‘Altered Carbon’ Season 2 Ending Explained; Plus, What’s in Store for Season 3

     March 2, 2020

Altered Carbon Season 2 came and went this weekend with a new batch of bingeable episodes. If you haven’t watched it yet but need a refresher on Season 1 before diving in, we’ve got you covered. And if you have watched it but find yourself wondering WTF exactly happened by the end of the season, we’ve got you there, too. Spoilers ahead.

Season 2 finds Anthony Mackie acting as both the Sleeve of Takeshi Kovacs and his personality, one that’s lifted in part from Joel Kinnaman‘s performance from Season 1. Will Yun Lee also returns as the OG Kovacs, also known as Stronghold Kovacs and, in this iteration, Kovacs Prime. (If you’re already lost, you should probably check out that recap / terminology primer linked above.) Season 2 sees Mackie’s Kovacs in search of Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry), a revolutionary leader and inspiration to many, who’s also the original creator of the Stacks and Sleeves technology and also happens to be Kovacs’ mentor and lover from nearly three centuries earlier. (Ain’t sci-fi great?)

Image via Netflix

In the law-abiding Protectorate, it’s illegal to Double Sleeve (or use two uploads of the same Stack in two Sleeves, or more, theoretically), but apparently no one’s checking to see if you’re Double Stacked. That’s basically what Falconer has been doing ever since she acted as a sort of host for an extraterrestrial entity known as an Elder. Unfortunately for us puny humans, this Elder has a long memory and remembers that the original Founders of it’s home planet, now known as Harlan’s World, nearly exterminated their fellow Elders in a bid to lay claim to the alien world and its technology. This results in the surviving Elder using Falconer to kill all the remaining Founders, a plan that rather complicates Kovacs’ wish to reunite with the rebel leader and rekindle their relationship. In the end, as the Elder is about to call down Angel Fire on a whole civilization of humans, Mackie’s Kovacs takes the Elder into his own Stack and, in a supreme act of self-sacrifice to save Falconer and the human race, calls the full force of the telecommunications device / super-laser down upon himself. This fries both his Sleeve (which can be replaced) and his Stack (which cannot … mostly). FIN

But wait, there’s more! At the very end of the season, the A.I. known as Poe (Chris Conner) returns after a few months decompressing (which is a rather funny anthropomorphic term when used within computer programming context). Turns out that he has some hidden data in his own program, code that might just contain a fully functional D.H.F.

Image via Netflix

So yeah, Kovacs will likely be back in one form or another in the yet-to-be-ordered Season 3. If it gets ordered. Star Mackie and showrunner Alison Schapker recently spoke with THR about the major sacrifices made at the end of Season 2, what that means for Season 3, and just who could be stepping into Kovacs’ Sleeve from here on out. Be sure to head there for the full story; highlights follow below.

Schapker teases the repercussions of the Season 2 finale’s decision to leave Kovacs Prime (Lee) in the Protectorate:

“Kovacs Prime, who has not killed his sister, still has an understanding of what this other version of himself has gone through. He was impacted by Quellcrist Falconer, and that addresses some of the big questions about are we destined to be impacted by certain people? We leave him embedded in the Protectorate. What will come of that?”

Image via Netflix

But what of the Kovacs that viewers have come to know, as played by both Kinnaman and Mackie? Well, as we described above, the Sleeves met their maker, and even Mackie’s version’s stack was fried to a crisp by the Angel Fire, but Kovacs’ D.H.F. was uploaded into the A.I. Poe. As Schapker describes it:

“It was an homage to the end of season one, in a way. At the end of season one, when you see those boots walk out of the Raven, I was thinking, ‘OK, who’s going to be Kovacs next time? I want to see the next season!’ It had me leaning into the TV. It’s a hopeful note to go out on. It’s a note of anticipation. I love that feeling. I wanted to find a way to end season two with that same feeling of, well, he’s not gone. So it leaves you with the question: Who is he going to be? It’s the conceit of the series. What sleeve are we going to find Kovacs in next?”

A great question. The conceit of Altered Carbon is its strongest attraction and asset, one that allows new actors–male or female or otherwise, of any skin color, race, nationality, etc.–to literally put on Kovacs’ skin season to season, episode to episode. Despite all that, it seems as if Mackie is interested in returning to the role:

“I hope I get the opportunity to bring Kovacs back again next season. I’m definitely not ready [to leave the series]. Working on Altered Carbon was one of my best work experiences ever. I never had a bad day at work the entire time. It was so nice and open. Six months is a long time to shoot a show, but they really took care of me in a way I’ve never experienced before in this business. Playing Kovacs was more so about the family and the situation we developed as a cast and crew than it was just learning how to say my lines.”

Image via Netflix

Season 3, which has not been officially ordered yet by the way, could obviously feature both Mackie in the lead role and other actors taking over temporarily; the writers could really have some fun with this one, and that’s a descriptor that’s not often mentioned when talking about this series. Schapker, for one, would just love to get another crack at it:

“I have wishes, but we’re waiting on official word from Netflix. We don’t have a pickup. We’re season to season. I’m dying for a season three. I have a ton of idea for directions, but I don’t know how much I can speak to that. But we’re ready to go!”

Altered Carbon fans, if you want more, be sure to make some noise on social media and put him as many viewing hours as you can so Netflix is aware of your dedication. That’s the way things work these days, for better or worse.