Blade Runner

Blade Runner Summary and Analysis of Chapter 17: Pursuing Zhora - Chapter 24: We Need You, Sebastian


Dressed in a leather-harness bikini covered by a clear plastic raincoat, "Miss Salome" (Zhora) escapes out of the back door of Taffey Lewis' nightclub and runs through the crowded streets. Deckard follows a few moments later, hot on her trail. He navigates his way through the bustle and traffic and eventually spots her through the window of a moving bus, only to lose her again. The pulsing sounds of the street mix with the vocalized traffic signals to form a mechanical symphony.

Finally, Deckard spots Zhora again and chases her through a strip-mall. He shoots at her as she crashes through one display window after another. Finally, Deckard fires the fatal shot and Zhora - in slow motion - leaps through a winter-themed display, complete with fake snow before falling onto the ground on a bed of shattered glass. He examines her body - she has a blue snake-tattoo underneath her right ear. She is the woman from the mirror in Kowalski's photograph. Meanwhile, Kowalski watches this scene from a short distance, but Deckard does not see him.

Deckard stops to purchase some booze and Gaff appears behind him and utters his monosyllabic command: "Bryant". Deckard dutifully follows Gaff to a police car, and Bryant emerges - staring Deckard in the face. He calls the Blade Runner a "goddamn one-man slaughterhouse" and informs him that there are only 4 more Replicants to hunt down. Deckard, confused, reminds Bryant that only 3 Replicants are left (Leon Kowalski, Roy Batty, and Pris) but Bryant tells Deckard that Rachael is now on the list, as she has disappeared from Tyrell Corp. With that, Bryant and Gaff drive off, leaving Deckard standing in the rain, looking morose.

Deckard looks up and catches a glimpse of Rachael across the street. He hurries after her but instead, Leon Kowalski corners him. Kowalski asks Deckard, "How old am I?" and Deckard punches him. Kowalski overpowers Deckard, hitting him repeatedly. In response to his attacker's questions, Deckard tells Kowalski that he will only live for 4 years, but he does not know how old he is. Leon Kowalski knocks Deckard's gun out of his hands and throws him into a windshield of a parked car. Finally he grabs Deckard's neck and proclaims, "Wake up! Time to die". Just as Leon Kowalski is about to press his fingers through Deckard's eyeballs, a bullet pierces the Replicant through the back of his head. Rachael stands behind Kowalski, her finger on the trigger. Leon's body falls forward on top of Deckard.

Back in his apartment, Deckard slips slowly from a shot glass, his blood mixing with the alcohol. Meanwhile, Rachael leans against the counter, shaking, her face streaked with tears. Deckard tries to comfort her by saying, "it's part of the business". Rachael responds, "I'm not in the business. I am the business." Deckard has no reply to this - he goes to his bathroom and strips off his wet shirt. He washes his face and rinses the blood out of his mouth. Rachael asks Deckard if he would hunt her down if she were to disappear. He promises not to follow her, since she has just saved his life, but cannot ensure that all the Blade Runners will leave her alone.

Rachael, her voice getting pitchy and desperate, goes on to ask Deckard if he has seen her files - does he know her incept date, or her longevity? He claims not to know any of these things about her. Finally, she asks him if he's taken the test himself, and the camera holds on her face, her eyes pleading for some kind of reassurance, but Deckard just walks into his bedroom and lies on his bed, balancing the shot glass on his bare chest.

Meanwhile, Rachael takes a seat at Deckard's piano, leafing through the old photographs that are perched in front of the sheet music. She plays a soft tune. Hold on a close-up of Rachael as she reaches up and slowly releases her stiff hairdo, letting her dark, full curls fall loose. Soon, Deckard wakes up and comes to sit beside her. Rachael tells him that she remembers having piano lessons but doesn't know if it is her own memory or Tyrell's niece's. He tenderly tells her that she plays beautifully, and kisses her on the neck. He pulls back and looks at her and is about to kiss her again, but she runs away. Deckard reaches the door before Rachael does and refuses to let her leave. He shoves her back against the window, the slats forming shadowy stripes across his face, and kisses her. He instructs her to say "Kiss me". Then, on her own, she says, "I want you". They kiss again.

In J.F. Sebastian's apartment, Pris sprays a black streak of paint across her eyes. She looks at her reflection in a hand mirror and smiles. A cuckoo clock goes off. J.F. Sebastian is asleep, sitting at a table surrounded by his macabre band of "friends". Pris sniffs him and he awakens, asking her what she is doing. She is just looking around and asks Sebastian how she looks. He thinks she looks beautiful. In the hallway outside the apartment, Roy Batty approaches J.F. Sebastian's door. J.F. Sebastian says that the reason he's left behind on Earth is because he suffers from Methusula Syndrome - his glands grow old too fast. He couldn't pass a medical.

Roy Batty enters the apartment, and kisses Pris full on the mouth. J.F. Sebastian offers them breakfast. While he's out of earshot, Roy Batty tells Pris that they are the last two Replicants left. Cut to J.F. Sebastian's grand dining room, which is filled with oddities. Pris and Roy Batty look around while Sebastian prepares breakfast. He admires the replicants, calling them "perfect". Upon hearing that they are Nexus 6 Replicants, J.F. Sebastian asks for a demonstration. Pris obliges by doing a flip and then reaching into the boiling water and grabbing one of the eggs and throwing it at J.F. Sebastian, who drops it because it's so hot.

