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The Reason Altered Carbon Fans Think Season 2 Was So Weak

Despite Netflix's Altered Carbon having been met with decidedly mixed reviews from the get-go — one particularly snide critique from IndieWire called it "a hollow shell of a series about hollow shells of people" — the series found a vocal and loyal audience when its first season released in February of 2018. It told the story of one Takeshi "Tak" Kovacs (played by a number of actors), a resistance soldier from a bygone era who, through futuristic technology, awakens one day to find that he looks and sounds exactly like Joel Kinnaman. For reasons that are never sufficiently explained, he isn't happy about this. There's just no pleasing some people.

Featuring equal parts The Matrix, Black Mirror, and Jupiter Ascending, with just a dash of Blade Runner for added flavor, Altered Carbon's first season mixed a cyberpunk aesthetic with plenty of super-powered gore, and a murder mystery to boot. Eager viewers spent the months following its release gearing up for season two, discussing the enigmas that might be waiting for them, including such complex topics as the nature of the soul, or a further exploration into the depths of a society of planetary colonizers.

And then the second season arrived ... and as far as the fans were concerned, particularly on Reddit, a new question had blown all the previous ones away: why was the new season so weak? 

Faltered Carbon

The vocal fan community of Altered Carbon has its theories, with one major complaint popping up over and over — namely, that every aspect of the show seemed to have been dialed back.

From a narrative perspective, fans were underwhelmed with the second season of Altered Carbon, especially when it came to the characters' actions and motivations. One Reddit user, posting under the screen name Cerrax3, pointed out a lack of "grey areas," stating that Tak's actions were never uniformly "good" or "bad" in the first season — they were complicated. They cite the main character's willingness to murder an abusive father, the use of shady law enforcement techniques, and the way that a character who misses his daughter keeps her perpetually alive and in a state of "torment" so that he can be near her. The second season, though, doesn't explore these ethical complexities, instead choosing to present characters who have motivations that are cleanly good or evil. 

The quality of the show's writing, in general, is something fans have criticized quite a few times. As another Redditor, Gilthu, put it, the grand intrigue of the first season was stripped away: "There are no mysteries. You basically get spoon fed things." 

Combine these problems with what appears to have been a much lower production budget, as demonstrated by the lackluster — sometimes even laughable — special effects, and fans weren't on board. Unfortunately, it doesn't look a third season will come around to fix things, because in August of 2020, Netflix canceled Altered Carbon after just two seasons. For now, fans remain hopeful that it may one day be "resleeved" once more.