In Blade runner 2049 K comes back and has to say a mantra, kind of a Voight Kampff thing.

Is that to bring him back to baseline obedience?

What is baseline?

Does it bring him back or just detect?

Why didn't they kill him when he wasn't back?

2 Answers 2


As far as I could tell, the strange debriefing process he had to do was to monitor his baseline obedience, rather than actively try to correct it. By the looks of it, the police department simply retire replicants if they deviate from baseline, rather than spending time and effort correcting them, as seen in the way Madam gives K a chance to run away, knowing his inevitable fate.

The technology, like a lot of the technology in the Blade Runner universe, is bizarre and difficult to decipher. I did wonder if it was related to the strange, almost archaic 'crystal' technology the Tyrell Corp used to backup their data - it looks like a piece of kelp in a snowglobe! After K finishes the baseline test, we see Madam look at a display on a computer, from which she determines that K is not where he should be in terms of baseline obedience, but it looks more like an x-ray or microscope image than binary data. So it's hard to know what baseline is, and how they maintain it.

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    Madam tells K he has 48 hours to get back to baseline. Presumably she had the authority to delay K's retirement, until a re-test was completed. She probably doesn't believe he will stick around to be re-tested, but is keeping up the appearance of doing things by the book. Oct 18, 2017 at 8:09
  • Some theories: The bizarre phrases might have been chosen to activate some hidden function in K's subconscious while being unlikely to be spoken in routine conversation. This is rather like the phrase "Why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?" in the Manchurian Candidate. The phrases might have been secret to prevent anyone outside the police using them and triggering it. The test mention various emotional situations and monitor the way K responds, much like the Voight-Kampff test in the original movie. Presumably this is a diagnostic test that can read K's internal state.
    – TimSC
    Oct 19, 2017 at 13:35
  • I think the techniques are also supposed to, through the very disconnected/disjointed routine, help him to return to a more emotionless baseline, as well. When he's unable to give the nonsensical responses and instead seems to attend to the natural associations, that's how they know he's distracted by unwanted emotions, IMO. Oct 30, 2017 at 15:04

It's there to detect, not to bring him back. He wasn't killed when he failed it because the head chief 'Madam' liked him. She then granted him an opportunity to run because he said he completed what she asked for.

  • While I agree with this, it seems a little difficult to believe Madam would let him run only to have to commit resources to catching him again, since it was her responsibility. On the other hand, perhaps she believed K was not a major problem on the run and she planned to "round up the usual suspects" by not really trying to catch him later.
    – TimSC
    Oct 19, 2017 at 13:57
  • Well, what she asked for was not a usual mission. Retiring a manufactured replicant is nothing compared to killing a born child. I think her gesture is somewhere in between a reward and exchanging favours. She probably expected him being off the base line after what he did.
    – Buh
    Oct 19, 2017 at 18:17
  • Of course K had to accept that mission. He stated he was not aware of refusal as an option probably because replicants are treated as slaves (although he does seem to get paid). I have a feeling Madam only let K run was because of their personal connection. The mission being "successful" was the icing on the cake.
    – TimSC
    Oct 19, 2017 at 20:22

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