Netflix has renewed Altered Carbon for season 2, swapping out former lead Joel Kinnaman for Anthony Mackie. The high-priced science fiction series about a body-hopping mercenary earned mixed reviews in its first season, but clearly performed well enough to merit continuing. This news comes as Netflix looks to continue promoting original content in the face of competition from new and upcoming streaming services.
Based on the books by Richard K. Morgan, the series depicts a future where humanity has spread out to the galaxy, aided by the ability to swap their consciousness from one body to another via high-tech "cortical stacks" implanted at the base of the skull. As you might expect, the rich exploit that technology to their advantage while those less well-off are left to deal with whatever's left to them. Protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is an Envoy, a soldier-turned-mercenary specially trained to deal with the disorientation of dropping into a new body and carrying out a variety of black ops.
According to Netflix, Mackie will take over the role of Kovacs for a new eight-episode season. Creator Laeta Kalogridis will continue as a co-showrunner joined by Alison Schapker. While there are no details about the plot yet available, it will likely follow Kovacs to a new planet to be confronted by new mysteries and social issues. The first series brought in elements from later books, giving particular weight to a significant character in Kovacs' past. Whether those threads will be followed up in a second season is unknown.
The series' central conceit of body-swapping makes replacing the lead actor relatively simple. Even in the first season the character was played by Kinnaman in the present as well as both Will Yun Lee and Byron Mann in flashbacks. Mackie may be most familiar as the relatively lighthearted Falcon in the MCU, but the noir-ish tone of the show and cynical nature of Kovacs should give the actor plenty of room to stretch. For those fans disappointed by the switch, Kinnaman has suggested in the past that he enjoyed the show and would be game to pop back up again (though likely not as Kovacs).
While the character of Kovacs remains the focus of the series, there's been no announcement if any of the rest of the cast will reappear. Many didn't make it out of the first season at all, and most of those who did received at least some closure to their stories. One who might return is Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldsberry), Takeshi's mentor and leader of the Envoys who has been presumed dead for some time. That would certainly help shift the narrative from the first season's murder mystery toward a larger examination of the series' world as well as lean into their stronger material. Much like downloading into a new body, Altered Carbon is making changes and getting ready to see where it goes.