Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for Blade Runner 2049. This guide contains our detailed library of content covering key aspects of the movie’s plot, ending, meaning, and more. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!
What is Blade Runner 2049 about?
The original Blade Runner was a pointed pushback on the dehumanization that occurs when someone is labeled “other” and so are viewed as literally not human. Except they are. Deckard’s journey was about seeing through such societal, systemic, and structural hatefulness. Any of us could be “replicants”. We shouldn’t let that define us or be how we judge others.
Blade Runner 2049 pivots more to the nature of the soul and what’s real versus the artificial. It puts special emphasis on natural birth (as opposed to artificial creation) as well as believing in and dying for the right cause. Where the original was about others seeing replicants differently, 2049 is about how a replicant thinks of himself.
As big as the film is, the thematics are surprisingly minimalist. The relationship between K and Joi does add a new layer to the world building, as it brings AI into the conversation about humanity.
Movie Guide table of contents
- K/Joe – Ryan Gosling
- Joi – Ana de Armas
- Luv – Sylvia Hoeks
- Niander Wallace – Jared Leto
- Lt. Joshi – Robin Wright
- Rick Deckard – Harrison Ford
- Dr. Ana Stelline – Carla Juri
- Sapper Morton – Dave Bautista
- Freysa – Hiam Abbass
- Mariette – Mackenzie Davis
- Gaff – Edward James Olmos
- Wood Harris – Nandez
- Coco – David Dastmalchian
- File clerk – Tómas Lemarquis
- Written by – Hampton Fancher | Michael Green
- Directed by – Denis Villeneuve
The ending of Blade Runner 2049 explained
The end of Blade Runner 2049 begins after Luv’s attack on Deckard and K in Las Vegas. She takes Deckard to Wallace and leaves K for dead. But replicant rebels, led by Freysa, find K from the tracker Mariette had put in his coat following their one night stand with Joi. It’s there that K discovers the truth: he has Ana Stelline’s memories. She’s the child of Rachael and Deckard. Not him.
Freysa charges K to find and kill Deckard in order to protect Freysa and what she represents to the replicant revolution. She tells K, “Dying for the right cause is the most human thing we can do.”
Meanwhile, Wallace tells Deckard that he needs Deckard’s daughter in order to unlock Tyrell’s process of replicant reproduction. Then philosophizes about whether Deckard really loved Rachael or was designed to love Rachael. To try and convince Deckard to divulge information about Freysa, he presents a clone of Rachael. “An angel…made again…for you.” But Deckard points out the clone has brown eyes and Rachael had green. So Wallace decides to take Deckard off-world to make him talk.
K walks through the city, wrestling with what to do about Deckard. He comes across a gigantic hologram version of Joi. The advertisement hits on him. “Hello, handsome. What a day, hmm? You look lonely. I can fix that. You look like a good Joe.” She then returns to posing on the side of a building. The effect this has on K is profound. Everything the ad said is what his Joi had said to him. Lines we heard earlier in the movie that felt warm and personal. But this time they were cold, calculated, empty. The cherry on top is the ad calling him a good Joe. When K and Joi had thought he was Rachael’s son, Joi told him he needed a name. She picked Joe.
He pulls out his weapon and hears Freya’s words: “Dying for the right cause is the most human thing we can do.” As well as Sapper Morton’s: “Because you’ve never seen a miracle.”
K tracks down Luv transporting Deckard to the off-world ship and intercepts. He fights Luv to the death, frees Deckard, then brings Deckard to Ana’s memory lab. As Deckard goes in to meet his daughter, K collapses on the steps, in the snow. He dies.
Deckard and Ana come face to face.
K’s journey is that he was comfortably a replicant in love with an AI hologram. Until he becomes convinced that he’s actually the child of Deckard and Rachael, the first replicant born naturally. That makes him feel more real. More human. Which is why, when he meets Deckard, he officially adopts calling himself Joe. K was a soulless replicant. Joe is a human. Except that comes crashing down when he discovers Ana is the child, not him.
So then he’s left at a crossroads. He’s experienced too much to return to the life he had been living. Except he doesn’t know what more he could do or who to be. That’s when he comes across the Joi advertisement.
K’s Joi died in Las Vegas when Luv stomped on the emanator that contained all of Joi’s data. That unique version of her that K had developed a seemingly loving relationship with was irrevocably gone. It’s strange, then, to see this billboard Joi use the exact phrases K’s had used. What do we do with that information?
