Netflix’s Altered Carbon has arguably been its most ambitious and binge-worthy show to date.
One thing no one can say about Altered Carbon is that its story is predictable. The sci-fi noir ramps up the action in its season’s penultimate and final episodes. The show has more twists and turns, revelations, and betrayals than anyone could expect in a show’s first season. And yet, it at is tied up nicely by end of the final episode. So much so, that even if Netflix decided not to renew the series for another season, viewers can rest knowing Kovacs journey has come to a satisfying conclusion.
Episode 9 Recap: Rage In Heaven
This episode sets up the stakes for the final encounter between Reileen (Kovacs’ crazed sister) and Kovacs himself. When Reileen sleeves herself into a cloned sleeve of Ortega and reveals she has the Ortega hidden away, Kovacs demands to know where Ortega is. Rei insists that she wants Kovacs all to herself. To make Kovacs back off, she informs Kovacs she has sent Mr. Leung to kill all of Ortega’s known family. Men, women, children, it does not matter to Leung. He cuts a wide bloody swath through the Ortega family. No one is left alive. This was an act of retribution for Ortega destroying all Rei’s clones.
Kovacs rushes to Ortega’s mother in vain. He is shocked to see the bloody savagery, Mr. Leung, carried out against the Ortega family. Later, a dejected Kovacs meets with Rei at a bar. Rei tells Kovacs everything she has done has been for him. Kovacs rejects her and says he is leaving, he’s had enough of Bay City and wants to leave as soon possible. When Kovacs leaves, Rei calls Mr. Leung and orders him to follow Kovacs.
As Kovacs shuffles his way through a street of people, he is met by a Miriam Bancroft in a flying car. Kovacs appears to take her up on her orgy island getaway. However, Kovacs is revealed to be at the Raven hotel as well as he views himself enter the car via a monitor with Vernon and Ava. The story flashes back 18 hours early. Kovacs is seen entering the Raven and orders everyone to leave. Kovacs discloses to Vernon, Ava, and Mickey that he is going after his crazed sister and he can’t worry about looking out for them.
Back at Rei’s apartment, she has Ortega chained up to a virtual reality unit. Rei tells Ortega that Mr. Leung will torture her beyond belief in virtual. At the Raven, a tunnel-visioned Kovacs is quickly formulating a plan when Vernon breaks down the locked down. Flanked by Ava and Mickey, Vernon exclaims they refuse to run. They tell Kovacs they need him just as much as he needs them. The conspire to clone Kovacs’ DHF, and then infiltrate Rei’s compound Head In The Clouds. An extravagant brothel dealing in seedy operations high above the clouds of Bay City. Vernon goes undercover as a high ranking general where he is met by the head in the clouds host and two bodyguards.
Vernon is led to a room with a young, novice prostitute whose innocence reminds him of Lizzie. He drugs the girl and vows she will never have to worry about this place again. Vernon sneaks out of the room and reaches a control room trying to switch off the heat sensors so Kovacs can infiltrate the complex. While Kovacs waits in the trunk of the car Vernon arrived in, Vernon desperately tries to shut off the complex’s heat sensors. However, when Kovacs accidentally sets off the car alarm, he has to use a blade with reaper poison on it to lower his heat signature and kills two guards. Kovacs stumbles into the complex woozy and disoriented.
When Vernon tries to sneak out, he is stalked by the host and his bodyguards pleading with him to stay. Vernon kills all three and follows Kovacs into Rei’s apartment where they toss a transmitter at the floor next to her just before Rei does a routine backup of her stack. Rei is frozen in shock as Kovacs strolls up to her table where she has the cure for reaper and injects himself with it. Kovacs explains to Rei that Ava spiked her back up with the Rawling virus and that her current sleeve/stack is the only life she has left. Kovacs demands a full confession to all she has done. Rei confesses to blackmailing Bancroft and framing Ryker.
She reasons she did this to have Bancroft stop the 653 Resolution which would grant murder victims to be “spun up” so they can testify against their murderers. Bancroft through his own arrogance couldn’t believe he killed himself so Rei pulled the strings to get him to hire Kovacs, an envoy. She said she built a future for herself and Kovacs. Leung busts in incapacitating Vernon as a swarm of guards circle around Kovacs.
Episode 10 Recap: The Killers
Ortega is struggling to carry an assortment of groceries up a flight of stairs. She opens her apartment only to discover her family slaughtered. Out of reaction, she reaches for her gun but it’s not there. Mr. Leung is in the apartment taunting her. He makes her relive the moment of seeing her family dead for the first repeatedly in virtual. In Rei’s apartment, Rei has Vernon and Kovacs cornered. Rei sees Vernon wasn’t bluffing about Rawling virus Ava infected her back up with. Kovacs pleads with Rei that Vernon was just doing what he asked. Rei tells Leung to trace the signal back to that hotel and wipe out the A.I. She demands the others to be brought to her compound.
