Altered Carbon – Episode 9: Rage in Heaven
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Dichen Lachman, Martha Higareda, James Purefoy, Tamara Taylor, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Ato Essandoh and Chris Conner
Director: Peter Hoar
Writers: Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned. (William Congreve)
Love. Betrayal. Revenge. Often inseparable, they are powerful motivators and the basis of a few well-known stories. Just recall the results of the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet. Or of the betrayal of Leia and Han at the hands of Lando, of Morpheus at the hands of Cypher, and of Lord Voldemort at the hands of Snape. Or of the carnage inflicted by revenge-seeking Beatrixx Kiddo, Maximus Decimus Meridius, and Eric Draven. Powerful motivators indeed. And in Altered Carbon, what Kovacs experiences is no different. He’s lost loved ones and has been betrayed by loved ones. Decidedly, he’s had enough and decides to act. But he’s not the only one motivated by love.
At the end of the last episode, Kovacs had told Bancroft a well-crafted story about what happened the night he was killed. But the true answer lay elsewhere, and Kovacs realized what needed to be done and where he needed to go. Meanwhile, Ortega found Rei’s vault of cloned sleeves and was attacked by them. Overwhelmed by Rei’s fighting skills, she was taken prisoner, which brings us to the beginning of this penultimate episode, Rage in Heaven.
After pushing Ortega away, as per Rei’s instructions, Kovacs is trying to get a hold of her, as well as of Vernon and Ava. He’s chatting with Poe, enjoying a drink, when Ortega suddenly returns, in bad shape. But this is Altered Carbon where appearances can be deceiving. Seeing someone doesn’t make it that person (just think back to Kovacs and Ryker, Miriam Bancroft and her daughter, Ortega’s grandmother and the prisoner, and so on). This time is no different. Kovacs quickly comes to realize he’s been played by Rei again. The lengths to which she’ll go to get what she wants finally comes to light.
Kovacs knows that if he doesn’t act, Rei is going to control him and destroy anything he cares about without hesitation. Ortega, Vernon, Ava, Lizzie and even Poe are all in danger, as well as their families. Initially, Kovacs tries to send them away but fails. Instead, they all work together and plan to stop Rei. After eight episodes of Kovacs being under someone’s control, he finally takes matters into his own hands to ensure his true freedom. But it’s dangerous. It’s risky. And in all likelihood, one of them, if not more, is going to die.
Rei may claim that she was only interested in being reunited with Kovacs, but in reality, there was a far greater motivation behind everything she’s done since the destruction of the Envoys. When it’s revealed, it doesn’t come much as a surprise given the reason she betrayed Quell. Final death (one from which there is no return because the stack and back-ups have been destroyed) is a scary thought. And Rei isn’t finished with hers. Her ambitions know no limits. Over 250 years ago, she made it clear to Kovacs that they should both escape together and ‘live happily ever after.’ Final death isn’t in her plans, and when the government wanted to implement it, she had to act. Cue Bancroft’s entrance.
What would an Altered Carbon review be without a brief look at the title? Once again, Rage in Heaven is also the title of a 1941 movie directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It’s essentially a story of jealousy. Philip (Robert Montgomery) marries Stella (Ingrid Bergman) but believes her to be in love with a college friend of his, Ward (George Sanders). This belief and resulting thoughts drive him insane to the point where he hatches a plan. He kills himself but makes it look like it was Ward who murdered him.
In this episode of Altered Carbon, it’s become clear that Rei has an unhealthy attachment to her brother. If she can’t have him, nobody else can either. It’s part of the reason she betrayed Quell and the Envoys, and it’s the reason she now threatens to kill Ortega and anyone close to Kovacs. As it did Philip, her love for Kovacs and resulting jealousy has driven her insane. Even Kovacs doesn’t recognize this woman. This isn’t the sister he knew.
Verdict: A must watch.
It’s all coming together. Kovacs has concocted a plan to get Rei to confess to everything she’s done, and it perfectly ties together various storylines from the show. But she’s not stupid. She didn’t build a Meth-worthy empire by being lucky either. She planned everything, down to the release of Kovacs. But 250 years is a long time, during which anything can happen. Maybe her love for her brother dissipated? Maybe she’s idealizing an idea out of nostalgia? There’s no clear answer to that. However, she quickly interprets his actions as a betrayal. We know what a motivator that can be. She is now ready to unleash her full fury against him and his wolf pack. And all this points to an intense, adrenaline-packed ending.