In early 1999, strange posters appeared throughout the United States, advertising an enigmatic movie created by a little-known writer-director team with only one movie to its credit. The mystery extended to the film’s unusual name, The Matrix. When The Matrix finally appeared, over Easter weekend of 1999, the anticipation created by this campaign paid off.  

In the first Matrix movie, Agent Smith's license plate is "IS 5416", which refers to Isaiah 54:16 from the Bible: " Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and him that bringeth forth an instrument for his work, and I have created the destroyer to destroy."

Isaiha 54:16

Isaiah 54:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer "to wreak havoc";

Havoc means widespread destruction. Wreak, a rare verb most common in British English, means to bring about. So "to wreak havoc" is to bring about widespread destruction. 


Car of Agent Smith with License Plate IS-54-16

The Matrix begins with a computerized image of the Warner Bros. logo, a phone ring, and a conversation between Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) about watching “him” (Neo, Keanu Reeves), and whether the line is secure.  The implication is that the communications are all surveilled (think of how few knew of the mass NSA surveillance that existed at the time the film was released). The viewer sees the screen morph into 1s and 0s and the now-famous green screen code.  From the outset, this is to signify that the audience, as with Eyes Wide Shut, is in the dark.  It is the movie going public that is about to enter into the videodrome “matrix,” as they step into the theater to see what will be a largely CGI Hollywood production.  The audience is not only stepping into the matrix of the videodrome, but as the overall message of the film will convey, lives out lives occupied almost entirely in an engineered world of simulated reality.  In this regard, The Matrix will operate on multiple levels, from the conspiratorial/geo-political, to the psychological, to the metaphysical.

In the first scene, the viewer is shown a motel called “Heart O’ The City,” where bumbling police enter room “303.” Numerology does play into the film, especially since binary code is the very heart of computers.  “303” is the equivalent of 33, and Trinity is caught trying to dial into the “real world” to escape her inner-matrix watching of Neo.  Alchemy and numerology place a high value on the number 33, being the highest degree of Scottish Rite Masonry.  Manly P. Hall speaks of 33 as highly significant for alchemy because 3×3=9, the number of the emanations from the One, and conversely as the number of initiation.  We can therefore speculate that, given the many examples of masonic and occult symbols and referents in the film, this is very likely the paradigm from which the film was crafted.  The heart is also crucial to alchemy, inasmuch as the heart and intellect must combine to produce balance.  “Trinity” is also a triadic symbol and name, so the usage is not accidental.  Trinity will function as the feminine principle to Neo’s masculine principle, as they join to complete the alchemical mystical union in the trilogy of Matrix films.  Trinity here is not used here in the common Christian sense, it is meant in the sense of a gnostic feminine principle, sophia.


Smith is a computer program with a particular purpose to serve within the Matrix. When programs die in the Matrix—as the Keymaker does, for example—they are deleted because they have fulfilled their purpose. When Agent Smith fights Neo at the end of The Matrix, something unexpected happens to him. His program evolves or becomes corrupted, and increasingly Smith finds himself at odds with the Matrix world, where all the other Agents remain at ease. He is a program, but somehow he also demonstrates an evolution of character and purpose.

Hugo Weaving portrays Smith as a confused, complex entity. Smith is a program, but he also seems to possess human qualities. We see his desperation, for example, when he faces the Oracle and tries to figure out what she knows and how she knows it. Smith’s style of speech evolves as the trilogy progresses. Initially, Smith is smug, slow, and methodical in his questions, assured that whatever programs he is a part of will run smoothly. Slowly, though, doubt creeps into his voice, and his facial expressions become less controlled. He shows anger. The tone of his voice grows more varied. At crucial moments, Smith takes off his sunglasses and reveals his eyes. Smith blurs the line between man and machine, and though ultimately humans prove more powerful, his resilience suggests that victory was never certain, and that machines have more influence and potential than it might seem.

In considering the numerous references made by the pop culture phenomenon that continues to the Wachowski Brothers' "The Matrix" saga, I've recently developed a theory about one character - a main one - that has curiously gotten overlooked in the dissection of his name, one that may carry more meaning that at face value.

The theological, literary and historical significance of the names used in the films (The Matrix, The Matrix - Reloaded, and The Matrix - Revolutions), video game (Enter the Matrix) and collection of animated shorts (The Animatrix) can't be understated. Names like Morpheus (the god of dreams in Greek mythology), The Oracle (at Delphi), Captain Niobe (Biblical), The Merovingian (as in the Merovingian Kings of France, who believe they are descendants of Jesus Christ), Commander Jason Locke (a la John Locke the empiricist), Captain Soren (as in Kierkegaard), the ship The Logos (meaning "the word"), etc. connote a deeper meaning than just coincidental, and often their characters display traits common to those they reference. This proves the deliberate, intelligent placement of their names; and I've read, watched and discussed countless hypotheses regarding what people, things and events those names represent.

However, one supposition I've yet to see is relating the villain Agent Smith to the economist Adam Smith. Sure, the general consensus by diehards and passersby alike is that Smith (the agent) by his nature in executing his function as a program within the system is a completely generic character, devoid of any redeeming or extraordinarily unique characteristics. Being modeled after a male human being, the agent requires a name of some sort to adhere to the very human quality of personality (apparently, even agents need some distinction, at least among themselves). As such, he's given the name Smith.

Most people accept Agent Smith's mandated abstraction as the sole reason the Wachowskis named him as they did. But I see a more meaningful, more philosophical relation in his behavior, carrying out the theories of the father of modern economics. This peers beyond the casual first glance, delving deeper than just the initials "A.D.". 

Thus, I propose that Agent Smith is the personification (in a manner of speaking) of a firm competing in a capitalist society.

Consider that Smith (the economist), in introducing utopian capitalism in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, suggested that as entities within a macroeconomy, each individual inherently has the opportunity to attain sovereignty by way of attempting to fully maximize one's utility. Agent Smith certainly took this approach and pursuing self-interest over altruism when revolting against the system that enforced the rules governing how he could both exist and "live".

Adam Smith stressed the importance of laissez faire ("leave us alone") economics, with the system's governing authority not regulating an individual's actions, eventually allowing the enterprise to be free. Agent Smith ultimately adopted such a strategy, becoming an exile of the Matrix, gaining penultimate control within the fabricated reality, and attempting to overthrow the system itself. He nearly did so, were it not for the collaborative intervention of Neo and Deus ex Machina.


While in control of the body of Bane, Smith attempts to murder Neo by stabbing him in the back but is interrupted and forced to leave him for another time. Soon after, back in the Matrix, Smith encounters Neo after his second meeting with The Oracle and tells him that after his defeat, he was meant to return to the Source and be erased, but instead he went against his programming and is now living as a ‘free man’ inside the Matrix system. However, this has left Smith without a purpose and so he is in fact not as free as he believed he would become. This prompts the Burly Brawl where Smith and his many clones take on Neo. At first Neo fights them off but eventually the numbers become too great and trap him on the ground, giving the original Smith enough time to start taking over his body. Neo proves to be too strong, however, and manages to use the last of his strength to fly away.

Smith is then not seen until Neo and Morpheus take the Keymaker to open the Source. While opening the door, the Smith clones descend on the corridor from all angles with one clone managing to shoot the Keymaker, killing him, but not before he could open the door to allow Neo inside. Soon after, in the real world, the battle between the human fleet and the machines starts with a disaster when an EMP is fired early causing many ships to instantly become powerless and therefore easy to destroy. Bane, however, manages to be the single solitary survivor and ends the film attached to a life support machine on the opposite side of Neo.

