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Recap / Altered Carbon S 01 E 08 Clash By Night

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Title from: Clash by Night (1952)

"What we believe shapes who we are. Belief can bring salvation or destruction. But when you believe a lie for too long, the truth doesn't set you free. It tears you apart. Sometimes belief isn't about what we can see. It's about what we can't. People talk about Envoy Intuition like it's magic. It's not. It's a pull at the back of the mind. A scratch inside your skull that won't go away. It's the details. I knew the date and time of Bancroft's death. The telescope returned to the same position it was in when he looked through it, right before he died."
Takeshi Kovacs, Opening Narration
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Faced with his sister's treachery, Kovacs gets Vernon's wife Ava released into a male sleeve to help him convince Laurens that his lawyer Oumou Prescott is the murderer. Ortega tries to determine the identity of the mystery woman who saved Kovacs.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked by Rei. She believes Quell was insane and was going to get all of the Envoys killed on a mad and doomed crusade.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: When Kovacs proves to be stubborn, Reileen makes it clear that she will have Vernon and Ortega tortured in one of her virtual reality clinics until they go insane.
  • Asshole Victim: Two:
    • Kovacs frames Prescott for Bancroft's murder and, while her life falls apart because of a false accusation on fabricated evidence, it's hard to feel bad for her when she's spent practically all of her onscreen time threathening, pushing around and generally abusing all the non meths she encounters.
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    • Dick, the Prick Up A.I. is this in spades. While having a friendly game of cards with Poe, he casually asks to buy Lizzie from him as a mentally disturbed Sex Slave. Poe responds by killing him on the spot with Rawling Virus for threatening his guest.
  • Awful Truth: Lizzie's condition is this to Ava when Vernon is forced to reveal it to her. However, it is followed by the Heartwarming Moment of the reunion between all three.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: The whole police department goes quiet when a bruised and bloodstained Ortega enters, after she's been publically named as a Dirty Cop by the media.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: After Kovacs successfully frames Prescott for Laurens' murder, Laurens tells Prescott that he won't press charges against her. Before she can finish thanking him, he coldly tells her that he will personally see to it that she is ruined and will never see the Aerium again.
    Bancroft: I'm not gonna press charges.
    Prescott: [sighs] Thank you.
    Bancroft: No. I am going to ruin you.
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  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Ortega uses her artificial limb to block the strokes from Rei's katana.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Turns out the Ghostwalker doesn’t believe in the old gods who never answered humanity's prayers, but the new Meth gods who control their lives now and can actively grant our wishes if obeyed. Given what he’s seen of Meth behaviour, Kovacs is not impressed by this argument.
  • Blindfolded Trip: When leaving Reileen's lair, Kovacs only agrees to put on a mask after the Ghostwalker's Implied Death Threat against his friends.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: By order of Reileen, Kovacs tells Ortega that it's over between them and that she meant nothing to him. She sees through it, but is still deeply hurt by it.
  • Broken Pedestal: Kovacs is disappointed about what the 250 years did to his sister.
  • Cardboard Box of Unemployment: In this case Ortega is using a plastic crate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several:
    • The destroyed stacks of the Envoys killed at Stronghold comeback. Turns out the pieces are still infected with the Rawlings Virus, or at least enough for Ava to successfully recreate it. They then use it to kill Dick, the Prick Up A.I.
    • The VHS tapes of from Fight Drone come back, having been digitally scanned by the police and placed on the BCP server. Even though Prescott had them erased, but a case of Reality Ensues and Ava is able to retrieve them.
    • Reileen's little girl sleeve that she used to initially make contact with Takeshi comes back into play when it is the only working sleeve she has on hand after Ortega kills all of her clones. She ends up needlecasting into it and fooling Ortega into thinking the sleeve is actually a kidnapped child who Ortega proceeds to "rescue".
    • Bancroft's telescope in Sun Touch House comes back into play. Kovacs resets it to see what Bancroft was looking at with it right before he died: Head in the Clouds.
  • Children Are Innocent: Invoked by Reileen. She successfully fools Ortega into "rescuing" her from Psychasec by needlecasting into a little girl sleeve and pretending to be a hostage.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Ortega fights against several of Reileen's clones in the cloning facility. While this character is usually portrayed as an extremely capable fighter, Ortega kills at least half a dozen. To be fair, Ortega has a gun while the clones are unarmed, suffering activation sickness, and well out of melee range when they activate.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Rei mentions in passing that she paid Tanaka to falsify Laurens' autopsy report, to cover up the presence of Stallion in his system. However, she is adamant that she didn't have him actually killed.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Reileen begins explaining the conspiracy behind Laurens' death, then cuts off before giving out too many specifics. Apparently it involved "giving him what he always wanted", a dose of the drug Stallion in his system, and Captain Tanaka being payed to forge the autopsy report to cover it up.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Tanaka told internal affairs that he "Fell Down" to explain his broken back (actually courtesy of an angry Ortega). To add insult to injury, he had to use up his full quota of medical treatments for the year to get it fixed.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Ortega tries to call Mickey for help, but her signal won't leave the Vault.
