Netflix's Altered Carbon season 2 ending, explained

Unpack that complicated ending, plus take a look at the new anime series Altered Carbon: Resleeved.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
4 min read

Anthony Mackie plays Takeshi Kovacs in season 2 of Altered Carbon.


Body swapping, digital consciousness storing and an AI fashioned after the gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe, are just a few of the mind-bending concepts you'll find in Netflix's futuristic sci-fi series Altered Carbon.

The show, which sees Colonial Tactical Assault Corps super-soldiers out for blood and a mercenary hired to solve a murky mystery, is currently available on Netflix. And it's given us plenty to unpack, especially after the season 2 finale.

If you need a little help following the show's jam-packed narrative, here's a short recap of season 1 and 2, as well as a more in-depth look at the complicated finale. To cap things off, you'll find a look at Netflix's upcoming anime version of the show, arriving March 19, to stave off any Altered Carbon cravings you have following that season 2 finale.

Season 1 recap

Let's start with a few things to remember from season 1. In the world of Altered Carbon (based off the novel of the same name), a person's memories and consciousness can be stored in an alien-engineered disk called a cortical stack. This device can be implanted into the back of a person's neck.

Stacks can also be transplanted into new human bodies called sleeves. A person's consciousness -- referred to as Digital Human Freight -- can live forever as long as it moves from sleeve to sleeve. But if your stack is destroyed, you die. Only the wealthy, known as Meths, can afford stacks and the new human sleeves to place them in.

In season 1, the consciousness or DHF of mercenary Takeshi Kovacs (played by Joel Kinnaman for now) is downloaded into a new body, with the task of finding the killer of a murdered Meth. This body-swapping concept sees the series explore identity: Some people decide to swap genders or split their consciousness into two sleeves rather than one.

But mainly we follow Kovacs, who must solve the murder to stay alive. He's also got to figure out clues to his own past involving his sister Reileen Kawahara (Dichen Lachman).

Season 2 ending explained

Moving on, Altered Carbon season 2 begins a whopping 30 years after the end of season 1. Kovacs, now in a new sleeve brought to life by Avengers alumni Anthony Mackie, is determined to find his lost love and revolutionary leader Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldsberry). Falconer also happens to be the original creator of the stacks and sleeves.

Recruited to work on a planet called Harlan's World, Hovacs hopes to find Falconer. He also ends up investigating a series of brutal murders that may be connected to her.

We eventually discover Falconer is really the host for an extraterrestrial entity known as an Elder, who wants revenge on the Founders who originally took over Harlan's World. These Founders wanted to eradicate the other Elders and steal the technology behind the stacks.


Poe (Chris Conner) is an artificial intelligence inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, who helps Kovacs.


The remaining Elder uses Falconer's sleeve to get close enough to murder the remaining Founders. But right as the Elder decides to kill everyone (Founders and humans alike), Kovacs takes the Elder into his own stack and lets the uber-laser -- an energy weapon called Angel Fire -- destroy both him and the Elder in order to save the human race. Now that both Kovacs' sleeve and his stack are destroyed, he's dead, right? Not so fast.

Kovacs' artificial intelligence buddy known as Poe (Chris Conner), who was supposedly destroyed in season 1 thanks to an electron destabilizer, makes a surprise return in season 2. But Poe's memories are damaged and his processor corrupted.

Yet after a full reboot, and with the help from another AI known as Dig 301, Poe is finally restored to his old self, complete with some welcome information. Poe has hidden data lurking inside his program that might lead to Kovacs' consciousness.

If that's the case, well, Altered Carbon might return for yet another series on Netflix. That also means we could see yet another actor play Kovacs' new sleeve in a fresh adventure. Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of season 3.

Altered Carbon anime

While we wait for a possible season 3, here's more Altered Carbon to devour.

Netflix's anime version of the seriesAltered Carbon: Resleeved, takes place on the planet Latimer during the first season of the show. The anime storyline shows Kovacs protecting a tattooist while investigating the death of a yakuza mob boss with the help of a soldier from the Colonial Tactical Assault Corps.

The anime series has Cowboy Bebop scriptwriter Dai Sato working behind the scenes, and debuts March 19 on Netflix.

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