In the new season, Kovacs is on an intergalactic hunt for revolutionary leader Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry), his mentor and lover. He eventually finds her on Harlan’s World, Kovacs’ home planet and a principal source of the alloy used to make the stacks that make re-sleeving possible. Season 2 showrunner Alison Schapker tells Variety that it was her and her team’s goal to craft a Kovacs that was significantly different from the Season 1 character, who was played by Joel Kinnaman.
“I feel like the Kovacs in Season 1 was more that noir hero who had seen it all and had no s—s left to give,” she says. “In Season 2, he’s found the thing that he has lost and is closer to it than ever before.”
That thing, of course, is Falconer. The problem is it is not the Falconer that Kovacs remembers. While she looks physically identical, something has robbed her of her memories and sent her on a path of destruction that sees her killing all of the ruling Meths on Harlan’s World.
“The way their love affair plays out, [there is] torture and pain Kovacs has to go through, not only from the fact that he loses the woman he loves and travels across the universe to find her, but he finds her and she no longer loves him. So it’s a full gauntlet that he’s experienced trying to find this damn woman,” Mackie tells Variety with a laugh. “It’s Shakespearean.”
Kovacs also has memorable run-ins this season with CTAC Colonel Ivan Carrera (Torben Liebrecht). After torturing Kovacs and discovering who he truly is, Carrera becomes determined to kill him. It is only later on that the audience learns Carrera is in fact Kovacs’ former commanding officer, Jaeger. Kept on ice by the government for decades and spun back up only when there is a war to fight, Carrera illegally double-sleeves a copy of Kovacs he had made before the latter joined up with Falconer. He is bound and determined not to let his former charge get away again.
“Torben is a very intimidating actor. He doesn’t apologize for his ability to torture,” Mackie jokes. “He was great. We got to have fun with it and we got to do the things we wanted to do to make it scarier and more deliberate. And Torben just has a dark side that he created with that character this amazing to see and experience.”
Like Kinnaman, Mackie only had a one year deal for “Altered Carbon,” with any chance of him being brought back all but obliterated in the explosive season finale. But the premise of the show leaves the possibility for anyone to step into the role, something Schapker says has led her to look at actors “in terms of their Kovacs factor.”
“The sort of anthology aspect, or this idea that every season a new sleeve and a new mystery and a new planet, that is really fun to me as a writer,” Schapker says. “At this point, I do have places I would like to see us going in Season 3 and I’m really hoping that people show up to the series and the algorithmic gods go in our favor.”
Mackie also suggested one actor he would like to see take over the Kovacs mantle should the show go to a third season.
“Jacob Tremblay,” he says. “We’ve seen Kovacs at his peak. I want to see Kovacs as a kid badass. I want to see him go through it and go back through his childhood and kick everybody’s ass that bothered him.”