  • Destination Defenestration: Rei's clones smash out of their pods to attack Ortega, which also gives them shattered glass to use as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Rei seems utterly convinced that she can bring Tak back to her, but every bit she reveals makes him increasingly disgusted and less likely to trust her in any way.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Laurens is disappointed that the reason for death involved just ordinary human weakness and greed. However by offering Prescott as the perpetuator, Kovacs gives Laurens someone to work out his anger on, so he keeps his word and gives Kovacs his freedom on condition he never speak of what happened.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Lampshaded when Kovacs tells the Ghostwalker to just cut to the fighting when he gives his “Are you a believer?” Pre Ass Kicking One Liner. However the Ghostwalker is not there to kill him; just make sure he does what he’s told.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: When Ortega collapses due to a stab wound during her fight with Reileen's clones, she looks towards the camera while a clone picks up a sword from the wall in the background and sneaks up on Ortega from behind.
  • Eureka Moment: Kovacs realizes the truth of Bancroft's death when he looks through Bancroft's telescope and sees the Head in the Clouds satellite.
  • Family of Choice: Averted; Kovacs protests that the Envoys were their family, but the only family Reileen recognises is her brother.
  • Fan Disservice: Reileen butt naked, hot. Butt naked while having cuts all over her and walking on broken glass, a little less hot.
  • Frame-Up: Kovacs successfully frames Prescott for Bancroft's murder. Under this scenario, while on a business trip with Bancroft and sleeved into a pretty blonde woman, Prescott was raped and then fired by Bancroft. She forged his signature on an invoice to repair the sleeve, then had him infected with the Rawlings Virus when he went to visit Prick Up, which subsequently was destroyed by the virus as well. Upon showing symptoms when he returned to Sun Touch House, Bancroft attempted suicide but the virus restricted him from pulling the trigger. Prescott appeared, gave him a Motive Rant, and waited for his timed backup to spread the virus to all his clones, preventing him from resleeving. However, Bancroft faked the backup and Prescott gave him a Mercy Kill before the actual backup occurred. In reality, none of this happened. Kovacs had Ava fake the invoice for the sleeve repair, and used to footage of Bancroft entering Fight Drome to make it look like he went into Prick Up, and Poe killed the Prick Up A.I. Dick with Rawlings to make it look like he died from being infected when Bancroft was. At this point in the episode, Kovacs still doesn't actually know how Bancroft died.
  • Friend on the Force: Mickey becomes this to Ortega, although very reluctantly.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Ortega fights several copies of the villain one after the other, since she's in the vault that keeps the villain's spare clone bodies and they keep resleeving when killed. The clones are stored naked and for obvious reasons there's no time to get clothed so they do all the combat naked.
  • The Glomp: Ortega throws herself on Kovacs, relieved that he's still alive. Kovacs pretends not to be affected by this, asserting that she's only relieved to find Ryker's sleeve intact.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When we get to see the version of how Prescott murdered Bancroft. The shot to his neck is heard followed by blood splattered on the wall.
  • Groin Attack: Vernon argues that, in order to regain hand-eye coordination, Poe should teach Lizzie sewing/tennis/violin, Poe responds with the gem:
    Poe: To the best of my knowledge no one has ever crushed the testicles of an assailant using a stringed instrument.
  • Has a Type: Coming face-to-face with Ortega, Reileen mocks her brother’s liking for beautiful and determined Action Girls who are Too Dumb to Live.
  • He Who Fights Monsters
    Ava: This is wrong. We're about to destroy her life.
    Vernon: And people like her destroyed Lizzie's.
    Ava: I don't want to be people like her.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Leung gives a speech to Kovacs about how the Meths are no longer human, but actual gods. They do after all, never die and are all powerful.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted with one of Reileen's clones. After being shot in the stomach she plays dead and attacks Ortega with other clones. Once Ortega dropped her guard, she needle-cast back to the wounded clone for a sneak attack.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Prescott plants evidence with the media that Ortega is a Dirty Cop involved in underground fight rackets (to explain what she was doing at Fight Drone), and then gets framed in turn by Kovacs.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Laurens signs off on Kovacs freedom, but makes it clear he'll be killed if he talks. Kovacs replies with a sardonic, "It's been nice working with you."
