Blade Runner

Blade Runner Summary and Analysis of Chapter 9: Chew's Visitors - Chapter 16: Miss Salome


While Deckard and Gaff are snooping around in Kowalski's apartment, Roy Batty is waiting in a phone booth outside. Kowalski knocks on the door and tells Batty that he knows policemen are in his apartment, which is why he could not get his "precious photographs". Upon hearing this news, Kowalski leads Batty towards a building with a giant eye above the door - and they disappear inside.

In a frozen room, Hannibal Chew looks at an eyeball under a microscope. Batty and Leon sneak inside and Chew tells them it is illegal for them to be there. Kowalski rips off Chew's coat and the heating wires running out of it, leaving him panting on the ground, freezing. Batty wants to know everything about the creation, morphology, longevity and incept dates of all the Replicants. Chew, however, insists that he doesn't know anything - he only designs the Replicants' eyes (including Batty's). Only Dr. Tyrell, who designed the Nexus 6 Minds, knows everything about the Replicants - and the person who can take the Replicants to him is J.F. Sebastian.

Driving home through a darkened tunnel, Deckard listens to the section of Kowalksi's interview where Holden asked about his mother. As he rides in the elevator to the 97th floor of his apartment building, Deckard's instinct tells him to pull out his gun - and he finds himself pointing it right at Rachael, who has been waiting for him. At first, Deckard slams his door in Rachael's face, but moments later, he allows her to come inside.

Rachael says that Dr. Tyrell won't see her but she wants to know the truth about her identity. She shows Deckard a childhood picture of her with her mother as proof that she is human. Without even looking at it, Deckard starts reciting Rachael's childhood memories back to her - things she had never told anyone. Rachael starts to cry and Deckard tries to say it was a joke. He leaves the room to go make her a drink, and she runs away - leaving the photograph behind. After she's gone, Deckard drinks and looks down at the rainy streets. He examine's Rachael's photo - which comes to life for a brief moment, and then looks closely at the photos he found in Kowalski's drawer of a man sitting in a room.

Cut to Pris, who is walking in the streets, scantily clad under a heavy coat and wearing dark eye makeup. She huddles in a pile of garbage and tries to fall asleep, but is scared when a man drops his keys trying to enter his apartment nearby. She runs away at first, but the man, who introduces himself as J.F. Sebastian, is friendly and offers her food, so she follows him inside his building. The building where Sebastian lives is empty except for many abandoned mannequins who, in the shadows, resemble multiple attentive guards. When they enter J.F. Sebastian's apartment, two talking dolls - one dressed as Kaiser Wilhelm and a teddy bear dressed as Napoleon, greet them. J.F. Sebastian explains to Pris that he is a genetic designer, and these are the "friends" he has made for himself. Pris claims not to know what a genetic designer is and tells Sebastian that she is an orphan and has somehow been separated from her friends.

Inside Deckard's apartment, he drunkenly plinks a few notes on the piano and dreams about a unicorn galloping through the misty woods. He suddenly becomes very interested in one of Kowalski's photographs and brings it to his "Esper" machine, which allows him to zoom in on certain parts of the photo to examine it more closely. Deckard is particularly intrigued with the bathroom mirror evident in the background of the photo - in the reflection, there is a woman lying in the bathtub with some kind of blue markings on her neck. He holds up the scale that he found in Kowalski's apartment - there is clearly some kind of connection here.

Outside, Deckard asks an old Cambodian woman to examine the scale in her microscope, wondering if it belongs to a fish. She finds a serial number and says it was manufactured locally, but it's not from a fish - it is a snake scale. She tells Deckard to go see Abdul Ben-Hassan, who made the snake. The camera cranes up to situate Deckard in the middle of the chaotic street, and then dissolves to a different part of town. Deckard taps on the window of a small shop to get Abdul Ben-Hassan's attention. The camera remains outside the window and we witness their encounter through the neon reflections; even the sound is appropriately muffled, as if we are hearing it through the glass. Deckard has to roughhouse Hassan slightly, but eventually finds out the identity of the customer who purchased that particular snake.

Back in Chinatown, bikini-clad women in hockey masks dance at a pulsing nightclub called The Snake Pit. Deckard tracks down Taffey Lewis, the club's slimy owner, who easily admits to buying snakes from "The Egyptian", but does not recognize the girl from the bathroom mirror. Lewis orders Deckard a drink and eventually, Deckard goes to call Rachael from a public video-phone. He invites her to come join him but she says, "that's not my kind of place," before hanging up abruptly.

