This Blade Runner 2049 article contains MAJOR SPOILERS.
Rogue Replicants are on the loose once again in the year 2049, and it’s up to Agent K, a blade runner, to take them down. Blade Runner 2049 has a familiar setup but it quickly veers into a completely different direction than the original when K uncovers a conspiracy that could change the world forever. It’s a case that will eventually lead him to the doorstep of one Rick Deckard, a former blade runner on the run.
Denis Villeneuve has crafted a worthy follow-up to Ridley Scott’s original film based on the novel by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick. The sequel is visually stunning and moves the story forward in a way you might not expect. Our review was quite favorable.
As you might suspect, we at Den of Geek are huge fans of Blade Runner, which means that we’ve obsessed over this sequel as much as you have. We’ve spent the last few monthss dissecting Blade Runner 2049 for its secrets. Our findings include easter eggs and references from Blade Runner, Do Androids Dreams of Electric Sheep?, and even a couple of things from the K.W. Jeter sequel novels! You can check out everything we found below. If you spot something that’s not on this list, shout them out in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
Okay, here we go:
– Blade Runner 2049 opens with the same red and white text that introduces its predecessor.
– K (Ryan Gosling) is this sequel’s blade runner protagonist. He’s a Nexus-9 Replicant. It is unclear if all of the blade runners of 2049 are in fact Replicants.
– During the first lab sequence back at the LAPD, Coco (David Dastmalchian) refers to Replicants as “skinjobs,” which is derogatory term first used by Captain Harry Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) in Blade Runner.
– Speaking of Bryant, he’s nowhere to be found in this sequel. We can assume that’s because he’s retired or died by the time the sequel takes place. Instead, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) is the leader of the blade runners.
– Rick Deckard, the former blade runner played by Harrison Ford, is a huge part of the third act of Blade Runner 2049. Deckard, of course, is the protagonist of Ridley Scott’s movie.
– As far as I can tell, Deckard still has the LAPD 2019 Blaster he used to hunt down Roy Batty and his gang of rogue Replicants.
– Whiskey still seems to be Deckard’s drink of choice, and he spends a lot of his time drinking it in Blade Runner. In Blade Runner 2049, Deckard drinks whiskey with K and his dog.
– It’s never really explained why Joi chooses “Joe” as K’s new name except that it seems to be what the AI program calls all of her male clients. There doesn’t seem to be any real significance to the name in terms of the original book or first movie either. The best we could come up with is that Philip K. Dick’s father was named Joseph. Also, several of PKD’s characters have been named Joe, such as Joe Chip from Ubik and Joe Cinnadella from The Man in the High Castle. It’s pretty likely that I’m reading too much into this…
– The Voight-Kampff machine is nowhere to be seen in Blade Runner 2049. Instead, blade runners carry a portable version that can read the blush response of a Replicant by quickly pointing a lens at a subject’s eye. It’s kind of like a QR code scanner for Replicants. The efficiency of this new device makes a blade runner’s job much easier to be sure.
– That said, we do hear bits and pieces of Deckard’s Voight-Kampff test on Rachael from the first movie.
– The test K takes after his fight with Sapper is called the Post-Trauma Baseline Test. It seems to work similarly to the Voight-Kampff test, with prompts that measure a subject’s emotional state. There’s a long string of prompts that are taken from a poem in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire. You can find a copy of Pale Fire in K’s apartment as well. Shout out to Screenrant for spotting that!
– Gaff, the veteran blade runner played by Edward James Olmos, makes a cameo appearance in Blade Runner 2049. Depending on which version of the first film you hold as the canon version (there is NO official canon version of Scott’s movie), Gaff is either the LAPD officer who spared Rachael or spared Rachael and revealed the truth about Deckard being a Replicant.
– Origami is still a big part of Gaff’s shtick, it seems. When K goes to visit Gaff at the nursing home, the old blade runner makes him a paper sheep. This may very well be a nod to the title of Philip K. Dick’s original book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which inspired the Blade Runner movies.
– Gaff says a few things to K in his trademark Cityspeak slang, which is used by many of the residents of Los Angeles. Fun fact: Olmos actually created the language while researching his character. Cityspeak is a mix of Spanish, Japanese, German, Hungarian, Chinese, and French.
– Interestingly enough, in the original sequel to both PKD’s book and Scott’s movie, the novel Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human by K.W. Jeter, Gaff doesn’t make it to old age. Instead, he dies during a mission before the events of the book. Gaff isn’t in PKD’s original novel at all.
– It should be noted that the term “Replicant” was created by Ridley Scott for the first movie. Philip K. Dick simply called these machines “androids,” a much more common term.
