The finale of Altered Carbon season two ended with dramatic showdowns in virtual and the ‘real’. The body count of the season’s key players was high, but was this just sleeve damage or are their stacks gone for good?
We take a look at how things ended, who we can expect to see return for season 3 and the big questions we need answers to.
Will there be an Altered Carbon season 3?
While a third season has not been officially confirmed, there’s certainly plenty of scope for another instalment, with several unanswered questions hanging in the air at the end of season 2 and Poe’s DHF bombshell (see below) rounding off the season.
Altered Carbon is based on a trilogy of novels by Richard Morgan and, while elements of each of his three stories have been used in the two seasons so far, it’s possible that the showrunners would like to maintain the three act structure of the novels in the screen adaptation of Takeshi Kovacs’s story.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Alison Schapker hinted to further seasons charting Kovacs’ journey across different planets. “When I came on board, [creator] Laeta Kalogridis was already mapping out season two,” she shares. “The idea was that this was going to be an anthology series but one that also had extensive continuity and rewarded viewers on a season-by-season basis as far as Takeshi Kovacs’ journey.”
Mackie also expressed his interest in reprising the role of Kovacs in a potential third season, despite the ending suggesting the character’s stack would find a new sleeve.
Speaking to THR, Mackie said: “I hope I get the opportunity to bring Kovacs back again next season. I’m definitely not ready [to leave the series]. Working on Altered Carbon was one of my best work experiences ever. I never had a bad day at work the entire time. It was so nice and open.
“Six months is a long time to shoot a show, but they really took care of me in a way I’ve never experienced before in this business. Playing Kovacs was more so about the family and the situation we developed as a cast and crew than it was just learning how to say my lines.”
Though it’s unlikely Kovaks would wear Mackie as a sleeve again, the actor could still appear in a different role, as the sleeve he portrayed was a cutting-edge military model that could, in theory, be used by another character.
It’s all up in the air at the moment, however, as Schapker stated in the same interview: “I have wishes, but we’re waiting on official word from Netflix. We don’t have a pickup. We’re season to season. I’m dying for a season three. I have a ton of idea for directions, but I don’t know how much I can speak to that. But we’re ready to go!”
When is Altered Carbon season 3 coming out?
The second season arrived on Netflix almost exactly two years after Altered Carbon debuted on the platform.
With that in mind, it’s possible that a third season might not land till February 2022, providing the streaming service is prompt in ordering more episodes.
Altered Carbon season 2 ending explained: What went down in the final fight?
Season two’s final episode culminated in a fight between the vengeful elder (who was sharing the stack of Colonel Carrera), Danica Harlan, Quellcrist Falconer, our protagonist Takeshi Kovacs and, well, Kovacs again, only the former version of him as his old DHF had been copied by Carrera and illegally put in a clone of his original birth sleeve.
Danica Harlan (Lela Loren) was the first to fall. Having unveiled the true fate of her father Konrad, whose stack she destroyed and kept perversely close to her throughout her reign on Harlan’s World, the elder within the body of Colonel Carrera (Torben Liebrecht) does its party trick: manipulating the alloys in her stack to destroy it completely. It’s safe to say she won’t be spinning back up again.
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In a surprisingly touching moment, Carrera (or Jaeger, as he was once known to Kovacs) manages to force himself to the surface past the wrath of the elder to speak to his former student. “You were supposed to be my legacy”, he tells Kovacs (Anthony Mackie). “I am”, Kovacs insists, as he uses Carrera’s finger to pull the trigger of the gun pointed directly at his stack. Another real death is dealt – but now the elder must move into the next available stack.
Kovacs is taken over by the elder, who will not rest until all of Harlan’s World pays for the genocide of its kind committed by Konrad Harlan on discovering the planet. Knowing that there’s no way to stop the elder, Kovacs accesses its unique ability: he taps into the orbitals above and rains down Angel Fire on himself, destroying the elder and himself in the process. With his body and his stack reduced to ash, a distraught Quell (Renée Elise Goldsberry) sobs as the early copy of Kovacs and Trepp (Simone Missick), who was using her coils to try and tap into the orbitals, take in the damage.
Altered Carbon season 2 (Will Yun Lee)Diyah Pera/Netflix
We were never sure if the earlier copy of Kovacs (Will Yun Lee) was on the side of good throughout the season, but he shows his colours in the show’s final moments, protecting Quell in the fight and ultimately deciding to work for the Protectorate, all the while feeding Quell intel to fuel the uprising on the next planet she’s headed to.
Poe (Chris Conner), meanwhile, oversaw some of the final feud but was called away to finally undergo the reboot he has been dreading all season. When he returns in the season’s final scene to find Dig 301 (Dina Shihabi) eagerly waiting for him, it seems like the worst has happened. He doesn’t recognise her and doesn’t seem to remember his friends or even know with his own AI hotel.
As glimmers of his former memories reveal themselves, there’s hope for Poe fans everywhere that the beloved AI will return to his former glory. That is, until he provides a decryption key that Dig discovers is storing a raw human DHF. Is he one of the humans now?
Altered Carbon season 3 cast: Who can we expect to see return?
The end of season two dealt real death to the two major players on Harlan’s World, Danica Harlan and Colonel Carrera, indicating a move away from Takeshi Kovacs’s home planet in a future season and the introduction of new characters for our protagonist to face.
In her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Schapker shared that “the goal of Altered Carbon is every season serves a new mystery and a new sleeve and a new planet”. It seems very unlikely, then, that Anthony Mackie’s Kovacs will be returning. Not that his sleeve is in a retrievable state, anyway.
With Quell needlecasting out of Harlan’s at the end of the season to continue the good fight, it’s pretty safe to say we’ll be seeing Renée Elise Goldsberry’s kick-ass revolutionary again. There’s little doubt we’ll see Chris Conner’s Poe again too, with his character about to undergo a dramatic shift with the help of his new friend Dig, now calling herself Annabelle after a famous Edgar Allan Poe poem.
Simone Missick’s Trepp is the biggest question mark of all. While her character lives on, she could easily go the way of Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda) in season one; left on her planet and replaced by a new sidekick with a new quest to complete. With Anil’s fate discovered and the storyline with her father brought to a close, it’s possible Trepp will become a fond memory.
Altered Carbon season 2 questions: What season 3 needs to answer
Two major unanswered questions are left hanging at the end of season two: what happens to the Kovacs we know, and what is going on with Poe?
Will season three pick the story up with the earlier version of Kovacs created by Carrera? Surely there must be a way to access the DHF of the most authentic and up-to-date Kovacs so we can be reunited with the protagonist we’ve rooted for up to this point. Did someone back him up?
And speaking of backing up, what’s up with the raw human DHF that Poe is storing? Has he wished for so long to be a real boy, Pinocchio-style, that his dream has finally come true? Or could it be the DHF of our Kovacs that he’s holding onto? Perhaps that final note Poe made during the fight before he was rebooted was crucial to Kovacs’ survival. Or, in a hugely unexpected turn of events, could Kovacs live on in some sort of Poe sleeve?
The first two seasons of Altered Carbon are streaming now on Netflix