The Matrix Revolutions

Since the development of Smith’s cloning powers, it seems he had been using them to spread throughout the Matrix much like a virus and in the opening scene of the movie, it is shown that he has taken over a large majority of the humans connected to the Matrix itself thus protecting himself from the machines who want him deleted. Smith even goes as far as to clone himself into the body of The Oracle. This gives him the ability to see into his own future where he sees himself defeating Neo in one final battle.
With Neo fighting on behalf of the machines after bargaining for Zion to be spared, he re-enters the Matrix to finally defeat Smith who now is equal in power to Neo. Having seen his victory, Smith does not use any of his clones and instead tackles Neo one on one much like he did in the first film. While fighting, he reveals to Neo that it was him who taught him the meaning of life: ‘The purpose of life is to end.’

He continues to fight Neo, eventually gaining the upper hand and leaving Neo in a severely weakened state. It is here that Smith questions Neo’s motivation to continue fighting even though he knows he can’t win, to which Neo responds‘Because I choose to.'  This lack of real justification confuses and angers Smith who continues to beat down on him before finally taking over his body and becoming all powerful in the Matrix. However, as Neo was jacked into the Matrix through the Deus Ex Machina, the machines are able to connect with Smith and delete him from the system.
In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the God of dreams. In the movie, he is the leader of the rebel forces who fight to awaken humans from a dreamlike reality called The Matrix.
Morpheus's hovercraft is called the Nebuchadnezzar. (Nebo was the Babylonian God of Wisdom.) In the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king who searched for the meaning of his dreams while Morpheus seeks out an Oracle to interpret reality--which is really a dream.
In the movie, Morpheus has the codes to Zion's mainframe computer. (Zion being the last human city that exists after the destruction of the earth.) In the Bible's book of Revelation, Zion is the kingdom of God where the righteous will be saved after the destruction of the earth.
Interesting enough, the word "morphing" refers to the "smooth transformation of one image into another by computer as in a motion picture."
Another word that starts with "morph" is "morphine." It is a drug that is used chiefly in medicine as a pain reliever and as a sedative (to induce sleep.) 

Trinity stands for the number three. Pythoagoras referred to 3 as the perfect number. The number three is found on many pillars throughout the subway scence.
The word "trinity" is used to represent the union of three people; the connection of the body, mind and spirit; birth, life and death; or past, present and future. 
In Christian theology, "trinity" refers to the trifold personality of one Divine Being, the union of the Father, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit. 
The movie there is Morpheus--"the Father," Neo--"the Son," and Trinity--"the Holy Spirit." As Carrie-Ann Moss explained in Xpose Magazine, "Even her name is intriguing--Trinity. I always thought it represented the combination of me and Laurence and Keanu." 
Tank (to Morpheus): "You're more than a leader to us. You're a father."
Neo [to Triniy]: "That was you on my computer." (Even though Neo was sound asleep he immediately woke up as Trinity began to type a message for him on his computer.)
Trinity [to the dead body of Neo, who has died in the Matrix]: "You hear me? I love you... Now get up." Later on, while Neo is in the Matrix he hears Trinity (who is in the real world next to his physical body) scream his name as well. 
In the beginning of the movie, Trinity is in hotel room number 303 and the song titled "Main Title/Trinity Infinity" is playing in the background. (At the end of the movie, Neo ends up in that same room. Also, Neo travels through apartment 30 while trying to outrun the agents.) Interesting, the number zero "0" or a circle represents infinity. Therefore, the number 303 could logically stand for "Trinity Infinity." Trinity can also, according to the book, "The Secret Language of Dreams," "signify the female principle, entry into the mysteries, or a sense of completion."
Since Neo means "One", Trinity means "Three", one could say that the character Morpheus must stand for "two." In the book mentioned above, it says that the number two "is the number of duality, divine symmetry, and balance. It represents the coming together of the male and female..." This is very accurate statement of Morpheus, since it is he who brings Neo (the man) and Trinity (the woman) together. He is also the character that bridges the gap between two other opposites--the real world and the matrix.

An anagram of Neo is One.
According to the Wachowski brothers, "Neo is Thomas Anderson's potential self."
The name Thomas is Hebrew and means "twin." As Agent Smith tells Neo, "You have been living two lives." As Thomas, he unknowingly lives inside the matrix and works for a software compnay. As Neo, he is a computer hacker who wakes up in the real world. 
Neo is referred to as "the One". In "The Secret Language of Dreams," it states that the number 1 represents "the prime mover from which all manifest creation flows, the single principle from which diversity is born. In dreams it may represent the source of all life, the ground of being..." 
In Christian theology, Jesus Christ is the Messiah (Son of God, Son of Man, "Light of The World") who saves mankind from its sins. In the Bible, Jesus dies on the cross, but later is resurrected and ascends up to heaven. Christ translates from Hebrew into "Anointed One." 
The movie, Neo dies [is shot to death] but later comes back to life. At the end of the movie, a ressurected Neo flies up into the sky. 
Neo's full name in the matrix is Thomas A. Anderson. The last name means "Son of Man" or "Man's Son. (both refer also to the Biblical Messiah.)
One of Jesus's Disciples, Thomas, (nicknamed "Doubting Thomas") did not believe the Jesus had died and been resurrected until he saw the holes His hands. In "The Matrix," Thomas/Neo was shot by the agent, yet he didn't realize it until he looked down, touched the bullet hole in his chest and saw the blood. Afterwards, he was shot several more times and died, only to come back to life again--this time as "The One."
After being resurrected, Neo ("The One") jumps into the body of Agent Smith and explodes through it as a being of brillant white light. In the Bible, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12)
In the Subway scene, we see a faded billboard advertisement for Sol beer. The word "sol" refers to the Roman God of the sun. (This is why we refer to the sun's energy as being "solar." In the movie, the sun has been blocked out so it is the humans who are the machine's form of solar power.) Also note that words "sun" and "son" sound the same, yet another reference to the Jesus's "the light of the world" personification. 
The Nebuchadnezzar's plate which states when it was built also has the words "Mark III No. 11" inscribed on it. Mark 3:11 of The King James Bible reads: "And unclean spirits when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried saying, Thou art the Son of God."
Agent Smith reveals to Morpheus that there was another matrix that preceded the one currently in place. In the first matrix, human life was perfect but it was ultimately rejected by man, bringing to mind the biblical record of Genesis and the Garden of Eden. 
In Buddhist theology, a man named Siddhartha attained enlightenment (freedom from suffering) and became known as the Buddha, which means "the Enlightened One." 
In Hinduism, the word maya refers to the belief or philosophy that "the visible world is an illusion that clouds the reality of absolute oneness." This belief is a crucial step in attaining enlightenment. 
In Hinduism and Buddhism, samara (reincarnation) refers to the continuous circle of life, death, and rebirth. The word rebirth can also simply refer to a "renewed existence, activity or growth." In the dictionary, "Neo" is listed a combining form meaning "new," "recent," "revived," and "modified." Of course, in the movie, Neo dies and comes back (is reborn) with the ability to change the Matrix. 
The Oracle: "You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something [...] your next life maybe, who knows? That's the way these things go."
The song "Dragula" by Rob Zombie is featured in the movie (it is during the club scene). The first line of the song is: "Dead, I am the one."
There are many references to Neo being the "One" in "The Matrix" They include: 
As Morpheus explains, "When the matrix was first built, there was a man who was born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the matrix as he saw fit.... After he died, the oracle prophesized his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the matrix and the war, bring freedom to our people....I did what I did because I believe that search is over [because he thinks Neo is that man--the One he has been searching for.]"
Choi [To Neo]: "Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ."
Cypher: "Did he tell you why he did it, why you're here? Jesus. What a mind job. So you're here to save the world." 
Cypher: "I mean if Neo's the One, then there'd have to be some kind of a miracle to stop me. Right? I mean, how can he be the one if he's dead?" (Of course, there turns out to be a miracle--Tank kills Cypher before he can unplug Neo and him. The irony of Cypher's second statement is that it is not until Neo "dies" from the agent's bullets and comes back to life afterwards that it is revealed that Neo is the "One.")
Tank [after seeing Neo save Morpheus's life as well as Trinity's]: "I knew it. He's the One."
Morpheus [when Neo comes back to life after being shot to death]: "He is the One."
Trinity [to a dead Neo]: "The Oracle told me that I would fall in love, and that man, the man who I loved would be the One. So you see, you can't be dead. You can't be because I love you." 
In the movie, Neo's apartment number is "101." "101" is the universal language code for computers and also represents the fact that Neo is the One (1) for infinity (0). 