– There are several different Replicants introduced in the movie. In the original film, Deckard is hunting a group of rogue Nexus-6 Replicants created by the Tyrell Corporation. That was in 2019. By 2049, the Wallace Corporation has manufactured the rigidly obedient Nexus-9 model. K is a 9. At one point, he notes that the difference between the 8s and 9 is that the latter model doesn’t run.
– Speaking of Nexus-8s, these were the final Replicants the Tyrell Corporation manufactured before the blackout and the ban on manufacturing any new models. In Blade Runner 2049, Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) is a Nexus-8. It’s unclear if rebel leader Freysa (Hiam Abbass) is also an 8. It would seem so, though.
– Unlike Nexus-6s, which only have a four-year lifespan, the 8s have much longer lives. Sapper, for example, has been around for at least 20 years by the time K tracks him down in the opening scene of the movie.
– It is revealed that Rachael was a Nexus-7, a model that apparently had the ability to reproduce. This is established when K finds the serial number etched on Rachael’s remains. The serial number begins with “N7.”
– Rachael herself makes a cameo appearance in the final act of the movie when Wallace is trying to convince Deckard to give up the whereabouts of his daughter. It is implied that Wallace used the remains that his henchwoman Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) stole from the LAPD to recreate Deckard’s beloved. Of course, this copy is missing original Rachael’s green eyes.
– Rachael’s eye color in the Blade Runner universe has always had a bit of a cult following. This stems from an infamous continuity error in the original film. While it’s clear that Young has dark brown eyes throughout the original film, her Voight-Kampff scenes portray her as having green eyes for some reason. Wallace makes the mistake of giving Rachael brown eyes and Deckard points that out as a nod to the mistake. In fact, it perpetuates the mistake made by Ridley Scott back in the ’80s.
– Rachael returned to the screen through a team effort between actress Loren Peta, Sean Young, a Sean Young soundalike actress, and digital effects. Young doesn’t actually appear in the movie. Instead, she coached Peta on how to recreate Rachael as authentically as possible. Then Young’s likeness was superimposed on Peta. (A similar technique was used to bring back Grand Moff Tarkin and a younger Princess Leia for Rogue One.) The voice actress did the rest.
– Oh, and one more thing about eyes in this movie: they are everywhere. We get those trademark close-ups of eyes throughout the movie. They’re of course the main way a blade runner can detect whether a suspect is human or Replicant.
– Some fans have pointed out that the Replicant models floating in those tanks during K’s first visit to Wallace Corp.’s HQ resemble the Engineers from Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels. I don’t know that I’d go as far as to say that this confirms a connection between the Alien movies and Blade Runner, though. Still, if you want to believe, go for it.
Los Angeles, The Wasteland, & the Off-world Colonies
– The Los Angeles of 2049 isn’t that different from the one introduced in Blade Runner. Giant LED screens, holograms, and skyscraped bathe the city streets in neon light. Los Angeles is a massive metropolis, perhaps the only one left on the planet, as its surrounded by nothing but wasteland.
– While Coca-Cola is the company that rules the LED billboards of the first film, it’s Atari that shines bright in the sequel. LA’s retro-futurism is alive and well. That said, you can still spot advertisements for Coca-Cola and Pan Am in 2049.
– The people of Earth are still driving “spinners,” which is what the flying cars are called in the Blade Runner universe.
– The massive pyramidal Tyrell building still rules the LA skyline. Only it houses the Wallace Corporation in 2049.
– Interestingly enough, PKD’s novel actually takes place in San Francisco, not LA.
– Blade Runner 2049 takes K beyond LA. During his investigation, K travels to both San Diego and Las Vegas in the movie. Neither of these locations are mentioned in the book or Scott’s movie. They are both wastelands in 2049. San Diego is a giant junk yard and Las Vegas is a no man’s land due to the nuclear radiation from World War Terminus.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? does establish that there are other cities beyond San Francisco, including Seattle and “Night City,” which is supposedly near San Jose, California. We also know that there’s still some kind of civilization in Russia.
– Most animals are already instinct in 2019 and 2049 hasn’t fared much better. The concept of fake, robotic animals are addressed several times, including when K asks Deckard if his dog is real. “I don’t think. Ask him yourself,” Deckard replies grumpily.
– Robotic animals (or “Animoids”) were first introduced in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In fact, Deckard’s main goal is to use the money he earns from killing Replicants to buy a real animal that will replace the electric sheep on his lawn.
– Humanity has expanded its presence off-world by 2049. Nine planets have been colonized, according to Niander Wallace. While the Off-world Colonies are mythologized by the population stuck on a dying Earth, it seems that at least a few of these places have been afflicted by wars, as evidenced by the Replicants who have been used for combat through the years.
– The only known Off-world colony is on Mars. The other eight are never mentioned by name.