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As with the previous two movies, Revolutions is filled with information, ideas, and amazing visuals that all have a reason for being there. And like Reloaded, some ideas are new, some conflict with information from The Matrix, and some are just confusing as hell. Just when everyone thought the Wachowskis were going to hand them all the answers on a platter, they stayed true to their game plan all along and layered answer under hint under enigma, and then topped it with more questions. You can find the answers if you look, but you do have to look...both within and without. Following are some of our initial interpretations, and we'll also share some theories from other fans that we may or may not agree with. We hope this helps you find some of the deeper ideas located below the surface.

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The Ending | So What's Changed? | The Oracle's Gamble | Love, Actually | Reader Theories

Ah, the ending. What happened to Neo? How did he defeat Agent Smith? DID he defeat Smith? What was that crazy floating thing? Many, many viewers left Revolutions a little confused about the ending, so we're going to attempt to shed a little light on what happened and what it might mean.

First of all, let's set the scene: Smith is duplicating at a rapid pace, taking over everyone he runs into. As he grows in power, he's becoming a bigger threat to the Matrix, and therefore humanity, than anything else. While the machines are certainly not nice guys, they seem willing to allow humanity to continue; granted, as batteries powering their existence. Regardless, with the machines in full control, Zion is destroyed and rebuilt in cycles with humanity persisting, at least until they completely resolve the anomaly. Smith, on the other hand, wants to destroy everything. He hates the Matrix, he hates humans, he hates Neo - he hates his whole existence, and he'll stop at nothing to eradicate everything.

The Matrix Revolutions: Agent Smiths

As Smith grows in power, he gains control over aspects of the Matrix, either directly or indirectly. Remember his comment to Neo at the beginning of the Super Burly Brawl (the rainy, airborne fight): "Like what I've done with the place?" He's referring to the darkened skies, the constant rain, the lightening - the Matrix is decaying and Smith is responsible. If he's not stopped, the entire thing will crash, killing the humans still hooked to it, and leaving the machines in a seriously vulnerable position with no power system in place.

While Smith had been a minor annoyance in the past, Neo begins to realize (with the help of the Oracle) that Smith is THE problem now. And it's a problem both the humans and the machines share. He'll effectively destroy them all, and the machines can't seem to do anything to stop him. So it's up to Neo.

Once the Oracle has given Neo the push he needs, she knows her work is almost done (and boy, did she do some work - see The Oracle's Gamble for more). She sends Seraph and Sati away, then waits for the next step in the master plan - Smith's arrival. Smith takes over the Oracle, and he gains her sight. His maniacal laughter is an indication of what he's able to see now: the end of his struggle, himself standing over Neo in the crater and ending it.

At the same time, as a result of his own sight, Neo knows he must go to the machine city to play the one card he has: Smith. The machines can't stop him (think they'd be letting him degrade the Matrix if they could?), but Neo believes he can. He gains an audience with Deus Ex Machina, the machine intelligence, and plays his card. The deal is that he stops Smith, preventing the catastrophic system crash, and the machines call off the sentinels. ...continued in the second column...

Deus Ex Machina reacts with arrogance initially, borne of hundreds of years of being dominant, but let's face it: they're computers. They can calculate the odds in a fraction of a second, and they know the odds aren't good. On the one hand, if the Matrix crashes, they lose all those minds, and the Sentinels destroy Zion, leaving no humans/batteries left. On the other, if Neo beats Smith, the Matrix persists, and they lose some minds as the rejections are freed into Zion. They agree, and Neo brokers a peace that no one else has ever been able to accomplish.

The machines jack Neo in, and the climactic battle ensues - Neo and Oracle-Smith to the death. Oracle-Smith takes Neo on solo, because he's already seen the ending of the fight - he knows he wins. So they fight, and they fight, and they fly, and then they fight some more. Finally we're left with Neo and Oracle-Smith in a crater, Oracle-Smith railing at Neo: "Why, Mr. Anderson, Why?" He can't understand why Neo keeps getting up and fighting. No machine can, because they don't understand choice. And fortunately, The Oracle (and therefore Oracle-Smith) can't see past a choice that isn't understood. And Oracle-Smith does not understand Neo's decision to keep fighting.

Then he says it: "Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo." Smith has never called Neo anything other than Mr. Anderson before, has he? And he's repeating what the Oracle told Neo just hours before. Neo gets it - he understands the Oracle is talking through Smith, and he understands the only way to beat Smith is to let him take over and unbalance the equation. Smith and Neo are opposites created to balance an equation. And the Oracle is here to unbalance equations.

