Previews

Altered Carbon Preview: “Nora Inu”

Photo Credit: Netflix

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Reminder: I’m previewing the episodes one at a time because I think they deserve it. You can catch my previews for Episodes 1-6 here.

Way back there, when TNT was just figuring out what it wanted to be when it grew up, Will Yun Lee co-starred opposite Yancy Butler in Witchblade. It was one of their first series out of the gate, and I was ALL IN for its two-season run. Lee has worked ever since, and he’s currently a regular on USA’s own mindfrak, Falling Water. In Altered Carbon, he’s one of four actors playing Takeshi Kovacs, which I find fascinating.

Photo Credit: Netflix

In “Nora Inu,” the 7th episode, he takes the reins on the Kovacs origin story. Joel Kinnaman appears in the bookend segments with the adult Rei (Dichen Lachman, who also plays flashback Rei), but 90% of the episode is Lee as Kovacs, and man, is he good. I exhibit no surprise.

Photo Credit: Netflix

It’s a fantastic, largely self-contained episode that feels like one of those random Amazing Stories or The Outer Limits episodes that still haunt me decades years later. There are reveals all over the place, and it works to fill in a lot of blanks about why Kovacs is the way he is, and why he’s so reticent to form attachments.

Photo Credit: Netflix

The first Kovacs we meet is a young boy, played by Morgan Gao, and his split-second decision to save his sister (Riley Lai Nielet) sets their lives on a violent, lonely trajectory after they’re separated and he’s coerced into serving the Protectorate. Once reunited, they find a fresh start with Quellchrist and her Envoys.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Photo Credit: Netflix

Starting over resonates much more with Kovacs than it does with Rei, but where he goes, she follows. At the Stronghold camp, he finds purpose, home, and family, and a promise of something resembling love and peace. He pays a very heavy price for it.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Lee and Lachman are terrific as estranged siblings who belong to each other first and the rest of the world second. It’s also our first chance to see who Quellchrist actually was, and Renée Elise Goldsberry is really good as a warrior heading hell for leather down one path until Kovacs drops into her world and shakes her from it.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Eagle-eyed Canadian TV fans will recognize Katie Stuart (The 100) and Teach Grant (Damnation) among the soldiers. I hope y’all are watching these in order, because this one makes the final three hours that follow infinitely more interesting to conjecture.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Photo Credit: Netflix

Altered Carbon‘s first season is available now on Netflix.

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