rated TV-MA for language, nudity and violence. Fans might also enjoy The OA, a series that follows the strange reappearance of a woman that went missing for years. Viewers might also enjoy Travelers, a science fiction series about a team of people from the future that has come from the future to prevent disastrous events.