Netflix’s Altered Carbon
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Wrong Man”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Nevin Densham
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Force of Evil” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Man with My Face” – click here
Episode title comes from the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Wrong Man, released in 1956.
We see Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) doing more investigatory work, putting the beat down on a new person of interest. He’s also taking some drugs, that’s not exactly a good sign. He believes this man “faked religious coding on a stack.” Not long and he’s interrupted by Lieutenant Kristin Ortega (Kartha Higareda) trying to talk him out of it, knowing he’s going over the edge.
This is actually the backstory of Ryker, not Takeshi – this is the skin Kovacs has been wearing. He’s not thrilled. But it’s obvious Ortega has been hiding information from him. There are people coming after Takeshi while they’re actually gunning for Ryker, and it’s obvious the former cop was somewhat compromised.
Vernon (Ato Essandoh) is arguing with Poe (Chris Conner), worrying about his daughter Lizzie (Hayler Law). He thinks the hotel’s not being honest with him. At the same time, Takeshi’s letting the whole situation he’s in get to him, being more than prickly with the other two. And when she leaves, Kristin takes Dimitri’s head. She gets rid of the flesh after ripping out the stack in an alley.
The resleeved ex-Envoy-cum-detective goes to Suntouch House wanting to talk with his boss. However, Laurens (James Purefoy) is gone ministering in the “Old City,” and it’s only Miriam (Kristin Lehman) at home; ah, convenient. She offers Takeshi double his earnings, a “new identity anywhere in the Protectorate” – if only he drops the case. She’s convinced her husband killed himself, that only punishment will come if this is revealed for certain. Who knows what the truth really is, there are so many threads to pull.
In a kind of quarantined slum – the entrance to which is guarded by armed men – Takeshi finds masses of people living in squalor. This is the Old City, where he meets Bancroft doing his preaching. The two talk about Takeshi’s current sleeve, as Laurens shakes the hands of the people, hugging them, like he’s a kind of messiah to them. We see that the rich man is infected with what the people in the Old City are infected with – a plague from a contagion bomb. It’s all some kind of sick Jesus-like act for show.
Abboud (Waleed Zuaiter) goes to see Kovacs, about the face he’s wearing. He tells the resleeved man more of the story about Ryker, the relationship with Ortega. Apparently the whole thing is tearing the lieutenant up inside. Her partner just wants Takeshi to protect her: “Hurt her and I kill you.”
Takeshi has a lead from Poe about Bancroft’s murder. Apparently the wealthy man was at Fightdrome the night of his death. This takes him and Ortega to meet a man named Carnage (Matt Frewer in a spectacular performance), an interesting character. They want Carnage to show them footage of the night in question. While there Takeshi sees a recognisable sleeve: his former DNA harvested into an illegal new clone. Jesus. Afterwards, they see footage of Bancroft kicking the shit out of his own son Isaac (Antonio Marziale) at Fightdrome.
“People love the classics”
Ortega and Takeshi go searching for more answers. They break into Isaac’s place. They find a “portable 3D bio–organic printer.” Quite the illegal, expensive piece of equipment. There are clones being grown, too. One of Laurens is sprouting. The kid is, basically, replacing his father to try combating the fleshy prison which Laures has put his children in, not allowing them to grow old, and never dying himself. Lord, what a horrible web of futuristic, technological madness.
We get more Ryker backstory, about a murder being pinned on him, the killing of an important man. This put Ryker at odds with everybody, believing there was a conspiracy against him; he knew it. Yet everyone around him seemed willing to believe the lie, even Ortega, as well. Also, now Kristin and Takeshi have the stack belonging to the woman who fell from the sky. On top of that they discuss the “ghost walker” who’s managed to evade cameras all over, likely the man we saw earlier talking to Officer Levine about being “a believer.”
And all of it’s connected.
At the station Ortega has Dimitri in one of his other sleeves ready for interrogation. He’s been “double–sleeving,” as usual. The body hopping criminal’s not exactly forthcoming about for whom he’s been working. The lieutenant gets serious, threatening to blow his stack out. Still, no answers. Right when Captain Tanaka (Hiro Kanagawa) and Abboud show up, interrupting the whole thing. They don’t believe any of what happened, either. They don’t see what’s going on yet.
Things get worse when the ghost walker appears in the elevator in the sleeve of Officer Levine, attacking Abboud and Kristin, the latter much more brutally. A vicious fight breaks out, as Ortega – despite her bloody wounds – fights for her life. And just as the ghost walker is about to finish the lieutenant off, Abboud sacrifices himself, having his stack blown out. Moments later Takeshi finds the hideous scene in the elevator, taking Ortega out of there to get help for her wounds.
Wow, the end of this episode was incredibly intense. I expected something wild, though didn’t see that particular event coming. Bloody and scary and a great little fight sequence in a confined space.
“Man with My Face” is next, I’m sure big things are poised to go down.