Like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 seems to create more questions than it seeks to answer. For those with a wishlist full of stuff they were still wondering about from the first movie, you probably know now that you had to throw that wishlist away. Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t really care if you want to know if Deckard is a Replicant or not. But it does want you to wonder about Ryan Gosling’s Officer K.
Huge Spoiler alert for *Blade Runner 2049.
The new Blade Runner has so many surprises, it practically starts spoiling itself in the first few minutes. For example, we learn immediately that Ryan Gosling’s Officer K is totally a Replicant who works for the man, hunting down other illegal Nexus 8 models. This notion sets-up one of the many complicated storylines in the movie, which culminates in a surprise denouement that Officer K isn’t who he thought he was. But, then again, maybe he was?
Borrowing a page from Battlestar Galactica, much of Blade Runner 2049 rests on the fact that Rachael (Sean Young) —a Replicant — gave birth to a child through organic means. Deckard (Ford) is the father, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a Replicant. He could still be human. The movie never tells us. Ford just growls “I know what’s real!” The point is, the baby was conceived naturally by a person who was created artificially. And throughout most of the movie, we’re led to believe that Officer K is this long lost Replicant baby, which would make him somewhat human.
Except there’s a twist. It turns out K is not the special human child born of a Replicant mother. Instead, Deckard and Rachael had a daughter, who turns out to be a really nice woman named Ana who K has already met. Ana is the person who creates the false memories for the Replicants, which she accomplishes sweetly and with a ton of whimsy. She confirms that the memory that Officer K has about almost losing his little toy horse is, in fact, a real memory. “Someone lived this,” Ana says. K believes this means he is the person who lived it because he thinks it is his memory.
But, the denouement changes that to mean that the memory was actually hers; the memory maker’s, not K’s. In the final sequence, K takes Deckard to meet his legit daughter, resolved to the fact that he’s just a Replicant, and not the natural offspring — the “miracle” — of Rachael and Deckard. Like Roy Batty in the original film, he lies down in the snow, seemingly surrendering himself to death. We even hear notes of the theme “Tears in the Rain” from the original Vangelis Blade Runner score. As Deckard walks into meet the Ana the memory maker — his daughter — she appears to be in the process of constructing a memory ABOUT SNOW. Wait. Hold the vidphone. What? Is she making memories for Ryan Gosling at the exact moment he’s experiencing them, or is does this mean something else?
If Ryan Gosling is, in fact, a Replicant, then that means anything he’s thinking about when he alone becomes suspicious in terms of how “real” it may or may not be, relative to everyone else. But, the fact the snow memory seems to be being made at the exact same time K is experiencing it, suggests something else. Maybe Ana is just recording the snow outside for use in later memory creation. This interpretation could allow us to think K is a still a Replicant, or, maybe, just maybe, he’s a human who has been conditioned to believe he’s a Replicant.
Think about it. Throughout the film we see him go through a rigorous process that puts his psyche back to “baseline.” If he’s human, could his memories have been tampered with in a similar way? If so, then it follows that Ana — Rachael’s daughter — might be making memories for humans who think they are Replicants, instead of the reverse. (I.E. the snow memory at the end is a kindness she’s giving him as he dies.)
To put it another way, Gosling’s Officer K doesn’t need to have been the son of Deckard and Rachael to have also been secretly human. Perhaps his parents are totally a secret. There were some orphanage switcharoos going on here after all. So maybe he did live that toy horse moment but was conditioned and tricked into thinking the memory belonged to someone else.
We’re told K’s false memory and the toy horse is are part of a larger puzzle. It’s doubtful that puzzle will be explored in a sequel to Blade Runner 2049. But, if it were, it’s nice to think that the sad Replicant lying in the snow at the end of the film might be more human than he knows.
Blade Runner 2049 is out now in wide release.
If you liked this article, check out this video about the practical effects in Blade Runner 2049.