Netflix’s Altered Carbon
Season 1, Episode 3: “In a Lonely Place”
Directed by Nick Hurran
Written by Brian Nelson
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Fallen Angel” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Force of Evil” – click here
This episode title comes from In a Lonely Place, one of my old favourites, directed by Nicholas Ray, starring Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart.
“But no matter how far we venture into the unknown, the worst monsters are those we bring with us.”
A young Takeshi and his sister sit together at night, reading a book and telling stories to one another about a man called Mad Mykola, a miller who created the “Patchwork Man” – a human made of other parts that came alive and, similar to Frankenstein’s monster, killed him. Then they must hide, because their mother’s abused by her husband, a big, angry Eastern European man.
Back to current day. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) gets word from Poe (Chris Conner) that his neural network was hacked – “I am the hotel, the hotel is me” – and someone got video of the affair with Miriam Bancroft (Kirstin Lehman). Perfect, right? Even more perfect: Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) is calling, inviting him to a dinner party where the other attendees are people he thinks would want him dead. Oh, man.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda) finds that Omou Prescott (Tamara Taylor) has picked up a “permit for an extreme organic damage” event, to occur at the Bancroft’s Suntouch House. Looks like there’s a duel planned. Whoever wins gets an upgraded combat sleeve. What a dinner party! Plus, Ortega’s been put on duty. She’s thrilled.
Kovacs goes back to see Vernon Elliot (Ato Essandoh), offering him a job. He believes Bancroft didn’t kill Lizzie (Hayley Law), so he needs some help – in return, they’ll solve the rich man’s murder and get Lizzie help with a single stone, and get paid in the process. Can’t hurt to have back-up. They head back to the Raven to get a room, Poe’s going to help with Lizzie through her bad state of psychological damage.
We see Ortega still poking around into the case of the woman who seemingly fell right out of the sky, even if Abboud (Waleed Zuaiter) tells her to leave it alone. Despite any other concerns she’s got to get prepared for the party, as well. Out on the street, Vernon and Takeshi are getting geared up with weaponry. They’ve got plenty of credit, considering the client for whom Kovacs works currently. And the future’s brought plenty of impressive technologies refined for killing. At the same time, Takeshi remembers the words of Quell (Renée Elise Goldsberry) and the various guerrilla tactics she taught the Envoys. Including make use of the people around you.
Back at the Raven, Vernon watches Poe in that digital space trying to help his daughter. Lizzie’s not well, her mind is fragile, almost shattered. I wonder what the AI can do, ultimately. At least the young woman is speaking again, as opposed to cowering in a non-verbal coma.
Once the evening comes, Vernon is dressed up as a waiter for the party, serving drinks, Ortega’s keeping an eye on things. Takeshi, of course, runs into Miriam, he tells her about the “spybot” in his room the night before. Afterwards, Laurens calls his hired sleeve up for a talk while the guests downstairs eat what looks to be white tiger meat. The wealthy benefactor doesn’t seem to suspect anything, yet, about his wife and the private eye sleeve.
“God is dead. We have taken his place.”
Takeshi wanders around the mansion a bit, finding Miriam having sex with another man hidden away past some secret bookcase entry. She’s perpetually cheating on her husband, just as he does behind her back. Well, it’s actually Naomi Bancroft in her “mother‘s sleeve.” He starts wondering if maybe one of the Bancroft children killed their father, though it seems unlikely.
In the midst of the party, Laurens announces to everyone that he owns the “last Envoy” – Mr. Kovacs. Yikes, that does not sit well with our resleeved man. He and Bancroft stare each other down with silent, deadly eyes across the room. Such is life when you’re bought, owned property. Then the party moves in to the arena, where a married couple are slated to fight in the extreme organic damage event. A perfectly twisted spectacle for Suntouch House. The husband beats the wife mercilessly, blood flicks over the spectators.
When Takeshi can’t take it he tries stopping the husband, so Laurens puts the sleeve detective in the ring with a promise of a full marriage upgrade if they beat him. Proves for a wild two-on-one. Things go sideways. Vernon steps in with a gun, which Ortega grabs and fires, breaking the arena’s glass and sending all three of the sleeves inside falling to the floor. The last remaining Envoy offers his winnings to upgrade the other two combatants, calling on Bancroft to honour his word.
Well, it’s clear that Laurens knows Takeshi slept with his wife. Regardless, he wants his hired flesh to focus on the investigation, to solve his murder. These two are very much at odds, even if it’s an employer-employee relationship.
At the strip club, Takeshi runs into Alice (Stephanie Cleough) the dancer again. Sadly, she’s been forced into drugging him. This leaves her dead, and now he’s been walked right into the clutches of someone unfamiliar (Michael Eklund). Who knows what they’ve got planned for him next. Could get ugly.
Next is “Force of Evil” and I can only imagine what’ll go down. The murder mystery angle is dark and exciting, as are the sci-fi dystopian aspects.