‘Altered Carbon’ Shows a World Without Permanent Death

The brand-new Netflix original series “Altered Carbon” is based on the 2002 novel by the same name, and it is set in a future in which technology has advanced so that death is no longer permanent. A person’s body is called a sleeve, which is replaceable, and a person’s entire conscience is transferred onto a cortical disk, implanted in the back of a person’s neck at the age of one. The series follows Takeshi Kovacs, a former United Nations soldier and the last of the Envoys, who is “spun back up” after 250 years. Envoys were an elite group of soldiers that could drop into any sleeve on any planet and be ready for combat within minutes, making them extremely deadly. Before he died, Kovacs was convicted of treason; his sleeve was destroyed, but his disk was put on ice to store for later. An elite member of society named Laurens Bancroft then leases Kovac’s stack and has it placed into a sleeve with serious military training. He offers Kovacs a full pardon, a fortune and an upgraded stack. Kovacs distrusts this generosity and asks why Bancroft brought him back. He learns that Bancroft wants him to solve a murder, and the victim is Bancroft himself. As stated earlier, death is no longer permanent unless someone destroys your stack. This can happen by blunt force trauma to the head or neck region or by someone shooting your stack directly. Luckily, Bancroft is rich enough to back up his stack from a satellite, so even though he was shot directly in the stack, he was able to be placed into another sleeve. However, he now wants justice. The season follows Kovacs as he searches for Bancroft’s killer while also solving smaller crimes of his own. He meets several people that help him along the way, including Kristin Ortega, a police officer looking to investigate Bancroft, Vernon Elliot, a former soldier that proves to be a helpful sidekick, and Poe, an AI hotel proprietor whose sole goal is to serve his guests’ needs, even to the death.

Like many Netflix original shows, “Altered Carbon” consists of 10 one-hour episodes that are short, quick and action-packed. Imagine a futuristic, colorful world, much like that of “Blade Runner,” in which the rich run the world and most of the world models Japan. The show includes many flashbacks to when Kovacs was a part of the Envoys and also was in a different sleeve; until you watch enough episodes, this can be confusing. Overall, this is a very entertaining action and mystery thriller series that is worth a binge watch. I rate “Altered Carbon” with a 7.5 out of 10.