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How to watch Altered Carbon seasons 1-2 - your guide to the series

Everything you need to know about the Netflix sci-fi series starring Joel Kinnaman and Anthony Mackie.

Altered Carbon
Published: Thursday, 27th February 2020 at 12:03 am

While Altered Carbon fans desperately wait for news about a third season of the sci-fi show, it might be a good time to get up to scratch with what's already happened.


The 10-part first series was based on Richard K Morgan's novel by the same name. It followed former rebel soldier Kovacs, who is put into a new body in order to help the wealthy Laurens Bancroft solve his own murder.

This was followed by a second season - this time of eight episodes, and with Anthony Mackie taking over the lead role of Kovacs from Joel Kinnamon.

Here's all you need to know about the show, including where to watch it and what happens...

Where to watch Altered Carbon

Season one and two are currently streaming on Netflix - while there are also unconfirmed rumours that it could be renewed for a further three seasons.

What is Altered Carbon about?

For the uninitiated, the stylish sci-fi, based on the 2002 novel by Richard K Morgan, is set three centuries in the future, when a human's memories and sense of self has been digitised in the form of a "cortical stack" – which can be transferred to different bodies, known as "sleeves".

Life in this brave new world is explored via Takeshi Kovacs, the last remaining Envoy soldier (a rebel group destroyed 250 years prior). Takeshi is given a second chance at life by a rich man who wants to solve his own murder. How is that possible? Well, even though both men are physically dead, their cortical stacks live on and continue to think digitally - and do all the other things people do when they're alive of course, like scheme and plot government takeovers.

Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon

In the second season, the action jumped forward 30 years - Kovacs is now in a new sleeve but he is continuing his search for his lost love and Envoy leader Quellcrist Falcone, after he is approached about the job by a Meth.

The season ended in a dramatic fight between the vengeful elder (who was sharing the stack of Colonel Carrera), Danica Harlan, Quellcrist Falconer, our protagonist Takeshi Kovacs and, another older version of Kovacs.

Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon

During the fight, Harlan is killed and in a bid to destroy the elder Kovacs is forced to sacrifice himself by tapping into the orbitals above and raining down Angel Fire on himself.

Meanwhile the younger version of Kovacs protects Quell in the fight and ultimately decides to work for the Protectorate, all the while feeding Quell intel to fuel the uprising on the next planet she’s headed to.

Also at the end of the season, Poe returns after a reboot - one which he has been dreading all season - but he seems to have had his memory wiped and is unable to recognise any of his friends...

Where is Altered Carbon set?

The series is set in the year 2384 in Bay City, a metropolitan vision of the future in which the human memory, consciousness, soul – whatever you want to call it – can now exist in digital form as a cortical stack. Creepy, right? Or maybe it's comforting to think our minds could last forever - you chose!

Where is Altered Carbon filmed?

The series is filmed in Vancouver - it took over eight months to film the series there, and parts of the futuristic metropolis Bay City were actually built there.

Other current-century buildings were also used though - like the TELUS Studio Theatre at UBC Chan Centre For The Performing Arts which was the battle arena inside Bancroft's palace.

Who stars in Altered Carbon?

Joel Kinnaman initially played Takeshi Kovacs in the first series of Altered Carbon, but Kovacs changed sleeves in the second season, with Marvel star Anthony Mackie stepping into the role.

And it's likely that should a third season be commissioned, as many expect to be the case, the character will be played by yet another actor - although it's not yet clear who might take on the lead role.

Anthony Mackie
Rich Polk / Getty Images

Netflix also introduced many new additions to the cast for the second season.

Simone Missick, who played Detective Misty Knight in the Marvel Universe, joined as expert bounty hunter Trepp, who can track down anyone if offered the right price, while Dina Shihabi, who previously starred in Marvel’s Daredevil, played an out-of-work AI called Dig 301, programmed to assist archeologists and instilled with a new sense of purpose.

Veteran actor James Saito starred as a Yakuza boss who controls a planet’s organised crime ring and has a shared history with Kovacs and Lela Loren (Power) plays Danica Harlan, the charming and ambitious governor of planet Harlan’s World who has the support of the people, but keeps an uneasy grip on the political players who surround her.

German actor Torben Liebrecht joined as the second series’ antagonist, playing Colonel Carrera – the leader of Protectorate Special Forces unit known as The Wedge – who is on the hunt for Kovacs.

Altered Carbon season 2

Two fan-favourites also returned for the second series after starring in the first, with Renee Elise Goldsberry and Chris Conner back as Quellcrist Falconer and Poe – despite the latter having initially been killed off in the first season.

Altered Carbon trailer

You can watch a trailer for the first season below...

And here's one for season 2...


Check out our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide


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