Monday, July 27, 2020

Altered Carbon - Phantom Lady

One of the most intriguing aspects of both the show's premise and the open-ended Season One finale, is that Altered Carbon can be reset with a new actor and new story whenever necessary (not unlike Doctor Who). 30 years after the events of last season's finale, "Phantom Lady" opens with Takeshi Kovacs living in the body of a lounge singer waiting for payment. The arrival of a bounty hunter (Simone Missick) working for Horace Axley (Michael Shanks) forces Kovacs back to Harlan's World in the body of a new sleeve (Anthony Mackie) with a new mystery to solve and a new lead to the whereabouts of Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry). The circumstances of Kovacs being reborn in Mackie's body make sense (even if it leaves questions unanswered about the sleeve he ended Season One in), and the set-up will offer a new mystery to solve, although I'm mixed on the choice to make the new mystery as personal (involving the love of his life) at the outset as last season (which involved his sister).

Mackie is an intriguing choice to replace Joel Kinnaman. A more dour character than Mackie usually plays, I'll be interested to see how this version of Kovacs works on-screen. Like in the previous season, the envoy is initially confused following his rebirth into a new high-tech combat skin. He awakes with his benefactor, the one who offered him information on his lady love to keep him alive, and his guards already dead. In terms of callbacks to the first season, Chris Conner returns as the AI Poe and Kovacs relies on an old friendship to find shelter and a familiar base of operations to continue his work. The episode ends in an intriguing, but confusing sequence, where Kovacs uses his body's memory to learn more about what occurred to his new employer only to find confusion and realization that Quellcrist Falconer may be alive after all. However, this also conflicts with sequences presented earlier when Kovacs escaped the pod making you wonder what the truth of Quellcrist Falconer's sudden reappearance really means.

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