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Altered Carbon ends each episode with an animation made up of fire-colored particles that seem to leave trails behind them. (Does anyone have a better description?)

Each episode shows something different once the particles take shape. I'm expecting that each one means something for that particular episode (or perhaps as a hint for the next one).

Has anyone figured out what they mean?

If they are hints, and would give things away from later episodes, please hide your answers in spoiler tags or link to an external site. Thanks!

  • 2
    From my quick runthrough they do seem to relate to the next episode in some way or another, – Paulie_D Feb 16 '18 at 11:25
  • I'd have to go back and look at them when I get the time, but I'm actually pretty surprised no one's tried to answer this yet. There are a couple that were pretty obvious to me, at least. There was one with two kids that I was pretty sure was meant to be little Tak and Rei, but I could be wrong. – Pleiades Mar 12 '18 at 14:44
5

Here's an imgur posting with gifs of all of the ending images.

The short of the matter is that they refer to something major in the next episode. A sort of quick, visual, next episode preview.

To analyze them will involve many spoilers, so consider yourself warned. I'll try to be oblique about many of them, but it's just not possible to avoid at least some very clear spoilers. There are a few that seem pretty abstract and I'm not quite sure about, but many of them are pretty clear.

In order of appearance (so by episode):

  1. Female with wavy hair and right hand raised. This one's almost oddly difficult to make sense of. Based on the position of the hand and the events of the next episode, the best match would appear to be Miriam Bancroft (holding a glass of wine), who makes a seduction attempt on Kovacs in the next episode. The hair is a poor match. Possibly also a reference to events several episodes later involving Ortega (whose hair is a better match).

  2. Pair of children. Must be Rei and Tak as children. The next episode provides the key background on their childhood and how close they were and why.

  3. A human heart. The next episode tells us a lot about Envoy training, and how breaking out of a VR program involves ripping yourself open in an emotional way. "Heart" is metaphorically associated with many emotional matters. Tak ends up taking things pretty literally.

  4. Woman with flowing cloth, moving back and away. Mary Lou Henchy, specifically as she falls to her death. The next episode is heavily concerned with the circumstances of her death.

  5. Snake eating itself in a figure eight. This is the tattoo that Tak and Rei always put on their sleeves (Tak adds it to Ryker's in ep 1, for example). It is the same symbol that is used in the necklace that Rei almost always wears, that came from her mother. Rei makes a dramatic appearance next episode. The image is one of many associated to the Ouroboros, which can be used to represent cyclical things (the life cycle namely) and everlasting life.

  6. Skeleton pushing a male and female apart, who resist. Skeleton appears to be a symbol for death, and the male and female should be Tak and Rei. Death tried to pull them apart, but they refused. In the next episode Rei basically says exactly that to Tak.

  7. Back to back short-hair busts. Another difficult one. The busts appear Roman in style to me. So this may be a reference to the two-faced Roman god of Janus, busts of whom were often similar in appearance. He's often associated with transitions and duality. In modern usage he is sometimes used to refer to people who are liars: say one thing and do another, pretend to be something you actually aren't, etc. This leaves a lot of possibilities, so may be more of a thematic reference rather than a specific event. In the next episode Tak deals with the reality of present-day Rei, accuses Oumou, and pieces together the truth of the murder mystery; Lizzie's recovery takes a dramatic step and the Elliot family reunites; Leung talks about how this is the first period in human history where the gods they pray to (the Meths) can actually answer back; etc.

  8. Raven perched upon a human skull Seems to be a thematic reference to the works of Edgar Allen Poe, which were often focused on concepts of uncertainty, death, hope, and despair. Next episode features the death of Ortega's family, and Poe (the character) experiences doubts that he has made good choices. Possibly even refers to events with Poe (the character) in episode 10.

  9. Skull of primitive humanoid Also pretty unclear and seemingly abstract. Possibly a thematic reference to evolution and conflicts with primitive urges? I might have to rewatch 9/10 to see if it makes further sense.

  10. Kneeling, sword-wielding female angel. Hair and body shape looks like Quell's, and imagery seems to match how Tak sees her. Tak ends the episode convinced Quell is still alive somewhere, somehow, and dedicates himself to finding her.

  • 1
    #7 might be a reference to Janus (Roman god, 2 faces). Not sure how that relates, because I don't remember much about him. – DavidW Jun 21 at 14:21
  • @DavidW Yeah, I was kind of thinking the same thing, and is why I suggest maybe it related to duplicity (from Rei, I would guess). Could be a reference to something Tak does next episode, now that I think about it. – zibadawa timmy Jun 21 at 14:24
  • I haven't even read this whole answer, but I can tell it's a serious attempt at answering the question. Way to go @zibadawatimmy – LevenTrek Jun 22 at 9:42

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