The first reaction is to probably assume it means Joi was less unique than she seemed. That she was still just a closed-system AI that had some capacity to learn but was mostly limited to generic programming. What K enjoyed with her was, truly, artificial.
But remember that when K became marked, Joi wanted to leave in the emanator. Even if there was the risk that she could die. K said: “If anything happens to this, that’s it. You’re gone.” And her response? “Yes. Like a real girl.” The last thing Joi did was tell Luv to stop hurting K. She essentially sacrificed herself in an attempt to save him. Which worked.
So if you prefer the glass-half-empty analysis, you think K sees the giant Joi and thinks to himself “I was an idiot to love something so artificial. I need to focus on what’s real.”
If you like the half-full analysis, then K seeing this fake Joi understands in that moment what he had with his Joi was something more. She died for him. Not because she was a product but because she, whatever she was, loved him. That proved her humanity. Which is the choice he makes with Deckard—to prove his humanity by dying for a worthy cause. Like Rachael had, like Sapper had, like Deckard and Freysa would.
Early in Blade Runner 2049, Lt. Joshi tasks K with finding the child and terminating it. This is the conversation:
K: I’ve never retired something that was born before.
Joshi: What’s the difference?
K: To be born is to have a soul, I guess.
J: Are you telling me no?
K: I wasn’t aware there was an option, madame.
J: Attaboy. Hey! You’ve been getting on fine without one.
K: What’s that, madame?
J: A soul.
When K thought he was the child, he believed himself to have a soul. When he realizes it’s Ana, not him, what hits him is that question of the soul. Which is why he thinks about Freysa’s words: “Dying for the right cause is the most human thing we can do.” So even though he wasn’t “born with a soul” he can still prove his humanity.
That extends to Joi, too. That neon advertisement version of Joi probably wouldn’t sacrifice herself for anyone. But K’s Joi did. That means something. Even if part of her was based on generic programming, if her ideas weren’t all original, there was more to her. It’s the same with K. Which dovetails back to the original Blade Runner. Rachael, Leon, Pris, Roy, all had implanted memories. But what they’ve experienced is entirely their own. The choices they made during their lives say more about them than their creation.
So K saves Deckard, knowing it will cost him his life. But the price is the point. It’s the proof.
Except for all the other stuff regarding Deckard, Ana, and the replicant revolution. We have the positivity of the reunion between father and daughter. That’s nice. But we also leave off on a cliffhanger. Maybe this is what causes the revolution to go public? News of Ana reaches the world and replicants suddenly stand up for themselves. That could mean they collectively leave Earth together to start their own society? It could mean a push for replicant rights and integration into human society. It could mean war. There’s also a scenario where Wallace watches this whole thing happen and shows up, kills Deckard, takes Ana, figures out how to recreate Tyrell’s discovery of replicant birth, then goes on to create millions of replicants who all work for the Wallace Corporation. That’s definitely the bad ending.
Story-wise, we don’t really have enough information to know what will happen next. But the broader macro plot was never necessarily the point of Blade Runner 2049. The point was K’s journey. Can something artificial still have a soul?
The themes and meaning of Blade Runner 2049
Natural versus artificial
In the original Blade Runner, the main theme is fear of the other. Even though replicants are flesh and blood like anyone else, humans label them as something different and use that otherness as a reason to hate, discriminate, dehumanize, and enslave. It’s a sci-fi version of very real issues in human civilization, past and present. Are these “artificial” humans still human?
Blade Runner 2049 is less concerned about what others think of replicants and more focused on what a replicant thinks of himself. Which then leads to the question of do we agree? Does Joi being willing to face death because she wants to be alongside K mean we should think of her as sentient? Is that enough for the artificial to become natural? K initially thinks to be born is to have a soul. But we’re later told, no, you can prove your humanity by dying for the right cause. Does K making that choice prove he has a soul?
The implication seems to be: yes. Because we know that replicants can have children. If one could, others can. And suddenly these artificial beings become natural creators.
This theme is why we have the scene between Deckard and Wallace where Wallace summons a Rachael clone. It looks like Rachael. Talks like Rachael. But it’s not Rachael. It’s artificial and can’t replace the real thing. Which is why Deckard rejects her. There’s no way such a superficial duplicate could replace what he had.
