Netflix’s Altered Carbon
Season 1, Episode 2: “Fallen Angel”
Directed by Nick Hurran
Written by Steve Blackman

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, “Out of the Past” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “In a Lonely Place” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 2.38.34 PMEpisode title is an homage to the Otto Preminger film, 1945’s Fallen Angel.

Peace is an illusion
On a lake, a man and his son see a woman in plastic fall from the sky into the water, they leave her there to float on, someone else’s problem.
In the Raven Hotel, Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) wakes to a literal raven, Poe (Chris Conner) at his door. He’s getting a visit from Oumou Prescott (Tamara Taylor), she works for Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy).
Lieutenant Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda) wakes up to another day of law enforcement in their futuristic, dystopian city. She trains with Abboud (Waleed Zuaiter), where he finds out she’s got an illegal “tracker” on the resleeved Kovacs; he chooses to ignore it, urging her to give up what she’s been doing.
We see how death is considered “pedestrian” nowadays. This world is, essentially, a Marxist class war over the capitalist use of technologies. The wealthy are able to prolong their lives, never actually dying. Sleeves are kept in storage, the muscles occasionally exercised to keep them fresh. People with money can “live forever.” Prescott takes Kovacs to one of these upper class facilities, where he gets to see a video of Bancroft when he was in the facility for the resleeve procedure. Laurens is there with Miriam (Kristin Lehman), too. He’s also flexing his muscle with Kovacs. The mercenary-cum-investigator makes clear, though: don’t fuck around with him, he’s only there to dig up the truth.
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 2.57.07 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-02 at 2.58.52 PMThere’s some backstory on Poe. He meets up with his buddies, the rest of the artificial intelligence. Poe says he enjoys the “study of humanity,” whereas the others aren’t so enthusiastic about human beings. Most of them prefer “serving up humans” as opposed to serving them; in many disturbing ways, surely. Yikes, even technology itself has run amok, not just the ways in which humans manipulate it. What a wild and scary world.
Lt. Ortega has to tell a woman her daughter’s body is lost, tasked by captain Tanaka (Hiro Kanagawa). This must be the woman we saw in the opening scene, dropped out of the sky during transport maybe. All the technology available, yet this woman is lost out there, and even humans, who found her, wouldn’t bother to help. A sad statement about human nature. We blame technology for being cold, when so often we are the cold ones.
Using all the tools at his disposal, Kovacs keeps on searching for more clues in the murder of Bancroft. He remembers Quell (Renée Elise Goldsberry), all she taught him back when he was actually himself; now, Quell is wanted, deemed a radical terrorist in the streets by the Protectorate. Soon, Kovacs tracks down Vernon Elliot (Ato Essandoh), whom he asks about a death threat. Vernon’s was a medic and a Marine. The two men wind up in a brutal fight, though the mercenary comes out on top in the end. We come to understand the Marine’s wife Ava (Courtney Richter) was busted as a hacker, they also have a daughter named Lizzie (Hayley Law).
Out back, Kovacs finds a VR device taking him into dark streets where he finds the daughter, crying and lying in an alleyway. But he takes the headset off, realising she’s stuck in a “trauma loop.” Vernon only keeps her there because it’s the sole way for him to see her again. Bancroft supposedly agreed to help, then the girl died. Despite that this Marine did not kill him in retaliation.
There’s also a really disturbing museum to the Envoy Massacre, the so-called terrorists, including stacks taken, destroyed, burned and on display for people to see, like school kids passing through on tours. Creepy, nationalist behaviour pushed by the Protectorate.
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 3.03.25 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-02 at 3.09.52 PMKovacs goes out to a strip club, looking for info on Lizzie now. He pretends to be Ava, double-sleeved. He makes up a story to get one of the dancing girls to tell him more about Lizzie; she used to work there. So, the woman mentions a rich regular who frequented the club. Apparently the man liked Lizzie a lot. But he’s violent. Sometimes he breaks a sleeve, though he always buys a new one for the girl.
Christ, that’s grim. Bancroft, running around like a psychopath.
When he’s done Takeshi runs into Vernon again, the guy’s got a gun with him. Then a bit of trouble starts that’s even worse, because Kovacs has to fight a big guy with a metal exoskeleton. Nothing for him, he’s a fighting machine without needing an exoskeleton. However, now he’s arrested for “organic damage” by Lt. Ortega. They talk a little through his cell and he mentions that, long ago, he worked for the Protectorate; something nobody really knew. It’s not long until he’s released, anyway.
In the morgue, Ortega opens up a chamber: it’s the woman’s body from the lake. What? But, the body was supposedly missing? Hmm, that’s interesting. Ortega’s taken her stack, as well.
At the Raven, Kovacs finds Miriam waiting for him in his suite. She’s looking to know about what he’s found out. Eventually this leads to her trying to make things physical. Of course he’s Bancroft property. Probably doesn’t have much say in the matter, unfortunately. Miriam has pheromones in her sweat and saliva, a state of the art sleeve. Good lord. Sleeve sex is weird. Not to mention Kovacs is constantly under surveillance. Uh oh.
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 3.31.41 PMInteresting follow-up. Not as good as the first; still really damn good, though.
Excited to see more with “In a Lonely Place” next. Resisting urge to binge at all times.

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Father Gore is first and foremost a passionate lover of film— especially horror. He's also a Master's student at Memorial University of Newfoundland with a concentration in postmodern critical theory, currently writing a thesis which will be his debut novel of literary fiction, titled Silence. He also used to write for Film Inquiry frequently during 2016-17 and is currently contributing to Scriptophobic in a column called Serial Killer Celluloid focusing on film adaptations about real life murderers. As of September 2018, Father Gore is an official member of the Online Film Critics Society. Get in contact (u39cjhn@mun.ca) if you want to chat movies or collaborate!

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