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Blade Runner 2049
by yo go re

Just so we're all agreed: the "reveal" of who Deckard's child is in Blade Runner 2049 is a lie told not only to the characters but the audience, right?

The movie is a little obtuse ["a little" --ed.], so let's give a quick, spoilery recap. ["quick" --ed.] In the course of an assignment, Officer K finds a woman's body, and learns two things: she died due to receiving an emergency C-section, and she was a replicant. Considering replicants are sterlie, this is big news. Fearing strife between humans and replicants if the word gets out, K's boss orders him to destroy all evidence - including the child. He goes to the Wallace Corporation archives, which contains an audio log of the woman, Rachael, being interviewed by Rick Deckard. Niander Wallace, who has been trying to stroke his god complex by creating replicants who can procreate, guesses what's going on and instructs his assistant Luv to collect the evidence before it's destroyed, and to follow K to the child. Doing research, K finds that two babies were born, a boy and a girl; they were sent to an orphanage, but the girl died of a genetic disorder. K visits the orphanage to look for records of what became of the survivor, and finds a small wooden horse toy hidden in a disused furnace, suggesting his own memories of having grown up there are perhaps real and not implanted. To test this, he meets with Dr. Ana Stelline, who designs memories for replicants, and after viewing K's memory confirms it is indeed something that actually happened. Radiation levels on the horse toy lead K to Las Vegas, where he finds Deckard, who explains he left Rachael when she was pregnant to protect her from attention, and that the story of there being twins was obfuscation for anyone who went looking. Luv arrives, kidnaps Deckard, and leaves K for dead. He survives and rescues Deckard, killing Luv in the process, then takes takes the older man to meet Dr. Stelline, who he has surmised is the real offspring: she recognized the memories were real because they were hers, simply copied into him.

Now, that's what we're supposed to believe. Blade Runner 2049 is more about the visuals than the script, and while the script says one thing, the visuals quite blatantly say something else entirely. Considering the lasting (narrative) strength of the original was the lingering question over whether or not Deckard was a replicant, it makes sense the sequel would try to raise its own debatable questions. It just did it very subtly in a movie that already required paying a lot of attention, so the debate has yet to really catch on.

We do know that K's deduction is at least partially correct: in his flashback to the orphanage, "he" is shown to have short hair, while the boys chasing him all have shaved heads. When he visits the orphanage later, the boys living there still get shaved, but the girls have hair; in other words, "his" memory was of something that happened to a girl, not to a boy. You know, a girl: like Luv. Rachael and Deckard's real daughter.

When she first appears in the movie (having the same type of job at Wallace's HQ that Rachael had at Tyrell, coincidentally), she's wearing a white outfit with very straight lines - Wallace constantly refers to her as his "angel," so the costume department leaned into that. As the story progresses, though, her outfits get darker and looser. This figure represents her near the end of the movie, when she doesn't have a stitch of white left. She's wearing knee-high black boots, black gloves, tight grey pants, and a slightly darker grey jacket with black zippers and a wide, folded collar/hood combo. The shirt she wears underneath is even a fairly dark purple, so the only light spot on the figure is the skin between her collar and her bangs.

Luv is pretty dynamic by this point in the movie, so having all the usual NECA joints makes sense for her. She needs them if she's going to kick the crap out of Ryan Gosling! She moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and head. This was the period when NECA was using those double-swivel/hinged elbows indiscriminately, just putting them on everything regardless of whether they were the best choice or not. On Wallace, they were fine; his arms were thick enough and his clothes dark enough that the joints didn't stand out; on Luv, though, they work really badly. She's very skinny, and even the "dark" jacket is fairly light by comparison. Anyone with arms this thin would have needle-sharp elbows, not the square ones here.

She does have a few accessories, and one alternate hand to help hold them. In the package, she has a hand with the trigger finger extended, to accommodate her distinct double-barrelled blaster, but you can swap that for one that's tighter, for either of her two knives: the straight, slender Minter and Richter "Star Killer" switchblade, which was designed specifically for the movie, and the curved Ron Best model, which was merely a modification of an existing work. The gun gets some paint for the grip, while the knives are plain silver.

So, Luv. She's introduced similarly to Rachael, looks like Rachael, cries like Rachael, has green eyes like Rachael... but we're not supposed to notice that? When K digs out the old audiolog related to the then-unidentified female replicant, Luv reacts strongly to hearing it, as though she already recognizes who it is; near the end of the film, a scene is composed where the staging makes her look like Rachael's literal reflection. You know that "interlinked" thing K has to recite? It's from Vladamir "oh my god, you sad perverts, stop misinterpretting Lolita" Nabokov's Pale Fire, a 1962 novel with a protagonist whose daughter drowned. K has a copy of the novel in his apartment. And how does Luv end up? Spoiler, she drowns. With Deckard right there beside her. There's nothing in Blade Runner 2049 to confirm K's suspicion of the lost child's identity: he takes Deckard to Stelline because he believes that's the right answer, but we don't see their interaction. All we have is the intuition of a normal guy. The movie was already handily subverting the tired "chosen one" narrative, where the main character turns out to be super-special-awesome, by making K ultimately unimportant; why not subvert things further by killing the special character everyone has been seeking before the film's denoument, then having the characters believe it's someone else? Blade Runner 2049's script quietly tells us one thing, but the cinematography is screaming something else. It is a beautiful movie, so it's a shame we only got dark, dour toys from it. Is this (Blade Runner and Valerian alike) an over-correction from all the time we fans spent mocking NECA's decision to not include Wesker in their Resident Evil line because he was "just a guy in a trenchcoat"? A series featuring Joi or Mariette would have added some much-needed color to the 2049 lineup.

And why the heck did we not get a Rachael?!

-- 02/06/22

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