Altered Carbon season 2, episode 1 recap – “Phantom Lady”

February 27, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
Netflix, TV Recaps


Altered Carbon Season 2, Episode 1, “Phantom Lady” provides a storming start to the new story as Kovacs is desperate to understand where Quellcrist is.

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Altered Carbon Season 2, Episode 1, “Phantom Lady” provides a storming start to the new story as Kovacs is desperate to understand where Quellcrist is.

This recap of Netflix Series Altered Carbon Season 2, Episode 1 “Phantom Lady” contains significant spoilers.

Season 2, Episode 1 is an explosive start to the new story of Altered Carbon. It opens up with Takeshi Kovacs claiming that this is a ghost story, that technology has conquered death. It’s good to know that he still talks in as many riddles as he did in Season 1. In a bar, Poe asks a woman what brings her to Maghda Prime. She states she is looking for Kovacs and Poe meekly replies that he is looking for Quellcrist Falconer. The woman tries bribing Poe with untraceable credits but Poe conveniently malfunctions.

At this moment, we are introduced to our first fight scene; a man walks in and asks for Kovacs and claims he has his money. Many men in the room claim to be Kovacs and a fight breaks out. It turns out Kovacs is the female singer on the stage. He is desperate to get off this planet.

“Phantom Lady” sees the woman tell Kovacs that Horace Axley wants to talk to him and work for the Meths. Kovacs is disgusted at the thought, claiming he would never work with the Meths. Shockingly, the woman shoots Kovacs and takes his stack.

All this is to introduce the audience to Kovac’s new suit; Kovacs and Axley speak in a construct. Axley shows Kovacs his new sleeve, which introduces us to the actor playing Kovacs in Season 2 — Anthony Mackie. The sleeve was for military use only and with upgrades.

We have a cooler suit, which can only be a good thing. Axley wants Kovacs’ protection and in return, he will give him Quellcrist Falconer. Kovacs is hesitant to believe Axley but has no choice but to go ahead with the deal.

But it doesn’t go to plan (of course). When Kovacs wakes up in his new sleeve, Axley and his men have been killed. Poe confirms they are on Harlan’s world — home, though it’s been 30 years since they have lived here. Kovacs looks strained, as he swore never to return. An annoyed Kovacs wants to find out who killed Axley.

Episode 1, “Phantom Lady” then gives us a taste of what the planet is all about now; Konrad Harlan has abdicated the throne. Danica has taken up the mantle and she has run for leadership unopposed. It is announced that Danica has begun peace talks with the Quellist leader Joshua Kemp and initiated a cease-fire. Danica’s concern is that she believes Colonel Carrera has every reason to stay despite the cease-fire.

Episode 1, “Phantom Lady” is a continuation, but quite clearly a fresh story.

As we near the end, Kovacs enters a safe house and claims to be Tanaseda Hideki. Unfortunately, he was talking to Hideki’s grandson and a fight ensues. The real Tanaseda Hideki turns up and realises his grandson and his men were fighting Kovacs. Kovacs asks for a favour — he wants a place to stay, off the grid. Hideki repays Kovac for his loyalty.

This scene is paramount to the essence of the story — characters can have years apart, but loyalty remains a currency.

Altered Carbon Season 2, Episode 1 “Phantom Lady” ends with Kovacs telling the audience how desperate he is to hold on to the past with his ghosts. Kovacs tells himself that he cannot do this anymore; chasing stars to find Quellcrist Falconer — she’s become a figment of his imagination and she tells him that his sleeve, his flesh, is built with memories. Kovacs stabs himself so he can remember the raw memories and he sees Quellcrist — she was the attacker at the time Axley was murdered.

What an outstanding opener.

Altered Encryptions

  • Horace Axley claims he left a dying earth before stacks even existed.
  • Kovacs experiences sickness when he first enters his new sleeve.
  • Hideki wonders if the spirit degrades with each new sleeve.
  • The safehouse turns back into Poe’s old hotel The Nevermore.

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