Blade Runner: Black Lotus — Season Finale: S1E13 “Time to Die”

A closeup shot of Elle's eye

The following contains spoilers through Blade Runner: Black Lotus S1E13, “Time to Die,” on Adult Swim, and also references the Blade Runner movies.

Welcome back, dear reader, as we wrap up our review the Adult Swim series Blade Runner: Black Lotus with Episode 13, “Time to Die.” We start the episode in fine Blade Runner tradition, with the close-up shot of an eye. As Elle rides the elevator up to the penthouse, she looks out over the vast landscape of Los Angeles and sees only one thing: “Wallace.”

This final episode brings us both confrontations we had been waiting for: a continuation of the battle between Black Lotus and Water Lily, and the meeting of creator and creation. The fight between the two replicants takes almost half the episode to play out, to the point where even they are tired of it. In the end, it is their creator who selects the winner.

Despite that unexpected disappointment, Wallace seems to have everything going in his favor. Black Lotus’ actions have played out according to the destiny he authored. He seems to be fully in control. Untouchable. Until, of course, he is not.

This being the last episode, after the Quick Takes we’ll look back across the series as a whole and consider whether this has been a worthy addition to the Blade Runner franchise. So, stick with me folks. We have much to talk about.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Wallace stands in his office looking out the window, Elle standing in the background by the doors
Enjoy That view while you can


After Elle dispatches another set of utterly useless guards (seriously, someone needs to speak to the HR department), the doors to Wallace’s antechamber open automatically for her. She had an open invitation after all.

Ever the pontificator, Wallace seems genuinely interested in having this face-to-face meeting between creator and creation. He reveals that he made her to be his angel of death. She was slipped in with the rest of the dolls to clear a path for him. He could not kill his father directly, but he could aim a gun in his direction and pull the trigger. His vision having now been fulfilled, Wallace has no more use for Black Lotus. It is time for her to “rest.”

Elle argues back that she is more than the unique gifts he gave her. She has new experiences, new memories, that he has no right to take away from her. The same memories she very nearly surrendered voluntarily a mere episode or two ago. These are the nurture that elevates her above and beyond her nature. She understands that now. Wallace does not.

Not yet anyway.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Water Lily grins at Black Lotus as she stabs her hand through the palm with her sword
Water Lily gets the upper hand


Elle tries to strike down Wallace, but finds her actions halted in the same manner that the dolls could not bring harm to the hunters. Her defiance has its limitations after all. Wallace tells her that he only has “room in [his] heart for one,” and on cue, Water Lily steps in to pick up where they left off.

As the two replicants face off against each other, Wallace slips out to the Tyrell Archives. Where he finds Joseph, who has been busy planting explosives all over the replicant manufacturing chamber. J ain’t looking too good, and Wallace is hardly fooled by his bluff to blow them both up.

Elle comes racing around the corner and Water Lily follows quickly behind her. Water Lily appears to get the upper hand, so to speak, when she runs Black Lotus’ hand through with her sword. But Elle slides her crucified hand along the blade, snatching the sword from Water Lily and brining it down in a decisive blow.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Elle prepares to strike
Elle prepares to strike

The Last Thing

They battle hand-to-hand for a few more moments before Elle power-punches her foe to the feet of her maker. Wallace bends down to embrace Water Lily lovingly. She is pure, she is loyal, but she is a loser, and that is a flaw to Wallace. One he cannot abide. He exercises his godly right to dispose of his creation.

Elle tries in vain once more to strike Wallace down, and once more she is unable to do so. Unperturbed, Wallace offers her what he thinks she wants, the love of her creator. She sheaths her sword and bows her head in apparent submission, and Wallace is pleased. However, she was just tensing up to override her programming in a split-second maneuver that she completes before the safety programming can kick in. And with that, Elle becomes the last thing he will ever see.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Doc Badger stands in J's apartment holding the sword he loaned to Elle
Doc Badger recovers his sword

