The following contains spoilers through Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E4, “The Doll Hunt,” 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 4, “The Doll Hunt.” This was another treading water episode. Not much happens, with both Elle and Officer Davis spending most of the episode siting at their respective desks, reviewing case files. No new information is really added to the story, beyond the small reveal at the end. Mostly this was just filling in the cracks and solidifying what we already suspected.
That said, the first 15 minutes or so of this episode, reliving the full version of what happened to Elle in the desert, was hard to watch. Nauseating, really. A test designed to evoke an emotional response, so to speak. It was a little redundant feeling, since we’d already seen so many bits and pieces of it from Elle’s incoherent flashbacks (I believe this is the third time we’ve heard the “Get off your asses and run, you two-bit dolls” line), but good to finally see the whole picture. I just hope they stop dipping into that pool now that we’ve seen it all.
The boyfriend tells Elle that her tattoo is a gift, “to mark your new beginning.” Sticking with the assumption that the whole scene was a metaphor for Elle being gifted with programming that allowed her to fight back, what does he mean by a new beginning? Senator Bannister was apparently told that they were all fresh off the assembly line. So just a “beginning,” not a “new beginning.”
The other “dolls” all have vague past memories, but just of the moment before they walked through a door into the reality of the hunt. The rest is obscured in a way that makes them think they must have been drugged or something. Elle’s introduction into the group was different. She didn’t cross a threshold from one reality into the next. She awoke in the same place, but in a different time. Unlike the others, she has actually seen the interior of the building and walked through its empty, derelict halls. It’s doubtful they would have found any answers there, had they gotten inside. Maybe Elle will make it back there and we’ll find out otherwise in some future episode.
Beyond the initiating memory of the “vacation” with her boyfriend, Elle has a deeper set of older memories. Memories of Los Angeles, from a time well preceding the 2022 blackout. Her old neighborhood, her old address. Is this part of the boyfriend’s “gift,” or an indicator of why this is a new beginning? Perhaps she is an older Nexus model, recycled for this new purpose. Never intended to be part of the hunt to begin with—at least, not by those who organized the event.
The Next Target
J returns from his food run just as Elle’s fury peaks and she begins lashing out at all the equipment lying around her. He bravely (or stupidly) wades in and manages to stop her from smashing everything, including his face. She’s no dummy though, she understands that he decoded the memory unit long ago and he’s already viewed all of this footage. He knows she’s a replicant. Yet, he hasn’t turned her in, and he turned a blind eye to her killing of Senator Bannister. Now she asks him to help her hunt down the others and “kill them all.”
Meanwhile, Officer Davis is staying late at the office to finish off her reports from the “boxing club.” She’s not the only one still around, and she knocks on Police Chief Grant’s door to talk with him about her theory that the suspect is a replicant. Fooling absolutely nobody, we cycle through several scenes of the Chief being shown from the neck down, as he dismisses the “rookie” and her theory. Sure enough, we finally pan back and find out that Chief Grant was one of the members of the hunting party. Cue the over-the-top end credits music, initiating with “Oh, oh, oh, evil!” just in case we weren’t paying attention.
A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode and other tangentially related things:
- So the hunting party was comprised of Hooper (the journalist), Senator Bannister, Police Chief Grant, and the forth so-far-unnamed woman. Not too many left for Elle to hunt down, really. I presume after she gets through those last two, she adds Wallace Sr. to the bottom of her list and ends up in a confrontation similar to Roy Batty confronting Tyrell.
- Stepping outside of what we’ve seen on screen and looking at the list of main characters we’ve been told to expect, there is only one remaining female: Josephine Grant, the wife of Chief Grant. Seems likely that she is the fourth member of the hunting party. Which would make Elle’s hunt that much easier.
- It sure took an obnoxiously long time for Elle’s “fight back” programming to kick in. In fact, the events of this episode kind of left the impression that it was the threat of rape that finally triggered it. More nausea. It was only sheer luck that Elle wasn’t shot four or five times over before it got to that point. While she did seem to have a higher capacity for survival than the other dolls, as plans go, this doesn’t seem like it was all that well thought out.
- In a nice little parallel, J tells Elle “Stop!” and “That’s enough” as she’s smashing his stuff, and then later Chief Grant tells Officer Davis “Stop! That’s enough” prior to ordering her to drop the replicant angle.
- Chief Grant has Davis leave behind her sketch of the black lotus tattoo. Look for that to become important in upcoming episodes, as he puts an actual blade runner on the case to get Elle before she gets him. Maybe the Chief even knows what it signifies.
- I had to go back and watch the Senator’s death plunge from Episode 2. While there was a classic neck breaking sound effect just before Elle let go of him, he sure does seem to be flailing his arms and legs as he falls to his apparently second death. Hmm, guess we’ll have to let that one slide.
- A couple of catch-up Black Lotus interviews were just released from ScreenRant this past week, but weirdly both are based on press conferences held prior to the show’s premiere. The first is with the show’s creative team Shinji Aramaki (director), Kenji Kamiyama (director) and Joseph Chou (executive producer), and the other is with cast members Jessica Henwick (Elle), Will Yun Lee (J / Joseph) and Stephen Root (Chief Grant).
Just last episode, Elle was worried about how easily she was able to kill people. Now she’s plotting to kill them all. So maybe I’m short-changing this episode for not having much forward progress. One of the various descriptions of the show given by its creators was that it is a revenge story. Well, it seems we are well on our way down that path, and you know, it’s not terrible. Still, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to move on to something a little headier in the second half of the season.
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