"After watching the first 10 hours of Netflix’s sci-fi adaptation — about a future where a person’s brain can be digitized into a portable 'stack,' and then swapped into a new body to achieve immortality — it was clear the 300-year-old Envoy played (mostly) by Joel Kinnaman can fight well, shoot even better, and have remarkably nimble sex for a three-times-over centenarian," says Ben Travers. "But following that first season, my own digitized stack can only produce images of an angry Kinnaman, a sad Kinnaman, and, the most popular version, a confused Kinnaman, who’s blank face offers only the faintest hint of curiosity. The actor known for similarly hard-edged action roles in Robocop and Suicide Squad could dutifully perform Kovacs’ functions, just like his military-trained interstellar warrior, but he cannot smile. Or so I thought, until Anthony Mackie slipped into Kovacs’ sleeve... The new lead doesn’t exactly reinvent Altered Carbon, but his uncontainable charisma — along with a tighter episode count and well-designed action pieces — open up Season 2, allowing audiences to take it only as seriously as they want."
Season 2 is yet another missed opportunity for sci-fi TV: "Netflix's Altered Carbon is cyberpunk for people who don't want too much punk in their cyber," says Noah Berlatsky. "It’s a series about body swapping which is careful to never force its audience to think too much about bodies. The high concept evokes some of the themes and ideas of science fiction's most adventurous literature, even as it underlines how relatively tame the mainstream is when it comes to exploring gender, sexuality and identity."
New showrunner Alison Schapker on Altered Carbon's plan to be an anthology series: "The goal of Altered Carbon is every season serves a new mystery and a new sleeve and a new planet," she says. "We were interested in exploring a more personal side of Kovacs in season two. The fact that Quellcrist Falconer was part of the equation meant the mystery would be more personal, and by going to Harlan's World, the planet is more personal, too. We saw it as turning inward and a deepening of our understanding of Takeshi Kovacs — who he is, and what's his history. What's his past, and how does that illuminate the present and the future?"
Anthony Mackie on "Shakespearean" Season 2: “The way their love affair plays out, (there is) torture and pain Kovacs has to go through, not only from the fact that he loses the woman he loves and travels across the universe to find her, but he finds her and she no longer loves him. So it’s a full gauntlet that he’s experienced trying to find this damn woman,” Mackie tells Variety with a laugh. “It’s Shakespearean.”