Neo allows the inevitable to happen, unbalancing the equation, thereby giving the machines control of Smith through Neo's jacked in body. Neo-Smith is destroyed by the machines, then all the other Smiths are destroyed, leaving programs he previously took over lying on asphalt, 'free' again. Smith is defeated, and the Matrix reloads to version 7, with Zion persisting this time.

The Matrix Revolutions: The End

Neo's body emanates white light, probably not a healthy occurrence for a flesh and blood organism, fueling speculation that his body is dead. But his mind, his consciousness, his memories...those could easily be downloaded into the machine mainframe to be born again if needed.

So the film ends with the Architect's grudging agreement that all minds that reject the Matrix will be freed. Zion has been saved, and will grow in size with the influx of freed minds. For now, the war is over. The Matrix has been reloaded and all of Smith's damage has been reversed. And Sati, a child born in the Matrix, has made a beautiful sunrise for Neo, remaking the Matrix as she sees fit. The End of this section

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A lot of people have come out of Revolutions with the mistaken impression that nothing's changed. Many expected there would be a "clear winner" to this struggle. The machines would be destroyed, the Matrix would be dismantled, or Zion would be destroyed, and the machines would win. But no one won, no one lost, so everything must be the same. We don't buy that. It seems to us that this ending is the only one that makes any sense, and the only one that really could have happened.

Let's take a brief look at each side winning: If the machines win, it likely means Zion is destroyed and The One returns to the source, the Matrix is reloaded, and it all starts over again. That's status quo, and puts us back to where we were before the first movie. Where's the movie in that?

The Matrix Revolutions: Armored Personnel Units

If the humans win, it likely means some destruction of the machines. Where does this leave the Matrix? The machines run it, they understand it, they upgrade it, and they have the help desk support for it. Do the humans destroy the Matrix and kill the millions still trapped in it? Do they free everyone simultaneously? Where would they put everyone? How would they feed everyone?

It just doesn't seem like a clear-cut, black-and-white answer will work here; and really, when is life ever black-and-white? There are always shades of grey, and this ending is grey, grey, grey. ...continued in the second column...

So what's changed? If we look at the situation just before the first movie
  • Humans are held as batteries against their will
  • Zion is a temporary refuge for those who reject the Matrix
  • The resistance 'secretly' frees minds that reject the Matrix
  • There is an ongoing war with the machines to save Zion
  • Unbeknownst to Zionists, Zion is also a form of control by the machines
  • Zion is repeatedly destroyed and re-built with total loss of life
  • The One is repeatedly located, trained, and given an ultimately meaningless mission
  • The Oracle devotes a lot of energy to this mission
  • Etc.
Now, after Revolutions
  • Humans are held as batteries, but all minds who reject the Matrix are automatically freed
  • Zion is a permanent refuge for those who reject the Matrix
  • There is peace between humanity and the machines
  • More and more people will end up free outside the Matrix, likely leading to some re-building of civilization
  • Zion will not be destroyed
  • The Oracle has more time to bake cookies
  • Etc.
This ending paves the way for a return to a previous time, when humans and machines lived in peace and shared the Earth. This won't happen any time soon, but the foundation has been laid to repair a lot of damage and to attempt to co-exist, as opposed to conquer. Why is this a possible, perhaps probable, future? Well, The Oracle's Gamble paved the way, but it's all about Love, Actually. The End of this section

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The Oracle, she's crafty. All along we thought she was baking cookies and handing candy to strangers, but it turns out she's a player. She played Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus. She played The Merovingian, and she totally played The Architect. If he had a real head, it would still be spinning from the moves she made.

The Oracle, described by The Architect as "an intuitive program, initially created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche", has been around since the beginning. She's experienced the 5 previous iterations of the Matrix, and has guided The Ones along the path in each iteration. But over time, her purpose has changed: she's learned more about the human psyche than any other machine or program. She's seen them struggle, fight, fall, get back up, and keep going. She's seen them live, love, and die. She's seen Ones follow the path. She's seen others put their faith in The One and do everything necessary to assist him or her. In short, she's seen it all. And she's learned. As each iteration of the Matrix played itself out, The Oracle has learned a bit more about the human psyche, a bit more about what makes humans tick. Couple this knowledge with a weariness of the unending war, and a desire to see humanity on equal footing with the machines again, and you've got a whole new purpose for the Oracle, and the makings of an interesting game.