Rei is frustratedly done with Kovacs. Leung and his men invade the Raven and he renders Poe’s inoperable. Leung activates an electronic destabilizer that begins to disintegrate Poe. Poe visits Lizzie and tells her she must go, they are killing him in the real world and he can’t protect her anymore. Lizzie asks Poe to send her feed up into the clouds. She’d rather face her problems than fun from them. Mickey tries to fight one of Leung’s henchmen off but is shot through his stack killing him instantly. As Poe dies he sends Lizzie’s feed into the clouds. Leung picks up Lizzie stack and tells Ava its empty, whoever was in there she won’t be seeing them again.
Back in the Up In The Clouds compound, a disoriented nude girl (sleeve) is in storage discovered by a guard who wants to get handsy with her, until it transforms into Lizzie who kills him. Back at the Raven, Prescott busts into Captain Tanaka’s crime scene. She tells him she has nothing left to lose and just wants to help right her wrongs. She knows who has Ortega and wants to help rescue her.
Kovacs pulls Ortega out of virtual. She sees Leung and lunges at him but Rei dispatches her easily. Rei has Kovacs friends lined up and orders Kovacs to choose who gets their stack blown out. Rei explains to Kovacs real power is cutting away pieces that make you weak. Kovacs puts the gun at his own stack. Kovacs pulls the trigger but it’s empty. Rei pulls a gun on Ortega but Kovacs says he will stay if she lets them go. Rei suggests it’s a start. She signals to the guard to escort Ava, Vernon, and Ortega out of the room.
Elsewhere in the complex, Lizzie, now dressed in leather head to toe (very Trinity from the Matrix of her) comes upon a degenerate who just got through rapping and killing a female and male sleeve. She pulls the knife out of the neck of the violated sleeve and she brutally murders the degenerate. Rei has Kovacs pinned down by her guards as she intends to take out a camera from his eye and dispose of his sleeve once and for all. Lizzie saves Ava, Vernon, and Ortega by systematically killing the guards. Ortega makes a B-line for Rei.
Kovacs frees himself and fights off Rei’s guards, Ortega busts into the room and brawls with Rei. Lizzie discloses to Ava and Vernon she plans to bring the ship down and destroy it. As all three members of the Elliot family destabilize the compound, the emergency lockdown sequence begins. Blast doors slam down and separate Ortega and Kovacs. Leung and Ortega on one side with Kovacs and his sister on the other.
The four battle each other simultaneously. Kovacs and Rei engage each other in some thrilling swordplay until they both stab each other and fall to the floor. Captain Tanaka and his police force arrive, thanks to Prescott’s tip, and evacuate the ship. Ortega gets her retribution on Leung as Tanaka arrives on the scene. Leung asks what Tanaka is doing as Tanaka allows Ortega to kill him. Ortega rushes back to Rei’s apartment pounding on the blast shield to get to Kovacs.
Rei desperately tries to bargain with Kovacs. She offers if he helps her escape she’ll give him back Quell. Rei backed her up without Quell knowing before Rei betrayed her at Stronghold. Rei tells Kovacs her DHF is hidden and he won’t find it without her. Kovacs exclaims Rei has become everything they fought against while growing up. he then forcefully nabs her gun out of her hand and aims it at her stack. Kovacs shoots her after Rei promises she will never stop coming after him. Ortega futile pleads with Kovacs to open the blast door go unanswered. He says he is staying with Rei and orders Ortega to go. The compound rapidly loses altitude as it falls towards the Bay. Ortega watches on as the compound plunges into the bay and explodes.
Later Kovacs is in a virtual interrogation room. An officer informs Kovacs his stack was recovered in the bay but his sleeve was killed. Despite exposing Rei and all her wrongdoings one of Kovacs had illegally cloned his DHF and one of them had to be terminated. Back at Ortega’s household, Ortega says a prayer for her slain family members. Ortega pays a visit to the Bancroft household to play Rei’s confession. It is revealed Laurens illegal involvement in defeating resolution 653. Now victims will be able to testify against their killers. Miriam tells Laurens whatever he’s done she’ll stand by him. Kovacs enter the room and confronts them. Miriam demands him to get out.
Kovacs nonchalantly tells Laurens Prescott didn’t kill him. He was alone. Kovacs informs him his victim will testify against him and bring him down. The police with Captain Tanaka to take him away. Lauren’s tells his son Issacs he leaves everything to him. Lauren’s turns himself in peacefully. Until Lizzie arrives with Vernon and Ava. Lizzie discloses Laurens got her pregnant. Lizzie came to tell Laurens but he wasn’t home. Miriam was however and she kicked her and kept kicking her until Lizzie lost her baby. Miriam had Prescott dispose of Lizzie to the disgust of Laurens. Rei had Miriam drug her husband. Both Bancroft are arrested and taken into custody.
Later Kovacs helps the Elliott family rebuild their lives. Ava gets her female sleeve back. 653 passed and the dead could now face their murderers. Kovacs clears Ryker name and goes to turn Ryker sleeve in. He tells Ortega he plans to try and find Quell. As stated earlier, Altered Carbon had a very satisfying conclusion. If this is a one and done season, all the plot threads were properly wrapped up with no loose strings or cliffhangers per se. A fantastic sci-fi series deserving of a weekend binge.
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