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: An Invoked Trope; Poe has a habit of playing (and losing) online poker with other AI. When a virtual brothel's persona hears that he's hosting the digitized personality of an insane sex worker he suggests putting her in the pot for clients who Loves the Sound of Screaming. However, Kovacs needed to infect a brothel with Rawling virus as part of his plans, so Poe sent him the virus instead.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Mickey admits that he is in love with Ortega, but he refuses to help her past a certain point, and says that on the day he gets fired We Do Not Know Each Other, because he doesn’t want to get fired as well.
  • Love Makes You Evil: If there’s any doubt as to just how evil Reileen’s obsession with her brother plus 250 years as a Meth has made her, this episode settles it.
  • Noodle Incident: Mickey references a time when he nearly got fired for telling Ortega he could see her nipples through her shirt.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Prick Up AI scoffs at Poe who apparently thought it was bowling night at their AI Union meeting hall. However Poe is just playing dumb so it won't look strange that he suddenly turned up to play cards with an AI who's a better player.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Kovacs casually pulls out the pieces of the stacks of the Envoys killed at Stronghold, meaning he robbed the museum exhibit completely offscreen with no one the wiser.
  • Pet the Dog: Kovacs conceivably could have hired any "dipper" that money could buy, but he specifically requested Ava Elliot, Vernon's wife, in order to reunite them. Reileen, however, responded with her own Kick the Dog by having Ava deliberately resleeved in a male body.
  • Punched Across the Room: Ortega punches Reileen hard enough in the chest that her back ribs actually bend outwards, then punches her across the room.
  • Reality Ensues: Reileen's fight with Ortega. Reileen is naked, walking on broken glass, with occasionally the help of a Katana and virtually no cover from fire. Ortega has a pistol and a super-strong arm and boots. Ortega damn near curbstomps Reileen, who only wins through trickery and exhausting Ortega by continually throwing clones at her as she kills them.
  • The Reveal: Combined with Internal Reveal.
    • Rei reveals that her motivation to betray the Envoys was partly greed, partly the belief that Quell was insane, and partly a selfish desire to keep Takeshi all to herself.
    • Rei owned the Wei Clinic, but had nothing to do with Tak being tortured there, and would have rescued him if she had known. She has several more clinics.
    • Leung, the Ghostwalker, is in Rei's employee, and is utterly convinced she is an honest-to-goodness God on Earth.
    • Head in the Clouds is actually Rei's flying fortress.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Ortega blackmails a Psychasec tech into letting her into the mystery vault. Unfortunately he locks her in the vault with a very dangerous Reileen just as she resleeves into one of her clones.
  • Summation Gathering: Kovacs invokes this when he presents his findings to Bancroft. Prescott lampshades the fact that he chose the format because it allows him to better manipulate Laurens Bancroft. Kovacs surrounds Bancroft with a group of people who all have motive for harming him and stand to lose everything if they lose Bancroft's favor. These include Isaac Bancroft, Miriam Bancroft, Captain Tanaka, and Oumou Prescott. When Kovacs accuses one of them, the others are relieved that the spotlight is off them and are greatly motivated not to question him. They then try their best to convince Bancroft that Kovacs is right.
  • Stupid Evil: Dick, the Prick Up A.I. makes the mistake of threatening Lizzie in front of Poe, who has imprinted on her as a guest, and thus is fanatically devoted to protecting her. Dick should know this, as he is a former hotel A.I. himself. This gets him killed.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: Rei tries a twisted version of this on Tak when he comes close to beheading her with her own katana.
    Reileen: Kill me, if that's what you need. I'll come back for you, big brother. No matter what. I'll always come back for you.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Kovacs never breaks out of this while listening to Rei's motive rant at the start of the episode. Unusually for this trope, he actually manages to hold a conversation while maintaining it.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Ortega's Cowboy Cop behavior finally catches up with her, and Tanaka fires/suspends her. However, there are some additional circumstances, such as covering his own corruption and trying to keep Ortega from getting herself killed.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Played for Black Comedy between the Ghostwalker and Kovacs.
  • Wall of Weapons: Reileen has edged weapons on the walls of her apartment and even in her clone vault at Psychasec.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Invoked by Reileen when threatening her brother’s new friends.
  • Who Are You?: When asked this (repeatedly) by Ortega, Reileen's answer is "nobody".
  • What an Idiot!: Invoked by Rei. She hired Dimitri to bring Kovacs to her after he was released from Alcatraz, but Dimitri was an idiot and botched it completely.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: One of the perks of Lizzie's virtual therapy is that the virtual world can act like this, allowing a human to become a near Instant Expert. Under Poe's tutelage, Lizzie has become a crack shot and fighter in a matter of days.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Kovac's nonverbal reaction to Reileen's congratulations on playing Bancroft.
  • You're Insane!: Kovacs to Leung:
    Kovacs: Has anyone told you that you're really fucked up in here? (Puts two fingers on Leung's temple)

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