So here I want to touch on a few things from Altered Carbon Season 1 that are a little too spoiler filled to discuss in the regular review. So if you have not seen season 1 and do not want to be spoiled click here to go to my NON-SPOILER review.
First I will start with the character of Quell and her relationship with Kovacs which is seen entirely through flashbacks and visions as her character is “dead” in the time this story takes place in. I loved this character, it’s a strong female role (much like a number of the female roles in here) but what made her so intriguing is that she seems to have a very rich history and important role in the state of the world. As we see her she is the leader of the Envoys, a militant resistance organisation but we also learn that her real name is Nadia Makita and she was the one responsible for the creation of the first Stacks. I also really enjoyed seeing how her relationship with Kovacs developed over time and was the most emotionally strong element of the series. Now in the final episode it is hinted at that her Stack may still be out there and that she may not be entirely dead, that may not be the case but I do hope it is, and it would get me even more excited for a Season 2.
I need to comment on the way Mr Leung (Trieu Tran) is utilised in the show because this is one of the story elements I thought was wasted. He was set up in earlier moments hinted at being essentially the big bad or one of the guys pulling the strings but as it turns out he is literally just Reileen’s lackey. I mean he has a fucking awesome weapon but he’s essentially just a hired gun and I didn’t like that approach. Also they just drop the mystery of how he is invisible to cameras all across the planet. I mean, they do state that he is somehow actively erasing himself from all cameras in real time but to my knowledge they never state how. Whether it was his doing or Reileen’s doing we don’t find out from what I recall.
Now we get to my major issue and the reason why I don’t really like the last three episodes of the season all that much. The direction they take in those episodes with Reileen (Dichen Lachman) being revealed as the main villain who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes I am not a fan of. Her deceptions for all these years become the focus of the last few episodes when it hasn’t even been slightly hinted at in the episodes that have come before it. I really did not like the reveal and it ruined my enjoyment of these last few episodes because I just didn’t buy it. I feel like it would have been much better if she still comes back having survived the explosion in the past but isn’t bad, she teams up with her brother and takes out Mr Leung who would be revealed to be the main antagonist. A surprising twist doesn’t always mean it’s a good twist, and this reveal just complicated the plot more than it needed to be. The reveal and lengthy explanation of her overall plan was so farfetched it ruined it for me. Her plan to release her brother from prison took 250 years to orchestrate, involved impersonating a number of people, manipulating Bancroft into getting drugged and signing against the 653 law, hiring people to abduct Kovacs…… it’s all so complicated and unbelievable that anyone would have thought it would be pulled off successfully.
The narrative choices in these final episode really ended the series on a fairly low note, although the way the Elliot family’s story plays out and resolves I did really like and it gave us a very cool action sequence with Lizze (Hayley Law) that I had been waiting all season for. Its just that also in the end the large number of twists, turns, and reveals that constantly come out almost gets to a Focus (2015) level of silly….. almost. That movie suffered from revealing one twist after the next, after the next, in the final act to the point where you couldn’t take it seriously at all. This series almost gets there, first with the reveal Reileen is alive, then that she’s bad, then that Miriam Bancroft (Kristin Lehman) is the one who bashed Lizzie because she was pregnant, then that Miriam drugged Laurens. It almost becomes too much and all that coupled with the fact that the narrative focus is on Reileen and how she’s been pulling the strings made for an unsatisfying finale. But despite all that I’m still very much looking forward to what a possible season 2 would offer.
If you want to check out my score for Altered Carbon Season 1 you can do so in my non-spoiler review HERE.