Altered Carbon S1:E9

SPOILER ALERT

Rage In Heaven

After last episode’s letdowns, I was really hoping for something great to finish off the season. This episode gives me hope. It opens with two people playing paper, rock, scissors and cuts to Kovacs sitting at the hotel bar talking to Poe. The Envoy tells the AI that he knows what happened to Bancroft. Poe doesn’t respond to this and when Kovacs prods him he admits his misgivings about helping him frame Prescott with the bullshit murder.

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Poe learning what it is to be human. IMG: Netflix Screen Shot

Later, in VR with Lizzy who is becoming very good at virtual violence, Poe expounds saying that he realizes now that “violence always begets violence.” You think an advanced artificial intelligence would’ve had that one figured out already. Poe also admits he is regretting his decision to use violence to bring Lizzy back. Lizzy tells him flatly that it was the only way and that everything would soon become clear.  She later tells Kovacs the same thing when he enters VR to say goodbye to her for some reason.

Kovacs and Poe’s conversation is cut short when Ortega hobbles into the hotel, bleeding and wounded. Kovacs rushes her up to his room where he promptly bathes her and treats her wounds with the magic fix-it-stick. Ortega starts getting weird which tips Kovacs off to the fact that Ortega isn’t the one in the sleeve. It’s Reileen. Then there’s an unsettling scene where Rei struts around in Ortega’s naked sleeve talking about how she understands why Kovacs loves her. At which point she reaffirms her love and devotion for her brother.

Here is another example of the coding technology’s negative effect on the human psyche. Reileen has lived for the past 250 years. She fully converted over to meth mentality and embraced the sociopathic narcissism that being a meth engenders. . They see themselves as something apart from the lesser people who live on the ground. She became a goddess, essentially. She even has followers, like the Ghost Walker, who attest to her divinity. As a meth, Reileen would consider herself above such basic, “grounder” notions of love and family.

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Reileen. Beautiful. Psychotic. Ninja. IMG: Netflix Screen Shot

I got the impression that Reileen was actually IN love with Kovacs to such an obsessive degree that it teeters on psychotic. Boil your rabbit kind of psychotic. She has been alive so long and been through so many different sleeves that there are no lines separating familial love with romantic love. It has become one in the same. She even chides Kovacs for not understanding this. Remember Bancroft’s excuse for his own infidelity was that the love he had for his wife had transcended into a type of veneration. He loved her too much to be attracted to her. Something similar happened with Reileen concerning Kovacs, but at the opposite end of the spectrum. Kovacs was on ice for the past 250 years.  He wasn’t around so he and Reileen could grow sick and tired of each other. And Kovacs was the same person he was when he went under. Reileen was a meth who spent the last few centuries idealizing Kovacs and the life they would lead together.  And she would stop at nothing to make sure her vision was realized.

Reileen demonstrates this single-minded sociopathy in natural meth fashion by having the Ghost Walker murder Ortega’s entire family. And remember, they are coded Neo-C because of their Neo-Catholic faith. Their deaths are all real deaths. By the time Kovacs gets to the apartment, the deed is done. Reileen informs him while in Ortega’s body that she gave Ortega’s stack to the Ghost Walker. His name is Leung and he apparently collects stacks to torture people in VR. He’s that kind of guy.

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Leung. Turning Reileen into a goddess since episode one. IMG: Netflix Screen Shot

Then Kovacs hatches a plan. First, he orders a tactical computer set up for his suite. Then he tries to force everyone away so he can fix this himself. During this, Mickey (the techie from the police station that was running the trace for Ortega) shows up to the hotel and swears his sword to the cause. The plan is to head up to Head in the Clouds where Reileen does her daily backup, and infect her backup with the Rawlins virus. This would end Reileen’s immortality and leave her with only the stack she currently has. Kovacs justifies this by saying that he wants to get his sister back. Then they are to free Ortega and make a fast getaway.  But how do you scale Olympus without getting caught by the gods? Kovacs decided to clone himself. He sends the clone to tell Reileen that he’s quitting the whole thing. Giving it up. Forgetting about saving the world and being an Envoy. He just wants to zip up to her floating orgy island in the sky and forget about it all for a while. Of course she doesn’t believe him. So he slides her the stack of the dead girl who fell out of the sky all those episodes back. The one Ortega has been trying to solve the murder of the whole season. Why would Reileen be interested in that, you ask? Because she was the one responsible for her murder! Not only that, she had copied the Neo-C coding and had been using it on all her sex slaves up at orgy island. Reileen didn’t tell any of them, letting them believe instead that things were much the same as they were on the ground. Recall that the brothels there resleeve their prostitutes that get killed, like Lizzy.

