Major spoilers for Blade Runner 2049.
Blade Runner 2049 is the rarest of things: a belated sequel that lives up to the original (read our full review here). And that’s especially true with it’s ending, which is as big and thoughtful as that of Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic. But why did it go down that way and what is it really saying?
The movie follows K, a new-age replicant operating as a titular cop hunting down rogue Nexus 8s who discovers a potentially world-changing secret: a replicant reproduced. His journey to solve the case and find the child takes him across America to trash-strewn San Diego (basically the city the day after Comic-Con) and a desolate, empty Las Vegas, during which time he begins to (erroneously) suspect he himself is the child. Along the way, he unites with original hero Deckard and, upon discovering a selfless replicant underground, sacrifices himself to reunite the former Blade Runner with his true daughter.
It’s a big movie of a visual and thematic scale you rarely see, and the ending – indeed, the whole plot – is much more twisty and nuanced than a single paragraph summary can provide. Let’s dive deep and take a look at what’s really going on in Blade Runner 2049 and its ending.
Deckard and Rachael’s Child (This Page)
What Happened With Deckard and Rachael After The Original?
At the end of the 1982 film, Rick Deckard ran away with one-of-a-kind replicant Rachael, a rejection of his Blade Runner ways. Some versions of the film showed them ride off happily to the countryside, but the canon Final Cut left that fate ambiguous. Across Blade Runner 2049, we slowly learn what happened to them.
After they ran away, the pair were hunted just as Deckard knew they would be and wound up involved with an underground group including Sapper Morton and one-eyed Freysa. This gave them a potential link to the Black Out, a cataclysmic event where a replicant rebellion shut down the Earth’s technology for a period of ten days and wiped most computer records, removing any trace of their artificial origins.
Prior to that happening, the pair had a child together. Rachael died in childbirth and was buried under the dead/fake tree by Sapper’s house, but the baby survived thanks to the former medic. By this point, however, Deckard had already gone as part of the plan to keep the child safe – it’s immediately understood her very existence would change the entire discussion on replicant rights (this is the miracle Sapper mentions to K in the opening), making her a serious target – and hides out in a deserted Las Vegas even post-Black Out.
How Could Rachael Have Child If She’s A Replicant?
The biggest question arising from this is how Rachael is able to have a child if she’s a replicant. This is kept purposely vague in the movie, but is intrinsically allowed by the way they’re designed; while in the original script of the 1982 film, replicants were meant to be proper automatons with nuts and bolt innards, by the finished movie they’d become flesh-and-blood, a purposeful blurring of the lines between man and machine.
From what 2049 teases, it appears that Tyrell, the original creator of replicants, designed Rachael this specific way. She was a sort of prototype Nexus 8 – presumably with a natural lifespan – and, evidently, he developed a working reproductive system for her. It’s not clear if any others have one, although given the child is treated as such a miracle it’s safe to say she was the only one.
Whatever the case, the baseline technology was lost with Tyrell’s eye-gouging death and the events of the Black Out, meaning nobody knew explicitly of the potential or method.
Who Was Deckard and Rachael’s Child?
After Rachael’s death, it was decided that the child needed to be protected, and so the underground hid her at the “orphanage” – a sweatshop in San Diego where she could pass as a real human. While here, the horse incident happened – the child was chased by bullies and hid a wooden horse with their birthdate in a disused furnace.
After that, she and some stand-in or adoptive parents tried to take her off-world, but due to an autoimmune deficiency (perhaps as a result of her hitherto unheard of origins) she was refused travel and kept quarantined in a memory-creation bank outside the L.A. city limits. Quite how and why she ended up here is another vagueity in the film, but it’s possible she was placed there as a form of protection. Regardless, by 2049 she’s working on all manner of artistic memories as a subcontractor for the Wallace Corporation, going under the name of Ana Stelline.
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