Altered Carbon – Episode 5: The Wrong Man

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Will Yun lee, Martha Higareda, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Ato Essandoh and Chris Conner
Director: Uta Briesewitz
Writers: Nevin Densham

Reviewed by Sidney Morgan

This review contains spoilers.

After last episode’s self-contained story, “The Wrong Man” finally gets back on track with the Bancroft murder (or suicide) investigation. One interesting discovery is that Laurens’ son Isaac (Antonio Marziale), illegally cloned a sleeve of his father and used it to impersonate him, engaging in business dealings in his name. Remember that his children don’t inherit anything if he dies, so it does make sense to impersonate him instead. But on the night of his “murder”, Laurens confronted Isaac because he knew what he was doing. And now that time has passed, it begs the question, is the real Laurens even still alive?

The main characters (Kovacs, Ortega, Laurens, Miriam) continue to do a good job in their roles, whether dramatic or funny. There’s a scene where Kovacs is told to “look” angry and the facial gestures that ensue are hilarious.

But it’s the occasional appearances of the minor characters that really stand out, like Poe, who continues to shine. Desperately wanting to help Kovacs, his humour, bordering on sarcasm, makes him so much fun. Also during this episode, we meet another minor character, Carnage, played by the great Matt Frewer, (Watchmen, Orphan Black, Timeless… what isn’t this guy in? My favorite though is when he plays his alt-ego Max Headroom, whose traits can be seen in the episode.) Carnage is the slick manager of a fighting arena that uses unique and rare specialized combat sleeves, because it has better entertainment value, hence better revenue. As they walk through, Kovacs is surprised and uncomfortable when he comes across his original sleeve! Imagine seeing your body after 200 years?

Kovacs in Ryker’s sleeve.

Up until now, I wondered how the refusal to be spun back up would be honoured by government agencies. It’s not like they’re the most honourable of institutions, especially if they have an interest in finding information. However, though respecting one’s wishes does play a role, there’s certainty built in via computer coding. Once a person makes the decision, the necessary computer code is inserted in their stack which makes it impossible to spin them back up. And only one agency is able to do this. Prior to Ryker’s imprisonment, he was investigating the death of a girl who he believed had been murdered and had the code inserted by someone other than this agency. It seemed he was onto something because shortly thereafter he was set up. And now, it looks like there may be a connection between this murderer/coder and Bancroft.

If you feel confused, join the club. Evidently, this needs to play out before making any sense of it.

Laurens the benevolent? Watching Altered Carbon, it’s easy to forget at times that this is at its core, a whodunit. Laurens Bancroft’s murder (or suicide) is the initiating factor of the main plot. Not surprising then, is that there are other mysteries present as the show evolves. Who is Kovacs? Who is Ryker? What was Ortega’s relationship to Ryker? Why is Dimi after Ryker and so on. Many questions, and so far, only a few answers. However, there is a new intriguing character who surfaces, but one we know very little of. He’s been spotted in previous episodes, but has eluded detection so far. This Ghostwalker has an impressive ability to erase himself from any security footage and shows himself to be one dangerous character.

A quick search will show that all of Altered Carbon’s episode titles are the same as a series of film noir movies from the 40’s and 50’s. Whether it is an homage to the genre or to the movies themselves, or whether the plots of the episodes mirror the plots of the movies, I can’t say for sure. However, “The Wrong Man” is an apt title in this case. Perhaps it refers to the mistaken belief Kovacs is Ryker. Perhaps it is a reference to Isaac spinning himself up in his father’s sleeve, letting others believe he’s Laurens. Or maybe, it’s just a simple reminder that all leads have so far pointed to the wrong man (or woman) and that there’s someone else behind the curtain.

A loving moment with Ortega.

Continue to Watch! 
After taking a break from the investigation last episode, we’re back in the thick of it. But as with any mystery, the answers are never easy to come by. Is Bancroft the ‘bad’ man we’ve come to know thus far, or is he actually decent, one who cares about the downtrodden? Why did Miriam make that offer to Kovacs? What is she hiding? Is she protecting him or herself? Of course, now that Kovacs and Ortega have breached that line, what will happen? Oh, and will she survive or will she be spun back into a new sleeve? And, let’s not forget about Lizzie.

Though we haven’t seen her in a few episodes, Vernon reminds us in each one that Poe is working on her healing. But, why is it taking so long? And will we see more of Falconer? Will Kovacs/Ryker meet Kovacs’ original sleeve at Carnage’s arena? More and more questions, and only halfway through the show. Which can only mean that we’ll start to get more and more answers, right? Hoping that we get a scene with both Poe and Carnage, there’s only one thing left to do: continue watching.

Sidney Morgan

Leave a Reply