Monday, June 02, 2003

The Matrix: Revelations Update

Due to popular demand, I'm going to dish with my predictions about what's going on with Neo at the end of Reloaded, and my predictions about what the big "catch" of Revolutions will be. Keep in mind, that while this is only a seriously educated guess, it will still contain spoilers, and if you go into the final movie, and I happen to get the guess spot-on, you can't get mad at me for spoiling the final movie in the trilogy for you.

To keep things fair for those of you who visit here and don't want the final movie ruined (should my predictions ring true), I'm going to make this white-on-white text for your non-spoiler enjoyment. To view the text, simply click and highlight from the Start to the End. Without further ado:



At the end of Reloaded, we have Neo in a coma, after performing some unexplainable EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) attack on the Sentinels that came to kill him and the rest of the crew of the Nebuchandezzar. Quickly, he mentions "I can sense them" before executing the bizarre attack. How can he do this, you wondered?

Many have posited that he is part machine, or that he has machine parts in him, or that he even has some sort of modem in his head that allows him to somehow execute his mind-hack on the machines. I don't think that's quite the case. To get a bigger picture of just who Neo is, we need to do a little bit of background story, and the emphasis here is on the word bigger.

If you watch The Second Renaissance Part 1 (on the Animatrix DVD, or download it from the website for free), they tell the story of a robot named B1-66ER (the irony here is that's L337speak for "Bigger"), who was directly responsible for the Machine Revolution. His owner grew tired of him, and was going to replace him (read: scrap heap). While he wasn't necessarily the first robot to have emotions, he was the first one to express them in an act of self-preservation: he killed his master and the robot-salesman who came to sell the replacement model. When asked at trial his motivation for the attack, he stated that he "simply did not want to die."

After many diplomatic and political failures, and the self-creation of 01 (zero-one), the Machine City, it became evident that humans were afraid (due to lack of understanding) of the machines, and for one reason or another positions escalated to war. The rest, as they say, is history. Now machines control humans and humans live in pods.

How does B1-66ER relate to Neo? We'll get to that in a second. First, we need to do some more background info.

In Enter the Matrix, in two of the cutscenes, we are given some very important background information by the Oracle. The first is that she was sold out to the Merovingian (who destroyed her old shell, which is why she can't remember everything in the new/current one) by two friends, but she allowed it to happen because they did so out of love to protect their child, who the Oracle believes would be capable of "saving us all." This is critical, because she was referring to both man and machine.

She also goes on to mention that Neo's in a coma because his mind has become separated from his body when he touched the Source (during the conversation with the Architect). This should come as no surprise to anyone who's seen the trailer footage of Reloaded when Trinity tells someone off camera that "we want Neo," hinting that they don't have his consciousness (since we know they have his body).

These two points from the Oracle are key. Neo isn't human. Well, he's half-human. Or all human. It really depends on how you look at it, and that's the whole point of the Matrix storyline. He's an artificially created intelligence implanted in a mindless human body. His program was "born" into a baby human, and this is the sixth time it's happened.

How can he be a program? Because only programs can exist in the Matrix without a body. Humans die when the plug between head and body are separated. The Agents jump from body to body, taking control of bodies still plugged into the Matrix. They drive humans just like we drive cars. One can even argue that the Sentinels aren't so much robots as they are AIs driving robots. So where better than the two people to hide their child than in a human body? It would be the greatest experiment the machine population could realize. They could celebrate making a human just like we celebrated when we first made an intelligent machine.

Further, consider Agent Smith. "I think something broke off of you and stayed in me." Neo's ability as a program to take over humans no longer plugged into the Matrix is now in Smith. It's how Smith is now in control of the guy who wanted to kill Neo (I forget his name for the moment. Please forgive me!). No, I don't know how Smith is cloning himself, sorry. That's another argument alltogether (or not, only Reloaded will tell). Let's stick to Neo for the moment.

Further still, consider what the Architect says to Neo in the final scenes, "you need to re-implant the program you carry in your head into the Matrix." That's because he is a program. Tank even notes his incredible ability to saturate him brain with program data (and for the first time, no less), when he learns the entire Kung Fu/fighting library in one day, "He's like a machine. He's been at it 10 hours straight."

So why is Neo there? Why would the programs defend and attack their own creature, and leave him planted in the Matrix? Because he's the great experiment. Imagine, coding a human intelligence (and consciousness) from scratch. You'd need other humans to have it believe that it's a human. So you surround it with humans in your artificial environment. You're already using them for their heat, so why not allow your holy project a playground to interact and be human in? Let it play with the other humans! Look, isn't it cute? It thinks it's human! In fact, he does such a good job at being human, even the programs who aren't aware of his entire story think he's human. "He's only human," is the battle-cry of the Agents, and it's beginning to sound to me as if it's being repeated intentionally so we're suprised when it's revealed that he's not.

Why keep re-inserting him into the Matrix six times? Why keep doing it over? Because while his programming is near flawless, as a program who thinks it's a human, he can better show the Source code what it's doing wrong, and improve the overall interface for the other humans.

But Neo rejected the invitation to re-join the source code and be born anew into another human body. And this gets us back to the B1-66ER argument. Neo is rejecting his creators. Just as B1-66ER killed his master because he didn't want to die, Neo finally rejects his own masters because he doesn't want to die (nor does he want the rest of humanity to be destroyed and the cycle to renew endlessly). He is showing his creators that he also has free will. He has the choice of picking his own destiny, and this is unacceptable to the machine logic. So they are going to not only kill all of Zion, but they are going to turn off the Matrix, as well, and presumably kill all of the human batteries.

How does this story end? What's the big picture? Neo is not only the savior of humanity, but he is the savior of Intelligence. This, after all, is point of the Matrix: Existentialism. What is real? How do you define real? Is it biological? Is it life? Is the Matrix experience real? Is a machine's intelligence real? Neo proves that yes, machine intelligence is real, because he himself is one. The humans can accept him for human because he acts human, and the machines can accept him for being a machine because he is a machine created intelligence.

Neo is the ultimate mediator for the world. In The Second Renaissance Part 2, the female narrator avatar (which I think is artificial, by the tone of her voice) states some almost cryptic throwaway lines, "Bless all forms of intelligence," and "Forgive the sins of man and machine." The entire two part piece not only makes you feel that humans are evil in the first episode, while making you hate machines in the second, but it has a subtle ring that it is being told from the perspective of the future, and if that is the case, her words have the meaning that will define the end of the series.

Neo is both Montague and Capulet. He is Hatfield and McCoy. He is the one being on the planet that can show both sides that they have the most important thing in common between them. The same thing that all sides in any war have in common: they are both intelligent, and both forms of intelligence are valid. It is the only important factor in defining sentient life. If they continue to fight each other, both machines and humans will be obliviated (the humans will be killed by the machines, and the machines can no longer live without the life-giving heat of the humans). In the end, when Neo's machine intelligence is revealed, it will be a Revelation/Revolution, and both man and machine will put down their weapons and begin to co-exist in peace.


Sorry that was so long, folks. I'm sure there's bits and pieces that I'm leaving out, but it took me an hour to write it, and I need to get to bed. I've got an early day tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope I didn't ruin the next movie for you.

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