Major spoilers for Blade Runner 2049.
Was K really as all good as he seemed in Blade Runner 2049? We have a theory that, rather than being a random replicant who wound up changing the fate of humanity, he was an unwitting pawn of villain Niander Wallace who turned against his creator. Allow us to explain.
In the basic reading of the film, K is a replicant working as a blade runner who has his belief challenged when out on a routine "retirement": the discovery of Deckard and Rachael's child challenges his worldview, with him eventually believing it's him and he thus has a soul. In a twist that intentionally subverts the traditional hero's journey, however, it turns out that isn't the case, although he still manages to realize his innate humanity through sacrifice in the name of love.
Related: Blade Runner 2049 Is All About Love
But is K's story something more? Is he not just a parallel of Roy Batty's self-realization arc in the original and summation of the series' defining question of what makes us human, but also a corporate stooge done good? Was K actually the recently incepted replicant pawn of Niander Wallace, made explicitly to find Deckard's child? We think so.
The Theory - K Was Planted By Wallace
Niander Wallace's goal is, ultimately, conquest. He wants to rule the stars just as Alexander wept over never being able to do. He plans to do it through a massive slave workforce of replicants, and his route to that is cracking replicant mastermind Tyrell's method of procreation; find the child of Rachael, the creator's reproductively-enabled prototype, and amass an army. The film has this mission done mainly through Luv under his direction, although our theory suggests things started before.
Wallace discovered where Sapper Morton was hiding (an event catalyzed by the Blade Runner 2048 short) and, knowing he's part of a bigger cell in the resistance underground with connections to Deckard, planted a mole in the LAPD to uncover and crack the case. K is activated explicitly to find the child: that is his defined purpose. When he wakes up on his way to Sapper's, those are his very first moments.
As a replicant needs the illusion of freedom to work - the moment you introduce doubt they won't obey - K is unaware of his position in a bigger plot and due to his memory implants believes himself to be just any other replicant doing his job. This does introduce a margin for error; K is susceptible to outside influence and isn't as efficient as expected, leading Luv to take matters into her own hands.
Also "in" on it, and far more damaging to Wallace's goal, is Joi. Likewise, she doesn't know of her part in the plan, but she is Wallace Corps. method of tracking: the emulator K gives her at the end of his first day on Earth is a planted object that doubles as a way for the company to keep tabs on him. Due to her obliviousness, however, she genuinely falls in love with K and thus has the man she believes he is (not the mole he really is) best interests at heart. This messes with his emotions and sends him veering way off course, but crucially later convinces him to destroy the tracking device.
Luv course corrects and goes to LAPD to access their records and track K, who by this time has fortuitously led her to Deckard. With this he's fulfilled his purpose and is no longer useful, so she leaves him behind (presumably out of shared replicant compassion, although she does destroy his accidentally-devious love) and the next stage of the plan begins - finding out who Deckard knows next in the chain to the child.
Of course, this is all just speculation at this point and worthless without evidence to back it up. Fortunately, we have a lot of that.
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) release date: Oct 06, 2017