The Matrix Reloaded: Neo and The Oracle in the park

With Neo and iteration 6 of The Matrix, The Oracle finally has the perfect candidate to accomplish something she's been trying to achieve for quite a while: the end of the war. For as the Architect balances the equations of the Matrix, The Oracle unbalances them. Every bit of information she gives to Morpheus, Trinity, or Neo in the first movie is a carefully worded push in the right direction, to ensure events play themselves out as she wishes. Neo's not the One? Hey, no pressure; he's just a member of the team there to help. That'll ensure he follows a path of heroism and self-sacrifice essential to the success of her plan, and doesn't get overwhelmed by having the weight of the world on his hacker shoulders. Trinity will fall in love with The One? That's to ensure that The One's connection to humanity is specific - a powerful connection to one person, thus ensuring Neo makes the right choice in The Architect's chamber. In the end of The Matrix, Neo can't be dead because Trinity loves him, therefore he's The One, and the connection's established, if not strengthened. ...continued in the second column...

In Reloaded, Seraph's statement "I protect that which matters most" is telling. Doesn't The One matter most? Not really - The One is a pawn in the game The Oracle is playing. He's the most critical pawn, to be sure, but a pawn nonetheless. The stakes are incredibly high in this game, and The Oracle matters more than anything, because without her the humans have no chance to break the cycle and end the war. And she sees a unique opportunity in Agent Smith's ascension: here's a way to unbalance the equation this time around. Here's a way to ensure a different outcome than the five previous times. Thank you, Smith!

So she uses Seraph to protect her until the critical moment, and she continues to feed Neo just enough information to make sure he does what she needs him to do. In the park, she gives him the nudge that he's already made a decision about Trinity's fate - if he has, it sure isn't death. It has to be life, and it follows from love. Back in her kitchen in Revolutions, knowing that Smith is close, she makes sure Neo understands that Smith is the target now, not the machines. Neo's role is not to fight the war, it's to fight Smith, but why? Because everything that has a beginning has an end. You, me, Smith, this war, the machine's enslavement; all these things can and will come to an end. And sacrifices are necessary to achieve the end. After Neo leaves to reflect on her guidance, The Oracle sacrifices herself to Smith, hoping Neo has gotten the message, and knowing that if he fails, this is her end. She plays Smith by providing him her sight, which leads to overconfidence when he sees the end coming.

As The Oracle hoped, Neo goes to the machine city to broker peace, and ends up facing off against Smith. After a lengthy battle, The Oracle has one final move to make: Smith repeats her quote about everything having an end, giving Neo the final push he needs. He accepts his end, which unbalances the equation and gives control of a purposeless Smith to the machines. As Smith himself said "without purpose we would not exist". Now that he's destroyed Neo, his only purpose in coming back, Smith is left with nothing. And with Neo dead (and the equation unbalanced again, thanks to the Oracle), The Architect re-balances the equation by deleting Smith.

In the final scene The Architect acknowledges that he's been played, telling The Oracle that it was a dangerous game she'd been playing. The Oracle's long, risky gamble has finally paid off, and she's led the way to the first peaceful co-existence between man and machine since man first created machines, so long ago. The End of this section

For more on the Oracle, read Enter The Oracle & Change is a Dangerous Game

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So what's the Matrix Trilogy really about? With the bucketloads of meaning, metaphor, and symbolism in every scene, it's pretty difficult to distill these films down to a simple, punchy one-liner. But we won't let that stop us! As corny as it may sound, The Matrix Trilogy is about love, actually.

A scene critical to understanding the past, and especially the future of the Matrix occurs at the beginning of Revolutions. Neo, trapped in the train station between two worlds, encounters a 'family': father, mother, and their child. From the father, Rama-Kandra, Neo learns a valuable lesson. Rama-Kandra and his wife (both programs) have created a daughter, Sati. Sati is a program without purpose and will be deleted from the machine mainframe unless her parents can hide her. They make a deal with The Merovingian to smuggle Sati into the Matrix where The Oracle will care for her.

The Matrix Revolutions: Mobil Avenue

Why do these programs care what happens to Sati? Why did they create her in the first place? The answer is love. Not love as a human emotion obviously, but love as a word denoting a profound connection between entities. As Rama-Kandra explains it, love is just a word. What matters is the meaning you attach to the word. These programs are experiencing a profound connection to each other, one that they're using the word 'love' to describe, since it's as good a word as any, and it shares a reasonably close meaning with Neo's understanding of the word.