That also gets at what Wallace hinted at regarding Deckard and Rachael being made for one another. The implication there is that Tyrell had made the two with the sole intent of having them mate. So the attraction was programmed. Intentional. “Math” as Wallace says. Rather than natural. But Deckard rejects that, saying he knows what is real. That what he had with Rachael was real, regardless of whatever Tyrell may have intended.
It’s also why the romantic scene between K and Joi is the tipping point of the film. Joi calls over Mariette, the replicant call girl, in order to sync over Mariette’s body. It allows her and K to be intimate, even if Joi doesn’t feel anything herself. In what’s a pretty lengthy scene, we watch Joi project herself onto Mariette. And the way in which the faces eventually merge. The way the movements match up. At first the sync comes and goes. It’s Joi’s face. It’s Mariette’s face. It’s both. Until it finally snaps together and it’s as if a flesh and blood Joi is there.
It’s the natural (Mariette) and artificial (Joi) becoming one. And it aligns with K’s own awakening of self, the death of his time as a blade runner, and the discovery of his humanity. His Joe-ness.
Miracles and religion
Blade Runner positioned Tyrell as a God-figure and Roy as one of God’s creations returning, full of questions, full of anger about the cruelty of mortality. After Tyrell admits he can’t do anything to save Roy, Roy crushes Tyrell’s skull. It’s a pretty heavy statement to make as Roy becomes the embodiment of the rage that accompanies lost faith, an exaggeration of a feeling many people have after experiencing a tragedy or growing sick of the world’s cruelty.
Blade Runner 2049 isn’t so bitter. But Wallace does play a similar role to Tyrell. He’s the current creator of replicants. His company produces every single one. The big difference is that Tyrell never, at least in the events of Blade Runner, talked about himself in Biblical terms. Whereas Wallace never stops. It’s pretty much all he does.
Wallace: We make angels. In service of civilization. Yes, there were bad angels once. I make good angels, now. That is how I took us to nine new worlds. Every leap of civilization was built off the back of a disposable workforce. We lost our stomach for slaves. Unless engineered. But I can only make so many. That barren pasture. Empty and salted. Right here. The dead space between the stars. This is the seat that we must change for heaven. I cannot breed them. So help me I have tried. We need more replicants than can ever be assembled. Millions so we can be trillions more. We could storm Eden and retake her. Tyrell’s final trick. Procreation. Perfected. Then lost. But there is a child. Bring it to me. The best angel of all, aren’t you Luv?
The idea that he’s the one who creates angels immediately positions Wallace as thinking of himself as a kind of God-figure. But he’s not there yet. If only he can unlock Tyrell’s “final trick”. Then he plans on storming Eden, so to speak. He would essentially become God. It all depends on the ability for replicants to procreate.
The replicants also have strong beliefs about the miracle of their ability to procreate. The difference is that Wallace views it as a gateway to a slave army that he will exhaust in the name of progress. While the replicants see it as not only proof of their humanity, of their possession of a soul, but as a breaking of the chains. Right now, they don’t exist unless Wallace creates them. They’re born in his clutches. The ability to procreate means replicants become their own masters. Free to determine their own fate. Free of their creator’s interference.
It’s different from Roy crushing Tyrell’s skull but in some ways similar. Wallace essentially loses his divinity. The miracle is no longer associated with him but belongs to the people. He loses his angels. His path to Eden closes.
2049 ultimately positions Wallace more as a false idol than God-figure. A pretender. The end of his divinity, the rejection of his vision for the world, is an earned comeuppance for an overly arrogant character.
Why is the movie called Blade Runner 2049?
The number 2049 simply refers to the year the movie takes place. Given that it’s a sequel to one of the most beloved films ever made, they wanted to keep Blade Runner in the name. But probably didn’t want to go with something as basic as Blade Runner 2. Or create a mouthful with a subtitle like Blade Runner: Miracles or Blade Runner: Angel. The words “Blade Runner” are powerful enough on their own that you don’t really want to take emphasis away from them with more words.
Blade Runner came out in 1982 and was set in 2019. When they finally filmed the sequel, in 2016, it had been 34 years. If they were including Harrison Ford, which they probably felt obligated to, you would have to CGI his face, use a lot of makeup, or embrace the fact he was 74 years old. If you’re going with the latter, then you essentially have to set the movie about 30 years in the future.
