The Age-Old Question Reimagined: Altered Carbon Review
By: Samantha Van Zetten, B.A, RMT

Since the beginning of human history, people have always sought advancements – in technology, communication, travel, medicine, food supplies, etc. Civilization progressed as these areas of advancements continued, however they always seem to circle back to one dream sought above others. You can see it appear in myths and faerie tales across the world and throughout time – eternal life. Vampires, The Fountain of Youth, the Holy Grail – the list goes on and on of ways humanity has shown not only it's obsession with youth and life, but its fear of death and the unknown.

In the new Netflix series Altered Carbon we see this theme progress yet again – this time in a futuristic dystopian world of the incredibly rich and untouchable Meths, whose mansions are no longer in skyscrapers but the skies themselves and the devastatingly poor. The poor live in the gutters, literally and figuratively, as they have no hope of advancing out of the gutter, or rather leaving the ground to reach the incredible riches of the Meths in their sky mansions. Consciousness has been digitized, so people live in both the real world and the virtual world, and those with the money to pay for it can change bodies (or sleeves as they are called in the show) to younger, more beautiful, genetically altered bodies – their whole personalities, memories, everything that they are, downloaded into a stack and put into a new sleeve.

This show follows the character Takeshi Kovacs, an Envoy from 250 years in the past, a prisoner who was part of the rebellion against the Meths and their Protectorate army that swept the planets of their universe destroying those who opposed them mercilessly. Kovacs was put into a recycled sleeve and released from prison to investigate the murder of one of the Meths – Laurens Bancroft. Things seemed to be cut and dried on the surface- his consciousness had backed up and he was spun up again in one of his other clones, no harm no foul. But Bancroft insisted it was not a suicide and he wanted Kovacs to investigate – he really has no choice, but if he succeeds he will be richly rewarded.

As the show progresses, his gruff exterior shows glimpses of the kind and protective boy he used to be before the war as he begrudgingly takes on sidekicks but insists they are not friends. As the investigation continues into Bancroft's murder things start to get interesting – as more people begin to try to kill him he learns of his sleeve's origins; gets stalked by a cop who can't let go of the past and gets aid from an AI hotel that looks like E.A. Poe. There are many action-packed fight sequences throughout the episodes- the use of weapons was on par with a major movie production and showcased the incredible budgets that Netflix has become known for in it's original productions. The cinematography is wonderful -vividly showing the huge disparity between the worlds of the rich and poor; the past and the present; as well as the virtual and the real world.

I give this show a 4 out of 5 stars.