The Nexus 6 Replicants tell J.F. Sebastian that the three of them have a similar problem - their "accelerated decrepitude". Roy Batty and Pris need Sebastian's help because they don't know how long they have to live. Pris eats a plate of red peppers while sitting seductively on the table, her legs separated. Roy Batty wants to meet with Dr. Tyrell face-to-face, he tells Sebastian. Otherwise, Pris will die. Roy pushes Sebastian in between Pris' legs, to convince him to help them. Pris drapes her arms around Sebastian and Roy Batty gets in close to his face.


When Deckard shoots Zhora down, it is the first time we see the Blade Runner really doing his job. The theatricality and drama of this scene - which Scott used 4 cameras to capture - momentarily draws the viewer's attention away from the brutality of Deckard's task. He shoots a being - one that looks like an unarmed woman, no less - in the back, cementing Scott's vision of Deckard as an "anti-hero". Before Blade Runner, American audiences had fallen in love with Harrison Ford as a traditional hero - first as Han Solo and then Indiana Jones. The audience reaction to Blade Runner in 1982 proved that people weren't ready to see Ford as Deckard, who, according to Ridley Scott, "doesn't "really give a s**t whether he shot these artificial humans in the front or shot them in the back... he's simply there to do his job" (Sammon 83).

But the difference between Blade Runner and classic action films like Raiders of the Lost Ark is that the line between good and evil is much more murky. Blade Runner does not present cookie-cutter antagonists. As the film progresses, we see Deckard struggling to accept the task he has been given, which in turn forces the audience to examine the larger ideological implications of Deckard's employers and his line of work. According to Producer Michael Deeley, "The central problems in Blade Runner are essentially moral ones. Should the Replicants kill to gain more life? Should [Deckard] be killing them simply because they want to exist? These questions begin to tangle up Deckard's thinking ... especially when he becomes involved with a female replicant himself" (Sammon 91).

The back-to-back conflicts that Deckard has with Zhora and then Leon Kowalski are representative of Deeley's point about the moral ambiguity surrounding the retirement of these Nexus 6 Replicants. Joanna Cassidy, who plays Zhora, said "besides being endowed with amazing physical attributes, the Replicants were given a set of instincts that were pretty powerful. They were programmed to survive".

Zhora is suspicious of Deckard's fake accent when he approaches her in her dressing room, and thinks quickly enough to escape. Meanwhile, Leon - who is following Deckard in hopes of retrieving his photographs - blanches when he sees Zhora die. She is part of Leon's family, and his survival instinct kicks in - fueling his attack on Deckard. Human beings have endowed these machines with all the ingredients to develop real emotions - but then, should the Replicants be punished for simply acting on their programmed instincts? The audience is forced to consider this quandary through Deckard's relationship with Rachael. He is tasked to kill her because she has run away from Tyrell, and yet, the emotional reactions that prompt her escape prove that Tyrell has succeeded in making an extremely sophisticated Replicant - which was his goal.

Ridley Scott has often noted that he wanted to emphasize the Orwellian nature of the Blade Runner world. He said of Kowalski: "this is a character in absolute confusion about himself and the gradual realization of being a man in the system, where the system is controlling him". This description could also apply to both Deckard and Rachael in the subsequent scene that takes place in Deckard's apartment. Both Deckard and Rachael have the shakes as a result of having "retired" Replicants. Deckard comments that the adverse physical reaction is all part of the business. Rachael, meanwhile, sadly vocalizes that she is the business. She has realized that she has no control over her fate. She ponders running away, and asks Deckard whether he'll come after her if she does. He promises not to - but assures her that someone else will. She was designed to be controlled, and she will never be able to escape that reality - not in her truncated lifespan. As Deckard walks out of the frame in close-up, there is a slight orange glow in his eyes.

The "glowing eyes effect" was a subtle way that Ridley Scott indicated the presence of a Replicant. The owl in Tyrell's office's eyes glow, as do Rachael's on a number of occasions. Scott says, "I was also trying to say that the eye is really the most important organ in the human body. It's like a two-way mirror; the eye doesn't only see a lot, the eye gives away a lot. A glowing human retina seemed one way of stating that" (Sammon 383). The subtlety of this glowing-eyes effect is consistent with the unglamorous, subtle milieu of the film, as well as offering yet another clue that Deckard might be a Replicant himself.

Ridley Scott calls the love scene between Deckard and Rachael the least successful moment in the film. He says that in this moment, Rachael "is frightened. She doesn't understand the feeling inside her that makes her like this man". However, instead of reassuring her about his fondness for her, Deckard throws Rachael against the wall, playing the stern taskmaster until she admits that she wants him. The underlying reason for the brutality of this scene was that Harrison Ford hated Sean Young and they could not engage in a realistic vulnerable moment. Additionally, the lighting in their love scene is very harsh - with the slats in the window creating high contrast striped shadows across Rachael and Deckard's faces. Although this lighting design is very much part of Scott's film noir homage, it makes the scene feel even more cold and violent. Thankfully, the Vangelis score offers some tenderness for the audience to hold onto.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, known as Vangelis, is a Greek musician and composer of largely ambient and electronic music. He has scored several prominent films, winning an Oscar for his iconic work on Chariots of Fire. Blade Runner's dystopian score mirrors the film in that its futuristic sound is derived from the electronic manipulation of well-known instruments. Similarly, the score also blends genres - the "Love Theme" is a jazzy nod to film-noir and the driving synthesizer beats of the title music communicates to the audience that they are about to see a work of science fiction. As a compelling interpretation of the themes and moods of Blade Runner, Vangelis' score is often cited as one of the best in cinematic history.