Ryan Gosling may have also affected the year. In an interview with Metro, Villeneuve said “The part was written for Ryan right from the start. He was perfect.” Work started on the script as early as 2010. Ridley Scott was supposed to direct but left in 2014. Then Villeneuve replaced him. I imagine re-writes happened with Gosling in mind. He was born in 1980. Meaning that he was 34 during the casting process.
So 30-ish years since the original movie came out. Gosling just over 30 himself. It seems they probably eventually anchored to that being the time skip in the film. They probably could have tried to go with Blade Runner 2050 but then you’re saying “It’s been 31 years since Decard ran off.” Where “It’s been 30 years” is a bit easier to follow.’’
If you really wanted to reach and be extra, you could make an argument that 2049 being on the precipice of 2050 has a sense of “the page is about to turn” or “one chapter is about to end and a new one is about to begin” that fits with the replicants on the brink of earning their freedom and entering into a new age. Kind of how, in reality, the year 1999 had all of this energy because it was the last year before a new millennium.
I would never argue that this should be a primary reading for 2049 or is actively implied by the film in any way. If there was some mention in the dialogue like “Next year marks the beginning of the revolution” then you have more of a leg to stand on. But I wanted to at least note this as a concept. It’s the kind of thing another movie might actively do.
Important motifs in Blade Runner 2049
When K has to do his baseline recalibration test, we get this dialogue
Tester: Office K-D-six-dash-three-dot-seven, let’s begin. Ready?
K: Yes, sir.
T: Recite your baseline.
K: And blood-black nothingness began to spin. A system of cells interlinked within cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem. And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall white fountain played.
T: Have you ever been in an institution? Cells.
T: Do they keep you in a cell? Cells.
T: When you’re not performing your duties do they keep you in a little box? Cells.
T: What’s it like to hold the hand of someone you love? Interlinked.
T: Did they teach you how to feel finger to finger? Interlinked.
T: Do you long for having your heart interlinked? Interlinked.
T: Do you dream about being interlinked?
T: What’s it like to hold your child in your arms? Interlinked.
T: Do you feel that there’s a part of you that’s missing? Interlinked.
T: Within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked.
T: Why don’t you say that three times: within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked.
The original film used the Voight-Kampff test to gauge a replicant’s emotional reaction. Questions often focused on the treatment of animals, tending towards cruelty.
2049’s baseline recalibration takes a different approach but it’s similar in purpose: try to provoke an emotional reaction.
The cruelty to animals elicited strong reactions from the replicants. Maybe because the cruelty reflected the way in which humans treated humanoids. So the reaction was less about what was theoretically happening to the animal and more about what had happened to the replicant in their past.
It’s the same with the baseline recalibration. The ideal baseline for a replicant is a disconnect from others. A contentedness in their isolation. Questions like “What’s it like to hold the hand of someone you love?” should not generate an emotional response because the replicant shouldn’t love anyone and shouldn’t care about loving anyone. The idea of interlinking would mean nothing to them. The idea of being in a relationship? Nothing. Of being interlinked? Nothing. Of holding your child in your arms? Nothing. That there’s a part missing? Never.
There’s the second baseline test after K finds the horse and confirms the memory is real. It does not go as well.
T: Have you ever been in an institution? Cells.
T: When you’re not performing your duties, do they keep you in a little box? Cells.
T: What’s it like to hold the hand of someone you love? Interlinked.
T: Within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked.
T: What’s it like to be filled with dread? Dreadfully.
T: Do you like being separated from other people? Distinct.
T: Dreadfully distinct.
K: Dreadfully distinct.
T: Within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked.
T: Within one stem.
K: …Within one stem.
T: And dreadfully distinct.
K: And dreadfully distinct.
T: Against the dark.
K: Against the dark.
T: A tall white fountain played.
K: …A tall white fountain played.
T: You’re not even close to baseline.
Notice the change from focusing on being interlinked to an emphasis on being distinct. That happens after the system detects an anomaly (shown on Lieutenant Joshi’s monitor). Remember, at this point in the movie, K has started to believe he’s the replicant child grown up. Which would make him the first the world has even known. So incredibly distinct. He can’t help but react to the word.