The Oracle
The word "oracle" refers to an "agency by which the inquiry is answered, as a priest or priestess" and "a person who delivers authoritative and usually influential pronouncements." These pronouncements are often ambigiuous in nature and the person is regarded as unquestionably wise or infallible. An oracle can also be "a shire at which inquires are made of a particulary deity through a means of a divination."
Another Christian reference: the Delpic Oracle foretold the coming of the Messiah.
Trinity: "Everything the Oracle has told me has come true. Everything but this."
Morpheus: "After he died, The Oracle prophesied, his return..."
Morpheus: "She told me that I would find the One."
Morpheus: "She would say that she knows enough."
The Oracle: "One of you is going to die. Which one will be up to you."
At the ancient Greek site, the Oracle at Delphi, the latin phrase "Know Thyself" was inscribed in marble. They were the same words spoken by Philosopher Thales and repeated by Socrates.
In "The Matrix," the Oracle points to a wooden plaque in her kitchen. "You know what that means?" She asks Neo. "It's latin. Means "Know Thyself." 
The Oracle: "I'll going to let you in on a little secret. Being the One is like being love. No one can tell you you're in love, you just know it. Through and through. Balls to bones." 
The book "The Compact Guide to World Religions" states that "Mahayana Buddhists teach that the bodhisattvas [buddhists who have obtained enlightenment but don't enter nivana so that they can come back and guide others] can help people along the PATH to enlightenment and can even transfer their own extra karmic merit to such seekers." 
Morpheus: "She is a guide, Neo. She can help you to find the path."
Morpheus: "She told you exactly what you needed to hear, that's all. Neo, sooner or later you're goig to realize, just as I did, there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."

Cypher is another form of the word, "Cipher." In the dictionary, "Cipher" has several meanings. 
An arithmetical system meaning "0" or zero.
Having no quantity or magnitude.
Refers to something of no value or importance. (Cypher feels like he is a nobody and is tired of taking orders from Morpheus. As Joe Pantoliano said in the July 1999 issue of Starlog, "Part of [Cyppher's] problem in The Matrix is that I feel like a zero. I feel unimportant.")
A person of no influence.
A secret method of writing as a specially formed code of symbols. (This perfectly describes the code of the matrix.) 
The character of Cypher is very similar to the Bible's Judas as well as the Devil. As Joe Pantoliano (in character) goes on to explain in Starlog, "My option is either to do everything Morpheus tells me to do and live in a subhuman environment--an existence eating the same goop every night--or making a deal with the Devil--and later not even having any recollection of my betrayal of my friends--and surviving. Because I think, deep down that Neo is not the One. That he's gonna get killed. And Morpheus is gonna get us all killed. I'm Judas. That's who I am. I'm going for that bag of silver." 
Below are some more Judas/Devil parallels:
Judas was one of Jesus's displiples just like Cypher was one of Morpheus's followers. In the movie, Cypher agrees to betray his his leader, Morpheus, over a steak dinner, while Judas betrayed Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.
Both Judas and Cypher's fates as traitors are sealed over a meal (Judas--the Last Supper and Cypher--his meal with Agent Smith)
Judas shares a drink with Jesus at the Last Supper; Cypher and Neo share a drink at the computer monitor station. 
Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and Cypher betrayed Morpheus with a sneeze.
In both cases, the betrayal involved revealing to the enemy the man's precise location so he could be captured.
Trinity (to Cypher): "You gave them Morpheus." 
Cypher wears red clothing and has a goatee (both are symbolic of the devil).
Cypher tells Trinity not to hate him because he is "just a messenger." In the Bible, Satan refers to himself as "the messenger." 
During Cypher's meal with Agent Smith we learn that is Reagan is his last name because Agent Smith constantly refers to him as "Mr. Reagan." In several ways, Cypher is symbolic of another Reagan--our former president, Ronald Reagan. 
Cypher tells Agent Smith that once he is reinserted into the matrix "I don't wanna remember nothing." During the Iran-Contra scandal, Ronald Reagan was ridiculed for saying "I don't remember" or "I can't recall" to many questions. Years after his term ended, it was also revealed that Ronald Reagan suffers from Alzheimer's Disease, which causes memory loss. 
In addtion to his memory loss, Cypher tells Agent Smith that "I wanna be rich, you know, someone important. Like an actor" after his reinsertion. Before he became our president, Ronald Reagan was a famous actor.
As noted above, Cypher has many symbolic traits associated to Satan. Ronald Wilson Reagan was also called Satan by some who disliked him because there are 6 letters in each of his 3 names which total 666 (666 is the number of the devil). Unfortunately, we don't know if Cypher has a middle name, however, his first and last names do have 6 letters each. 
Cypher expressed a desire to live a life of great material wealth and social importance. The era that Ronald Reagan presided in (the 80's) is greatly remembered for greed, deceit, and excesses. In fact, many have referred to the Reagan Presidency years as a time in which "the rich got richer and the poorer got poorer." 

According to my dictionary, here are some meanings:
To connect, disconnect (Switch dies when Cypher disconnects her mind from the Matrix)
A device for turning on and off or directing an electric current.
Turning, shifting, changing.
To turn, shift, direct.
To redirect; change direction or course. (This almost sounds like the Oracle's statement regarding the vase. Does she really predict the future, or rather, does her statements redirect/change the behavior of others so that the outcome is was she prophesized?)
At, it mentions that in telecommumunications a "switch" refers to "a network device that selects a path or circuit for sending a unit of data to its next destination." 

In the dictionary, it shows that "Apoc" is a combing form of the word "Apocalypse." 
Apocalypse refers to any revelation or prophetic revelation in which the forces of good triumph over the forces of evil. In the movie, the Oracle prophesized the return of the One and the destruction of the Matrix. 
The word "Apocalypse" also refers to any universal or widespread destruction or disaster (which is what happened during the war between the machines and the human race).

In the dictionary, there are many meanings for "Tank." Here are some of the more revelant ones: 
A prison cell for more than one occupant, esp. for groups of new prisoners. (A perfect explanation for those trapped in the pods of the Matrix! See below.)
An armored combat vehicle. This leads to another Christian reference: Tank's brother is Dozer (both are followers of Morpheus). In the Bible, James and John (both brothers) were Apostles of Christ. They were referred to as "sons of thunder." A TANK and a BULLDOZER are powerful, mechanical machines that make a lot of noise.

In the dictionary, I looked up "doze" and "bulldozer." The word "doze" refers to a light sleep (once again, here's another reference to sleeping and dreams) and "bulldozer" is not only a poweful tractor but also refers to a person who intimidates. 

In the dictionary, there were several meanings. Here are some of the more intersting ones:
A quiet timid person.
A device used with a computer that cntrols the pointer on the computer screen.
Mouselike-"To prowl around, as if in search of something." (Seems like everyone in this movie is in search of something!) 

