ByDavid Opie, writer at Creators.co
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David Opie

For a film that revolves around the concept of robotic beings, Blade Runner 2049 sure does focus a lot on sex. Yes, Denis Villeneuve's sequel is akin to cinematic porn in a visual sense, but audiences who have already seen the film will also know that the plot hinges almost entirely on sexuality too.

Spoiler alert! Upon discovering that Rachael and Rick Deckard conceived a child together, the idea that Replicants can also give birth holds the potential to derail society at large, redefining what it means to be human. This in turn adds whole new layers of meaning to the central relationship shared between K and his holographic companion, Joi.

Skin-Job

Soon after meeting 's character for the first time, audiences quickly learn that K holds relatively few ties in his personal life. As a "skin-job," the replicant cop is looked down on by the rest of society, yet it's clear that K still yearns for a connection of sorts.

This surprisingly human desire is satisfied in part by K's holographic companion, Joi (Ana de Armas). Programmed to simulate a real girlfriend or wife, Joi initially comes across as literally two-dimensional, fulfilling the gender stereotypes required of her. However, everything changes once K buys an emulator, freeing Joi to leave the confines of their apartment and venture out into the real world.

Despite being an artificial intelligence, Joi's, well, joy at feeling rain on her "skin" for the first time is genuinely moving, and hints that there may be far more to K's companion than just a holographic simulation. As the pair become more and more dependent on each other, Joi decides to take things to the next level and hires a sex worker called Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) to join them for a ménage à trois.

Do The Robot

'Blade Runner 2049' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
'Blade Runner 2049' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Unable to enjoy sex with K in the traditional sense, Joi replicates the act by syncing her movements with Mariette's, enabling her to become semi-physical with Gosling's character. Unfortunately for them, the effect isn't perfect. Instead of merging as one, Joi and Mariette combine to create a shimmering combination of the two, one which falls out of sync whenever Mackenzie's character moves too quickly.

Visually, the flickering pair combine on screen to help create one of the film's most stunning sequences, not to mention the most unusual sex scene of the year. However, there's far more to their union than just the physicality on display.

At the core of lies the question of what it means to be human. K may not be "real" in the traditional sense, but even he possesses more freedom and autonomy than Joi. The poor hologram remains unable to touch the man she loves, despite her newfound freedom, and it's this that motivates Joi to briefly include Mariette in her relationship with K.

'Blade Runner 2049' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
'Blade Runner 2049' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

During their threesome, Joi's hands continue to wander away from Mariette's, and at first, it just seems like she's struggling to keep up with her erratic movements. However, as the scene progresses, subtle signs begin to suggest that Joi is caught up in the moment, unable to concentrate fully on the task at hand. Even though her heart and mind may be synthetic, the love that she feels for K is tangible and real, something that becomes all the more heartbreaking when the two encounter danger in Las Vegas.

More than any other scene, the moment when K, Joi and Mariette intertwine and become one is thematically beautiful, encapsulating all of the questions that Blade Runner 2049 fights to answer about the nature of humanity in one physical act. What is love? What is the nature of a soul? And what does it even mean to be "human" at all?

Whether the male gaze behind the camera veered toward exploitation near the end of the sex scene is another debate entirely, one that's absolutely worth having. However, the idea itself, that two machines can fall in love, is arguably one of the film's most poignant triumphs.

Do you think that K and Joi felt genuine love for each other? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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