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Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E6 “The Persistence of Memory”

The following contains spoilers through Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E6, “The Persistence of Memory,” 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 6, “The Persistence of Memory.” This was the episode we’d all been waiting for. Elle brings a sword to a gun fight. Marlowe brings a gun to a sword fight. And the result is amazing. The fight scenes of the premiere episodes were OK, but this was on another level entirely.

Along with the elevation in the action, there’s also an elevation in the setting. Nothing in this episode is at street level. Everything takes place in the “heavens,” so to speak—be it the police station, Joseph’s apartment, or the Grant’s penthouse. In the end, Elle is kicked out of Heaven, plunging back to Earth in flames, like Lucifer at the Fall. Remember the angel mural that let her know she was home?

Marlowe kneels down to talk to Joseph, who lies handcuffed on the ground
Rising out of the ashes

Time Jump

So after three episodes of hanging out at Joseph’s apartment doing pretty much nothing, we seem to have leapt forward in time a little bit with the beginning of this episode. When last we left our heroine, Elle was fading back into the crowd gathered around the raid at Doc Badger’s shop, with nothing but her three photos and a sword. She had no idea who Josephine was, let alone where she lived. While I am a little bit curious how we got from there to Elle standing on the ledge of their penthouse apartment, I’m also kind of good with skipping ahead.

She must have magically connected those dots fairly quick though, because Joseph’s situation only changed marginally from last episode. Dragged back in handcuffs to his own apartment, Joseph gets a visit from his “buddy” Marlowe. This is another little leap forward in the plot, because last we saw him, Marlowe had made a U-turn and skipped out on the raid. He jokingly implies that he thought Joseph was dead (or was it a joke?) and wonders what he’s gotten himself mixed up in now. Clearly Marlowe has already connected the dots between Joseph and Black Lotus. “Sh*t,” as Joseph says.

Elle brings her sword down and Marlowe blocks the blow with his gun
A very satisfying fight

Choice

Chief Grant points out that Elle made a choice with Officers Sherman and York, the “useless” guards stationed outside the apartment. She started to draw her sword, but instead opted to stun them both. As the interrogation dragged on, I was even wondering whether Elle was really going to kill Josephine. The Chief frames it as a “choice,” but he doesn’t really believe that. He’s still hanging onto the idea that she’s being held in check by her programming. In reality, it’s something more akin to a sense of morality that’s forming within her.

Josephine initially tries to worm her way out of her predicament by getting Elle to question her memories. How can she be sure the Doll Hunt even happened? Her memories are all built or stolen. When Chief Grant arrives, his tactic is to continue dehumanizing Elle in hopes of catching her off guard. Replicants aren’t people, they’re just things, he says. Like Senator Bannister, he considers killing them “fun.” Probably not the best tactic.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E6 - Elle looks down at her open hand, blood trickling between the fingers
A sign of hurts to come

Feeling

However, it is Josephine’s final words that really leave Elle reeling, much more so than the physical abuse of the explosion. Could not only her memories be false, but also her feelings, like love and grief? It’s one thing to have no past, but to also have no present? Her love for the mystery boyfriend seems pretty likely to be rooted in false memories that were indeed programmed into her. But her grief at Miu’s death and the death of the others? To say that those feelings are not real would be akin to the inexplicable belief that animals do not feel pain.

Clearly her feelings, stemming from a mix of false past and real present, are at odds with her knee jerk desire for revenge. She rails at Chief Grant for having made her a killer. Being this avenging angel for her fellow replicants is not as satisfying as she imagined it would be. It hurts.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E6 - Elle stands before a sitting and bound Josephine, having just slapped her across the face
A very satisfying slap

Quick Takes

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

  • It seems like Chief Grant married up the social ladder. Makes you wonder if her family of hunters is somehow linked into the larger Blade Runner universe, like related to Tyrell or Wallace.
  • If Josephine had just gone to her bedroom and locked the door like the Chief said to do, well…OK, she’d probably still be dead, but she might have lived a little longer.
  • Josephine tells Elle that she doesn’t even like hunting, then her big dope husband shows up and tells Elle that her family were hunters for generations. Smooth move, Chief.
  • If Joseph does have a contact back at LAPD, it is apparently not Marlowe.
  • I’ve heard of “sweep the leg” of course (à la Cobra Kai), but never sweep the piano leg. Nice move.
  • Interesting touch that the penthouse apartment has an outdoor courtyard and parking. Makes sense is a world with flying cars.
  • It would have to be nepotism that got Chief Grant into his current position of authority. I mean really, showing your foot while hiding around the corner? Talk about a rookie move.
  • I was wondering how Elle was going to get away from the penthouse apartment. Blowing herself out the window wasn’t an option I had considered.
  • I could swear the facial expressions were just a little bit better crafted in this episode, like it got a little more care and attention in post-production than some of the prior episodes.
  • I love Elle’s twirling fighting style. Watching it slowed down is a real treat.
  • Elle learned a new term in this episode, “blade runner.” Bet that’s going to come up next time she sees Joseph.
  • Officer Davis got a little dose of doubt also, learning that Elle didn’t start this war.
Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E6 - Elle plunges her sword into Chief Grant's belly, lifting him slightly off the ground
A very satisfying kill

Conclusion

You forget all about having stood in line for an hour once the roller coaster crests that first hill and plunges you downward. I’ll admit this is one of the rare cases where I’m a little envious of those who will come along later and binge the entire series. They’ll get to this fight scene in two hours, while it took us a whole month.

Still, I like a show that is confident enough to have some downtime, throw in a bottle episode every now and then, build up a little anticipation. Now we know what this show is capable of. This episode was hitting on all cylinders, with just the right mix of action and philosophy. It’s got me looking forward to what they have in store for 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

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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