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Finished watching Altered Carbon? Here's the shocking part of the novel's torture scene its showrunner refused to film

Altered Carbon's torture scene is one of the more grueling moments in the dark science fiction series, but readers of the original novel will know that it could've been so much worse. So, so much worse. Luckily, showrunner Laeta Kalogridis insisted on leaving it out.

What could be so bad? Well, in the original text (opens in new tab), our hero Takeshi Kovacs is turned into a young girl while in the virtual (but still very painful) torture room - the idea being that it's the human race's most vulnerable form. 

"The whole point of that [scene] in the book is, I believe the quote is: 'Women are the race. Men are just fucking fighting machines,"" Kalogridis told io9.

"We have more nerves per square inch, we have heightened pain tolerance, we last longer," she continues. "And the point of torturing a woman is that she feels more and she endures longer. You can’t get that across [on television], there’s just no way. It’s going to turn into some torture porn thing, and I wasn’t comfortable with that."

That might sound overly cautious, until you read the scene she's referring to. There aren't enough trigger warnings in the world. Here it is: 

"There’s no kind of conditioning in the known universe that can prepare you for having your feet burnt off. Or your nails torn out.

Cigarettes stubbed out on your breasts.

A heated iron inserted into your vagina.

The pain. The humiliation.

The damage."

Of course in the show, Kovacs stays in his adult male form. Episode 4 is no cake-walk, what with all the burning and bleeding and that whole burrowing snake bug thing, but child torture would have made it unwatchable for a large section of the audience. 

Kalogridis says that the decision came from her, not Netflix or any other outside influence. "It was never a conversation with the studio or the network, it was my decision - that isn’t something I wanted to make. And if I PC-ed myself, I seriously do not care."

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Rachel Weber
Rachel Weber

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.