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Recap / Altered Carbon S 01 E 03 Ina Lonely Place

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Title from: In a Lonely Place (1950)

"Humanity has spread to the stars. We set out like ancient seafarers to explore the limitless ocean of space. But no matter how far we venture into the unknown, the worst monsters are those we bring with us. "
Takeshi Kovacs, Opening Narration
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Laurens Bancroft throws a lavish party at Suntouch House, encouraging all of his possible "murder" suspects to attend, and invites Kovacs observe them.


Tropes in this episode:

  • And I Must Scream: As part of Bancroft's themed party, each guest must bring something completely unique. Clarissa Severin brings up a large Boa Constrictor and reveals she illegally had a rapist and murderer resleeved inside it, just to see what would happen. Turns out he went completely insane, which she discovered when she put him back in a human body, prompting her to put him in the snake permanently.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Vernon doesn't like drugging the security camera observer with Reaper, and is sure to inform him exactly what he drugged him with. Then advises him (as he's passing out) to stay hydrated and takes some analgesics when he wakes up to counteract the effects.
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  • Beneath Notice: Vernon's cover at Bancroft's party involves impersonating one of the catering staff and handing out champagne.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Laurens Bancroft is somewhat prone to these, though given who he is and what he considers his place in the world to be, this is quite understandable. He delivers a sublime one when discussing Death Is Cheap with Kovacs.
    Laurens Bancroft: You've lost comrades, Mr Kovacs. People you cared for, or loved even. If you’d lived in this time, you could have them all back. So whatever the price is, surely you’d be happy to pay it.
    Kovacs: Death isn't up to us to give or withhold.
    Laurens Bancroft: Oh. You think we should leave it all to God, do you? (laughs) Oh, haven't you heard, Mr Kovacs? God is dead. We have taken his place.
  • Bookcase Passage: Suntouch has one, but it's been so poorly designed that it leaves scratches on the hardwood floor when opened/closed. Kovacs spots it almost immediately.
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  • Camera Spoofing: The Asian man spying on Kovacs is revealed to be able to do this in real time. He is completely invisible to Ortega's HUD, but visible in her unaltered eye.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Lampshaded by Bancroft noting that his son fell victim to this trope at the dinner party.
  • Chekhov's Gun: As Kovacs falls unconscious, he's able to slip his ONI bracelet off his wrist.
  • Cliffhanger: Takeshi is captured by a clone of Dmitri Kadmin.
  • Collector of the Strange: The theme for Bancroft's party is each guest must bring something unique. Isaac Bancroft presents the mummified hand of Conrad Harlan, the Founding Father of Harlan's World. Laurens brings Takeshi, as the last-living Envoy.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: The main course at Bancroft's party is a tiger.
  • Cool Guns: Takeshi ends up buying an Ingram 40 flechette gun, a prototype CTAC pistol that is armor piercing and can magnetically recall bullets so that it effectively has Bottomless Magazines.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Downplayed; Kovacs worries that the party Laurens is throwing is an opportunity for revenge and brings Vernon as backup. However Laurens just uses the party to put Kovacs in his place and warn him off continuing to see Miriam.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Isaac brings a desiccated human hand as his unique object. He then manipulates it into Flipping the Bird at all the party guests.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Two examples:
    • As a newly made expert in the field of Psychosurgery, Poe makes it abundantly clear to Vernon that the only way to help Lizzie in her current state is to remove her from human contact, including Vernon. He's desperate enough to consent to the procedure.
    • Kovacs performs a Mercy Kill on the husband of the Gladiator duo so that there can be an official victor of the match, as the pair both had Career Ending Injuries unless they were both resleeved and without a victor, there are no winnings. Kovacs then offers them his winnings, so they can both get upgraded sleeves.
  • Deadly Hug: Alice is able to knock out Kovacs this way, jabbing him with a hypo while hugging him.
  • Death Glare: Kovacs to Laurens when he shows him off as the prize exhibit of his theme party.