The wooden horse
The original film ended with Deckard and Rachael running off together. But as Deckard left his apartment he kicked what turned out to be a little, silver origami unicorn made and left by Gaff. In the initial theatrical version, the implication of the unicorn had more to do with Rachael. In a final voice-over, Deckard tells us she’s a special model of replicant that has a natural lifespan. Meaning that they can go off together and build a life. As opposed to the other replicants who only lived for a handful of years.
The meaning of the unicorn changed when Ridley Scott released Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut in 1992. Midway through the film, Deckard drunkenly sits at a piano and daydreams of a unicorn running through the woods.
This additional scene combined with the removal of the final voice-over about Rachael’s lifespan changed the focus of the origami unicorn. Instead of Gaff telling Deckard something about Rachael, it’s Gaff telling Deckard something about himself. The implication being that Deckard is a replicant.
On the Marc Maron podcast in 2021, Maron asked Scott about why he did multiple versions of Blade Runner.
To which Scott said: I went back in because I had a great idea for a second movie… There’s a TV show called The Dating Game or something, I don’t watch that shit, okay, but, you know, so, I thought this man Tyrell, who probably has one of the two companies of the world that will run the world…his small part of his business and his ego was playing god. So he liked to create humanoids. And I didn’t want to call them humanoids so we called them replicants. So the very first Blade Runner to me was a dating game. In his arrogance, he not only created people like Roy Batty and people who are probably working on making Mars livable then, but actually he went further than that and created a female and a person who did not know he was a replicant, Harrison Ford. She is capable of having a child. And Harrison was designed as capable of having a child. And so that became the formula for the next movie.
Marc Maron: “Ah, so that was the reason why you went back in.”
Scott: “Yeah, because I thought it was a great idea.”
So as far back as 1992, Scott had the idea for Blade Runner 2049. And used the unicorn as the way to signal Deckard was a replicant.
So the wooden horse is a play on the unicorn. K’s version of it. We initially think it’s a kind of mirror. Deckard’s unicorn signified “Deckard’s not a human but a replicant” while K’s wooden horse is seemingly proof that he’s not your average replicant but one “with a soul” who was born and grew up. The horse, then, embodies the “more human than human” energy. It’s related to the idea of the miracle. Of the revolution. Of replicant evolution. It’s proof that those events happened. That they weren’t an artificial memory but real.
Except the horse didn’t belong to K. It belonged to Ana. The memory was hers. So the horse does mean everything previously mentioned. Just for someone else.
Water and snow
Take this section as a bit of speculation.
In stories where a character is “reborn” in some way, it’s common to involve water. Water’s symbolic for washing away what’s old and giving people a clean start. That symbolism has been popular across cultures and throughout history but has been popularized thanks to water’s role in Christian myths and rites, specifically the story of Noah and the flood and the act of baptism.
Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t have a lot of water in it until the final fight between K and Luv. A fight where K seems to die and sink into the water before he re-emerges and defeats Luv. Scene happens to follow the pivotal moment where he decides that even though he’s not “Joe”, not the replicant baby who will change the world, he can still die for a cause and thus claim his humanity. That means rescuing Deckard from Luv and reuniting him with his daughter.
The fight scene involves a lot of water. Crashing wave after crashing wave.
Then the very next scene, where K delivers Deckard to Ana’s compound, it’s snowing like crazy. Deckard enters the building. K sits on the steps, lays on the steps, then dies.
Snow is associated with death because winter is thought of as a finale. It’s pretty standard literary and poetic symbolism that spring is youth, summer is the prime of life, fall is the golden years, and winter is the twilight. It’s often cold, dark, and quiet.
So you have water which is classically symbolic for life and rebirth. Followed immediately by snow. Which is charged with death. And that happens to coincide with what’s happening in the main character’s journey. In spring, summer, and fall—water is liquid. But in winter, it’s snow, it’s ice.
While all of this is interesting, it’s not necessary to understand 2049’s main themes. It’s just one of those little details that’s pretty fun to geek out about. Also: when K gives Joi the emanator that frees her from the fixed unit and allows her to go out into the world, thus starting a new chapter of her life, what happens? It rains.
And after he finds the records about the boy and girl, and Joi tells him he’s the child, and he begins to believe it might really be him—the next shot is of the dam and water pouring over the dam. The exact spot where K has his eventual showdown with Luv. The next two scenes are him at the orphanage then visiting Ana. After the visit with Ana, he stands outside, noticing snow falling, which foreshadows the end of the movie. An LAPD car shows up and a voice tells him he’s under arrest. Which is essentially the death of K the blade runner. Which is showcased by the second baseline test where he fails miserably.