Once the plan was ready to be executed,  Poe secured Vernon Elliot an identity as a meth general and booked him for the “Iridium Experience” at Head in the Clouds. The AI points out he had to fake several vettings that were required to purchase this package. Kovacs is stuffed in the back of the hovercar that Elliot uses to get to the floating pleasure palace. Once there he is escorted to a room where a girl is waiting and the truth of the Iridium Package comes out. Meths have been coming up to Head in the Clouds and killing prostitutes who have all been unknowingly coded with Neo-C. Vernon’s girl is very forward with the thought of Elliot killing her and gets rather insistent about it. She even begs him to do it at one point. “It’s ok,” she assures him, “If I die they’ll just resleeve me.”

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“General” Elliot. IMG: Netflix Screen Shot

Elliot is overtaken by disgust and drugs the girl instead. Then he grabs the weapons the girl gave him to murder her with and escapes into the hallway to find an access panel. He is supposed to hack the system to give Ava and Mickey access to the network and while doing so lets a couple of guards slip by that are headed for the parking terminal where Kovacs is still stuffed inside the trunk.

Kovacs uses his Envoy powers and sees the two guards coming and quickly doses himself with Reaper to lower his body temp so he doesn’t trip the thermal alarms. He dispatches the two guards and begins toward Reileen’s apartment. Vernon finally hacks the terminal and gets to Kovacs in just enough time for them to blow open Reileens door and toss the signal receiver with the Rawlins virus at Reileen’s feet. It finishes uploading just as the system security kicks in and boots Ava and Mickey out.

Reileen is caught and has no choice but to confess to Kovacs’s microwire cam. “Why are you doing this?” she asks him. “To give you another chance to become human,” he replies.  She then confesses everything. From framing Bancroft to coding her prostitutes with the Neo-C coding. She admits she framed Bancroft so he would stop Resolution 653. This was a resolution that would allow murder victims to be respun to give testimony despite them having Neo-C coding. Reileen couldn’t allow that or her whole operation would be in jeopardy. So she drugged Bancroft with a hyper sex drug, got him riled up so much he killed a girl by crushing her stack and then put the death of the mystery girl on him too. Reileen claims that Bancroft stopped the Resolution 653 from going through at the expense of his honor. And because of that he killed himself so he could forget. That something like honor could mean so much to a meth makes sense when viewing their tendency to warp emotions to extremes. Even Poe points out that the pardon Bancroft gave Kovacs was very thorough. He was a man of his word, if anything. Since Bancroft would never admit to killing himself, another narrative had to be created to satisfy him and throw him off the truth. Enter Kovacs and Reileen’s manipulation of him behind the scenes throughout the entire season.

So there it is. Reileen was the mastermind all along. And though that fact was revealed a couple episodes back, this episode really gets into the “why” of it all. Her motives as well as her plans and her continual professions of undying love and loyalty for Kovacs.

The episode ends when Vernon, who was holding a gun on Reileen, takes a throwing knife to the leg. The Ghost Walker stands in the door with more security behind him. Kovacs and Elliot appear to be screwed.

Author: That One Guy

Jason lives, laughs and loves in the Land of Enchantment. He has been many exciting things in his life, but his title has always been "author." His book, "The Ruined Man," was a finalist in the 2017 NM-AZ Book Awards. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/jasondegrayauthor Twitter: @infinityjones and Instagram @theruinedman and don't forget to check out his blog at universalshiftblog.wordpress.com

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