Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E12 — “Artificial Souls”

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E12 - Water Lily looks over the shoulder of someone in shadows in the foreground, a serious look on her face

The following contains spoilers through Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E12, “Artificial Souls,” 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 12, “Artificial Souls.” So I’ll start out with a bit of an errata here. The new replicant is called “Water Lily,” per the credits, not “White Lotus.” In fact, turns out that was in last week’s credits as well. Oops. We also find out that Water Lily is indeed the same as Black Lotus. She is voiced by the same actresses, Jessica Henwick in the English version and Arisa Shida in the Japanese version.

The entirety of this episode is pretty much spent on two battles. One that is cut off too short, and one that seems to drone on forever. That said, we do get a satisfying death scene for one blade runner, but we’re left wishing that the other one had maybe died too.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E12 - Elle stands with a scowl on her face
Elle readies for battle

Replicant versus Replicant

We pick up right where we left off, with Elle answering her own question—“Who are you?”—from last episode. “You’re…me,” she tells her evil twin. Although a superior model, if Water Lily is to be believed. Superior in obedience, perhaps, but in combat the two seem pretty equally matched. Elle certainly holds her own pretty well, considering that she is unarmed, giving an advantage to her double. Luckily, the completely inadequate guards arrive and put an end to the face off. To be continued, no doubt.

Elle flees the scene only to run smack into Officer Davis, gun leveled right at her. Davis wants to bring in Black Lotus, but not to retire her. She wants Elle to testify against Wallace for the massacre out in the desert. Elle wishes she could, but she’s on a different “path.” Taking Davis as an ally now, Elle walks up to and past Davis, then takes off again at a full run. Unlike a true blade runner, Davis can’t bring herself to shoot a replicant in the back.

For Davis though, this encounter served to confirm her suspicions about Wallace. She finds a phone booth to call in to the acting chief. Before she can name Wallace though, Water Lily runs her through with her sword and dumps her on the sidewalk. Now Water Lily takes her turn at the phone booth to call in to her chief. Wallace tells her call off the pursuit and come back. They will deal with Black Lotus when she returns on her own.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E12 - Marlowe falls backwards through the center space of the Bradbury Building, shattered glass falling all around him
The end of Marlowe

Blade Runner versus Blade Runner

Elle races through the alleys to get back to Joseph, worried now that he’s in danger. As she is running, random thoughts of their time together race through her mind. Memories that she would have lost, had her nemesis not interrupted the memory wiping procedure.

Back at his apartment, Joseph is also indulging in his own memories. Not of his time together with Elle though, but rather of his time with Serena. He seems to have thought that helping Elle would assuage his guilt over Serena’s death and allow him to leave it behind. But it’s not working.

Ostensibly, Joseph thinks he’s killing Marlowe to ensure Elle’s safety. However, as Marlowe himself correctly diagnoses, Joseph doesn’t ambush Marlowe because he wants to see his face when he shoots him. As they battle it out, trading barbs about whether they have too many emotions or none at all, Marlowe finally says something that clicks with Joseph. In his mind, he replays the memory of Serena’s death once again, but this time with a different ending. It was Marlowe who pulled the trigger.

This revelation fuels a new burst of energy from Joseph, however his rage ends up making him sloppy. Marlowe wounds him and the tide turns drastically. Joseph barely escapes up the elevator, with Marlowe close behind. As their gun fight continues on the rooftop, Joseph is further wounded, and is only given a reprieve when Marlowe has to find a way around debris between them.

This time though, Joseph takes Marlowe’s advice and ambushes his foe. As they struggle hand-to-hand, Joseph gets ahold of Marlowe’s gun. With three shots, he blows Marlowe into the skylight, giving him a rather spectacular death scene.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E12 - Joseph and Elle lie ralaxing together in a field of grass
Joseph dreams of a happy ending

Bad Romance

And then the episode swerves into territory that I really hoped they wouldn’t go.

As the delirious Joseph lays dying on the rooftop, his mind wanders into a fantasy world of blue skies and plush green hillsides. He lies prone on the grass, staring up. Tired, but relieved. There’s a girl in a white linen sundress lying beside him. She rolls over into his arms and stares dreamily into his eyes. It’s Elle.

I feel fairly confident in saying that no one watching this series was shipping these two. Joseph’s motivations all along have been to make up for the death of Serena. She is his love, and it is out of loyalty to her that he has been helping Elle. He is trying to right the wrongs of his entire life, but most especially the wrong he believed he committed against Serena. That guilt is what Wallace used to draw Joseph into this game.

Now, with only one episode to go, they’ve introduced a romance between the two main characters. Granted, it wasn’t until Episode 10 that they introduced Serena, but we kind of knew all along that there was something in Joseph’s past that was motivating him. He wasn’t just doing this to get a ticket off world. That just makes my point, however. This hasn’t been that kind of story. This version of Deckard already had and lost his Rachael.

This just feels so shoe horned in at the last moment. Because, of course, it is.

A younger Marlowe stands in an alley, holding a gun at the ready
It was Marlowe all along

Quick Takes

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

  • I wonder if this is the first time we’ve seen two replicants be of the same model? Perhaps in the comics, but I can’t recall it happening in either movie or the animated shorts. It brings to mind questions of how replicants are manufactured. Are they twins, or just stamped out of the same mold, so to speak?
  • Water Lily takes the same escape route as Black Lotus, just leaping of a window without a care. They really are alike.
  • Wallace tells Water Lily to “meet me at the old building.” What could that mean? Are they going out to the desert where the dolls were released?
  • Officer Davis’ disappearing act was a surprise. Is she still alive? The only character I can think of who might have grabbed her is Doc Badger.
Elle and Joseph look off into the distance
No happy endings in sight


Once again, we end an episode with Elle staring off into the distance at the Wallace building, planning for another assault. Or will she be welcomed back into the fold and allowed to walk through the front door this time? Only if it’s a trap, one presumes. It would seem that the odds of Elle and Joseph walking off into the sunset to live happily ever after are fairly low. However, given the sappy turn of events at the end of this episode, we can’t rule it out entirely.

The only person we know is going to survive the encounter is Wallace himself. Although he may walk away blinded, if one of the purposes here is to tell that part of his origin story. Will that turn out to be the only purpose to this series? A tale of Wallace trying to reach for godhood too soon, only to get smacked down by one of his own creations. Will he then go back, lick his wounds, and perfect his art for the next four years, until the events of Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn? We’ll see.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *