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Recap / Altered Carbon S 01 E 07 Nora Inu

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Title from: Stray Dog (1949)

"The danger of living too many times: You forget to fear death. We dismiss the Grim Reaper as a quaint metaphor. But fearing death? It's good for you. Death isn't only about the destruction of the body. Sometimes, just like that, you extinguish one self, and another is born. But every birth is violent, and there is no death without pain. We lived along side them. Or somewhere near them anyway. We trained with them. When Quell felt we were ready, we started running missions with them. I can't remember all the things Quell taught me. It was like oxygen soaking into me. She gave me the life I never had."
Takeshi Kovacs, Opening Narration
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As Kovacs reconnects with a figure from his past, his tangled history with the Protectorate, the Uprising and Quell plays out in flashbacks.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Abandoned Area: Godfreit Saito is based in an abandoned factory.
  • Abusive Parents: While we already saw that papa Kovacs was violent, the opening reveals he murdered Takeshi and Reileen's mother.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Tak and Rei burst out laughing at the absurdity of their Run or Die situation, and then break into tears and hug.
  • Adrenaline Time: Used during the training combat scene where Falconer takes out all her attackers.
  • Alien Sky: Harlan's World has two moons.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Rei argues this In-Universe after Quellcrist personally goes back to rescue Takeshi, which lets C-TAC know the most wanted insurgent in the Protectorate is on Harlan's World. Tak regards this as an act of Undying Loyalty, whereas Rei says the Envoys were Just Following Orders from Quell who wanted to make sure he didn't talk under interrogation.
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  • Armor Is Useless: CTAC "armor" is completely worthless and is easily penetrated by every weapon used against it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The target of a C-TAC raid is noted as this:
    Jaeger: Target is a Yakuza kumichō named Godfreit Saito. Domestic terror, murder, prostitution. And he doesn't pay his taxes. Whoops.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Reileen and Takeshi vs the Yakuza and C-TAC.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Quellcrist is so good at this she can catch a blade by the handle, without looking.
  • Battle Discretion Shot
    • A raid is only depicted by what happens in the Envoy needlecast facility, and everyone describing what happened afterwards.
    • The famous Battle of Stronghold begins with everyone tensing up for no apparent reason and turning to Death Glare at each other. By the time Takeshi returns, Everybody's Dead, Dave and the Praetorians are striding through the ash hunting for survivors.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Quell breaks into Yaeger's virtual prison and rescues Kovacs.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Quell does this during her demonstration of the Envoy technique.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Little Rei gets blood splatter on her face when Tak shoots the father from behind.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Takeshi puts his love for Quellcrist and her cause over his love for his sister and their promise to be together forever. So Reileen decides to Murder the Hypotenuse.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Deconstructed; what happens when familial love is stronger than pack loyalty?
  • Call-Back:
    • We finally see the enormous Sonspire Tree Kovacs spoke of in the premiere episode. It's several hundred feet larger than the Bancroft's one, and the entire Envoy base is centered in a cave system it created on Harlan's World.
    • Several people that Takeshi encountered in previous episodes are now revealed to have been Reileen using different sleeves to manipulate events.
      • The little girl from "Fallen Angel" that Takeshi met in the Quellist exhibit, who complained about an Alpha Bitch stealing her best friend from childhood, and saying you shouldn't hold onto grudges, is now revealed to be Reileen explaining her motives to her big brother.
      • Clarissa Severin from "A Lonely Place" who persuaded Laurens Bancroft to resleeve Takeshi, playing on his obsession with Envoys.
      • Hemingway from "Man With My Face", who sent Dimi One to fetch Takeshi in "Out of the Past".
  • Child Soldier: Both Rei and Tak become these following their father's death. Tak the military version and Rei the gang version.
  • Computer Virus:
    • Quell reveals in flashbacks that she created one called Acheron, which downloads into DHF and gives every human mind infected a lifespan of 100 years, regardless of the resleeving. She wanted to infect all humans to protect against the dangers of immortality.
    • A weaponised version is the Rawling virus. Downloaded directly into the stack, it causes the person infected to go murderously insane.
  • Conflicting Loyalties:
    • Takeshi is a loyal and unquestioning attack dog for C-TAC until he encounters his sister, the one person he has a greater bond to. Reileen in turn was a loyal killer for the Yakuza because she had no-one else. The siblings then instantly turn against their own employers.
    • Reileen and her brother accept the protection of Quellcrist Falconer, but when Tak becomes so swept up in her cause he's willing to die for it, Rei betrays the Envoys to the Protectorate.
    • And now in the present, Takeshi discovers that his sister is the Hidden Villain who employed the Ghostwalker who killed Samir and tried to kill Taks' current lover Ortega.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: According to Tak, his C-TAC training involved burning out "every evolved violence-limitation instinct in the human psyche and replace it with a conscious will to do harm."
  • Covered in Scars: The first time Kovacs needlecasts back into his original sleeve, he finds it like this, but otherwise in fantastic physical shape, with good reflexes and a C-TAC brand on the shoulder.
  • Dare to Be Badass:
    • Jaeger combines this with promising to have Reileen taken care of with a loving family to convince Takeshi to join C-TAC.
    • Falconer delivers such a speech to get everyone to sign on to the Suicide Mission.
  • The Dead Have Names: Quell's journal turns out to have the names of all her friends who have died in the war.
  • Death Is Cheap: Reileen did die in the shuttle explosion, but she has already backed up her stack.
  • Democracy Is Bad: When Jimmy de Soto votes against including a Protectorate deserter in their ranks, Quellcrist says she's not running a democracy. Wasn't it supposed to be an autonomous collective?
  • Disposing of a Body: Takeshi reveals to Jaeger that his father dumped his mother's body in a coolant pool, which destroyed it enough that the police bought the story that she ran away.
  • Do You Trust Me?: Takeshi asks this of his sister. She gives a blunt no. Then follows him anyway.
  • Enemy Mine: One of the reasons Tak and Rei join the Envoys.
  • Eye Scream: De Soto cut out his own eye when infected with the Hate Plague.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Flashbacks reveal de Soto and Kovacs became this eventually, just before de Soto's death.
  • Given Name Reveal: Quellcrist Falconer reveals herself to be Nadia Makita — the scientist who invented stacking — to Takeshi.
  • Hate Plague: The Rawling Virus. It's how the Envoys were defeated. Reileen helped the Protectorate forces infect them with one, and most of them killed each other. To add insult to injury, the plague prevents an infected from killing themselves to save others. Tak, Rei, and Quell were out of range when it was deployed.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Jaeger chooses not to wear his helmet in combat which helps to tell him apart from the rest of his Faceless Mooks.
  • Heroic BSoD: Kovacs after his lover and sister died in the shuttle.
  • Honor Before Reason: Kovacs insists on Reileen saving the current sleeve he is in (Ryker) because it is special to Ortega. This means he has to undergo the agonizing treatment for his wounds, while suffering from sepsis and heavily drugged.
  • Hope Spot: When it looks like Falconer and Rei have escaped with the shuttle.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: De Soto asks Kovacs to kill him to keep him from hurting himself or others.
  • I Don't Want to Die: Reileen doesn't believe in the Envoy cause and has no intention of giving up her ability to live forever with her brother.
    Quellcrist: Why?
    Reileen: They promised me life.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: De Soto invokes this when trying to explain that he didn't sabotage Takeshi during a mission.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Upon seeing Quell and Rei's ship take off, Tak is ecstatic that Jaeger failed to kill her. Then the ship is shot down five seconds later right in front of him.
  • It Was a Gift: Reileen keeps her mother's necklace, and her brother recognises it when She Is All Grown Up.
  • La Résistance: Kovacs and Rei meet and become part of the Quellists, a resistance group around Falconer.
  • Line in the Sand: Falconer asking for a show of hands for the proposed Suicide Mission.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Rei believes this, and it eventually is one of the driving factors that causes her to betray the Envoys.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Reileen is forced to use one on Kovacs after he succumbs to his stab wounds.
  • Meaningful Look: Kovacs and Rei share one when they meet as adults and silently decide to turn against their masters.
  • The Mole: The ending reveals that Reileen was one for the Protectorate against the Envoys.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the flashback, Quellcrist reveals to Takeshi that she was the one who invented stacking, and her revolt against the Protectorate is partially born from guilt at the effects her work would eventually have on humanity.
  • Not Afraid to Die: When the Envoys capture Reileen, she calls on her brother to Kill ’Em All as she's not afraid to die. But Tak doesn't want her to die, so he surrenders instead. Then when Tak is willing to die in a Suicide Mission, Rei decides she wants them both to live after all.
  • Now or Never Kiss: And some. Kovacs and Falconer have sex the night before their Suicide Mission.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Kovacs touches his ear repeatedly while in radio contact with Rei.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The scene of Falconer and Rei in the shuttle is shown twice. First it shows both dying in the explosion. Later Rei recounts the event and this time we get to see what really happened.
  • One-Woman Wail: Plays when Kovacs mourns the death of Falconer and Rei in the shuttle shoot-down.
  • Origins Episode: Most of the episode chronicles Takeshi and Reileen's past before the start of the series.
  • Parental Substitute: Flashbacks reveal that Jaeger filled this role for Takeshi after he killed his father. It brings new meaning to Jaeger's reasoning for killing Sara, because Kovacs "disrespected (him)".
  • Patricide: Flashbacks reveal Takeshi RD'd his father to save Reileen, by shooting him through the stack.
  • Reality Ensues: Fightdrome is completely filthy, and Kovacs gets an infection after being stabbed several times and having the grime ground into the wounds during his fight with Dimi Two. Plus he has serious internal bleeding and the Reaper from the blades is counteracting the antibiotics.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: Even in the future. Jaeger tells boy Takeshi that his sister will be placed with a good family. She's already been sold off to the Yakuza. Whether Jaegar was responsible for this is unknown, but his insistence that Kovacs never contact his sister (ostensibly to protect her from retaliation) implies that he certainly knew about it.
  • The Reveal: Several.
    • C-TAC stands for Colonial Tactical Assault Corps. Also, they avoid the Cloning Blues insanity that comes with needlecasting to new bodies too often by keeping their originals in stasis while on missions, then moving back to them during shore leave, along with a reacclimatization cocktail of drugs. It's a knockoff version of what the Envoys are capable of, but it works.
    • All of the Envoy Super Soldier abilities are based on training. Quell even demonstrates that it can easily outclass the Training from Hell the Praetorians receive.
    • Stronghold is located on Harlan's World, the homeworld of Takeshi and Reileen. Together, they discovered the cave system and the enormous Songspire tree where the Envoys would later set up shop.
    • "Quellcrist Falconer" is only an alias used by Nadia Makita, the inventor of the Cortical Stack technology. She developed it explicitly for interstellar travel. She compares the technology to the ancient network of roads built by the Roman Empire to let their military conquer the known world.
    • In the museum display, the Envoys are shown murdering unarmed women and children. Turns out the reason was they were infected with a C-TAC Hate Plague.
  • Short-Lived Aerial Escape: Falconer and Rei's escape with the shuttle doesn't last long.
  • Sole Survivor: Rei and Tak are this for the Envoy massacre at stronghold.
  • Spotting the Thread: Tak becomes suspicious of Rei in the present after realizing her story of surviving the massacre doesn't make sense. Then he finds all of her cloned sleeves, revealing she was masquerading as Clarissa Severin, Hemmingway, and even the unnamed school girl in the museum.
  • Start of Darkness: Kovacs killing his father gets him and Rei separated, with Kovacs forcibly enlisted in C-TAC and Rei sold to the Yakuza.
  • Stupid Evil: There is no stated reason for Jaeger not following through with his promise of putting Rei with a good family, instead of handing her to the Yakuza. It would have saved a lot of trouble, been legal, and definitely ensured Takeshi's loyalty. Then he makes the idiotic move of targeting the Yakuza with a strike team containing Kovacs, making even more likely Kovacs would discover his duplicity.
  • Suicide Mission: The final mission of the Envoys to infiltrate the Protectorate's central data core and deliver the Acheron virus is meant to be this. Takeshi volunteers without hesitation, much to Rei's chagrin.
  • Super Soldier: The C-TAC Spec Ops Praetorians are made up of these, with Power Armor to boot and a mix of reflex enhancing cocktails in their system. However, they're still outclassed by the Envoys. Kovacs is especially valuable as an Envoy because he is able to combine both sets of training.
  • Tap on the Head: Kovacs gets pistol whipped with a BFG by one of the Envoy mooks, by way of introduction to Quellcrist. There is a Smash to Black as he goes out.
  • Tattooed Crook: Reileen's dragon facial tattoo was a mark from her time as a member of the Yakuza. It helps the audience differentiate between the real her and Kovac's imaginary version/memory of her, as in his fantasy she still has the tattoo, but in the present the cloned sleeve she wears did not have it reapplied. She does, however, maintain the Envoy tattoo.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Tak has been convicted of murdering his father, as he can't prove he was acting in defense of his sister. Recognising that he has useful traits of ruthlessness combined with loyalty that he can exploit, Jaeger recruits Tak for the Famed In-Story C-TAC.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: As soon as Tak and Reileen realize they've been betrayed by their respective superiors, they slaughter both groups and go on the run.
  • Yandere: Rei reveals she betrayed the Envoys for Tak, i.e. she helped kill all of her brother's friends and his lover just to be with him.
  • Your Mom: After Kovacs gets captured by the Praetorians, Jaeger asks him in a Virtual Reality Interrogation who the woman was they saw during the heist. Kovacs defiantly tells him it was his mother.

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