For those unfamiliar with the new series Altered Carbon, it is taken from a series of science fiction genre books written by author Richard K. Morgan. It is set in the future, where technology has created a mind that is completely digitized as well as the soul, making the soul transferable from one person to another. The lead character is Takeshi Kovacs who has been sent to alter this direction of history after being imprisoned for 500 years.
There are a number of fans from the first season of the sci-fi who love the storyline and several of its characters, including the casting of Joel Kinnaman as Kovacs. But as the series has been given the green light for a second season, the traditional concept of lead actor and continuing roles for actors has to be cast aside. One reason is that Kovacs’ journey crosses not only a large span of time and space, but also bodies. Another is the basic structure of the books, which the writers and producers are striving to stay true to as much as possible. In the series of the books, each book takes place in a different time and at a different location. This means that every season (book) will end up with a different cast of characters (in most cases).
Even the structuring of the actors’ contracts was framed for a single year. So for Season 2, Anthony Mackie will take on the role of Kovacs, replacing Kinnaman. Yet there seems to be the possibility of exceptions to this one-and-done approach, as Netflix has hinted that there is the possibility of a few select characters returning. Names rumored for a possible return in future episodes are Poe, played by Chris Conner, and Reileen, played by Dichen Lachman despite the fact that they have been killed off.
The underlying themes of Altered Carbon include mortality and identity, and it is these themes that are likely to play havoc with the traditional approach to casting actors. Another change from Season 1 is the addition of Alison Schapker as executive producer and work alongside the showrunner from Season 1, Laeta Kalogridis. Skydance, which aired the first season, will send David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross to continue their work as well as James Middleton as another executive producer. It seems important to the producers to ensure the creative continuity behind the scenes to avoid any possible creative conflicts.
Followers of the book series have expected these kinds of recasting, as Kovacs was originally Asian, then is found in an African body, and then he will return once again to an Asian body. Followers of the book want the writers and producers to stick to the book series storyline rather than veer away just to keep certain actors on screen.
At this point, no definite release date for Season 2 has been set. Current projections are before the second half of 2019, and for those optimists the general consensus is it will be closer to the end of the first half of 2019 than the beginning. Co-showrunner Kalogridis has suggested that a love story theme between Kovacs and Quellcrist Falconer, the love he lost along the way, is possible but difficult. One reason is that Quell is not mentioned in the second book of the series, so there has to be some type of bridge built to bring the two together without squashing the continuity.
The second book in the series was written to be more of a 2 hour silver screen movie, making the task of slicing it up into manageable episodes that make sense to the viewers difficult The theme of war has been bandied about, but the questions of how it would be done and who the combatants would be are very difficult to develop from a creative viewpoint.
Finally, the third book in the series deviates substantially from the direction of the first two, so if the goal for Season 2 is to bridge it to the final book in the trilogy, that will be a much different problem than ending it with Season 2. The suggestion of war in Season 2 may be the hint that Season 2 will indeed be its last. Also, bringing Quellcrist Falconer from Kovac’s past might also be another sign that even in the event of spectacular audience ratings and reviews, they will pull the plug on the series. Stay tuned for further updates.