Blade Runner: Black Lotus
Episode 3

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Blade Runner: Black Lotus (U.S. TV) ?

It's the third episode, and I'm still not entirely sure what I think about Black Lotus. It continues to be solid for the most part – and occasionally knocking on the door of great – but has yet to truly excite me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the show manages to be far too even-keeled for its own good.

Again, nothing here is bad. The animation is fine, serving well in immersing the audience in most scenes. The fight sequences continue to be the real high points in terms of fluidity – almost jarringly so, if that makes sense? The characters are largely static and a bit stiff most of the time and then suddenly the movements in the fight scenes are very realistic with a sense of weight, human clumsiness, and accuracy. When things return to a lower ebb, clothing, hair, etc. suddenly stop reacting to character movements with the same verisimilitude. It almost underlines how stilted those scenes seem.

The pacing and plotting and character writing are all, again, fine if unremarkable. The key revelations here seem to be Elle realizing that the senator was hunting her for sport, her memories about the tattoo, and the discussion about the senator appearing to be a hero for California but ultimately being corrupt. The problem is that two of those three revelations were basically already told to the audience directly and indirectly, lessening their impact. The scenes with the detective are similarly paint-by-numbers stuff – nothing that you haven't seen in dozens of other shows featuring a cop character in the big city, but it's not poorly written or anything.

The real highlight for me was the scene with Elle and [detective dude]. The scene really benefits from slowing down and finding time to be a bit more introspective. There's a much more deliberate pacing and some engaging cinematography (I particularly liked the shot where the camera was positioned from where he was seated and he flipped up the lens to cover half her face). There finally seemed to be a bit of existential tension that every cyberpunk show desperately needs.

I will also call attention to the lavishly-detailed mechanical devices in the series thus far. Blade Runner – like many sci-fi works of the 20th century – imagined a future in a time before the ready availability of touch-screen interfaces. This meant that these visions of future worlds were often still very analog in nature, and Blade Runner: Black Lotus spends a lot of its real estate (and rendering effort) crafting and showing analog tech in a satisfying way. The computers and keyboards look like they have real weight and chunkiness, and a lot of care has been put into giving them a visual heft.



Rating:

Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

Blade Runner: Black Lotus is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim.


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