Netflix’s Altered Carbon, based on the classic science fiction novels by Richard K. Morgan, has a clever little mechanic baked into the storytelling. Basically, technology has progressed to the point that human beings’ consciousnesses can be downloaded to back-up servers so that they can then be uploaded into new bodies, if you can afford it. That means that, should your current body die from old age, disease, trauma, or cleverly arranged assassination plots, you can just slip into a new sleeve, easy peasy. As much flexibility as this plot point adds to the narrative, it also frees up the creative team when it comes to casting their leads. That’s why Joel Kinnaman is out as series protagonist Takeshi Kovacs, and Anthony Mackie is in.
That’s a big change, but much like the long-running Doctor Who series, it’s less about the look of the “sleeve” and more about the persona of Kovacs himself. Netflix has ordered eight additional episodes of Altered Carbon from Skydance Television, but there’s no news as to just when the new season will air. Everything else behind the scenes appears to be staying more or less the same: Laeta Kalogridis will return as co-showrunner and executive producer, with Alison Schapker joining the series as co-showrunner and will also serve as an executive producer. David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross will executive produce for Skydance, while James Middleton (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), will serve as an executive producer.
In the world of Altered Carbon, the journey of Takeshi Kovacs spans hundreds of years, many different bodies, and planets. This allows the story to explore themes of identity, mortality, and the human soul. In this new season, Mackie will play the new embodiment of Kovacs, as the series continues to expand on these deeper themes and ideas across longer periods of times and different worlds throughout the universe. Time will tell if Mackie will play Kovacs in future installments, if any are ordered, or if Altered Carbon will live on as a sort of anthology series as far as the lead player is concerned.