This revelation, that machines can experience something like this, is incredibly important for Neo. They've learned to love, or always had the capacity, but the resistance never knew. What other non-machinelike behaviour are they capable of? Showing mercy? Compassion? We already know that earlier they'd developed the idea of self-preservation - that's really what started the whole war. This knowledge will impact Neo's choices for the rest of the movie. Prior to this, there was little evidence that he would be able to reason with the machines - that he would be able to make them envision a peaceful future. They were simply killing machines with logic circuits that were either on or off, yes or no, good or bad. But Neo learns from Rama-Kandra that there is hope for humanity, because machines now possess the most basic and most cherished of human abilities: the ability to love another.

We believe this revelation paves the way for the peace treaty Neo negotiates with Deus Ex Machina - a peace treaty that no one else would have thought possible...but Neo now does. The future of the Matrix is wide open, full of possibility, but what of the past?

Love permeates the past of the Matrix. So many of the critical events in these movies are based on the love of someone for someone else, on the profound connection between people. In The Matrix, the Oracle herself says "Being the One is like being in love." We never knew how true that statement was, and how many layers it had at the time. Would Cypher have switched sides if Trinity had shown him some warmth and compassion? We'll never know. If Neo didn't already feel a profound connection to Morpheus, would he have risked his life to free him? And of course, would Neo have come back at the end of the movie without Trinity's expression of love? ...continued in the second column...

In Reloaded, Trinity and Neo's love is brought into focus. Their scene under the arch during the celebration in Zion is critical to the outcome, because it is this love that fuels Neo. He can't do this on his own - he needs Trinity to keep him moving forward on the path of the One. It's this love that's causing Neo's nightmares, leading him to ask her to stay out of the Matrix. It's this love that both causes her to agree to his request and to ignore it when she believes he is in jeopardy and only she can help. And most importantly, it's because of this love that Neo chooses the door to save Trinity instead of doing what the Architect expects, putting into motion the events that would bring about peace in Revolutions. And it's this love that Neo draws on when he brings Trinity back to life near the end of Reloaded. Each critical branch in the path would end very differently (and a lot less happily) if love wasn't a driving force behind the choices being made.

Love plays a role in other decisions. If Niobe didn't still love Morpheus, would she choose to help him against Commander Lock's wishes? Her help is critical to the success of the mission. If Link didn't love his brothers-in-law, Tank and Dozer, would he volunteer and stay on Morpheus' ship through all the danger?

In Revolutions, Zee's love of Link led her to volunteer for the resistance army. Her impact in taking down one of the diggers is immense. Niobe's love of Morpheus is critical to her decision to offer her ship to Neo and to pilot the Hammer back to Zion. Would she trust Morpheus and his undying belief in Neo if not?

It's Trinity's love that rescues Neo from the train station. When The Merovingian asks "You are really ready to die for this man?", it's Persephone that answers "She'll do it! She'll kill every one of us if she has to... she's in love." And she will. It's Trinity that gets Neo through the trials on the way to the machine city. It's Neo's love of Trinity, and now humanity that leads him both to taking on Smith, and to brokering the peace between man and machine.

Neo's final fight with Smith is a direct comment on the importance of love to this trilogy. Smith rails at Neo "Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? [...] Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. [...] And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love." Rama-Kandra would have something to say to Smith about this. Two programs, each with very different opinions on love. Has one evolved further than the other? This is ultimately why Smith loses. He's left behind in a world that is changing, with machines/programs like Rama-Kandra paving the way to a future where maybe machines and humans can find more common ground instead of focusing on their differences.

The Matrix Revolutions: Neo and Trinity

This is a world that has love to thank for its existence. This is a world Neo gives to them, a world brought about by his ultimate sacrifice. This is a world where eradication of the enemy is seen for what it is: a symptom of the problem, not a solution. This is a world where the creator and its creation have the potential to live fruitfully in peace and cooperation. Neo has given his children, both mechanical and biological, a world where a machine can learn to love. The End of this section

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Did You Know?

The end scene in the first Matrix film when 'Wake Up' by Rage Against the Machine is playing and Neo flies into the air is the same intersection that is used in the third film for the scene when Agent Smith and Neo slam into the ground causing a crater. If you look closely, you can see the phone booth Neo used to make his call go flying as Smith and Neo crash into the ground.
- Submitted by Matthew Kellar
Main Character from The Matrix

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