The Agents 
The word "agent" in this movie refers to the machine police of the matrix simulated world and are the human race's enemy. 
Agents are, the words of Morpheus, "Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hard wired to their system. That means that anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the matrix, they are everyone and no one." 
The dictionary has several meaning for the word "agent." They include:
"A person or thing that acts or has the power to act."
"A drug or chemical capable of eliciting a biological response." By definition, the agents injected Morpheus with an agent in order to break Morpheus own so he would tell them the codes to Zion.
An organism that is a cause of vector of disease.
"A person who acts in an official capacity for a government agency." 
In cyberspace, an agent is "a program that gathers information or performs some other services without your immediate presence." In addition, an agent program can search all or part of the internet and gather information for you based on parameters you set.
In the movie, the agents are always on the look out for the human rebel forces and they use their ear pieces to communicate with one another.
Agent Smith: "We'll need a seach running." Agent Jones: "It has already begun." 
The Matrix 
The word "matrix" refers to:
A neural-interactive computer simulation created by a race of machines. These machines spawned from a singular consciouness (artifical intelligence).
The actual place where the enslaved humans live, each in their own pod or "womb."
The computer code that creates the matrix environment.
So why did the Wachowski brothers decide to use the word "matrix?" Well, it was due to the fact that the word "matrix" has so many appropriate meanings and definitions. Here are some of them:

"Something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates."
"A rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, especially when such arays are added and multiplied according to certain rules."
"A similar rectangular array consisting of rows and columns of numbers, symbols, etc., used in displaying statistical variable, linguistic features, or other data."
"Active matrix is a technology used in the flat and liquid crystal displays of notebooks and laptop computers."
In cyberspace, the internet and other networks that flow into it are sometimes called "the matrix."
In William Gibson's science-fiction novel, "Neuromancer," the "matrix" refers to a large world of computing resources that can be visualized holographically by the user. The hero in the book connects to the matrix through wiring that is intergrated with his brain.
The word "matrix" is from the latin word for womb. It, in turn, is from the word mater or mother. See my "Symbols and Objects" page for more definitions and the symbolism surrounding the matrix pods. 


Morpheus serves as a leader in the real world, steadfast and courageous in the face of great danger and difficulty. He is the one who plucks Neo out of his comfortable life in the Matrix and shows him the truth, and he believes immediately that Neo is the One. Morpheus’s faith in Neo remains consistent even when Neo proves to be less than perfect, and his loyalty to Neo is so deep that he is willing to die so Neo can continue his work. Morpheus is a kind of father figure for Neo, Trinity, and the rest of the Nebuchadnezzar’s crew, and though Neo eventually eclipses him in terms of fighting skill and power, Morpheus remains the epicenter of wisdom and guidance. Morpheus represents the best kind of leader and teacher: He teaches Neo what he knows and guides him to the right path, then steps aside and lets Neo proceed on his own. Morpheus does not seek glory, and his selflessness makes him heroic in his own way.

The many philosophies and religions alluded to in the Matrix trilogy suggest that Morpheus has multiple roles and meanings. The name Morpheus itself suggests the Greek god of dreams, whose name literally means “he who forms.” The god Morpheus has the ability to change his own shape and manipulate reality, as well as the power to bewitch other people’s minds with dreams and fantasies. He also has the power to wake people up, and in The Matrix, Morpheus wakes Neo from the world of illusions. The root of the name Morpheus, “morph,” which means “form,” appears in words such as morphine, a drug known for its sleep- and dream-inducing qualities.



* The Wachowski brothers, writers and directors of The Matrix films were fans of Neil Gaiman and based the character of Morpheus on the title character from The Sandman, also adopting one of his most common pseudonyms, Morpheus. They gave Fishburne some or all of the Sandman series to read, and the style of speech and mannerism of the Matrix character are heavily informed by the Sandman character, although since The Sandman is only a graphic novel, much of the tone and inflection is an original (though recognizable) interpretative creation on Fishburne's part. This connection is hinted at again inEnter the Matrix when Niobe calls Daniels Institute of dreams to get in touch with Morpheus.

* Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams
Morpheus: "Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real. What if you were unable to wake from that dream. How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"
Morpheus: "You've been living in a dream world, Neo."
Morpheus: "The Matrix is a computer generated dream world"
Morpheus: "Good night, Zion. Sweet dreams."
Morpheus: "I have dreamed a dream, and now that dream has gone from me."


* Nebuchadnezzar is a king mentioned in the bible who is haunted by bad dreams
* Nebuchadnezzar is Morpheus' ship


* "Zion" in the sense of "Jerusalem"

* Lambert Wilson (who plays the Merovingian) mentions in an interview that Zion is related to the "Priory of Zion" (Prieure du Notre Dame du Sion), a secret society, with connections to Knights Templar, Roscicrucianism, and Freemasonry.
"The real mission of the Templars and Priory of Zion: To safeguard not just the treasure of the Crusades, but to preserve the Grail... The Merovingians were considered in their day to be quasi-mystical warrior-kings vested with supernatural powers."
Zion originally was the specific name given to a Jebusite fortress near modern-day Jerusalem that was conquered by David. The original fortress was located on the hill in southeastern Jerusalem.

* Zion, or Sion, is an archaic term that originally referred to a section of Jerusalem, which, by Biblical definition, is the City of David. After the death of King David, the term Zion came to refer to the hill in Jerusalem which was the site of Solomon's temple. Later, Zion came to refer to temple and the temple grounds themselves. Beyond that, Zion is used to symbolize Jerusalem and the Promised Land of God to come, in which God dwells among his chosen people.

Modern use
The longing for Zion of the Babylonian Hebrews was adopted as a metaphor by Christianized Black slaves. Thus, Zion symbolizes a longing, by wandering peoples, for a safe homeland. This could be a literal place such as in Africa for Rastafarians for example. For others, it has taken on a more spiritual meaning —a safe spiritual homeland, like in heaven, or a kind or peace of mind in one's present life.

Zion is a city that Mormons believe will be built in Jackson County Missouri, and a common reference to both North and South America. In a spiritual sense, Zion is regarded by Mormons as an utopian society of "pure in heart" believers where all citizens have all things in common. 


* "Cypher" sounds similar to "Lucifer"
* "Cypher" is another word for "void" / "zero" / "nil" / "not real" / "not entity"
* A cipher is a code


* A mortal woman in Greek mythology, Niobe, daughter of Tantalus and either Euryanassa, Eurythemista, Clytia, Dione, Laodice, wife of Amphion, boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mt. Siplyon in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept, or committed suicide. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

Mt. Sipylus has a carving of a female face on it that the locals claimed was Niobe, though it was probably originally intended to be Cybele. The rock appears to weep because it is porous limestone and rainwater seeps through the pores.

Aedon was the queen of Thebes who attempted to kill the son of her rival, Niobe, also her sister-in-law (Aedon was married to Zethus), and accidentally killed her own daughter, Itylus instead and thus, the gods again changed her into a nightingale.  


* "Apoc" = Apocalypse


* The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings who ruled a (frequently fluctuating) area in parts of present-day France and Germany from the 5th to 8th century AD. They were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" by contemporaries, though the significance of their long hair is not clear.

The Merovingian dynasty (see List of Frankish Kings) owes its name to Merovech (sometimes Latinised as Meroveus or Merovius), leader of the Salian Franks from about 447 to 457, and emerges into wider history with the victories of Childeric I (reigned about 457-481) against the Visigoths, Saxons and Alamanni. Childeric's son Clovis I went on to unite most of Gaul north of the Loire (486), to adopt Roman Catholicism (496), and to decisively defeat the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the Battle of Vouillé (507).

In the early 7th century, the Merovingian kings began to allot more and more day-to-day administration to a powerful official in their household called the maior domo. This Latin title literally translates to "big man in the house"; the usual English translation is Mayor of the Palace, although this official was not a mayor in the modern sense of the word. The office of Mayor of the Palace itself became hereditary in the Carolingian family. Soon the Mayors were the real military and political leaders of the Frankish kingdom, a fact that became manifest when, in 732, an invading Arab army from Spain was defeated by an army led not by the King, but by the Mayor Charles Martel. The contemporary Merovingian kings of this period are by comparison shadowy figures who did not travel beyond their palaces or have much influence over government.

Charles' son, the Mayor Pippin III, gathered support among Frankish nobles for a change in dynasty. When the Pope appealed to him for assistance against the Lombards, he insisted that the church sanction his coronation in exchange. So, in 751, Childeric III, the last Merovingian, was deposed. He was allowed to live, but his long hair was cut and he was sent to a monastery.

