Blade Runner: Black Lotus Debuts With a Mystery

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Blade Runner: Black Lotus, "City of Angels," which aired on Adult Swim and is now streaming on Crunchyroll.

The highly anticipated Blade Runner: Black Lotus debuted its first two episodes in a one-hour premiere on both Adult Swim and Crunchyroll on November 13. Set between the 1982 Blade Runner film starring Harrison Ford and its 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling, Episode 1 of Black Lotus opens with a major mystery: who, or what, is Elle?

The story takes place a decade after the events of Blade Runner: Black Out 2022, in which the Tyrell Corporation developed the Nexus-8 line of replicants, which are given longer lifespans than their predecessors. This led to a major backlash by the human population that resulted in the mass extermination of replicants. Black Lotus continues to explore the aftermath of these events, with Elle somehow caught in the crossfire.

When Elle is introduced in Episode 1 of Black Lotus, she has no recollection of who she is, where she comes from or why she woke up in the back of a truck. She finds a device inside the vehicle containing information she wants access to, but has no clue how it works. Elle finds herself wandering the streets of Los Angeles in search of answers about her identity when she runs into a black market dealer named Doc Badger.

Badger offers to help Elle access the device in her possession in exchange for her "taking care" of the street gang harassing him. She honors her word and locates the gang to a local cemetery where she immobilizes them, followed by killing their leader. When she returns, Doc is unable to access her device but introduces her to someone who can.

While Black Lotus viewers are just as in the dark about who Elle is, at the same time, it is hinted throughout Episode 1 that she is a replicant. The first major clue is that she wakes up in a truck with amnesia. This alone implies that Elle is running away from something, which she wouldn't need to do if she was actually human. The only way she would be considered an enemy as a human is if she allied herself with the replicants, but then it begs the question of why she has amnesia in the first place.

The second major clue is that Elle has combat skills that are easily triggered by dangerous situations. In fights, she demonstrates superior strength and is extremely agile beyond human capacity. Incidentally, when her combat skills are triggered, this leads to the third hint she's a replicant: she experiences flashbacks of fighting off similar people, even murdering a person in self-defense. This strongly implies Elle was being hunted down at some point, which wouldn't be the case if she was human.

Lastly, the person Elle kills in the flashback is implied to be someone she knows, possibly her owner. Whatever ends up being the case for Elle as the series progresses, it appears as though Blade Runner: Black Lotus seeks to continue exploring the overarching theme from the Blade Runner franchise regarding the question of humanity.

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