Altered Carbon – Episode 6: Man With My Face
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Martha Higareda, Will Yun lee, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Ato Essandoh, Chris Conner and Matt Frewer
Director: Alex Graves
Writers: Steve Blackman
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Man With My Face picks up right from the end of the last episode. Kovacs is heading to the hospital, racing against time as Ortega is bleeding out from her injuries sustained at the station. The ordeal has upset Kovacs, as he realizes he has feelings for her, though he tries to convince himself that it’s just a side-effect of being in Ryker’s sleeve. Fearing he may lose her, he questions mortality, at which point Falconer shows up.
From their brief conversation, it seems Falconer was opposed to the promise of eternal life, something achievable through sleeve technology. She feared it would only exacerbate the economic differences between the rich and the poor. Whatever they had planned clearly failed as the Protectorate destroyed all the Envoys. Fast forward more than 200 years and Kovacs isn’t convinced anymore that she was right. His feelings for Ortega are at odds with those he had for Falconer, leading to this conversation. What’s odd though is that she’s a part of his mind, as she’s quick to point out. So, he’s actually having a conversation with himself…
All of the episodes so far are a clear “I told you so.” Falconer’s fears were realized. When Kovacs takes Ortega to the hospital, the triage nurse asks for her DNA mark to process the payment. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have sufficient funds. So the nurse tells Kovacs to go to the waiting room, which is packed. Unconscious and bleeding out, Ortega wouldn’t survive the wait. Kovacs then spits on the DNA screen, and it immediately shows unlimited funds (remember that he’s financed by Bancroft, a filthy rich meth). The change in the nurse’s behaviour and attitude is instantaneous. Ortega receives immediate care and even ends up with a new arm. So the poor rot and the rich thrive. Quite a fun future, right?
Meanwhile, there’s still a murder to investigate. As Ortega recovers, Kovacs pays Bancroft a visit to update him. Though Laurens knew about Isaac’s impersonation, he still gets angry. (Last time this happened, he beat Isaacs within an inch of his life.) But Isaac explains that the only reason he did any of this was to earn his father’s respect. Cue the aww moment. But not so fast. Laurens isn’t quite buying it.
In a fit of rage, Laurens grabs the fireplace poker and begins to smash the cloned sleeve. Brutally. Jason Vorhees would give him an approval clap. But, and here’s the odd part, the sleeve is of himself!?! He’s destroying his likeness! I can already see the psychotherapists lining up… Is he angry at his son for what he did? Is he destroying the sleeve to show Isaac he’s still the one in control of the family? Or is he angry at himself for messing up his family? Funny, isn’t it? All that money and immortality, yet this family is as dysfunctional as it can get.
Besides dysfunctionality, revenge plays a huge role in this episode. I guess it’s bound to happen when people are technically immortal. Just think, if you’ve wronged someone, or vice-versa, and you carry grudges, unable to let go, you’ll have eternity to get your revenge. And Dimi is just this kind of guy. He doesn’t care if Kovacs is Ryker or Ryker is Kovacs, or even that he’s an Envoy. He wants to avenge his copy’s death (even though technically, Poe did that in episode 1). And conveniently enough, this revenge plot plays right into the hands of another one. Without spoiling it, let’s just say it was fun to see Carnage (Matt Frewer) again this week.
I did get annoyed with one particular scene. Altered Carbon is set in a violent future. I get it. And I assume other viewers get it as well. We’ve witnessed it, even on a virtual level. So what was the point of another cage fight? There was one at Laurens’ party, back in episode 3. Except that now, instead of a husband and wife team, we have the Kovacs and Ortega team. It really was pointless and did nothing to advance the plot, other than fill about ten minutes of air time. And that reveal at the end could have happened under far different circumstances.
But other than that, what a banging episode!
Man With My Face shares its name with a 1951 movie about a man who finds out that a look-alike has completely taken over his life. Sounds familiar, right? Stacks contain your essence and sleeves are just empty vessels, costumes that you use as you ‘live’. But people don’t see the stack or the essence. They see the face and the body. It’s discomforting to know you might come across someone you knew, a loved one or a family member, only to find out it isn’t them. Ortega struggled for half the season with this, seeing Ryker instead of Kovacs. Even Kovacs deals with a similar situation.
Verdict: Continue to watch!
Things are escalating. New players are getting involved and to what end is still unclear. And that crazy reveal?! Wow! So many questions still. What is SPOILER doing there? What does it mean? Is anything going to happen to Carnage? And what’s next in the investigation? Only one way to find out. Watch on!