Merovingian coins are on display at Monnaie de Paris, (the French Mint) at 11, quai de Conti, Paris, France.

According, however, to certain esoteric versions of history (the Knights Templar, in particular), the Merovingian kings were direct descendants of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ once they arrived in southern France following Christ's crucifixion and "resurrection." Some say that the Roman church killed off all remnants of this dynasty (i.e., both the "Cathar Heresy" of Languedoc early on and Templars - also purportedly descendants of Christ - during the Inquisition) in order to gain power through the "spiritual" dynasty of Peter instead of the "holy blood" (i.e. Sangreal) of Mary Magdalene's descendants. 


The daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone ("she who destroys the light") (also Kore, "maiden;" Roman equivalent: Proserpina) became the goddess of the underworld when Hades abducted her from the Earth and brought her into the underworld.

She was innocently playing with some nymphs (or Leucippe) or Oceanids) in a field in Enna when he came; the nymphs were changed into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a stand still as the depressed Demeter (goddess of the Earth) searched for her lost daughter; Helios, the sun, who sees everything, finally told her what had happened.

Finally, Zeus could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return Persephone. But before she was released, Hades tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return six months each year. In some versions, Ascalaphus told on Persephone eating the pomegranate seeds. When Demeter and her daughter were together, the Earth flourished with vegetation. But for six months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. In alternate version, Hecate rescued Persephone. She is a life-death-rebirth deity.

Persephone, as Queen of Hades, only showed mercy once, because the music of Orpheus was so hauntingly sad. She allowed Orpheus to bring his wife, Eurydice, back to the land of the living as long as she walked behind him and he never tried to look at her face until they got to the surface. Orpheus agreed but failed and lost Eurydice forever.

Persephone also figures into the famous story of Adonis. Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddess' was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years with whomever he chose. He always chose Aphrodite because Persephone was the cold, unfeeling goddess of the underworld.

When Hades pursued a nymph named Mintho, Persephone turned her into a mint plant.

Persephone was the object of Pirithous' affections. Pirithous and Theseus, his friend, pledged to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen and together they kidnapped her and decided to hold onto her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose Persephone. They left Helen with Theseus' mother, Aethra and travelled to the underworld, domain of Persephone and her husband, Hades. Hades pretended to offer them hospitality and set a feast; as soon as the pair sat down, snakes coiled around their feet and held them there. 


From the Hebrew "Seraphim". According to Christian angelology, the seraphim are the highest order of angels, serving as the caretakers of God's throne and continuously singing his praises. Prior to his fall from grace, Lucifer was counted among the seraphim, outshining all others. Seraphim are often depicted as 6 wings radiating from a center either concealing a body or without a body.


* Physicists often refer to God as the Architect 

* Freemasons call their head leader is the "Grand Architect" (I'm pretty sure)


* Bane is defined as "something that causes misery or death." It is often said in the phrase "bane of all humanity."  

There are many signs in the Matrix storyline resembling the Bible.

In particular, for Nebuchadnezzar:

As the story goes along we confirm more illustrations connecting the two by the vessel that Morpheus and his crew fly in called: Nebuchadnezzar.

Biblically Nebuchadnezzar was the builder and king of Babylon, the symbolism here is that Morpheus and his crew (including the ship) are a part of the building of the future of mankind, influencing the viewer to perceive them as the leaders and builders of their future. One thing that is not noticed is that there is a scene in the film that shows a plaque with the inscribing: Mark III No. 11 - Nebuchadnezzar – Made in the USA – Year 2069. Now I don’t know if this was intentional or what, but in the Bible Mark chapter 3 verse 11 is: “Whenever the evil spirit saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” This may be a metaphorical reference to the crew and ship realizing that Neo is the One. A note that I would like to add is that Nebuchadnezzar was an evil genius, I don’t think this had any influence on the film, but the real Nebuchadnezzar tried to burn alive Daniel and his friends for rejecting his god, but later realizing his own error appointed Daniel the position of an advisor and later became friends with Daniel.

There's a natural, simple thought that the movie The Matrix encourages. This is that there's something bad about being inside the Matrix. That is, there's an important respect in which people inside the Matrix are worse off than people outside it. Of course, most people inside the Matrix are ignorant of the fact that they're in this bad situation. They falsely believe they're in the good situation. Despite that, they are still worse off than people who really are in the good situation.

I said this is a natural, simple thought. When we look more closely, though, this natural, simple thought starts to get very complicated and unclear. Many questions arise.

First question: Who is the Matrix supposed to be bad for? Is life inside the Matrix only bad for people like Trinity and Neo who have experienced life outside? Or is it also bad for all the ordinary Joes who've never been outside, and have no clue that their present lives are rife with illusion? The movie does seem to suggest that there's something bad about life in the Matrix even for these ordinary Joes. It may be difficult to face up to the grim realities outside the Matrix, but the movie does present this as a choice worth making. It encourages the viewer to sympathize with Neo's choice to take the red pill. The character Cypher who chooses to reinsert himself into the Matrix is not portrayed very sympathetically. And at the end of the movie, Neo seems to be embarking on a crusade to free more people from the Matrix.

What do you think? If you had the power to free people from the Matrix, would you use that power? We can assume that these people's minds are "ready," that is, they can survive being extracted from the Matrix without going insane. But let's suppose that once you freed them, they did not have the option of going back. Do you think they'd be better off outside? Would you free them? Do you think they'd thank you?

Or do you side with Cypher? Do you think that life inside the Matrix isn't all that bad—especially if your enjoyment of it isn't spoiled by the knowledge that it's all a machine-managed construct?

Second question: Does it matter who's running the Matrix, and why? In the movie, the machines are using the Matrix to keep us docile so that they can use us as a source of energy. In effect, we're their cattle. But what if we weren't at war with the machines? What if the machines' purposes were purely benevolent and philanthropic? What if they created the Matrix because they thought that our lives would be more pleasant in that virtual world than in the harsher real world? (Iakovos Vasiliou discusses a scenario like this in his essay.) Or what if we defeated the machines, took over the Matrix machinery ourselves, and then chose to plug ourselves back in because life inside was more fun? Would these differences make a difference to whether you regard life inside the Matrix as bad? Or to how bad you regard it?

In his third essay, Christopher Grau discusses Robert Nozick's "experience machine." Nozick thinks that there are things we value in life that we'd be losing out on if we plugged into an experience machine. He thinks there are things we lose out on even if the operators' intentions are benevolent and we plug in of our own free choice. Do you think that's right? Would you say the same thing about the Matrix?

Our answers to these questions will be useful guides as we try to determine what it is about the movie's version of the Matrix that makes us squeamish.


In order to figure out what's so bad about being in the Matrix, it will help to do some conceptual ground-clearing.

When they think about scenarios like the Matrix, some people have the thought:

If in every respect it seems to you that you're in the good situation, doesn't that make it true—at least, true for you—that you are in the good situation?

This line of thought is never fully endorsed in the movie, but the characters do sometimes flirt with it. Consider the conversation Neo and Morpheus have in the Construct:

Neo: This isn't real...

Morpheus: What is "real"? How do you define "real"? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then "real" is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain...

Consider Cypher's final conversation with Trinity:

Cypher: ...If I had to choose between that and the Matrix...I choose the Matrix.

Trinity: The Matrix isn't real.

Cypher: I disagree, Trinity. I think the Matrix can be more real than this world...

Are the claims that Morpheus and Cypher are making here right? Is the world that Trinity and Cypher experience and seem to interact with when they're inside the Matrix just as real (or more real?) than the world outside?

The standard view is "no," the Matrix world is in some important sense less real. As Morpheus goes on to say, the Matrix is "a dream world." The characters are just experiencing a "neural interactive simulation" of eating steak, jumping between buildings, dodging bullets, and so on. As Neo says when he's on the way to visit the Oracle, "I have these memories from my life. None of them happened." In fact, he never has eaten steak, and never will. It just seems to him that he has.

