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Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E3 “The Human Condition”

The following contains spoilers through Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E3, “The Human Condition,” on Adult Swim, and also references the Blade Runner movies.


Welcome back, dear reader, as we continue to review the Adult Swim series Blade Runner: Black Lotus with Episode 3, “The Human Condition.” So, we return from last week’s cliffhanger ending to find that Elle is not, in fact, dead. Well that’s a relief. Joseph only shot her with an extremely realistic looking stun gun. Tricky, tricky.

OK, yeah, nobody was fooled.

While the premiere episodes were heavy on action, this episode slows things down and gives the story some breathing room. That alone made it feel a little more Blade Runner. The visuals and score continue to be outstanding. The body movements continue to make everyone look like a Nexus 0.2. Overall though, the story and the characters continue to build in a satisfying way, and I’m enjoying the ride. So let’s dig in.

Elle lies on a marble slab poolside while a man in a grey hoodie gives her a tattoo on her shoulder
Elle dreams of her lost love

Human

For the second day in a row, Elle wakes up not knowing where she is or how she got there. Maybe even the third day in a row, depending on how the “hunt” started out. She’s having a bad week, no doubt. Her first week in existence, if Senator Bannister is to be believed.

Elle is not sure what to believe, so she confides in her only ally, the guy who shot her. Joseph gives her a quick look over. She doesn’t have a serial number and she’s way past a Nexus 6’s lifespan, ergo she’s human…and yet she remains skeptical.

So Joseph pulls out his handy-dandy Voight-Kampff machine, because who doesn’t have one of those collecting dust in their closet in this world, right? They proceed to have a little girl talk about kittens and boyfriends, and after a mere three or four questions, he reassures her that her emotional reactions are all non-contradictory. Elle is just your run-of-the-mill human girl with amnesia. This time she believes the act and stretches out for a nap while he goes on a food run.

Officer David holds Drove's hand twisted upside down, him in obvious pain
Officer Davis tried asking nicely

Replicant

Meanwhile, Officer Davis is back on the beat, roughing up the local ruffians and giving the local businessmen the business. Elle is definitely the chief suspect now, and she’s already gained some notoriety, running around the neighborhood with a freaking katana. Drove, the newly promoted gang leader, contributes the clue of the tech she had in her possession, but completely omits that she told them to leave Doc Badger alone. Nonetheless, Davis is a good detective and finds her way to Doc anyway. He dodges her questions for now, but she’ll be back next episode.

At Casa de Wallace, father and son have another cryptic chat about whether or not money can buy you godliness, but essentially nothing much is moving forward there yet. I’m going to hazard an early theory here that Wallace Jr. is going to turn out to be the mystery tattoo artist in Elle’s poolside flashback. All of that seems like a made up memory, which would be right up his alley. He also seems like he would not be a fan of his father’s side hustle, trading replicant hunts for Senate votes. He might be just the one with the inclination and ability to throw in a monkey wrench—one replicant that could actually fight back.

Elle wakes up before J gets back, and finds the video he pulled off the recording device. She and a dozen or so “two-bit dolls” are being hunted by the Senator and his lackeys. They lament that these replicants are hardwired to be fully submissive to humans. It’s more fun than shooting animals apparently, as Bannister told her last episode, but it’s also too easy. We even see one male replicant try to throw a punch and his arm is self-restrained. So we’re left with the same question Elle voices, “why?”

Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E3 - Overhead view of Wallace Sr and Jr sitting in a large ornate room, with a Go board on the coffee table between them
Another Wallace family moment

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode and other tangentially related things:

  • I think this might have been a little more interesting if they had left some room for ambiguity as to whether or not Elle was a replicant, but maybe that’s just me caving in to my expectations.
  • I was thinking at first that finding the “journalist” who made the video of the hunt was going to be a thing for upcoming episodes. Then it dawned on me, it’s Hooper. The guy who Senator Bannister was looking for at the boxing match, and the one that Elle stabbed with his own knife out in the desert.
  • Officer Davis has got some moves. It’s gonna be lit when she and Elle eventually face off against each other.
  • Is the replicant in the grey hoodie that gets shot at a distance supposed to be the one who gave Elle the tattoo? There is definitely a resemblance, I’m just not sure if it’s intentional yet.
  • So why does Joseph have a Voight-Kampff machine? Is he a former Blade Runner?
  • The whole test scene was obviously an homage to the test Deckard administered to Rachael in the original movie. Though Joseph handled lying to Elle much, much better.
  • There are already a lot of nay-sayers claiming that this series shouldn’t really be considered canon. However, as SlashFilm points out, Alcon (current keepers of the Blade Runner IP) actually takes continuity very seriously, with two employees given the specific job of maintaining the timeline. Gee, what a great idea. If only other franchises would take a hint.
  • There have been a handful of online interviews out in the last few weeks for the show. Jessica Henwick (Elle) has been hitting the circuit hard, interviewing with ScreenRant, Collider, and Consequence. Joseph Chou (executive producer), Kenji Kamiyama (director), and Shinji Aramaki (director) have a nice long interview with Anime Trending. Topping all of that however, producer and writer Eugene Son has an excellent audio interview with Shoulder of Orion, an equally excellent Blade Runner podcast that just recently had their 100th episode. Everyone should check that out.
  • The big news this week though is Ridley Scott confirming that a live-action Blade Runner series is in the works, as reported by Variety (though the original interview was with the BBC on Monday). The pilot is already written, as well as a show “bible” presumably plotting out the series. Exciting stuff.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E3 - Joesph stands in his kitchen, looking over his shoulder
The mysterious “J” (Joseph)

Conclusion

This was a bit of a breather episode, taking a break from all the action of the first two episodes. With that, we are finally getting into topics worthy of the Blade Runner name. Perceptions of good and bad, white and black. Definitions of purity, and what it means to be human. How our maltreatment of the non-human makes us, in turn, less than human. With ten episodes to go, we have a lot of runway now to explore these ideas and see what they can do with them.

That’s all for this week. Please let us know your thoughts and feelings about this week’s episode, and any theories you have on what’s to come, in the comments below.


All images courtesy of Adult Swim

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.

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