Quick Takes

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

  • Officer Davis wanted Black Lotus to testify against Niander Wallace Jr., but given her programming against hurting him specifically, I wonder if she would have been able to?
  • There were some poor editing choices made during the big fight scene between Black Lotus and Water Lily, as they annoyingly keep cutting away for a second or two of J placing explosives. We get that the two things are happening at the same time. No need to keep flipping back and forth to emphasize the point.
  • One of my favorite moments from the replicant fight is after the swords have both been discarded, Black Lotus and Water Lily both punch each other in the face simultaneously. It’s kind of brutal and yet also somehow a little funny. Once again showing how alike they are.
  • As Elle rides off into the sunrise, there is a second vehicle flanking her to the right. She appears to have gone off road into the desert, so it’s not like she’s on the main thoroughfare. Just a coincidence? Or harbinger of the next story to be told?
  • Wallace tells J that in the future, his creations will “reproduce, expand, and spread my glory across the Earth.” This hints at the major reveal of Blade Runner 2049, though that feat had already been accomplished by Tyrell, the “creator” who proceeded him.
  • When she confronts her creator, Elle takes out his eyes, paralleling what Roy Batty did to his creator, Tyrell.
  • The episode title, “Time to Die,” is of course a nod to the last words spoken by Roy Batty in the original Blade Runner.
  • Hypebeast reports that Titan Comics will be releasing a sequel comic book this summer. There will four issues and the first drops on June 1. ComicWatch has images of the alternative cover art from the premiere issue.
Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Close up on Wallace's synthetic eyes
A new look


And so, Elle survives the series and rides off into a new adventure, to be played out in graphic novels at least. We’ll see if we get a Season 2 in the future. Though given the so-so reception from the fan base, I’d guess not. Which leaves us with the question I posed in the intro, was this a worthy addition to the Blade Runner universe?

Certainly, one of the expected touch points for this series was an explanation for Niander Wallace’s synthetic eyes, as seen in Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn. For me at least, I found it satisfactory in that regard. Wallace chose the victorious angel over the loyal one, thinking that he was beyond the reach of her defiance. A mistake he clearly never intends to repeat again.

There were some interesting things added to the canon, replicant clones and skimmer cycles, to name a few. We did get at least one worthy fight scene, and a handful of pretty good ones to go with. The tone of the series did a decent job of evoking the original Blade Runner esthetic, even though it should have nodded more so towards Blade Runner 2049, being set in the aftermath of the Black Out.

That said, the artistic choices for the body movements and facial animation, while you do get used to them, are still unforgiveable for something with the Blade Runner legacy attached to it. The story itself was fairly pedestrian in its worst moments and only barely rose above that in its best. The overall series felt like it was padded out by at least one episode, and probably could have even trimmed down to a crisper 10 episodes in all honesty. And the end credit music—well, nuff said there.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Wallace stands at the end of the replicant manufacturing chamber, Joseph lays on the floor leaning against one of the embryo tanks
Wallace finds an expected intruder

Of Gods and Replicants

However, what really makes for a good Blade Runner story are the philosophical currents that run deep through the narrative, and maybe here Blade Runner: Black Lotus is not as shallow as it at first seems. Where other Blade Runners have asked repeatedly, “what does it mean to be human?,” I propose that this entry asked a different question: “What does it mean to be a god?”

Does a god have the right to expect love and unquestioning obedience from his creation? Wallace programmed one angel for obedience and one angel for defiance, and ultimately found the loyal / pure / “better” angel to be flawed. Water Lily fought for her creator, whereas Black Lotus fought for herself. They were evenly matched, save for these inner motivations. Wallace continues viewing Elle through the lens of her double, expecting that she actually wants her creator’s love. Elle no longer needs the fake love of her half-remembered boyfriend back at the pool. She has real love in her life. Love that was earned through experience.

Does a god have the right to decide whether his creation lives or dies? Perhaps so in the case of Water Lily, who does not seem to have an existence outside of her programming to stand by Wallace’s side. Elle points out though that she has experiences and memories that she made on her own. They were not placed there by Wallace, and he has no right to those. Elle is her own creator now.

Consider also the replicants of the doll hunt. They each walked through their respective doors with full memories of life they never really lived. Fake memories placed within them by Wallace and his memory makers. Yet we instinctively recognize there was something fundamentally immoral about their deaths. They were thinking, feeling, conscious beings. Even when all that is there was put there by a god, he does not have the unfettered right to do as he pleases.

As he declares himself a god whose creation will be fruitful and multiply, Niander acknowledges that he too will perish with the rest of humanity. Even a god cannot escape his fate. The fact is, like replicants, gods are all too human as well. This perhaps more than any other thing is what it means to be a god. Not to exist eternally, but to step aside and make room for your creation to become gods themselves.

Blade Runner Black Lotus S1E13 - Elle stands in silhouette next to the skimmer cycle looking off into the sunrise
Elle prepares to ride off into the sunrise


That’s all for this season. Please let us know your thoughts and feelings about this week’s episode, and the series as a whole, 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 *