Black Lotus Challenges Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner Film With Antithesis

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 6 of Blade Runner: Black Lotus, "The Persistence of Memory," airing on Adult Swim and now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Elle is a highly advanced replicant with superior combat skills and an unknown purpose. Having recently learned she was meant to be killed in an illegal Doll Hunt alongside several other replicants, she's now on a mission to seek justice for her murdered kin. Having learned the identities of all the "hunters" who were present for the Doll Hunt -- including Senator Bannister, whom she murdered -- she has set her eyes on the wife of Earl Grant, the Chief of LAPD.

With the shocking news of Senator Bannister's murder spreading like wildfire throughout LA, Grant's wife Josephine becomes uneasy about her own safety, especially with rumors circulating that a replicant was involved in the murder. Her concerns are soon validated when Elle breaks into the penthouse she shares with her husband to interrogate her about her involvement in the Doll Hunt. She attempts to buy herself and her husband some time by gaslighting Elle about what she thinks she knows, especially given the fact that replicants are programmed with false memories.

While Elle is interrogating Josephine, Grant summons Marlowe, a deadly Blade Runner, to his penthouse to retire Elle. Marlowe arrives at the same time that LAPD officer Alani Davis does. However, both are in for a major surprise: it turns out Elle is a much more formidable combatant than Alani or Marlowe anticipated. During their brutal fight, both Elle and Marlowe prove to have very similar combat skills, which makes it difficult for one to defeat the other.

The Brutal fight between Elle and Marlowe has significant implications for both individuals. Could Elle actually be a replicant who is meant to be a Blade Runner? If so, does this mean that Marlowe is also a Blade Runner replicant? Despite replicating the dynamic of Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and rogue replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) from Ridley Scott's iconic Blade Runner film from 1982, if it's true that Marlowe and Elle are both replicant Blade Runners, this presents a major antithesis to the original film.

Based on the original character from Phillip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Rick Deckard is strongly implied in the 1982 film to be a human Blade Runner who makes his living retiring rogue replicants, who are bioengineered artificial humans. One of the rogue replicants he is sent to retire is Roy Batty, who is leading a resistance against the human population in an effort to protect the rights of replicants. In his particular case, he wants to increase the lifespans of replicants like himself. At the heart of the conflict between Deckard and Batty is the question of humanity: who gets to decide what makes someone human?

Marlowe and Elle have a lot in common with their predecessors, but it's clear from the progression of their respective storylines that they're not seeking to answer the same question as the original Blade Runner film. Unlike Deckard, who learns to become empathetic toward replicants (especially after meeting and falling in love with a replicant named Rachael), Marlowe is shown to have zero empathy toward replicants. Whereas Deckard found himself asking valid questions about humanity following the death of Batty, Marlowe does no such thing, effectively establishing him as a ruthless hunter. This strongly supports the possibility of Marlowe being a replicant.

On a similar note, Elle is also very similar to Batty in the sense that she is a rogue replicant fighting against the injustices that exist against her kind. Unlike Batty, however, Elle is not driven by a desire to prolong her life, as she already has a normal human lifespan -- a privilege she probably owes to Batty’s sacrifice. Instead, she is seeking justice for the replicants who were ruthlessly murdered in the illegal Doll Hunt that took place. She’s also driven by a desire to be left alone and not be hunted anymore -- a very human desire.

If Elle is a replicant who is meant to be a Blade Runner like Marlowe, she is shown to be a more advanced model if she is capable of feeling empathy for others, including other replicants. If this theory proves to be true, this would make her a precursor to K (Ryan Gosling) from the Blade Runner 2049 film, who is this type of replicant Blade Runner.

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