  • Domestic Abuse: The opening flashback shows the Kovacs patriarch as being both verbally and physically abusive to his wife, while their children hide in the closet.
  • Enemy Mine: Kovacs recruits Vernon Elliot as backup, with the promise of giving Lizzie the psychiatric treatment she desperately needs, and helping him out financially. To sweeten the pot, Kovacs even offers to keep investigating Lizzie's assault and assist Vernon in murdering Bancroft if he discovers Bancroft is responsible. It's later revealed that being able to quickly pull off this trope is part of Kovacs' Envoy training.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Clarissa Severin is introduced as being fascinated by Kovacs, then gleefully reveals she willing drove a man insane by trapping his mind in a snake. For Science!.
  • Evil Is Petty: Laurens continually shows this off. He hires a married gladiator couple to fight to the death at least partially just to mess with Kovacs. Then when Kovacs tries to stop the husband from beating the wife to death, Laurens immediately tells the husband to kill Kovacs with the promise to upgrade them both.
  • Exact Words:
    • Bancroft is adamant that he has never taken a human life, unlike Takeshi. He's simply performed organic damage on people and had them resleeved.
    • You should Read the Fine Print when someone like Clarissa offers you a place by her side.
  • Exotic Entree: The Bancrofts are serving a whole tiger as an appetizer.
  • Fancy Dinner: The Bancrofts host a fancy dinner party to get all their enemies together. It doesn't help Kovacs to make any progress in his investigation though.
  • Fantastic Drug: Continuing the trend, Kovacs buys a knife coated in "Reaper", a drug originally developed to study Near Death Experiences. The knife is designed to deliver more of the drug the deeper it goes into the human body. Vernon gives a security guard a barely noticeable prick and it works as damn near Instant Sedation.
  • Finish Him!: For once done at the behest of the fighter, not the person hosting it. Kovacs gives the male gladiator the Coup de Grâce so there will be a death and they can claim new bodies.
  • Foreshadowing: Clarissa and Oumou reveal that it was Clarissa who convinced Laurens to spin Takeshi back up, and even tracked down his stack to do so.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Another reason Kovacs recruits Vernon is because he anticipates Vernon may have a few of these. Turns out he has a friend who peddles guns while running a front as a candy peddling street vendor.
  • Gladiator Games: Bancroft throughs a thoroughly Sci-Fi version. Null-Gravity Knife Fighting. To add insult to injury, the performers have been so Conditioned to Accept Horror that they are actually a married couple trying to kill eachother, with the promise of the winner getting an upgraded sleeve and the loser getting a downgraded one. They claim their children are used to their parents coming home in different sleeves after every game, but Kovacs and Ortega disagree.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Dmitri's henchman slices Alice's throat, the scene cuts to a red stream of blood on a wall.
  • Grand Theft Me: Played with. Miriam Bancroft's daughter Naomi has a habit of stealing an unused sleeve every once in a while to have sex with her boyfriend.
  • Gravity Screw: Bancroft has an entire circular arena set up in Suntouch House that operates in zero gravity, with spectators watching from various levels.
  • Gun Porn: As per usual with any buying-weapons-from-illegal-Arms Dealer scene.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Vernon willing hands over his daughter's stack, but promises to torch the Raven and everything in it if Poe harms her.
  • Headbutt of Love: Young Kovacs and his sister do this in the cupboard after promising each other to never face their father alone again.
  • Hemo Erotic: Not from the gladiators themselves, but several of the audience members seem quite aroused by being spattered with their blood. One woman even licks it off herself with glee.
  • Human Pet: A literal one with a human mind downloaded into a pet snake. Kovacs is also derided as just an "overbred pet" of Laurens.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Samir will have you know that he is a Muslim not a Monk, and doesn't begrudge non-Muslim infidels from a little mood modification.
  • Immortal Immaturity: When told that the guests had been asked to bring something unique, Kovacs scoffs at the idea.
    Kovacs: A theme party? What is he, 12?
  • Incest Subtext: Naomi likes having sex with people while wearing her mother's sleeve. She claims this is because they are state-of-the-art. Kovacs is squicked out by it.