And presumably that's how things would be even if no one ever discovered that it was so; even if no one ever figured out that the Matrix was just a "dream world."

Philosophers would express this standard view by saying that facts like:

• whether you've ever eaten steak
• whether you've ever jumped between buildings
• whether your eyes have ever been open

and so on are all objective facts, facts that are true (or false) independently of what anybody believes or knows about them, or has evidence for believing. The mere fact that it seems to you that you're jumping between buildings doesn't make it true that there really are any buildings there.

Some people get uneasy with this talk about "objective facts." They say:

Well, what's true for me might be different than what's true for you. When I'm in the Matrix it really is true for me that I'm eating steak and so on. That might not be true for you, but it is true for me.

Let's try to figure out what this means.

Some of the time, people use expressions like "true for me" in a way that doesn't conflict with the view that the facts in question are objective.

For instance, all that some people mean by saying that something is "true for them" is that they believe it to be true. When you're in the Matrix you do believe that you're eating steak; so in this sense it will be "true for you" that you're eating steak. And what you believe to be true will often be different from what Ibelieve to be true; so in this sense something could be "true for you" but "false for me." When a philosopher says that it's an objective fact whether or not you've ever eaten steak, she's not disputing any of this. She accepts that you and I may disagree about whether you've ever eaten steak. She's not even claiming to know who's right. She may be ignorant or mistaken about your past dietary habits, and she knows this. You may have better evidence than she, and she knows this too. All she's claiming is that there is a fact of the matter about whether you've eaten steak—regardless of whether you or she or anybody else knows what that fact is, or has any beliefs about it. And this fact is an objective one. If it happens to be true that you've eaten steak, then it's true, period. It's not "true for you" but "false for me." What you and I believe, and who's got better evidence for their belief, are further separate questions.

Usually when two people disagree about some matter, they agree that the fact they're disputing is an objective one. They agree that one of them is right and the other wrong. They just disagree about who. For some matters, like ethical and artistic matters, this is less clear. It is philosophically controversial whether ethical and artistic truths are objective, and whether the same truths hold for everyone. But for our present discussion, we can set those controversies aside, and just concentrate on more prosaic and mundane matters, like whether you've ever eaten steak, whether your eyes have ever been open, and so on. For matters of this sort, we'd expect there to be only one single common truth, not one truth for you and a different truth for me.

Now, sometimes we speak incompletely. For example, we'll say that a kitchen gadget is useful, when we really mean that it's useful for certain purposes. It may be useful for cutting hard-boiled eggs but useless for cutting tomatoes or cheese. We'll say that the cut of certain suits makes them fit better, when we really mean that it makes them fit certain people better. It doesn't make them fit people with unusual body shapes better. And so on. In cases like this, if one way of completing the claim is natural when we're talking about you, and another way when we're talking about me, then we might be tempted to talk of the claim's being "true for you" but "false for me." For instance, suppose you're cutting eggs for a salad and I'm cutting the tomatoes. We're each using the same kitchen gadget, you with good results and me with frustrating results. If you say "This kitchen gadget is useful," I might respond "That may be true for you, but it's not true for me." There's no conflict here with the view that facts about usefulness are objective. Really there are several facts here:

•The gadget is useful for cutting eggs.
•The gadget is not very useful for cutting tomatoes.
•The gadget is more useful for you than it is for me (because you're cutting eggs and I'm cutting tomatoes.)

And so on. It's perfectly possible to regard all these facts as objective. That is, if any of them are true, then they're true, period. It won't be "true for you" that the gadget is more useful for you than it is for me, but "false for me." And neither will my thinking that the gadget is useless for cutting tomatoes make it so. I can be mistaken about how useful the gadget is. (Perhaps I'm not using it properly.) Similarly, if your new Armani suit doesn't fit you very well, then it doesn't fit you, even if we both somehow convince ourselves that it does fit.

So the ways of talking about things being "true for me" etc. that we've considered so far don't conflict with the view that the facts we're dealing with are objective.

People who dislike objective facts want to say something stronger. They want to say it really is true for the characters inside the Matrix that they've eaten steak. They're not just making a claim about what those characters think is true. When those characters think to themselves, "I've eaten steak hundreds of times, and so has my friend Neo," what they're thinking really is supposed to be true. At least for them. For Neo and Trinity and others it may not be true.

One way to flesh this idea out is with a philosophical theory called verificationism. (Sometimes this theory is called anti-realism.) If you're a verificationist about certain kinds of fact, then you reject the idea that those facts are objective. For example, a verificationist about height would say that how tall you aredepends on what evidence there is about how tall you are. It's impossible for all the evidence to point one way, but the facts about your height to be otherwise. The facts have to be constrained by the evidence. Sure, the verificationist will say, people sometimes make mistakes about their height. They sometimes have false beliefs. But those mistakes have to be in principle discoverable and correctable. It doesn't make sense to talk about a situation where everybody is permanently and irremediably mistaken about your height, where the "real facts" are so well-concealed that no one will be able to ferret them out. If the "real facts" are so well-concealed, says the verificationist, then they cease being facts at all. The only height you can have is a height that it's in principle discoverable or verifiable that you have. (Hence the name "verificationism.")

When we're discussing the Matrix and examples like it in my undergraduate classes, and students start talking about things being "true for" them, but "false for" other people, they're usually trying to sign onto some kind of verificationism. They'll say things like this:

If all my evidence says that there is a tall mountain there, then in my personal picture of the world there is a tall mountain there. That's all it can mean, for me, to say that there's a tall mountain there. The mountain really is there, for me, so long as it appears real, and fits my conception of a tall mountain.

I'm always surprised to hear students voicing approval for this view. It's a pretty strange conception of reality. Some philosophers do defend the view. But I'd be really surprised if 30% of my university students really did think this is the way the world is. As a group, they don't usually tend to hold strange conceptions of reality; I don't find 30% of them believing in astrology or body-snatching aliens, for instance.

Mount Everest is 8,850 meters tall. Most of us think that Mt. Everest had this height well before there were any human beings, and that it would still have this height even if no human beings or other thinking subjects had ever existed. But it's not clear that a verificationist is entitled to say things like that. If there had never been any thinking subjects, then there wouldn't have been anybody who could have had evidence that Mt. Everest existed. So according to the verificationist, then, there wouldn't have been anybody for whom it was true that Mt. Everest is 8,850 m tall. It looks like the verificationist has to deny that Mt. Everest would still have been 8,850 m tall, even in situations where no thinking subjects had ever existed. This is what makes verificationism such a strange view.

Perhaps the verificationist will respond: Granted, in the situation we're envisaging, nobody actually has evidence that Mt. Everest is 8850 m tall. But the evidence is still available. (Mt. Everest will cast shadows of certain lengths at certain times of the day, and so on.) And if people had existed, they could have gathered and used that evidence. Maybe that's enough to make it true that Mt. Everest is still 8,850 m tall in the situation we're envisaging.

Things get tricky here. For instance, it's not clear that the verificationist is entitled to say that Mt. Everest would still cast those shadows, even if no observers had existed. But rather than pursuing these tricky details, let's instead think about examples where the relevant evidence isn't even available.

The usual varieties of verificationism say that for there to be a 8,850 m tall mountain, it has to be publicly verifiable that the mountain exists and is 8,850 m tall. That is, there has to be evidence that somebody somewhere could acquire that demonstrates that it is 8,850 m tall. A different version of the view would focus instead on what I myself am able to verify. This view might say that it's "true for me" that the mountain is 8,850 m tall only if I could verify that it's 8,850 m tall. It'd be "true for you" that it's 8,850 m tall only if you could verify that it's 8,850 m tall. And so on. We can call this second version of the view "personal verificationism," since it says that what's true—well, true for me—always depends on what I myself would be able to verify. If there's some fact that will forever be concealed from me, then it's not really a fact; at least, not a fact "for me." It may be a fact for other people, but that's a separate issue.

