Cat & Mouse
Episode 5 of Altered Carbon begins with Kovacs bursting back into the hotel with Trepp, where the two argue over Quell and her intention of killing the Founders. With only one left – that being Konrad Harlan – Poe smashes a vial on the floor to get their attention and informs the duo that Quell is actually with them, currently upstairs in the shower. When Kovacs heads upstairs, he finds her cowering and shaking.
Meanwhile Carrera sends his secret weapon, Kovacs Prime, out into the world a bid to kill the current Kovacs and seize his body. With the Wedge Squad at his command, he heads to Kiteshi’s where he finds the stack missing from his body.
Kovacs and Quell try to get the bottom of what’s happening to her, with him asking whether there’s any reason she wants to stay on the planet. As he heads back and sits with Trepp, he learns that Poe has gone off searching for Konrad. Unfortunately, Kemp intercepts the broadcast there and informs the world that the ceasefire is over, thanks to footage of Quell leaking to the press.
Overhearing the group arguing over what to do, Quell suggests heading off alone, until they’re ambushed by the remaining fragments of the Yakuza. With Kovacs and the others slipping out the back, Dig 301 stays behind to buy them some time. However, the Protectorate arrive with Kovacs Prime and wipe out the gang.
With Kovacs and the others fleeing down the tunnels, Dig 301 tries to trick Kovacs Prime and the others. She holds firm, fighting him off, until she divulges crucial information regarding a serial number that leads them where they need to go.
Trepp meanwhile learns from her Father that Anil was given a mission by Kemp and came into his shop earlier in the month. With enough guns to see them progress, Kovacs leads the group into a hidden tunnel, but not before Quell hands Trepp a gun and tells her if she loses control again to pull the trigger.
As they descend down the tunnels, Stronghold Kovacs and the rest of the group follow in hot pursuit, making it to Trepp’s Father’s place. With him refusing to give up where they are, Kovacs Prime loses patience and kills him, shattering his stack and leading the group to part of his childhood memories where he believes the group have gone.
With the situation precarious, Danica imposes martial law on the state. Just as the group agree to give her full control, she seizes the opportunity and puts the entire board under house arrest, knowing that they were plotting with Dugan against her the whole time.
Poe heads into the VR construct and meets Soul Brasil, intent on extracting information from him to find Konrad. Only, he shows him Lizzie and it’s enough to see him distracted and following her around. He manages to push past this though and sticks to the mission at hand.
Upon finding Konrad, he realizes the entire construct is a fraud. With full control over this VR illusion, Poe is forced to take drastic measures as he uses his glitch to destroy the construct. It works too, and Poe returns to find the hotel destroyed and Dig 301 stuck in limbo.
In the tunnels, Quell grapples with her inner-demons and as she bolts off alone, she sees the blue tendrils we’ve seen throughout the season. As she passes out, Trepp confronts Kovacs over Quell’s intentions before hurrying off to find a way out. As he hurries outside, he comes face to face with Kovacs Prime and learns the truth about the double sleeving. While Kovacs Prime throws him off a cliff to his doom, back underground Quell wakes up and grabs Trepp, choking her out.
With another cliffhanger at the end, Altered Carbon takes the time to build up the world and the supporting players a lot more than the first season did. Although Kovacs is still the central player here, he shares the limelight with a lot of the other characters this time, namely Quell who’s fast becoming the most important person in this story, for better or worse.
There’s plenty of questions hanging over this one though and despite Altered Carbon failing to hit the same heights as the first season, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.