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‘Everything You Want To See’: Exploring The Unanswered Questions Of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Blade Runner 2049 is one of those rare sequels that captures the spirit of the original and expands upon it, creating a film that’s rich and unusual on its own terms. The sequel expands upon themes explored in the 1982 original, revisiting fundamental questions about what it means to be alive and exploring variations on those questions. The movie also left a lot of viewers with more practical questions about certain characters or plot points. Like many of director Denis Villeneuve’s films (such as Arrival or Enemy), you pick up a lot more upon a second viewing.

But for those that don’t have another two hours and 43 minutes to spare, we’ve put together a collection of answers to the most pressing questions you may have about Blade Runner 2049.

Warning: Many spoilers from both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 ahead.

How did Wallace know so much about Rachel’s child so quickly?

Rachel’s file was marked as important. The moment K arrived at the old Tyrell Corporation headquarters to look into it, it set off alarm bells at the highest levels of Wallace Corporation, which got Wallace’s attention. It’s unclear how much Wallace knew about Rachel before the scanning of her serial number brought her to his attention, but he clearly had more data about her than was presented to K.

In the original Blade Runner, Rachel was depicted as a prized replicant of Eldon Tyrell’s. She was the most advanced model, and Tyrell even went as far as to give her his niece’s memories and let her believe she was human (although it’s unclear how long she’d really been “active” when she meets Deckard). Blade Runner 2049 adds another wrinkle to Tyrell’s creation: Wallace later notes that Tyrell named her Rachel after the barren wife of Jacob in the Bible. Genesis 30:22 reads “And God heeded Rachel and opened up her womb.” So now we how to wonder: Was Rachel’s ability to conceive a reveal 35 years in the making?

Why did Wallace kill the latest replicant model?

Speaking of God complexes, Niander Wallace also seems to have one just as bad as Tyrell. One symptom: He calls his replicants angels because angels do the will of God and have no free will of their own. His motivations go beyond corporate profit. He wants to push humanity out as far into the cosmos as possible, and he believes the best way to do that is with an endless supply of self-replicating replicants to throw at the great pyramids of his ambition.

So there’s two ways to take the scene where Wallace examines the new replicant model: that she was the latest of Wallace’s attempts to create a version that can procreate (which would be why he examines her so closely with his floating scanners before killing her), or she’s just the latest run-of-the-mill improvement that Wallace considers obsolete now that he realizes it’s possible to create one that can give birth. Either way, he specifically stabs her where her working reproductive organs would be, so it’s pretty clear what’s on his mind when he kills her.

Was Joi really in love with K?

This is another one of those questions that’s hard to answer definitively because Joi is designed to convince customers she loves them (if that’s what they want to hear), but we don’t know how deep her programmed emotions go. Other replicants look down on Joi in disdain and seem to believe she’s fake, but K treats Joi like she’s just as real as he is. And without knowing how she’s coded, who’s to say she isn’t capable of feeling like a replicant?

But replicants are flesh and bone while Joi is digital. They make this clear when K and Joi are reviewing the DNA archives and she comments that he’s made up of synthetic DNA while she’s made up of binary ones and zeros. Other than the fact that they’re created fully grown with implanted memories and tuned to a customer’s whims, replicants are almost exactly the same as humans. Our feelings are real, so why wouldn’t a replicant’s feelings be real too?

When it comes to digital beings like Joi, though, things get a bit cloudier. Even if you’re willing to consider it possible for a computer program to love if the code is advanced enough, there are still many that would claim that love isn’t real. There are also signs in the movie that Joi is shallower than she sometimes appears. Consider her small talk near the beginning of the film: she uses the same canned line on K about “a rough day” as the Joi advertisement later on. She spits out some banal small talk about the release date of the song K is listening to, sounding like a robot reading Wikipedia while she does it. It even turns out Joi-bots call everyone “Joe” by default.

There are certainly moments that point in the opposite direction. Joi’s request to be taken off the home system comes across as a self-aware act of solidarity with K. And there are clear parallels to how she reacts when experiencing rain for the first time and how K reacts to experiencing snowfall when he begins to believe he may be more real than he thought. But if you watch the film with Joi’s advertising slogan “Everything you want to see, everything you want to hear” in mind, you’ll notice that Joi’s responses are almost always her doing just that: telling K what he wants to hear. He wants to be special and more than he is, so she feeds into this. He considers her to be real, so she endeavors to be that for him. Does some semblance of self develop from that? The film leaves this an open equestion.

What’s the deal with the duplicate DNA records that led K to the orphanage?

This one seems to have confused viewers because it confused K as well. There were never two children with identical DNA, but there were two children at the orphanage: one was a boy (who was born with human DNA and tracked in the system), and the other was Rachel’s child, a girl whose DNA would immediately give her up. That’s why they falsified her records using a copy of the boy’s DNA. But as the one-eyed replicant Freysa says, that’s just a part of the puzzle. They kept the child in the orphanage for a time and then “killed” her on paper in the hopes that anyone investigating the case would think they were looking for a boy. And it worked, just not in the way they expected.

Why was Wallace so interested in Deckard when Deckard didn’t even know where his child was?