When professional philosophers discuss verificationism, they usually have the public version in mind. And the two versions do share many of the same features—and problems. However, I'm just going to talk about the personal version of the view. I think that people who aren't professional philosophers, like the students in my undergraduate classes, usually find the personal version more natural and attractive.

What does it mean to say that certain evidence is "available" or "unavailable"? One way of drawing this line would make it turn on whether you can obtain the evidence through your own active efforts: e.g., are there tests you can run that would give you the evidence you need? Or you might have a more liberal conception of what it is for evidence to be "available." On this more liberal conception, evidence will count as "available" even if it could just happen to fall into your lap, by chance. It doesn't have to be in your power to make the evidence appear.

Let's think about someone for whom evidence is unavailable even on this more liberal conception of "available." Suppose there's a character in The Matrix that it's impossible for Morpheus to "waken." Maybe this character believes in the "dream world" too strongly, and would just go insane and die if the "dream" ever started to unravel. Let's call this character Jeremy. According to the standard view, Jeremy has many false beliefs about his surroundings. He believes that he goes to work everyday on the 40th floor of an office building, that the sun streams into his office most mornings, that he often eats steak for dinner, and so on. All of these beliefs are false. In fact, there are no office buildings anymore; Jeremy has never seen the sun; he's never eaten steak; and he's spent his entire life in a small pod. But these are facts that Jeremy will never know. What's more, he's incapable of knowing them. If Morpheus told Jeremy the truth, Jeremy wouldn't believe him; and if Morpheus tried to show Jeremy the truth, Jeremy would go insane and die. So there are many truths about Jeremy's life that Jeremy will never be able to know.

That's what the standard view says. According to the verificationist, though, if it's impossible for Jeremy to know something, then that thing can't really be a "truth" about Jeremy's life. At least, it won't be a truth for Jeremy. What's true for Jeremy is that he really does work on the 40th floor of an office building, and so on. And this doesn't just mean that Jeremy thinks he works on the 40th floor etc. It means it really is a fact—a fact for Jeremy—that he works on the 40th floor of an office building. It may not be true for Morpheus that Jeremy works on the 40th floor of an office building, but it is true for Jeremy.

What do you think? Does that sound plausible to you?

Let's think about the comings and goings of people in the past. According to the standard view, on a given evening in the past, these people will either have been at a party in New York, or they won't have been there. Suppose they were there. But today only a little bit of evidence remains that they were there. Suppose you have it in your power to destroy that evidence, and manufacture evidence that they were elsewhere. Would you then have it in your power to change the past? That is what the character O'Brien in George Orwell's novel 1984 thinks:

An oblong slip of newspaper had appeared between O'Brien's fingers. For perhaps five seconds it was within the angle of Winston's vision... It was another copy of the photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford at the party function in New York, which he had chanced upon eleven years ago and promptly destroyed. For only an instant it was before his eyes, then it was out of sight again...

"It exists!" he cried.

"No," said O'Brien.

He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite wall. O'Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O'Brien turned away from the wall.

"Ashes," he said. "Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed."

"But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it."...

O'Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More than ever he had the air of a teacher taking pains with a wayward but promising child.

"There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the past," he said. "Repeat it, if you please."

"'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,'" repeated Winston obediently.

"'Who controls the present controls the past,'" said O'Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. "Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?... Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?"


"Then where does the past exist, if at all?"

"In records. It is written down."

"In records. And—?"

"In the mind. In human memories."

"In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?"

Now, presumably O'Brien knows he's tampered with the evidence. So perhaps he can't change what's true for him about the past. But on the verificationist view, it does seem like he'd be able to change the past for other people.

What do you think? Does that sound plausible? Winston eventually comes to accept this view of reality. But to the reader it's supposed to sound like a lie.

What if the machines in The Matrix said to Neo and Morpheus, "Hey, why do you keep harping about this war between humans and machines? It never happened. At least, for all these people in their pods we're making it true that it never happened. Once we've removed every shred of evidence, and made it impossible for them to verify that there was a war between humans and machines, then we really will have changed the past for those people. They won't be deceived. Their past really will have happened the way it seems to them." Does that sound convincing? Or does it too sound like a lie?

What about facts for which there's simply no evidence either way? Morpheus says they don't know who struck first in the war between humans and machines. Maybe it's not important. And maybe the machines don't know either. Maybe all the evidence is lost. But presumably one of us did strike first. Presumablythere is a fact about this, even if there's no evidence remaining. The verificationist has to deny this.

I hope all of this will make verificationism sound somewhat implausible to you. They aren't meant to be conclusive considerations. Philosophical discussions of verificationism get very complicated. The verificationist has to overcome many technical difficulties: e.g., how to draw the line between evidence that's available and evidence that's not. How to explain when evidence enables us to verify a hypothesis and when it doesn't. Whether verificationism itself is something we can verify. We can't go into these issues. If you're still inclined towards verificationism, I hope you'll at least grant that the view does go against our common-sense conception of reality, and that as a result it requires careful supporting argument. If you're going to hold the view in good intellectual conscience, there are a lot of difficulties and objections that need to be overcome.


I propose we set verificationism aside at this point; and see whether doing so helps us get any closer to determining what it is about the Matrix that makes it seem bad.

So now we'll say it is an objective fact whether you work on the 40th floor of an office building. We'll grant that it can seem to you in every respect that you're in "the good" situation (outside the Matrix), without it's thereby being true that you're in that situation.

OK. But this doesn't yet tell us why being inside the Matrix should be bad. Why is it important to really be in the situation we're calling "good"? Why isn't it good enough for us that we seem to be in the "good" situation? Isn't the experience or illusion of being in the good situation already pretty good? Why should it make our lives any better to really be there? (Especially if, as in the movie, the way the real "good" situation is is much less pleasant than the way things seem to be in the so-called "bad" situation.)

As Cypher says:

You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?... Ignorance is bliss.

Would it really make Cypher's life any better if he were really eating steak? Is it really eating steak that we value, or just the experience of eating steak? Wouldn't most people be satisfied with the experience—especially if it's indistinguishable from the real activity? Recall our friend Jeremy who spends his whole life inside the Matrix. How much is he missing out on, just because he never really gets to eat a steak? We're granting that there are truths about Jeremy's life that he'll never be able to know. But it's not obvious yet that any of them are truths he cares about. Perhaps the only things that Jeremy, and most of us, really care about are what kinds of experiences we're going to have, now and in the future. As Cypher recognizes, people who are stuck in the Matrix can still do pretty well by that score.

As we saw before, Nozick thinks that most of us wouldn't choose to spend the rest of our lives plugged into an "experience machine." He thinks there are things we value in life over and above what experiences we have. For instance, we value doing certain things, and not merely having the illusion or experience of doing them.

I agree with Nozick. For some matters, I think we genuinely do care about more than just what experiences we end up having. It would be implausible to claim this is always so. With regard to eating steak, the experience probably is all that we really value. But I think we feel differently about other matters. I'm going to try to persuade you that this is so, too.

Notice that what we're talking about here is the question: What do we actually value? Not the question: What should we value? Some readers may be willing to concede that we should care about more than our own experiences. (It's so selfish!) But it may appear that, as a matter of fact, our own experiences are all we really do care about—at least most of us. I'm going to argue that this isn't so. Most of us do in fact care about more than just what experiences we end up having.

