Altered CarbonSeason 2 has finally premiered on Netflix, two full years after the series debuted. The cyberpunk drama, which is based on the Richard K. Morgan book series, will follow an exciting new chapter in the life of Takeshi Kovacs. While we're curious to see what sort of shocking twists Season 2 has in store, the most thrilling aspect of this season is probably the fact that Kovacs -- played by Will Yun Lee and Joel Kinnaman in Season 1 -- will now be played by Anthony Mackie.
According to showrunner Alison Schapker, who took over from Laeta Kalogridis for Season 2, casting Mackie as the latest sleeve of The Last Envoy was a dream get for the series. "When I came aboard Altered Carbon, Laeta Kalogridis was already imagining Anthony Mackie as Season 2 Kovacs," Schapker told TV Guide. "So his casting was sort of baked in as a dream get from the time I arrived at the show and I completely concurred. I mean, he is just a phenomenal actor. And he can do the action and the physicality of the role of Kovacs so well, as we all have seen in his Marvel roles. But he also can bring a depth of character to the performance, and you see that in all the roles he's done, so we just were huge fans."
As for what exactly fans can expect Mackie's Kovacs to come up against in Season 2, Schapker breaks down everything you need to know about Altered Carbon's return below, including scoop on the new characters and Kovacs and Quell's reunion!
Just because Kovacs' mind stays the same when he gets a new sleeve doesn't mean that Season 2 will find Mackie will simply copy what Joel Kinnaman did in the role in the first season. Picking up 30 years after the events of the Season 1 finale, Season 2 will find Kovacs "in a very different emotional place," Schapker said. "And that really allows Anthony to dig into Kovacs in a whole new way, just given the facts of what he's dealing with, which is very different than what Kovacs was dealing with in Season 1."
Of course, this doesn't mean that Mackie's take on Kovacs won't build upon the past and "look to Joel Kinnaman's performance as a kind of inspiration," Schapker noted.
The world of Altered Carbon is incredibly complex, but even if you don't remember everything that went down in Season 1 or have never even seen the series before, Schapker said the eight new episodes will be completely accessible. "We purposely designed Season 2 to reward fans who watch Season 1, but also invite fans who are coming to the series for the first time. Because it's a new mystery on a new planet and Kovacs is in a new sleeve, so you can absolutely dive in," she explained. "If you feel like starting in Season 2, we made sure that the show was accessible without in any way losing the world-building or detail or backstory that we built in Season 1. So I think it walks that fine line of being rewarding to anyone who's watched and enjoyed Season 1 and also open to new viewers who just want to dive in."
Season 2 will be primarily set on Harlan's World, Kovacs' home planet that he hasn't been to in years. When the former mercenary does return, he'll find that things have changed -- one of them being the planet is now run by Danica Harlan (Lela Loren), who has taken over as governor after her father Konrad Harlan stepped down.
A ruthless but charming politician, Danica will be shown to have no limits when it comes to what she will do to establish control over the planet. If she does achieve this, it would give her staggering power and influence throughout the colonized world. "Harlan's World happens to be the planet that has alloy that stacks are made from, which is basically the natural resource for immortality, which makes her planet very valuable," said Schapker. "And she has yet to consolidate power and she's surrounded by people who spent a long time with her father leading the planet. So she's a daughter who's stepping into her father's shoes and trying to fill them."
Season 1 ended with Kovacs leaving on a quest to find Quell (Renée Elise Goldsberry), and when Season 2 picks up 30 years later, "he's closer to the possibility of finding her than he's ever been before," Schapker teased.
When Kovacs is recruited to investigate a series of brutal murders on Harlan's World at the beginning of the new episodes, he soon is surprised to learn that this new case and his mission to find Quell are one and the same. As Kovacs' missions become more complex and intertwined, questions will be raised about how well Kovacs really knew Quell and whether their relationship still has potential now. "One of the things I love about Altered Carbon is, in a world where a form of immortality exists -- at least for people who have the resources to afford it -- it raises all these questions of what time does to relationships and to our humanity," Schapker said.
For Kovacs, who has carried around an idealized memory of Quell in his head since losing her at the Battle of Stronghold, having to reconcile his love for that version of Quell and who she may have become in the years since may prove to be a struggle. (It probably doesn't help that, per the trailer, their reunion gets off to the very rocky start of Kovacs throwing a knife at Quell for some unknown reason.) "The difference between the past that we carry around in our own minds and then the past that somebody else might be living and how those two things may differ or be the same -- that's where our narrative is gonna live," said Schapker.
One of the most exciting additions to Season 2 is Simone Missick as the bounty hunter Trepp. "One of the things Quell taught Kovacs in Season 1 was, he can't go about things as a lone wolf. He needs to build a pack. And that will hold true in Season 2. Kovacs will have to find a new team of people to rely on and one of those people is going to be Trepp," revealed Schapker.
Although Trepp will work with Kovacs in Season 2, that doesn't mean she'll be his subordinate; Trepp's top priority is always taking care of herself and her loved ones -- not helping Kovacs achieve his goals. As a result, Trepp's inclusion on the team introduces a fun new dynamic and Missick "brings so much energy and charisma and attitude and depth to her role," Schapker said. "And she's going to be a real equal to Kovacs in our storyline and I'm excited for fans to watch Anthony and Simone play off one another on screen because I think they're phenomenal."
After his sister Reileen (Dichen Lachman) was revealed to have been the villainous mastermind of the first season, Kovacs will come up against a new foe in the latest installment: Col. Ivar Carrerra (Torben Liebrecht), a Protectorate Special Forces leader who is hunting down Kovacs on Harlan's World. Liebrecht, who mainly worked in German television and film prior to this role, "delivered a really charismatic and powerful turn as an antagonist worthy of Kovacs and one who also has a secret we hope fans will enjoy discovering," Schapker teased.
Will Yun Lee, who played Kovacs' birth sleeve in Season 1's flashbacks, stole every single scene he was in, which is why Altered Carbon fans were thrilled when it was announced that the actor would be returning in a recurring role. While Schapker played it rather coy when discussing Lee's return, she did say that the actor is "part of the heart of the show" and "vital to our season," adding that "he comes back in a really new and interesting way."
The official trailer for Season 2 gave us our first hint at what Schapker was referring to, revealing that Kovacs' birth sleeve would be brought into the action on the orders of Carrerra and that he'll be used to fight Mackie's Kovacs. But how Carrerra got Kovacs' birth sleeve and whose stack is in it remains to be discovered.
Poe's (Chris Conner) murder in the first season was one of the most heart-wrenching scenes to watch, which is what made the news of his return such a relief. While Schapker couldn't say much about how exactly Poe would return, she did reveal that he will have been changed by the experience. "Poe's not exactly the same. So he's gonna return but be slightly askew," she explained. "So it's the Poe we love and we've missed, and we're not going to make fans wait a very long time to find out what happened with him. But at the same time, he's gonna have a struggle as well." (At least we know Poe will have a new friend Dina Shihabi's Dig 301 to help him through this tough time!)
One thing that won't be different, though? The relationship between Poe and Kovacs. Schapker assured us that "the dynamic, hilarious, heartfelt relationship between Poe and Kovacs is still there."
Altered Carbon Season 2 will premiere Thursday, Feb. 27 on Netflix. Season 1 is available to stream now.