So it’s cool that we have the dam and snow bracketing the film’s midpoint climax, as they bracket the actual climax. Time wise, the first shot of K outside in the snow, on the very steps where he’ll eventually die, is 1:22:58. Which is almost exactly the middle. There’s 1:21:09 left.
(For those curious: the actual midpoint, 1:21:59, is when Ana says “This happened” in regards to the memory of the orphanage.)
Questions & answers about Blade Runner 2049
Whose eye is in the opening shot?
It’s unclear. In the original film, the eye actually didn’t belong to anyone in the cast. Ridley Scott himself said he saw it as representing Big Brother and Tyrell’s presence. Initial storyboards said it belonged to Holden, the blade runner conducting the test on Leon. But the eye he eventually used belonged to someone in the crew who had really nice eyes.
With 2049, it makes the most sense to be K’s eye. But we go from the eye opening to first seeing K asleep in his car as it flies toward Sapper’s place. If it was his eye, he’d have gone from it being closed to opened to closed to opened in the first 30 seconds. Which is just a little weird.
It could be something he’s dreaming? It doesn’t seem to match the eye of Ana, Joi, Luv, Wallace, or Ford. So it could be Villeneuve did the exact thing Scott did—use someone not in the movie and simply have the eye be a way to set the mood.
Where does Blade Runner 2049 take place?
Los Angeles. K’s a blade runner for the LAPD.
What were the Blade Runner 2049 prequel short films?
When there’s a 30-year time skip, you spend a lot of time figuring out “what happened between then and now?” A lot of those details never make it to the final work but they inform what’s happening, who it’s happening to, and why it’s happening at all.
For Blade Runner 2049, the team decided to turn some of those details into three prequel shorts.
“2036: Nexus Dawn”
“2048: Nowhere to Run”
“Blade Runner Black Out 2022”
In “Black Out”, Tyrell Corporation releases the Nexus Series 8. They have natural lifespans. That scares all the humans who decide to use a registry to hunt down replicants and begin to cull the perceived threat. To protect their kind, a band of replicant operatives (and a human who admires their cause) execute a coordinated military attack that detonates an EMP over Los Angeles. This allows them to destroy the registry and put an end to the on-going genocide. It also costs a lot of human lives, especially when flying cars fall from the sky and land on buildings.
We’re told that “The Blackout, which led to the prohibition of Replicant production, sealed the fate of the Tyrell Corporation. It took over a decade for the Wallace Corp. to win approval to manufacture a new breed of Replicants.”
In “2036”, we watch Niander Wallace make a pitch to lift the band on replicant prohibition. He explains how his Nexus-9 replicants will never rebel and will allow humans to thrive in a way they haven’t since the blackout.
And “2048” finds Sapper Morton in the city to sell the nematodes he grows in the countryside. A group of ruffians attack a mother and daughter he’s friends with. Morton goes full WWE Bautista on them. Realizing he’s committed a crime and drawn unwarranted attention, he flies. An onlooker recognizes Morton as a wanted fugitive and phones in about him. That tip leads directly to the opening of Blade Runner 2049.
Benedict Wong is a co-star in “2036”. And “Black Out” was made by the legendary Shinichirō Watanabe, the creator of Cowboy Bebop.
Why was Ana in an orphanage?
It was part of the plan to protect her. Deckard and Rachael were both wanted and high-priority targets. They knew if they kept the baby that it could jeopardize everything. So they had to hide her until the time was right to reveal her to the world. That’s where the orphanage came in. By placing her there and giving her a paper trail, it allowed the replicants to monitor and protect Ana from afar without raising suspicion.
Why did Ana live in the bubble?
She tells K she has an auto-immune issue so has to stay secluded from the rest of the world. That could be true. But given the context that replicants have been hiding Ana her entire life and have this grand plan to reveal her one day, it seems more likely that the sickness is actually a lie used to keep her stashed away.
We’re not shown how much Ana knows. If she’s in on the plot and tells K this as part of her cover. Or she’s completely unaware and thinks it’s true.
If it’s the latter, it will be pretty cruel when Deckard reveals to her that her entire life has been a lie. If it’s the former, then she’ll probably be relieved when Deckard shows up being it probably means the planned revolution is finally about to happen.
