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Altered Carbon Season 3 - What We Know So Far

Contains spoilers for Altered Carbon seasons 1 and 2

Based on the novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan, Netflix's ambitious cyberpunk series Altered Carbon took years to see the story on a screen. But with its big enormous locked and loaded, allowing the series' team to go all out with sci-fi madness, Altered Carbon finally materialized on Netflix with a 10-episode first season in February 2018. Viewers quickly learned that the show, set in an alternate reality in which humans have found a way to digitize their consciousness, was well worth the wait, and the streaming service just as swiftly renewed Altered Carbon for a second season only a few months after the first debuted. Altered Carbon season 2 hit Netflix in February 2020, and since then, fans have wondered about the prospects of an Altered Carbon season 3. 

Unfortunately, a third season of Altered Carbon has yet to be confirmed. That said, after the season 2 finale, there are plenty of questions left that could be answered in a third chapter of the Altered Carbon universe, in which dead things don't actually stay dead. First and foremost, some of the show's biggest characters weren't shown much mercy on the final episode of season 2 (similar to the way HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones had a way of killing off prominent players with little remorse), so who will star on a potential season 3? Better yet, are the main characters' stacks really gone, or will they, in typical television fashion, come back if there was only sleeve damage?

So many questions will remain untouched yet heavily debated upon until a new batch of episodes is released on Netflix. Here's everything we know so far about what a possible Altered Carbon season 3 could look and feel like.

What's the release date for Altered Carbon season 3?

Given that Netflix hasn't officially announced Altered Carbon season 3, a release date also has yet to be determined. However, a few pieces of information are available to create a makeshift puzzle.

The first season of Altered Carbon premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018. The second season graced screens with its presence on February 27, 2020. An anime spin-off, entitled Altered Carbon: Resleeved, was released on March 19, 2020. It's difficult to speculate how Netflix feels about the cost-to-benefit ratio of any of its properties, and the streamer keeps notoriously mum about its viewership numbers, so the only data points available to inform guesses about a release date relate to the series' high cost of production. Netflix has been swinging the cancellation ax a bit more liberally lately, meaning Altered Carbon will have to have garnered substantial viewership numbers for season 2 to merit another renewal. That said, with the release of the anime spin-off, the company does seem committed to the underlying IP, so maybe the odds will be in Altered Carbon's father. 

Either way, fans shouldn't take Netflix's silence as particularly ominous. The company didn't order season 2 until five months after season 1 first aired, so viewers shuold wait until July before they start writing any obituaries.

Assuming Altered Carbon is renewed, it's safe to say that season 3 won't arrive on Netflix until early 2022. The prospect of potentially having to wait two years from the time of this writing for a season that you'll probably binge-watch in a weekend or less certainly isn't appealing, but Altered Carbon season 3 should be well worth the wait. In the meantime, you can rewatch the second chapter, go back to the first, or dive into the spin-off universe.

Who's in the Altered Carbon season 3 cast?

It's too early to tell who might be cast in Altered Carbon season 3 given that an announcement has yet to happen and because casting choices have yet to be offered or even hinted at by the show creators. However, it's implied within the series that the humanoid AI Edgar Poe (played by Chris Conner) backed up a copy of O.G. Kovacs (Byron Mann) before his stack was destroyed. During an interview with IGN, showrunner Alison Schapker confirmed this to be the case.

"We all loved the end of season 1, where Kovacs gives the sleeve of [Elias] Ryker back to Ortega and then all you see are these boots walking out of the elevator, and you're like, 'I think Kovacs is coming back, but in what sleeve?'" Schapker said. "And we wanted to make that promise to the audience in season 2. And we also just loved the idea of Poe, who's been fighting deterioration the whole season, to then have his own moment of nobility where he basically sacrifices himself but manages to copy Kovacs at the same moment. So that's our promise to the audience, there is his stack, there is Takeshi Kovacs' consciousness. But in what sleeve... we'll have to see."

Everyone wants to see Anthony Mackie, who played Kovacs on season 2, return for Altered Carbon season 3. Sadly, if the writers follow the same pattern of re-sleeving each season, it's unlikely that Mackie will be back, since he replaced Joel Kinnaman after the first season. There could, however, be flashbacks in which Mackie will appear. Plus, the actor told The Hollywood Reporter he's not ready to hang up his Altered Carbon shoes: "I hope I get the opportunity to bring Kovacs back again next season. I'm definitely not ready [to leave the series]."

Will Yun Lee should return as the other Takeshi Kovacs — a.k.a. "Kovacs Prime" — for season 3, and will likely be joined by Chris Conner as Poe, Renée Elise Goldsberry as Quellcrist Falconer, Simone Missick as bounty hunter Trepp, and Dina Shihabi as Dig 301. Whether or not Dichen Lachman, who plays Kovacs' sister Reileen Kawahara, will be back remains to be seen. As with all shows, new faces should be expected on Altered Carbon season 3, including perhaps a new Takeshi Kovacs.

There's been some recent speculation from the unlit corners of the internet that Joker and Deadpool 2 actress Zazie Beetz might be tapped to play the latest Takeshi Kovacs sleeve. All the speculation seems to derive from a 2018 interview with series creator Laeta Kalogridis, in which she told The Wrap, "The idea that this kind of technology creates interesting intersections between your idea of your physical self and your idea of your inner or spiritual self, or your idea of being fluid in some way, certainly the idea of reassigning your gender, becomes a whole lot easier if you don't actually have to do it surgically. At the very least it becomes different. You are still in a body you weren't born in. And I think exploring the idea of being able to recreate the physical self in another different way, I mean we've barely scratched the surface of that."

While a gender-swapped Kovacs certainly fits within the Altered Carbon mythology, fans should wait for confirmation from a reputable news outlet before calling Beetz an official member of the Altered Carbon season 3 cast.

What's the plot of Altered Carbon season 3?

As far as the plot of a potential Altered Carbon season 3 is concerned, your guess is as good as anyone's — including Schapker's. In fact, Schapker told The Hollywood Reporter in early March 2020, "I have wishes, but we're waiting on official word from Netflix. We don't have a pickup. We're season to season. I'm dying for a season 3. I have a ton of idea for directions, but I don't know how much I can speak to that. But we're ready to go!"

Of course, there are major unanswered questions from Altered Carbon season 2, the most important of which is what happened to Kovacs and his sister Reileen. What everyone would probably like to see, no matter what character he's playing, is a return from Mackie, which isn't out of the question if the creators decide they want to bring back the beloved actor. Surely, they can write his character into a script as more sleeves resembling Mackie could exist. While countless questions and rumors will swirl until season 3 is official, one thing we do know is that what's dead doesn't always stay literally dead — as long as the stack is okay.