With Blade Runner 2049 hitting theaters October 6, you might be wondering what’s been going on in the 30 years since the last film ended. The original Blade Runner ended ambiguously in 2017 when Deckard fled Los Angeles with the replicant Rachael. Now you can watch a short film called 2036: Nexus Dawn, directed by Luke Scott, who helmed the 2016 horror film Morgan. Nexus Dawn focuses on one, key meeting between biotech magnate Neander Wallace (Jared Leto) and some officials.
We’re getting a feel for Wallace’s fragility and hubris here. Though he’s appeared as a builder of replicants in the 2049 trailers, it wasn’t clear who he was or how he fit into the story. Now we know he holds patents to some kind of agriculture-related biotech that saved the world from starvation. Wallace is also kind of a classic mad scientist, obsessed with creating new life. He shows the people at this meeting the Nexus 9, a new kind of replicant that lives as long as his human owner desires and will never disobey orders or run away.
At Comic-Con last month, the filmmakers revealed what happened between the two films in a quick chart projected onscreen:
2019: Blade Runner Rick Deckard flees Los Angeles with a replicant named Rachael.
2020: The Tyrell Corporation introduces a new replicant model, the Nexus 8S, which has extended lifespans. (Dave Bautista plays one of these Replicants in 2049.)
2022: An EMP detonation causes a global blackout that has massive, destructive implications all over the world.
2023: A replicant prohibition is put into effect.
2025: A new company, Wallace Corp., solves the global food shortage and becomes a massive superpower.
2030: Replicant prohibition is repealed.
2049: Life on Earth has reached its limit, and society divides between replicant and human.
The short film, set in 2036, is confusingly out of sync with this timeline. Replicant prohibition is still in full effect when Wallace (of Wallace Corp., presumably) introduces the Nexus 9.
Regardless of which timeline you want to use, it’s clear the events of this short film are shortly before replicant prohibition has been repealed. With his scary little demo, Wallace probably convinced various government officials that replicants are completely safe and should be allowed to exist again.
More fascinating than the replicant timeline, though, is…