Deckard may not have known anything about the identity of his child, but he did know the identity of the replicants he teamed up with to hide her. The way pleasure model Mariette introduces the one-eyed replicant Freysa makes it sounds like she’s a well-known leader from past rebellions, which would certainly make her easier to find if Wallace discovers she has knowledge of the child. That’s why Freysa asks K to kill Deckard: so there’d be no way for Wallace to learn of her involvement and find the child through her.

Is Deckard a replicant?

That’s as ambiguous now as it has been for the past 35 years. It’s also a question that’s been answered differently by both Harrison Ford and director Ridley Scott, with Ford saying he played Deckard as a human and considers him human, and Scott saying Deckard was a replicant. There’s evidence in the original that points to the replicant theory, like Deckard’s dream of a unicorn. At the end of the movie, his partner (or minder) Gaff lets Deckard and Rachel escape Los Angeles, leaving an origami unicorn on the table. How could Gaff know about Deckard’s unicorn dream unless it’s another one of those memories shared across replicants?

In Blade Runner 2049, Gaff reappears in the future equivalent of an old folks home and reiterates his belief that Deckard was a replicant. He tells K that Deckard had “something in his eye” (replicants are identified with eye scans) that meant he “wasn’t long for this world” (referring to the four-year lifespan of most replicants). He then says he believes Deckard was “retired,” which is the term used when Blade Runners kill a replicant.

Certain changes to established Blade Runner lore, like the idea that there’s a bunch of Tyrell-era replicants out there who have lived more than four years, seem tailored specifically to leave the question unanswered. Then there’s Wallace’s conversation with Deckard, where he suggests Deckard was created specifically to meet Rachel and have a child with her. Wallace also implies Rachel’s love for him was merely engineered by Tyrell. This is clearly a kick in the guts moment for Deckard, who responds by simply stating “I know what’s real.”

If only we did, too. In the end, the movie makes it a point of leaving us in the dark.

Was Deckard and Rachel’s child a replicant or a human-replicant hybrid?

Since we can’t be sure if Deckard is a replicant, we can’t be sure whether his child is half-human, half-replicant, or a child born of two replicants. Both have some pretty serious repercussions should the world find out. A child from two replicants changes the way that replicants see themselves and takes them from being reliant on their makers to continue existing to being able to create an existence all on their own. And if it’s possible for humans and replicants to reproduce, it underscores just how similar the two are. If that’s not enough to make humanity reconsider their decision to keep replicants as slaves, the imminent replicant rebellion may help.

Why did Luv kiss K at the end of their battle, and why didn’t she kill him when she had the chance?

This goes into how Luv was programmed. Luv explained to a client that you can attune your replicants to you as much or as little as you’d like. Wallace clearly attuned her to idolize him, and she does… even if there’s fear and other emotions mixed in with that. When Wallace killed the new replicant model in front of Luv, he stabbed her once, kissed her on the lips, then left her to bleed out on the ground. What we saw in the final battle between K and Luv was Luv emulating Wallace.

How did K know that the Memory Maker was Deckard’s daughter?

When K visits the Memory Maker Dr. Ava Stelline, he asks her to look at his memory of hiding the wooden horse in a furnace. She does, and is immediately overwhelmed with emotion as she realizes it’s her memory, an illegal real memory she’s implanted into a large number of replicants (the pleasure model Mariette also recognized the carved horse on K’s bedside table). Her reaction isn’t just because it’s an important memory to her. As far as she knows, she’s about to be arrested by a Blade Runner. Even if she doesn’t know she’s some sort of miracle replicant, just the act of implanting a real memory is enough to get her in serious trouble.

She tries to divert attention away from herself by saying it’s someone’s real memory. It’s only because K is coming undone at the possibility of being the child that his detective instincts fail him and he misunderstands her completely. Once the one-eyed replicant Freysa tells him the child is a girl, he remembers back to the Memory Maker and realizes it must be her.

Why didn’t K kill Deckard like the other replicants asked him to?

From the start, it’s clear that K doesn’t enjoy his work, but he does it because that’s what he’s been created to do. His baseline is tuned specifically to be a Blade Runner, and if he mentally deviates from that the LAPD is supposed to destroy him. It’s only because Lieutenant Joshi grows emotionally attached to him that he’s allowed to leave the station after failing his test.

Going way off baseline connects to becoming too emotionally turbulent or aware. K was allowed to think of himself as a “real” replicant but once he starts thinking of himself as something more, it seems to unlock a new level of self-actualization. He disobeys Joshi’s commands and lies to her about the fate of the child. He no longer has to follow orders, and he no longer has to kill. So when he gets to decide whether Deckard lives or dies, he chooses life. And why wouldn’t he? Even if Deckard wasn’t his father, K believed he was for a time. When Deckard asks him “Who am I to you?” at the end, K just smiles sadly.

Does K die at the end?

While it’s not explicit, the wounds K suffers in his fight with Luv certainly seemed serious enough to kill him. The music playing when he lays back to watch the snow fall also calls back to the original Blade Runner when Roy Batty dies. K’s death also fits thematically with the idea put forth by the rebel replicant forces: that there’s nothing more human than dying for a cause you’ve chosen. Free of the parameters that forced him to kill other replicants and with the full knowledge that he wasn’t the child, K makes a decision to fight for her anyway, sacrificing his life after coming to terms with how real he really was.

Are we missing any questions about Blade Runner 2049 you want answered? Let us know in the comments!

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