Deckard drinks some more, shown in a smoky profile close-up, so that the viewer is with him but separated from him at the same time. Later, he waits backstage to speak to Salome, a performer at the club who dances with a snake draped on her shoulders - not a real snake, she asserts, she could never afford that. Deckard, meanwhile, puts on a fake nasal voice and tells Salome that he is from The Confidential Committee of Moral Abuses. He asks her if she feels exploited and requests permission to search her room for secret peep-holes.

She agrees and Deckard conducts his investigation while Salome is in the shower. He manages to pull a scale off one of her costumes. Whens she comes out of the shower, topless, she asks Deckard to help her put on her leather harness - and while he is doing so, she subdues him, throwing him to the ground. They fight and Salome tries to strangle Deckard with his necktie before escaping from the club. This woman is not "Miss Salome" - she is Zhora, one of the rogue Replicants.


Deckard may seem to be an opaque character, but Ridley Scott peppers the film with subtle clues into his psyche instead of offering up traditional tropes of cinematic character development. For one thing, Hampton Fancher says, "[Deckard] looks like a tall, hard-bitten private eye that figured so prominently in classic film noir" (Sammon 83). His look reveals Deckard's hard edge - it is believable that this man would possess the brutality and detachment necessary to be a great Blade Runner. However, at the beginning of the film, it is obvious that Deckard does not want to be a Blade Runner anymore - Bryant has to have him arrested to even get him to come to the station. This is because, as Harrison Ford said of the character, "one of Deckard's innate qualities is that he's struggling with a job-oriented fear" (88). Even the interior of Deckard's apartment, says Production Designer Lawrence Paull, was built to "reflect both the idea of Deckard's bachelorhood and the enclosed, oppressive atmosphere of his manner of employment" (137).

Over the course of the film, Deckard becomes increasingly disillusioned with his job because he starts to identify with the replicants, who are supposed to be his targets. This transition becomes clear in Deckard's interactions with Rachael in this section. When he first sees her in his apartment lobby, she is on the wrong end of his gun. After slamming the door in her face (as he knows he should), Deckard literally opens his door - and ultimately his heart - to a Replicant, which is the beginning of his spiritual awakening.

One of the most controversial plot points in the film adaptation of Blade Runner is the infamous "unicorn scene", when Deckard is sitting at his piano and imagines a unicorn galloping through the woods. This scene was eliminated from the original theatrical version of Blade Runner, despite Ridley Scott's protests. Scott brought it back for The Final Cut because he had predetermined that "the unicorn scene would be the strongest clue that Deckard, this hunter of Replicants, might actually be an artificial human himself. I did feel that this dream had to be vague, indirect... so you had to think about it" (Sammon 376).

Many viewers, however, still find it unclear whether or not Deckard is a Replicant. Ridley Scott confirms that he had always envisioned Deckard as a replicant, although nobody else on the creative team - including Harrison Ford himself - agreed with this notion. Hampton Fancher said that he fought hard to eliminate Gaff's origami unicorn at the end of the film, and that David Peoples did not understand why it was there, but Ridley Scott was firm in his decision, saying, "in those particular days there was more discussion than was welcome, as far as I'm concerned..." (Greenwald).

Memories and photographs play a very important role in Blade Runner. For Rachael, the childhood photograph of her and her mother is proof to her that she is a human being, which Deckard, of course, cynically disproves. However, when Deckard picks up the photograph after Rachael has left, it starts to move slightly, an effect that Ridley Scott included to indicate that Deckard is being drawn into Rachael's memory. Memories invoke feelings - which is the reason that Tyrell has endowed Rachael's mind with images from an artificial past. Additionally, Leon Kowalski is upset when Deckard steals his photographs from his hotel room because the images are "essentially history - which is what the [Nexus 6] replicants don't have" (Sammon 376). Brion James felt that the photographs represented the fact that Leon thought of the other replicants as his family.

In Scott Bukatman's analysis of the 'Esper Enhancement' scene, he writes, "By electronically enhancing [Leon's] photo with his computer, the surface of the image is penetrated. This inert object, a mere trace of the past, becomes multidimensional and is suddenly possessed of the present-tense modality of cinema" (Bukatman 56). He believes that this scene is a "most hypnotic meditation on cinematic power". It is in the careful analysis of Leon's photograph that Deckard is able to find the world hidden beneath the surface (i.e., Zhora's reflection in the mirror) - which creates a parallel to Ridley Scott's own visual method of 'layering'. Scott's creation of the Blade Runner world is so thorough and complete that with each viewing, the audience can find more and more secrets buried inside it.