“Bury Me Dead” opens with Quellcrist Falconer on a familiar shore, leaving the status of Trepp Imani and Takeshi Kovacs open for at least one major scene. In the closing moments of the last episode, Falconer attacked Imani, and Kovacs was thrown off a cliff by the “Prime” version of himself. Of course, neither major protagonist could go out like that, but the suspense as to their fate is a little fun, at least for one scene.
Overall, this episode is designed primarily to bring the two versions of Kovacs together, united in one cause against Danica Harlan, Colonel Carrera, and anyone else who gets in their way. It’s a solid, reasonably entertaining hour, but also somewhat forgettable in the grand arc of Altered Carbon, outside of a cool fight between Will Yun Lee and Renée Elise Goldsberry and some decent flashbacks with Dichen Lachman. Like most episodes, it ends with a nice twist, this one being that the rebel uprising is being orchestrated by the government on Harlan’s World and its leader is just a worthless pawn, but it’s mostly a chapter that’s designed to set the table for the final two episodes, in which a quartet of genetically modified people, two of whom are technically different versions of the same person, will take on the world.
Before then, Kovacs Prime tries to manipulate Quell into taking him to her hidden weapon. He’s still following his mentor’s orders via an earpiece, and Carrera can monitor his actions. Harlan wants Quell killed instantly, but Kovacs Prime wants more about her mission, and is probably a bit curious about what is both his past and his future if you think about it. He convinces her that the newest version of Takeshi manipulated her as Carrera watches from afar and orders his team to move in on their location.
Quell wants to show Kovacs Prime a thing or two as well. She takes him to a cave where he sees a hologram of his sister Rei imprisoning Falconer there for generations. Rei would return and warm her back up and cause her pain, drop some exposition on her that helps the show, and then spin her back down again. She was down there for over a century as the universe fell apart without her — the irony being that she preached real death, and was forced to keep living. In one memory, Rei tells Quell how Takeshi betrayed her, turning on his unit, and reveals that she’s jealous of what Quell meant to her brother. And then she buried her for good in a place that Takeshi could have walked over and not realized she was there.
Speaking of the current Takeshi Kovacs, he’s unconscious and yet still holding onto a small ledge with his left hand. Impressive. It turns out that this sleeve has “subconscious survival reflexes,” which save his life, along with the rope thrown down by Trepp, of course. Even with broken ribs and other injuries, he marches off into the woods to find Kovacs Prime and Quell.
After an excellent fight scene between Goldsberry and Lee after she reveals that she knows he can’t be trusted, everyone reunites at the gunpoint of Joshua Kemp (Matt Ellis) and the rebels that he leads. They interrogate Quell to make sure she’s who she appears to be, using a complex system that tests mind and body. She reveals a Kemp family secret, which convinces him that she’s who she says she is, and it looks like our heroes may have a team to help them fight. But which side is Kovacs Prime on?
Of course, the footage of his sister has rattled the original Kovacs, and he chats with the new version of himself about how he would eventually kill Rei, even suggesting that she wanted to die. It’s a good scene for the two actors as Tak reveals to Prime how much of this was Jaeger/Carrera’s fault, and how he sold Rei to the Yakuza. He’s the real monster, the one who set all of this in motion. Rei was just riding on borrowed time, and Jaeger is the one who will have to pay. The only question really remaining this season is which version of Takeshi Kovacs gets to kill him. Probably a little bit of vengeance from both of them is in the cards.
The feeling of safety with the rebels seems to last only mere minutes. First, Trepp asks Kemp about her brother and gets shady. Second, he seems to be pushing hard for information about the weapon that Quell has been hiding. And then Trepp reveals that Kemp is wearing her brother’s stack around his neck like the dog tags of a dead enemy combatant. Not a smart move, buddy. Also damning is the fact that she knows that Takeshi’s signal to Kemp never went through. So how did he find them? He’s working with Harlan. There was never a real war. It’s a ruse, designed to keep Harlan in power. After all, wartime leaders are often popular ones.
And then Tak, Prime, Quell, and Trepp run as all hell breaks loose. As the rebels and soldiers descend on them, and Kemp gets shot to shreds by Harlan’s soldiers, Quell starts to have one of her episodes. She screams that she can’t hold it in as combat intensifies, and the sky opens up with blue beams of flame, incinerating their enemies as our troubled heroine screams like the Dark Phoenix. That’s one hell of a weapon.
• Carrera could be in trouble. We’ve seen what Danica Harlan does to political prisoners, and she has him arrested at the end of this episode for the capital crime of double-sleeving. I’m still the most uncertain about the endgame for this character, who seems to have no allies. We’ll see what the writers intend to do, but it could go both ways — using him to enact vengeance on Danica and then allowing the two Kovacs to get their justice on Jaeger.
• Only two episodes left! It feels like a lot could happen in those two, but I’m also kind of curious how they leave things open for a third season. The final arc of the first year was really well-done, as the show peaked creatively in its last episode. Let’s see if the same thing happens here.
• Let’s hope the endgame gets out of the woods. This is a show that has had fantastic production design at times but looks like it’s in someone’s backyard the last few episodes. Let’s end it somewhere that feels more like the future.