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  • The Matrix is one of the most influential action movies of all time, but by mixing stylish

  • gun-fu fight scenes with cyberpunk themes, it built to a trilogy that may have left a

  • few moviegoers a little confused.

  • Now that we've got some distance from the climactic installment, let's take a look back

  • at the movies' meaning and break down the conclusion.

  • Here's the ending of the Matrix trilogy explained.

  • One major theme that came to the fore as the series reached its conclusion had to do with

  • the similarities between humans and machines.

  • In the original, they couldn't seem more different, but by Revolutions, programs in the Matrix

  • are portrayed as being almost more human than our heroes, loving and happy individuals,

  • as worthy of existence as any person.

  • Further, characters from the first film who were firmly human or machine are portrayed

  • in the sequels as having a little bit of both.

  • The similarities go in both directions.

  • Agent Smith, a program, copied his consciousness onto a human form, entering the real world

  • through the vessel of a resistance fighter named Bane.

  • Neo, a human, reached the Source to discover that being the One was his destiny because

  • it was programmed into him.

  • The humanizing of the Machines and the complimentary mechanization of Neo made for a storytelling

  • turn that audiences weren't really ready for.

  • People who saw The Matrix couldn't be faulted for expecting an ending that saw Neo winning

  • by doing his Superman thing and eradicating humanity's robot overlords.

  • Instead, Neo triumphed by becoming a bridge between man and machine, sacrificing his own

  • life for the sake of securing the future.

  • "What do you want?"

  • "Peace."

  • He also made Hugo Weaving's head explode, but that wasn't quite as important.

  • One widespread but inaccurate theory about the sequels is that thereal worldis

  • actually a second Matrix.

  • While the reasons why this isn't true are explained in the movies, they're also relatively

  • easy to misunderstand.

  • The real world isn't another level of the Matrix, but it is involved in another system

  • of control.

  • As the Architect explains at the ending of The Matrix Reloaded, each version of the Matrix

  • is propped up in the real world by a controlled rebellion.

  • With each new iteration of the Matrix, a select portion of the population is freed, allowed

  • to live in Zion.

  • There, they help to liberate people still inside the Matrix, searching for the One.

  • Finding the One, the human rebels rally behind them, supporting them until they reach the

  • Source.

  • There, the One discovers that they are not meant to destroy the Matrix, but rather restart

  • it.

  • At this point in the cycle, the Machines attack Zion and destroy it, killing the rebellion.

  • The One, having reached the Source, is made to choose between either reloading the Matrix

  • and selecting a handful of survivors to build a new Zion, or walking away, supposedly causing

  • a system crash, leaving the humans inside and outside of the Matrix all dead.

  • Up until Neo, every One made the choice to restart, perpetuating the system of control.

  • Because Neo loves Trinity, he chooses to sacrifice everything to be with her.

  • This is the choice that makes him special.

  • Proponents of the second Matrix theory support it by pointing to the powers Neo is able to

  • manifest in the sequels' real world, being able to see without eyes and exert control

  • over approaching Sentinels.

  • For a lot of viewers, this breaking of the rules almost felt like a betrayal, with the

  • audience having been made to believe that Neo could only manifest his "superpowers"

  • in the Matrix.

  • But Neo isn't able to destroy Sentinels because he's the One, it's because he reached the

  • Source.

  • Prior to the arrival of the Sentinels at the ending of The Matrix Reloaded, Neo explained

  • that he could "feel them" before he remotely destroyed them with his mind.

  • By that point, Neo has literally established a connection with everything else connected

  • to the Source, like the Machines themselves.

  • He has, essentially, joined their wireless network.

  • It's why he's able to navigate the Machine City, or see Smith inside of Bane during their

  • fight, Smith is of the machines, connected to the Source just as Neo is.

  • Thanks to that handy conduit, he doesn't need eyes to kick Smith's butt.

  • In the original Matrix, Agent Smith's character was his job description, an agent for the

  • Matrix who aims to police the populace by stomping down any signs of rebellion.

  • "A virus.

  • Human beings are a disease.

  • A cancer of this planet."

  • After his encounter with Neo, however, Smith begins to rebel himself and becomes much scarier

  • and more powerful as a rogue program than he ever was as an Agent.

  • In the second and third movies of the trilogy, Neo and Smith become mirror images of each

  • other, with Neo gaining a connection to the Matrix through the Source, and Smith gaining

  • a connection to the real world through his override of Bane's brain.

  • If Smith is the Matrix's virus, then Neo is his natural anti-virus, a connection which

  • the Oracle makes clear during her final talk with Neo.

  • When Neo blew Smith apart at the ending of The Matrix, he made a massive imprint on the

  • program.

  • As a part of the Matrix's attempt to, as the Oracle explained it, "balance the equation,"

  • Smith gained new attributes, overriding everything in an effort to combat Neo.

