This interview is spoiler-free for Altered Carbon season 2.
For those wondering if Altered Carbon season 2 will have the same flavor as the dark and violent cyberpunk adaptation that was season one, the answer is yes and no. The new showrunner for the series, Alison Schapker, previewed the season on the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast, talking about how the story will not only build on the same consciousness transferring foundation of the first run; it will also bring a new kind of energy both in Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Takeshi Kovacs, played last season by Joel Kinnaman, and in the more hopeful quest to find his long lost love, Quellcrist Falconer.
Taking over the reins from Altered Carbon creator, Laeta Kalogridis, presented a welcome challenge for Schapker in that sense. “I felt like Altered Carbon did a good job of world building in a way that you could really understand what it meant to live in a world where consciousness was digitized and could move between bodies,” says Schapker. “We specifically designed season 2 to make the technology accessible to people who were jumping in as new viewers and let the questions of identity come up through character, and the thrill of cyberpunk and embracing that kind of world where new technologies allow for totally new storytelling. That’s super fun for me as a writer.”
Viewers will still have a few familiar actors reprising their roles in Altered Carbon season 2 to provide some consistency, such as Chris Conner as the fan favorite AI character of Poe. “I just think the character of Poe is such a perfect foil to Kovacs as a hero,” Schapker says. “There was just so much more story to tell between them. And then I felt the same way about bringing Renee Elise Goldsberry back as Quellcrist Falconer and Will Yun Lee is going to be making a return — we refer to him as ‘birth Kovacs’ in season one. So I love that there’s a continuity happening, but at the same time I really enjoy the anthology side of the series and that Kovacs is in a new sleeve in season 2, and we have Anthony Mackie driving.”
There’s a certain Doctor Who aspect to Kovacs being in a new sleeve, allowing for Mackie’s performance to have a natural evolution to it. “What gives him room as an actor is the Kovacs from season one who had lost Quell, who had been wandering, was cynical,” explains Schapker. “He had been taken off ice and was solving this murder under duress of this billionaire he had disdain for. It led to kind of shut-down Kovacs at a low point… In season 2 he is going to be closer to the potential of finding [Quell] than he’s ever been before, and just that proximity and where the story goes from there, he’s actually going to have a lot more at stake than he had in season one. So the Kovacs played by Anthony Mackie has a lot of shits to give. He really does care.”
In addition to the mission to find Quell, Kovacs will again be the unwilling participant in a conspiracy among the wealthy “Meth” class, but Schapker promises that we’ll still get a feel for the life of average people in this oligarchic future. “That’s one of the great things about Altered Carbon is that there’s classes woven into it through and through,” she says. “You’re going to see main characters in season 2 represent different class levels, and certain people are going to be driven by their money issues. Certain people can afford new sleeves… and then there’s going to be a whole other working class of the populace that actually has to upgrade their own physical bodies with augments. Our bounty hunter character, Trepp, who is played by Simone Missick, has an augment in her body, and that’s a different class than the Meths that you’re used to seeing in season one.”
There’s much more to the story of Altered Carbon season 2, but fans will no doubt be excited to see what adventure is in store for Takeshi Kovacs, whatever sleeve he’s in. The full audio of this interview with showrunner Alison Schapker is available as part of our weekly Sci Fi Fidelity podcast. Be sure to subscribe so that you never miss an episode! Each week we review a currently airing show, discuss a topic of interest to genre television, or interview someone from behind the scenes of our favorite series. Find us in your podcast app of choice or simply listen below!
Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). Dave Vitagliano has been writing and podcasting about science fiction television since 2012. You can read more of his work here.