Altered Carbon Season 2 Ending Explained: Who Will Play Kovacs Next?

Netflix’s Altered Carbon is not always easy to follow. When you have multiple actors playing more than one character thanks to various characters taking over other characters’ bodies, people who have been alive for millennia, and a central mystery involving ancient aliens and their futuristic technology, it can be a lot to take in. If you got to the end of Altered Carbon Season 2 and feel totally lost as to where things might go next, don’t worry–we have you covered.

Warning: there are spoilers after this point! Beware if you haven’t finished Altered Carbon Season 2 yet.

At the end of Season 2, Anthony Mackie’s Takeshi Kovacs (who is different from Will Yun Lee’s Kovacs, who we’ll call Kovacs Prime) is dead, having sacrificed himself to thwart the Elder being who’d invaded Quellcrist Falconer’s stack. Kovacs allowed himself to be infected, then used the power of the Elder to rain “angel fire” down on himself, killing them both.

Of course, that’s not the end of Kovacs, since Kovacs Prime is still running around. In a hearing, he manages to skirt the punishment for having been temporarily “double sleeved” in two bodies at once, and he convinces the Protectorate that he’s still loyal to them, all while plotting with Falconer about their next moves. It seems that, no matter what their shared experiences amount to, Kovacs is drawn to Falconer under any circumstances.

In any case, that should have been the end for Mackie’s version of the character–but, of course, this is Altered Carbon, so things can’t be that simple. It’s revealed at the very end that Poe somehow made a backup of Kovacs’ DHF–the contents of his stack–and is in possession of a digital copy.

The ramifications of this for the story going forward are potentially huge. The version of Kovacs that Poe copied is the one who experienced all the events of Season 1 and Season 2. That said, he won’t necessarily be played by Mackie again in the future, since he might be re-sleeved into yet another new actor’s form, or could even simply appear in virtual space as his original body (that of Kovacs Prime, actor Will Yun Lee).

In any case, at the end of Season 2, there’s a Kovacs running around plotting with Falconer, and another one on ice in Poe’s memory banks. And Altered Carbon Season 2 showrunner Alison Schapker is confident that, should the show get renewed for a Season 3, yet another new actor will take up the mantle of Takeshi Kovacs.

“I think that I can say with confidence that, with every season, I do feel I’m drawn to a new sleeve, a new planet, a new mystery,” Schapker told GameSpot. “One of the moments I loved from Season 1 was those boots walking out of the elevator–I remember watching it and leaning forward in my seat, and being like, ‘Oh, who’s going to be the next Kovacs?’ And I wanted that feeling watching the stack at the end of Season 2. ‘Oh, wait, Poe copied that consciousness! Who could it be? Where’s that stack going to end up?’ So yes, that’s very much a dangling thread and a promise to the audience that that stack’s going to end up somewhere, and that’s part of the surprise and the fun of coming back for Season 3.”

“Now, that said, I love Will Yun Lee. I think he’s part of the soul of the show,” she continued. “We called him Kovacs Prime. He’s a chess piece on the board, and leaving him embedded in the Protectorate, that was conscious. And I also love that Quell went off, and I have loved leaving Anthony Mackie is a ghost in her mind since, for so long, she was the ghost in his. So yes, all of that, it stays. We don’t have a Season 3 yet. We really, really hope people show up when the show drops, because I think this world is so much fun, and I really think it has so much potential to keep going, so I hope we can.”

As for Falconer, actress Renée Elise Goldsberry told GameSpot that her character will focus going forward on bringing down the Protectorate. “The big enemy here is the Protectorate and their abuse of this technology, and basically, what they’ve done in the world and to many worlds with the use of this technology,” Goldsberry said. “In Season 2, we see Quell and Kovacs fighting their way back on Harlan’s World, and they’re fighting somebody else’s battle. Right? It’s not their battle. It’s a battle that’s a universal battle. It’s a wrong that has to be corrected, but it isn’t their ultimate battle. So, my hope is that what Season 3 affords us, is for Quell and Kovac Prime to go back to the real root problem, which is the technology that has allowed the Protectorate to hold the world hostage.”

Altered Carbon Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot’s parent company

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