  • Inheritance Murder: Kovacs suspects this may be the motive behind Bancroft's "murder", as the gun was in a safe that could only be opened by his or Miriam's sleeves, and at least one of their children has a habit of stealing said sleeve. Naomi corrects him that this is ridiculous, as part of Lauren's will states that if he dies for real, the entire family gets absolutely nothing.
  • Instant Expert: Justified. Poe is an AI that can instantly download just about any license for any skill on record. He ends up downloading a degree in Psychosurgery Therapeutics in less than a second.
  • Ironic Echo: When Ortega protests that Kovacs isn't licensed to Null-Gravity Performances, Bancroft nonchalantly chalks it up to "One of those unfortunate accidents" with the paperwork. Ortega proceeds to blow out the machine suspending the gravity, then claims the gun just went off as "One of those unfortunate accidents."
  • Is That What They Are Calling It Now: Kovacs says that Miriam was in his apartment looking for leverage. Ortega responses sarcastically, "And did she get any? Leverage?"
  • Kick the Dog: Laurens makes a show of boasting to the entire party that he is the only person in the entire Protectorate who owns an Envoy: Takeshi.
  • Kinda Busy Here: When Takeshi ends up in the ring, he calls for his backup who's busy hacking into Bancroft's computer. Not realising what's going on, Vernon just says he'll call Takeshi back.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shown to be part of their Envoy training in a flashback scene; recruit a capable group of locals and make them loyal to you, though ultimately they're expendable. Kovacs is implied to be doing this with Vernon.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Poe sadly reveals that Vernon continually spinning up Lizzie in her traumatized state has been causing her condition to continuously deteriorate.
    • Vernon leaves Kovacs to do some hacking on Lizzie's case, just before Kovacs needs his backup. Kovacs is so annoyed at this he refuses to take Vernon along when visiting Alice again, allowing him to get captured.
  • Not So Different: Inverted. Laurens tells Kovacs he can't understand loving someone for over a hundred years, so that they become an object of veneration. Little does he know that Kovacs is still in love with his long-dead lover and idol Quellcrist Falconer.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Subverted. It looks like Miriam does this, appearing on the ground floor of Suntouch one moment, and on the next level less than 5 seconds later. The high level Miriam is then revealed to actually Naomi using a stolen sleeve.
  • Older Than They Look: Naomi is actually 67.
  • Preemptive Apology: Alice sincerely apologizes to Kovacs as she betrays and drugs him.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Several examples:
    • Bancroft made a list of every possible person who could want to kill him and invited them to dinner.
    • Vernon's Arms Dealer friend ends up taking a shot at him to demonstrate the power of the Ingram 40. Kovacs nearly blows his head off in retaliation before realizing what he was doing.
    • Ortega decides to try and track down Mary Lou Henchy's killer at the party, reasoning she fell from such a great distance that it could only have been a Meth who killed her because the Aeirum city is at/near the height she fell from. She does this knowing full well that if the Meths realize what she is doing, her career is over.
    • Kovacs brings his silly pink backpack full of guns and hands it the security guard who's x-raying all party guests.
    "I would have left it in the car, but I really don't trust this neighborhood. "
    • Ortega destroys the Null Gravity field with a stolen gun in full view of all the guests, then claims it was an accident with a straight face.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The climax sees Kovacs face off against two gladiators in Zero-G. He is the technician to their performers. They are trained to draw out the fights as long as possible, with showy moves for the audience. He's a Super Soldier Combat Pragmatist trained to end the fight as soon as possible. The only reason they last as long as they do is because he's not used to fighting in zero-g, and Laurens arms the husband with a knife to spice things up.
  • White Shirt of Death: The Zero-G Gladiators wear crisp white uniforms to show off the blood they draw from each other.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Much of the Meths jerkass behavior is because they're bored and feel detached from the morals of contemporary society. This doesn't stop people like Bancroft's attorney from wanting to be Meths themselves.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Dmitri Kadmin kills Alice's sleeve after she helps him by betraying and drugging Takeshi.

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