Altered Carbon Season 2 Should Star Will Yun Lee As Takeshi

Will Yun Lee and Dichen Lachman in Altered Carbon

Warning: SPOILERS for Altered Carbon season 1 ahead


Race doesn't get mentioned a lot in Netflix's new sci-fi show Altered Carbon. After all, the series is set in a future where human consciousness is stored on disks called "stacks" that can be transferred from one body to another with ease. A Mexican grandmother gets to wear the body of a 30-something tattooed criminal; a little girl gets stuck in the body of a middle-aged woman; and the show's protagonist is an Asian man in the body of a white guy (played by Joel Kinnaman). The latter was a point of contention during the show's marketing, with many making comparisons to last year's box office disaster Ghost in the Shell.

To its credit, Altered Carbon doesn't have lead Joel Kinnaman playing Takeshi Kovacs throughout the entire first season. Though Kinnaman plays Takeshi's present-day "sleeve," Will Yun Lee plays the character for almost the entire duration of one of the episodes, which outlines Takeshi's backstory as a rebel fighter. In other episodes the character is played by Byron Mann - another body that Takeshi wore in his earlier life. Moreover, the show ends with Takeshi returning the body portrayed by Kinnaman to its original owner, meaning that the door is wide open for another actor to take the lead in a second season.

Related: Altered Carbon’s Joel Kinnaman Doesn’t Know if He’ll Return For Season 2

To recap: about halfway through the series, Takeshi discovers that the sleeve he is wearing actually belongs to the former lover and partner of Bay City detective Kristin Ortega: Elias Ryker. Ryker was framed for a crime he did not commit and had his stack removed and put "on ice," and replaced with Takeshi's stack. At the end of the season, Takeshi is able to clear Ryker's name and Ortega's old boyfriend is (we assume) returned to his old body. In the last few shots of the season, Takeshi is apparently in his new body, but his face is not shown. Since the season also ends with Takeshi declaring his intention to track down the DHF of rebel leader Quellcrist Falconer, it's fairly safe to assume that the role will be recast in season 2.

The ideal scenario would be Will Yun Lee returning to lead the series. It's never clarified exactly what happened to Takeshi's original body, but this is a universe where clones can be created from the smallest scrap of genetic material, and thanks to his payout for solving the "murder" of Laurens Bancroft, Takeshi has enough money to take his pick of available sleeves. He's already facing the Herculean task of tracking down Falconer, when the only person who knows where her consciousness was hidden is dead, so locating the remains of his original body wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Lee more than proved himself suited to the role of the cocky, charismatic Takeshi in his flashback episode, and it would be great to see him upgraded to series lead.

Byron Mann in Altered Carbon
Byron Mann in Altered Carbon

Another possibility is that Byron Mann could step up to play Takeshi's new sleeve, and it seems like Altered Carbon season 1 was deliberately setting up this eventuality. Mann's sleeve was not Takeshi's original body, but it was a body that he wore for quite a long time - including on the day that he died. In Altered Carbon season 1, Takeshi is shocked to discover that this body has been cloned and is being used for battle in an underground fighting ring (he even ends up fighting his old self at one point). Since we already know that there's genetic material for this sleeve floating around, it would be fairly easy for the newly-wealthy Takeshi to obtain a clone of his old sleeve.

With that said, there would be a certain emotional weight to Takeshi finally getting his old body back, especially given that he spent much of season 1 feeling robbed of his identity. He was dumped into a strange body, woke up in a future where everyone he had once known was dead (or at least, so he thought), and forced to work for a Meth who represented everything that Takeshi had once fought against. Though the world of Altered Carbon does depict a somewhat throwaway culture when it comes to original bodies, Takeshi went to great expense to ensure that Ortega wouldn't be resleeved when she received a life-threatening injury, and as a child he expressed concern over what would happen to his body once he was taken out of it. From what we know about this character, it seems like he would want to find a way to get his old body back.

Takeshi is on a mission to retrieve Quellcrist Falconer and (presumably) put her mind inside a body. When Quellcrist wakes up in a distant future to find that her worst fears came true, it would probably be good for her to see a familiar face. Meanwhile, Joel Kinnaman could still return to the show - only this time playing Elias Ryker. We already know that Kinnaman is good at standing behind people and looking angry, after all.

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