• Blade Runner 2049: Unpacking The Sequel’s Ending
    Oct 08, 2017

    SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Blade Runner 2049, in theaters now.

    Clocking in at nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 is a massive beast, an ambitious undertaking. The sequel is a deeply layered piece of science-fiction that looks to honor its predecessor while at the same time taking its universe into unexpected directions. Human or replicant, its main characters are flawed and damaged; the prevalent themes of identity, of life and what it means to be human run deep into every majestic scene you lay your eyes on, and while the story can appear quite complex at times, it is ultimately very simple. It’s a story about love, and about life.

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    Such high-concept science-fiction movies often lead to healthy discussions between casual viewers and fans alike, and Blade Runner 2049 is no different. When the dust is settled and the credits roll, you find yourself at a crossroads of sorts, wondering if you understood everything there was to understand. You’ll likely be both enamored and surprised by director Denis Villeneuve’s decision to end the film not with a bang, like the original Blade Runner, but with a sigh of relief — a beautiful moment between a father and his daughter.

    For a long while, 2049 is its very own entity, with a story that runs tangentially to the original’s. This is very much the story of K, a replicant blade runner whose job it is to hunt his own kind. Much like Deckard was before him, K is efficient. After a routine job however, the movie quickly changes gears to turn into a detective story, much like the original movie. After unearthing a box which housed the remains of a deceased replicant, K is thrown into a mystery that spans decades and just might alter the future of humankind.

    Page 2: Blade Runner 2049's Big Mystery, Unpacked/h5>

    The bones are all that remain of the Nexus-6 experimental replicant Rachael, who was last seen in the closing minutes of the first Blade Runner. The mystery deepens when K discovers Rachael was somehow able to give birth to a replicant child, a boy who has within his genetic code the means to change the tide of balance between man and replicant. For Niander Wallace, one of the world’s most wealthy industrialist and leading replicant creator, this is the equivalent of a game changer, a way to make millions upon millions of replicants. Naturally, he sends his deadliest replicant, Luv, to hunt down K and find the child — who would now be nearing its thirties.

    As K embarks on a race to find Rachael’s child, he follows the clues and interrogates anyone who could prove useful: Deckard’s old partner Graff, a false memory designer named Ana Stelline, and a man who points him in the direction of a location that is now closed off to the general population. It’s here where he finally finds Deckard, the old blade runner played by Harrison Ford. But in the midst of his investigation, K goes through a crisis of his own, as he comes to face-to-face with his humanity for the very first time. When one of his implanted memories proves to be a real memory from the miracle child, he starts to believe that he could be that child. Slowly, he starts to embrace the notion that, due to his nature, he is someone that is special; he starts to believe that he is the long-lost son of Deckard.

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    But when Deckard is taken prisoner by Luv and interrogated by Niander Wallace, K finds himself meeting an underground movement of replicants who wish to free themselves from mankind’s oppression. Their mysterious leader, Freysa, informs K that she was present during the birth of the child, that Deckard had no choice but to abandon her to keep her safe, and that she helped hide her. Her. That’s right, the child wasn’t a boy at all, but a girl. The documents were changed, falsified to help keep the child safe. With that bombshell of a revelation, K has no choice but to face the fact that he is not special, that he is merely a cog in the machine. He is not the miracle child, just a replicant who stumbled onto the information. He deduces that the child in question is actually the memory designer he had previously met, Ana Stelline. To protect Ana’s identity, Freysa instructs K to kill Deckard, lest he tell his captors what they want to know.

    While Niander Wallace tries as best he can to get the information he needs out of Deckard, the retired blade runner proves to be a stone wall. Even if he has never met her, he will not give up his daughter, no matter what. But Wallace isn’t one to take no for an answer, so he arranges for Deckard to be taken off-world, where he will be free to torture and interrogate the retired blade runner to the best of his abilities.

    As Luv escorts Deckard, K ambushes the convoy and destroys Wallace’s forces. Next to the downed ship, Luv and K fight each other. Proving herself to be an incomparable combatant, Luv stabs K repeatedly, leaving him for dead as she rushes to save a handcuffed Deckard from the rising tide of water. It’s here that K proves himself special after all. Somehow, he finds the strength, and the will, inside him to rush to Luv’s side, and forcibly drown her. He quickly frees Deckard, and realizes that he doesn’t have long for his word. K assures Deckard that his death was now faked in his attack, and that he is free to finally meet his long-lost child.

    While Deckard is somewhat hesitant, K urges him to go to Ana. As snow falls from the sky, father and daughter are reunited, and finally, the hunted blade runner can stop running. For the first time in decades, he has a new chance at life – a life with his daughter, for whom he sacrificed everything for.

    Page 3: What Does the Ending off Blade Runner 2049 Mean?

    Where the original Blade Runner ended with people on the run, the sequel ends with its characters stopping to a standstill. K, who longed to be special, turned out to be exactly what he had wished to be. He proved that he was just as human as anyone else, first by disobeying direct orders, then by letting himself feel love for Joi, his automated companion. It’s a connection that helped him see the beauty in the world, and one that pushed him to save Deckard and allow him to reunite with his daughter, instead of killing him as he should have done.

    This ending is very open-ended as to the larger world of the Blade Runner universe, but it is also a fitting conclusion for both Deckard and K. Some might argue that, at the end of the movie, K might still be alive. While that could be true, there is a certain poetry to his character accepting death on his own terms, going out while finally doing something good. Ever hated by his fellow officers for being a replicant, and equally reviled by his fellow replicants for being a blade runner, K is a character who never really had a home – save for Joi. After losing her, he did everything he could to do what was right, to do what she wanted him to. To be what she knew him to be: special. Through his emotional journey, through his sacrifice, K proved, beyond a single doubt, that one doesn’t need to have a soul to be human.

    RELATED: Review: Blade Runner 2049 — The Sequel Almost Equals the Original

    Blade Runner 2049 will ultimately go down as a classic of science-fiction. Through its grand themes and dwarfing concepts about human nature, it could have easily lost itself in its own purpose. Instead, Villeneuve created a movie about hope, about truth and about sacrifice. The ending of the film isn’t complicated to understand. Some might debate the final outcome, while others will take of it what they want. What they believe and what they feel. It doesn’t matter that Niander Wallace is still alive somewhere. It doesn’t matter that a replicant revolution is about to awaken, that war between two species is brewing. Against all odds, a father and his daughter managed to find each other. Where one movie ended with tears in the rain, this one ends with a quiet snowfall, and a smile.

    Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) from a script by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Barkhad Abdi, Lennie James, Mackenzie Davis and Sylvia Hoeks. Executive produced by Ridley Scott, the film is in theaters now.

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