What was Ana’s job?
She was a memory maker. That’s why we see her create that visual of children gathered around a cake for a birthday, blowing out the candles. It’s a childhood memory that will be given to some replicant (or multiple replicants). It also explains why she and K share the memory of the orphanage. As she explained to him: There is a bit of every artist in their work. Meaning that she often drew from her own life to help fill out memories.
It’s just like if you were writing a story and a character had a dog. You might name it “Scout” because it was the name of a dog in the neighborhood you grew up in. Or when painting a lake, you might put a kite in the sky because he used to fly a kite with your dad and the memory suddenly occurred to you. The experiences of the artist often fill in the details of a work. Or, in the case of Past Lives, inform the entirety of the work.
Was that really Rachael? Was it really Sean Young?
No. Remember, the skeleton found at the beginning of the movie was Rachael’s. She died during labor. But because Wallace had the bones, he had a way, given the advanced technology of this world, to duplicate Rachael. He essentially 3D-printed a replica of her then programmed it with archival data he had.
And it wasn’t Sean Young playing Rachael. It was actually Loren Peta with the likeness of Sean Young superimposed onto her. Which is really meta because that’s essentially the Joi/Mariette sync scene but in reality.
From Gamespot: They Started by casting a lookalike actress with the same height, skin tone, and general appearance as Sean Young…Then they brought in Young herself, who’s fully credited as an actress in the film, to coach the lookalike on exactly how to move…Once it was all shot, Villeneuve handed it to a VFX company that worked full time for an entire year to make Rachael look like Rachael.
“When we were doing the process, I saw Rogue One, and I went back to the editing room, and I said guys—I didn’t like it at all,” Villeneuve said. “I have a lot of respect for that director, and that movie I thought was great, but it took me out of the movie…I want my mother to say, ‘Oh, you found someone who looks really like her! I didn’t want people to think it’s a synthetic performance…Sean’s voice is different, very different. So we put samples from the first movie, where the character is in the same kind of emotion, then we worked with several actresses in order to find the closest thing that sounds like Sean Young, as close as possible. It was a long process to find the right one… For me, it’s mesmerizing. You see her coming, and Deckard’s looking at her, and I want myself to believe. We did it. We worked on it until we felt that she looks real…”
What’s the deal with the DNA?
Because he has the child’s birthday he can use the DNA archives to attempt to find any anomalies. He’s not sure what he’s looking for, but just thinking that maybe a replicant child would have something that stands out.
Scrolling through the DNA records, he finds two that are identical. How can he notice that? His replicant improvements. Is it actually impossible for a boy and girl to have the same DNA? Don’t identical twins of the opposite gender exist? They do. But they’re rare. But even identical twins of the same gender don’t have exactly matching DNA sequences. So a 100% match is an anomaly.
We’re told that this was part of scrambling the records to protect Ana. Give two potential trails but say the girl died and the boy lived. It certainly tricks K. But why would anyone look up Ana’s DNA in the first place? Even if they did, why have a duplicate? Why not just say the girl died? It almost seems like scrambling the records is the only reason K knew something was up in the first place. Otherwise he’d never know to look at the orphanage.
What is Galatians Syndrome? Is it real?
When K’s doing the DNA archival analysis, he finds the matching DNA records. A boy and girl who both were at the Morrill Cole Orphanage. But the girl died from Galatians Syndrome.
Galatians Syndrome is not real. It’s made up for the film
It’s a reference to the Bible. Specifically the Epistle to the Galatians, from the New Testament. Paul the Apostle ruminates on how the non-Christians of Galatia, Gentile Galatians, can properly convert to Christianity. How do they go from one thing to another?
Of note is Galatians 3:23-28. It’s a section called “Children of God”.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We know that both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 deal with the other-izing of replicants by society and the fight for equality. The replicants are very much referred to as slaves and are in a struggle for their freedom. Ana, the girl who “died” of Galatians Syndrome, is the one who can unlock that freedom. While Galatians has many parts, a 2014 study by Dr. Francois Tolmie found that “3:28 is the individual verse in the letter that receives the most attention from scholars.” Given the film’s many Biblical references, I would imagine this part of Galatians was not lost on them when making the reference.
Is Roger Deakins the best cinematographer?
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about Blade Runner 2049? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!