This Altered Carbon review contains spoilers.
Altered Carbon Episode 6
With alliances shifting and convictions being tested left and right, this episode of Altered Carbon played out as though someone were shuffling a deck of cards but still laying out each hand with plenty of showmanship and flair. We are introduced to new characters, learn more about those we already know, and find that not everything is as we thought it was with those on the periphery. In some ways, the confusion made it hard to draw definitive conclusions, but the start of the second half of the season certainly started with a spectacle that’s hard to ignore.
Perhaps some of the character shifts are setup for what’s to come. For example, Elliot’s interference with Poe’s psychosurgery sessions and the subsequent exchange of threats could be foreshadowing future conflict. The reactions of the lawyer, Prescott, are also notable, although we might just be seeing the posturing of one seeking to achieve the wealth and status of the Meth class. Clearly she was unnerved by Bancroft taking out his frustrations on the clone his son had made of him, but was that all it was?
The story’s still not quite over for the Bancrofts either, despite last episode’s implication that the murder might be case nearing its close. Clearly Isaac’s motives were pure; the mysterious financier, Sergei Brevlov, was nothing more than a caring lover. But the fissure inside the family and the difference of opinion about Isaac’s station will surely crack wide open before season’s end, whether the murder is solved or not, and after all of the uncovered facts about the missing 48 hours and the Osaka deal, all we get is Laurens thanking Kovacs for the update. Kind of anticlimactic, but that’s because it’s not over.
Meanwhile, the most exciting development of the episode is Ortega’s quick recovery thanks to state-of-the art cybernetic enhancements. The emotions arising in Kovacs are endearing to watch, whether it’s the dejection when Ortega groggily calls him Elias or the bashfulness when he answers her sarcastic question about whether or not he added any other enhancements while she was under: “No, everything else is great.” But by far the best line was as they lay on the ground post-battle at the Fight Drome and Ortega smilingly says, “I really like my new arm.” Classic!
They’re almost superheroes now, aren’t they? The monster battle was totally epic, and topping it off with the appearance of Dimitri Kadmin in Takeshi Kovacs’ cloned sleeve was perfect. Dimi had a good run after escaping the precinct (apparently with Chief Tanaka’s help — quite a shocker), evading the ghostwalker, and being rescued via emergency extraction by the elaborately-coiffed Carnage, but his stack death seemed fitting.
But what connection do Kadmin and Carnage have, and who is this Hemmingway that hired both Dimi’s “brother” and Leung, the so-called ghostwalker? Kovacs met him in the VR cafe, so he clearly was the one paying Tanaka for police information — what gives? He and the chief are responsible for the RD (“real death”) of officers Levine and Abboud, yet he doesn’t want Takeshi (yes, he uses his first name) dead — why? Something tells me we’re about to find out very soon, but the enticing questions have certainly opened up a new chapter in the series either way.
As mentioned, Ortega’s robot arm was the star of the magnificent cage fight sequence, but the surprise entrance of the sword-wielding ninja was quite spectacular as well. There are so many questions about the rescue of Kovacs by his sister, Rei, not the least of which is how is she still alive and in her same sleeve after 250 years? Those who have seen the next episode already know the answers are coming, but this episode was full of set-up surprises like this one.
Kudos to Altered Carbon for keeping up the pace for what amounts to a ten-hour movie. Aside from the slight hiccup in episode four, the action, suspense, mystery, and character developments have been non-stop. With the finale still a few installments away, it’s easy to wonder how they’ll keep It going or how it will end, but with all of the emotional shifts and new power dynamics introduced in “Man with My Face,” the momentum is carrying the audience along for a crazy but enjoyable ride.