  • The fact that his spread is destructive to the Matrix doesn't matter to Smith anymore.

  • He's a rogue program now, cut loose from Machine control, with his only purpose being to propagate

  • himself.

  • He doesn't know why, and doesn't choose to do it.

  • It is, quite simply, his purpose.

  • When Neo arrives at the Machine City, he's met by what is, essentially, the collective

  • voice of the Machines.

  • Well, first he watches Trinity die for about 35 minutes, you remember that fun scene.

  • Anyway, in the Machine City the interconnected hive mind adopts a human face to speak to

  • the first human ever to set foot inside the city's walls.

  • Neo approaches the Machines with a deal: He knows that Smith is ravaging the Matrix, corrupting

  • everything, taking control of the entire system.

  • The rogue program is a mutual enemy of both species, and Neo offers to handle the problem

  • in exchange for one thing: peace.

  • By this point in the story, the Machines' usual plan for the Matrix is in utter disarray.

  • Neo, having made his choice not to reload the system upon arriving at the Source, is

  • now in totally new territory.

  • He's already broken the loop, but still needs to accomplish two goals: saving humanity from

  • the machines and saving the machines from Smith.

  • If he fails, everyone dies, there will be only Smith.

  • When Neo enters the Matrix for his gigantic Super Saiyan battle, he doesn't do it with

  • the goal of beating Smith to death.

  • How could he?

  • Smith is everywhere and everyone.

  • Neo and the prime Smith battle as Smith's limitless ranks look on, but Neo doesn't best

  • the program in the fight.

  • He doesn't even come close.

  • Before finishing him off, though, Smith has one final question for Neo.

  • "Why?

  • Why do you persist?"

  • "Because I choose to."

  • Smith, for all his power, cannot comprehend the concept of choice.

  • He is a creature of purpose, copying himself mindlessly as a force of corruption, a symptom

  • of the Matrix desperately trying to balance itself out.

  • It's Smith, not humanity, that has become the virus.

  • It's the choice to fight, rather than the fight itself, that makes Neo win the battle.

  • Neo doesn't succeed by coming out on top, he wins by taking the battle with Smith to

  • the very end and choosing to sacrifice himself by letting Smith copy over him.

  • The anti-virus cancels out the virus.

  • If Smith had a choice, he wouldn't have done it, but Smith doesn't have a choice.

  • He only has purpose, and he successfully fulfills it, which is why, as he dies, all he can say

  • is that the outcome is not fair.

  • The Matrix series ends not on a celebration in the real world, but on a moment of reflection

  • among programs inside the seventh version of the Matrix.

  • With Smith destroyed, the revived Oracle sits and waits for the sun rise as the Architect

  • approaches.

  • This is what it's always been about, this battle between two programs, a yin and a yang.

  • The cold philosophy of the Architect and the faith of the Oracle have been driving the

  • conflict since its beginning, and now they meet in a condition of cease fire.

  • The series doesn't really explain all the details of it, but Neo's defeat of Smith is

  • ultimately all the result of the Oracle's intervention.

  • In the first movie, the Oracle basically serves as matchmaker between Neo and Trinity, telling

  • them it's their destiny to fall in love.

  • Is it really, though?

  • Well, no, if the sequels make one thing clear, it's that nobody is really destined to do

  • anything.

  • It's all about choice.

  • The Oracle's encouragement of Neo and Trinity's romance provides the rogue element that lets

  • Neo break out of the cycle of control when he reaches the Source.

  • Instead of reloading the Matrix, he leaves to be with Trinity, forget the consequences.

  • It was Neo's choice, sure, but it was also part of the Oracle's plan.

  • "What's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it

  • if I hadn't said anything?"

  • Did she know it would work?

  • No, but she believed, and she was right.

  • The element of love was the one thing the Machines couldn't prepare for.

  • One of the most curious and under-explained characters in the Matrix sequels is the young

  • girl, who is treated with much importance without the why of it all really being explained.

  • The daughter of two programs Neo meets inside the Trainman's purgatory, Sati is a program

  • without purpose, born as the result of love between two individuals.

  • In the machine world, such an entity is a novelty, and also useless, subject to deletion,

  • which is why Sati's parents are trying to shepherd her to shelter.

  • Thematically, Sati is the representation of love, a new concept to the Machines.

  • Love, at the end of the series, is ultimately what secures the humans' victory.

  • Neo's love for Trinity is what drives him to make the choice to reject reloading the

  • Matrix, and instead fight for a better peace.

  • The Machines' inability to comprehend love left them with that blind spot, allowing Neo

  • to go against every logical choice to make his own choices instead.

  • Sati can be seen as the Machines' way of trying to make sense of love.

  • At the end of the movie, she is essentially what the Machines have decided to let control

  • the Matrix, with the Architect and Oracle's conflict being set aside for the system's

  • seventh version.

  • This, at least, is pretty much confirmed by the beautiful sunrise Sati said she made for