Netflix’s Altered Carbon
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Killers”
Directed by Peter Hoar
Written by Laeta Kalogridis & Nevin Densham
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Rage in Heaven” – click here
This episode title is an homage to The Killers (1946) and The Killers (1964), both partly based on a short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. I prefer the ’64 version, though both are excellent in their own ways.
Lieutenant Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda) finds her family slaughtered. Except her mother Alazne (Marlene Forte) is still hanging on, barely. She also finds Mr. Leung (Trieu Tran), ghost walking around the place. “Punishment must fit the transgression,” he tells her. They’re actually in a construct, even if the slaughtered Ortegas are real. The ghost walker is torturing the lieutenant, over and over in the virtual. A truly brutal existential torture.
Meanwhile in the Real, Takeshi (Joel Kinnaman) is surrounded by guards, Rei (Dichen Lachman) has the upper hand over him and Vernon (Ato Essandoh). These guys are in a bad position. At the same time, Rei’s only got one life left, all her backups infiltrated. She is taking back control over her life, to the extreme, for all the prior decisions her brother made, particularly the betrayal of choosing the Envoys over solely family.
At the Raven, Poe (Chris Conner) receives a visit from Mr. Leung, who’s hacked the hotel. Uh oh. Poor Poe’s rendered all but entirely useless by an “electro–destabiliser” – in fact, it’s killing them. Before he dies he tries to help Lizzie (Hayley Law). She wants to be sent up to the sky, she doesn’t want to run away anymore; she wants to fight. Poe sends her via satellite to Head in the Clouds, to hopefully wreak havoc. Sad to watch Eddie perish.
“You don‘t deserve to be called human, you despicable creature.”
At Head in the Clouds, Lizzie wakes up in a totally different sleeve to a pervert employee in the warehouse. The guy tries to have sex with her and he has no idea with whom he’s fucking. The new hero of this story is fast becoming young Ms. Elliott. From her training in the virtual she’s really gotten strong, she knows how to manipulate the construct better than some of the Envoys.
Takeshi takes Ortega out of the virtual. But things aren’t settled yet. Rei wants her brother to choose someone to die; if not, everyone dies. He refuses, putting the gun to his own stack and threatening to blow it out. Sister thinks he won’t, and she’s wrong. He pulls the trigger, though it isn’t loaded. This makes Rei angrier somehow, she wants to force her brother to kill all her friends.
Lizzie begins her one woman massacre with a disgusting, violent man. After that she works her way up to the main deck of Head in the Clouds and runs into her father and mother (Cliff Chamberlain), Ortega, as well as the guards and Mr. Leung. Thus commences a brutal fight. Goddamn does Lizzie ever know how to kick ass, she also knows how to send that city in the sky down.
Ortega rushes back to help Takeshi, going toe-to-toe with Rei. But brother and sister have unfinished business together. Leung goes for Ortega and he almost bests her except for the fact she lures him in before using that bionic arm to break his leg. She proceeds to use his own nasty little tool on him. Right at the moment Tanaka shows up with the cavalry.
Rei and Takeshi sword fight viciously. They come to a standstill, stabbing each other through the chest. “I‘m not going on ice,” sister tells her brother. She won’t be taken by the police. That’s when she reveals she backed up Quell (Renée Elise Goldsberry), that if he helps her escape then she’ll give him the love of his life back. Whoa. That’s a huge carrot to dangle. He won’t bite, though. Takeshi turns the gun on his sister and blows out her stack. However, he says he won’t leave, and urges Kristin to leave with him.
Afterwards, Head in the Clouds loses altitude and drops out of the sky.
Kovacs wakes up in virtual. He’s got to let one of his clones die, can’t be two of them kicking around. His stack was recovered in Bay City in the wreckage following the huge crash landing. Either way, now Kovacs has to decide which of himselves will go on. Essentially, they have to choose memories, because only one of them can live. They do “rock, paper, scissors” for the winner. Later, Kovacs goes to see Kristin explaining he’d been double-sleeved. He chose to keep the memories, no matter how painful from up in the moments before his sister died at his hands.
At Suntouch House, Ortega goes in broadcasting the truth about Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) in front of all sorts of guests there, the man himself watches the broadcast in his study. The cops are going to take in Bancroft, they’ve got Mary Lou’s stack and she can confirm how the rich bastard “real deathed” a woman, which in turn precipitated his suicide. Laurens eventually realises he deluded himself into believing he had a conscience. So, the cops come and he surrenders. It doesn’t stop there – Lizzie arrives to tell everyone she got pregnant, coming to Suntouch House to tell Laurens, and instead she met Miriam who beat and kicked her brutally. This all led to the wife drugging the husband on Stallion, kicking off all the madness. Yikes. The married couple both end up in cuffs.
“We have ruined each other, haven‘t we?”
Now, where does Takeshi Kovacs go? He’ll turn in the Ryker sleeve, then head off into the sun, I suppose. Or, will he turn the sleeve in? I know he’ll go looking to try and find Quell, wherever Rei backed her up. Somewhere amongst the various worlds.
Wow, I’d love a Season 2. I know people had major criticisms and honestly, there aren’t many I agree with other than some of the pacing issues. Otherwise, Altered Carbon rocked my fucking world honestly. Bring on another season, give us more of this universe, it could be expanded on hugely to explain some of the really compelling aspects. Lots of good characters to keep exploring, too. We’ll see! Fingers crossed, fans.