'Altered Carbon' Season 2 - TV Review

I was in a great rush to see the second season of "Altered Carbon." Hindsight is 20/20: why would I rush to watch the second season of a show when I thought the first season was one of the best SF TV shows ever? For most people, this would be obvious: of course you watch it as soon as possible. But I'm notoriously hard on sequels, and that's what this is.

Takeshi Kovacs now looks like Anthony Mackie, who can't quite bring the same world-weariness to the role that Joel Kinnaman managed. I said it in my review of the first season, I'll say it again: I was never a huge fan of Kinnaman until I saw him in this series, but he was BORN to play Kovacs. Mackie had a lot to live up to: he was good, but didn't quite manage. The second season is set on Harlan's World 30 years after the first season, bringing Kovacs back to his homeworld, and the world where he met Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry) and they took part in a failed revolution. It's not a place he wants to be.

Someone is running around killing Meths: one of the Meths who assumes (correctly) that he's on the kill list hires Kovacs to protect him. Kovacs isn't interested in money, but he's offered Quellcrist Falconer - something he can't refuse. Kovacs is carrying the AI Poe (Chris Conner) with him, but Poe has developed a hell of a glitch that's making him unreliable. Kovacs also gets tangled up with a local bounty hunter who turns out to have a personal interest in the case. As with the last season, this season has a secondary focus on building relationships in the worst of circumstances.

It's pretty good SF, but what impressed the hell out of me about the first season was the brilliant and extensive speculation about the implications of the stack-and-sleeve idea. Unfortunately, that's been mostly covered, leaving this as just a big adventure story.