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Bryant made it clear: he specifically wanted Deckard to work on the case.

Bryant: [Holden is] not good enough, not good as you. I need you, Deck. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old Blade Runner, I need your magic.

Quote from this transcript.

However, every single time I watched the movie, what jumped out to me was the fact that Deckard nearly died to every replicants he encountered and only survived because of external factor, sheer luck or circumstances:

  • When he got back to his apartment, Rachael managed to sneak into the elevator and went unnoticed until the elevator reached his floor. If she was one of the rogue replicants, she could have easily killed him.
  • The first rogue replicant he encountered was Zhora. Because of his (according to many people) bad acting, she guessed he was lying and attacked him when he less expected it. He was about to get strangled to death, but Zhora stopped to run away when people barged into the room.
  • The second rogue replicant, Leon, caught him off guard as he was roaming the streets looking for Rachael. Deckard was obviously outmatched and was about to die again... until Rachael somehow landed a headshot with the gun Deckard had dropped.
  • The third replicant, Pris, also took him off guard as he was exploring J.F. Sebastian's apartment. She easily dominated him. But instead of finishing him off, she started doing acrobatics (I suppose it suits her personality), which allowed Deckard to land a shot and finish her off.
  • The last replicant, Roy Batty, actually injured and cornered Deckard to the point that he was about to fall to his death. But Roy decided to save him for reasons explained in another question.

Considering the fact that Deckard might have ended up just like Holden or dead if it weren't for his amazing luck, what made Bryant believe he was a good Blade Runner?

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  • 2
    Maybe because Deckard was an android himself?
    – Yasskier
    Feb 8 at 1:53
  • 5
    If I understand correctly, the replicants in the movie are the first Nexus 6 models to escape off-world and return to Earth. So assuming Bryant is correct and Deckard is "the best", that doesn't mean he's good enough to beat Nexus 6. Feb 8 at 2:05
  • 2
    "This is a bad one, the worst yet." - he clearly wasn't kidding if Deckard was nearly killed every time then huh?....
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 8 at 3:08
  • 1
    Being a jaded human Feb 8 at 6:36
  • 1
    Being lucky isn't a good reason?
    – Valorum
    Feb 8 at 19:22

2 Answers 2

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Possible answers:

  • They're Short-Staffed Holden was the office Blade Runner, but it's in intensive care, barely surviving Leon. "He can breathe alright, as long as nobody unplugs him." Gaff is on the same case, but he's already broken and walks with a limp and cane. In this case, "we need your magic" translates to "we don't want to retrain another detective, so you're in."

  • Deckard Is A Replicant As a rule, tasks that are dirty, dangerous and dull are ready for automation, getting humans out of the loop, and blade running has all three Ds. My counter-argument is exactly your question; in every physical confrontation, it is luck or intervention from a Replicant that keeps him alive. If he's a Replicant, he's not a great model.

  • Creativity Consider the photo analysis scene, which sets him on the scale trail to Zhora. He had to think through the different ways to get into that photo. Then, to get close enough to validate his guess (when they're in flight, you can't run the Voight-Kampff), he had to come up with a gimmick; be a goofy union rep, or a creep pretending to be a union rep. He thought through the process, found his way in, and (almost got killed trying to) prove it.

As presented, the job is as an investigator, and being the killer is a small part. I think we're shown Deckard as being a good, creative detective who, once on the trail, can think through the problems, but I don't think he's so special that he is clearly the only choice, so Bryant had Gaff bring in the easy choice.

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  • But which one do you think is correct, or do you think it was deliberately left ambiguous (please do edit in your response)
    – AncientSwordRage
    Feb 8 at 19:26
  • Deckard isn't a replicant.
    – Valorum
    Feb 8 at 19:42
  • I agree with @Valorum, but think that idea needed to be addressed. Feb 8 at 19:54
  • I think it's a little of 1 and 3. There are times we're shown Deckard being a good detective, but there's more than a little carrot before Bryant brings out the "if you're not cop, you're little people" stick. Feb 8 at 19:56
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The problem with the whole Blade Runner profession is you're essentially killing artificial human beings. Even if you can wall that off in your mind, you're still killing someone else. Then there's the fact that some of the replicants are powerful and dangerous (the movie starts with Dave Holden, another Blade Runner, being shot by Leon). PTSD would likely be a side effect of those who performed the job. As such, the profession (as worked by humans circa 2019) seems to be one of people who manage to kill replicants until they burn out from the activity. Deckard seemed to be at that breaking point already

Deckard: I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I'm twice as quit now.

So why bring Deckard back? The key is he now has quite a bit of work experience under his belt. As a highly skilled and proven worker, he would be an ideal candidate for such a high profile job. We see this when Deckard's instincts lead him to analyze the photo more deeply and finds a clue to Zhora's whereabouts. He also manages to kill her in a crowded street with no other casualties.

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  • 2
    In Blade Runner: Black Lotus we meet a couple of prolific Blade Runners. Both seem to have very significant levels of mental illness.
    – Valorum
    Feb 8 at 23:21
  • @Valorum And BR:2049 sees disposable replicants doing the job
    – Machavity
    Feb 8 at 23:36
  • Interesting, I didn't consider the psychological weight it can have on the person behind the job.
    – Clockwork
    Feb 9 at 0:15

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