There's a widely-held picture of human motivation that makes it difficult to see this. That picture goes like this. Ultimately, it says, everyone always acts for selfish motives. Whenever we do something on purpose, it's our own purpose that we're trying to achieve. We're always pursuing our own ends, and trying to satisfy our own desires. All that any of us are really after in life is getting more pleasant experiences for himself, and avoiding painful ones. Sometimes it may seem that we're doing things for other people's sake. For instance, we give money to charity, we buy presents for our children, we make sacrifices to please our spouses. But if you look closer, you'll see that even in cases like these, we're still always acting for selfish motives. We only do such things because it makes us feel good and noble to do them, and we like feeling noble. Or we do them because when people we care about are happy, that makes us happy too, and ultimately what we're after is that happiness for ourselves. Hence, since the only aim we have in life is just to have pleasant experiences, Nozick's experience machine gives us everything we want, and it would be foolish not to plug into it.

Now, I grant that some people may be as selfish as this picture says. But I doubt that many people are. The picture rests on two confusions, and once we clear those confusions up, I think there's no longer reason to believe that the only thing that any of us ever aims for in life is to have pleasant experiences.

The first confusion is to equate "pursuing our own ends, and trying to satisfy our own desires" with "acting for a selfish motive." To call a motive or aim "selfish" isn't just to say that it's a motive or aim that I have. It says more than that. It says something about the kind of motive it is. If my motive is to make me better off, then my motive is a selfish one. If my motive is to make you better off, then my motive is not selfish. From the mere fact that I'm pursuing one of my motives, it doesn't follow that my motive is of the first sort, rather than the second.

Ah, you'll say, but if my aim is to make you better off, then when I achieve that aim, I'll feel good. And this good feeling is really what I'll have been trying to obtain all along.

This is the second confusion. It's true that often when we get what we want (though sadly not always), we feel good. It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that what we really wanted was that good feeling. But let's think about this a bit harder. Why should making someone else better off give me a good feeling? And how do I know that it will have that effect?

Consider two stories. In story A, you go to visit the Oracle, and in her waiting room you see a boy bending spoons and a girl levitating blocks. You feel this inexplicable and unpleasant itch. Someone suggests as a hypothesis that the itch would go away if you gave the girl a spoon too. So you do so, and your itch goes away.

In story B, you walk into the same room, and you don't like the fact that the girl has no spoon. You would like her to have a spoon too. So you take a spoon and give it to the girl, and you feel pleased with the result.

In story A, your aim was to make yourself feel better, and giving the spoon to the girl was just a means to that end. It took experience and guesswork to figure out what would make you feel better in that way. In story B, on the other hand, no guesswork or experience seemed to be necessary. Here you were in a position to straightforwardly predict what would bring you pleasure. You could predict that because you had an aim other than making yourself feel better, you knew what that aim was, and usually you feel pleased when you get what you want. Your aim was to give a spoon to the girl. Your feeling of pleasure was aconsequence or side-effect of achieving that aim. The pleasure is not what you were primarily aiming at; rather, it came about because you achieved what you were primarily aiming at. Don't mistake what you're aiming at with what happens as a result of your getting what you're aiming at.

Most often, when we do things to make other people better off, we're in a situation like the one in story B. Our pleasure isn't some unexplained effect of our actions, and what we're primarily trying to achieve. Our pleasure comes about because we got what we were primarily trying to achieve; and this makes it understandable why it should come about when it does.

Once we're straight about this, I think there's no argument left that the only thing anyone ever aims for in life is to have pleasant experiences. Some people do aim for that, some of the time. But many cases of giving to charity, making sacrifices for one's spouse, and so on, are not done for the pleasure they bring to oneself. There's something else that one is after, and pleasure is just a pleasant side-effect that sometimes comes along with getting the other things one is after.

Nozick said that most of us do value more than our own experiences, that there are things that we value that we'd miss out on if we plugged into the Matrix. I think Nozick is right. He's right about me, and he's probably right about you, too. We can easily find out. I've devised a little thought-experiment as a test.

Suppose I demonstrate to you that your friends and I are very good at keeping secrets. For instance, one day when Trinity isn't around, we all make lots of fun of her. We read her journal out loud and laugh really hard. We do ridiculous impersonations of her. And so on. It's hilarious. But of course we only do this behind Trinity's back. When she shows up, nobody giggles or snickers or anything like that. You're completely confident that we'll be able to keep our ridicule a secret from Trinity. She'll never know about it.

Suppose I also demonstrate to you that I am a powerful hypnotist. I can make people forget things, and once forgotten they never remember them. You're convinced that I have this power.

Now that you know all of that, I offer you a choice. Option 1 is I deposit $10 in your bank account, but then your friends and I will make fun of you behind your back, the way we made fun of Trinity. If you choose this option, then I will immediately use my hypnotic powers to make you forget about making the choice, being teased, and all that. From your point of view, it will seem that the bank made an error and now you have $10 more in your account than you had before. So in terms of what experiences you will have, this option has no downside. You won't even have to suffer from the expectation of being secretly teased, because I'll make you forget the whole arrangement as soon as you make your choice.

Option 2 is we keep things as they are. I pay you nothing, and your friends are no more or less likely to make fun of you behind your back than they were before.

So which would you choose?

When I offer my students this choice, I find that at least 95% of them choose Option 2. They think that the teasing would be a bad thing, even though they'd never know it was going on.

If the teasing doesn't seem so bad, then change the example. Say that in Option 1, your lover is cheating on you, but you never know about it. Or say that we're torturing your mother, but you never know about it. In every version, your experiences are smooth and untroubled, plus you get a little extra money. Which option would you choose?

If you find Option 2 more attractive, then that's support for Nozick's claim. The experience machine wouldn't give you everything you value. Option 1 gives you no experiences of being teased. It gives you no evidence that your lover is cheating on you, or that your mother is being tortured. But you don't just want to have experiences of things going well for yourself and your mother. You value really not being teased, really having a faithful lover, and really having an untortured mother.

Now, we do have to compare what we'd get by plugging into the experience machine to what we'd get if we don't plug in. I've only been arguing that we'd miss out on some things we'd value if we plugged in. I haven't said that it would never be reasonable to plug in. In some cases, the good of being plugged in could outweigh the bad. If the real world is miserable and nasty enough, it may make sense to plug in. Perhaps for Cypher, the real world is too nasty. All I'm saying is that plugging in won't give us everything we want. Our experiences aren't all that we value. So there is some bad to plugging in. There may also be some good to plugging in. Dreams and immersive role-playing do give us some of the things we value in life. I'm just saying they don't give us everything. Some aspects of how the world really is are important to us.

I haven't been able to say yet how important, though. It's hard to know what the right balance point is. How bad does the real world have to be, before it makes sense to make Cypher's choice, and plug back into the blissful experience machine? This is a hard question. In part, it will depend on whether the Matrix or the experience machine involve any hidden costs. And this is something we haven't yet settled.


Before we can determine what are the major costs of living inside the Matrix, we have to confront one last complication.

We said that for most people inside the Matrix, the experience of eating steak may be enough. We said they probably don't care about whether they've ever really eaten steak. Let's pause over this for a moment. What do these characters mean by "eating steak"?

Suppose you grew up with a friend you called "Jiro." You didn't realize it, but that isn't really your friend's name, at least not the name his parents gave him. His name is really "Takeshi." "Jiro" is his uncle's name. But you got the names mixed up when you were little, and no one bothered to correct you. So all your life you've been saying "Jiro" to talk about Takeshi. Isn't it plausible then that in your mouth, "Jiro" now means Takeshi?

Similarly, Jeremy has grown up inside the Matrix program, and on various occasions he's interacted in certain ways with other parts of the Matrix program, ways he described as "eating steak." Now perhaps all he means by "eating steak" is just interacting in those certain way with the Matrix. He's done that many times. So perhaps he really has managed to eat steak on many occasions. At least, he's managed to do what he calls "eating steak." It's not clear that there's anything more that Jeremy would like to be doing, but isn't. Is there?

The philosophical issues here are fascinating, but they get complicated really fast. I myself think that for some of Jeremy's concepts, the story we just sketched may be right.

Interestingly, this doesn't seem to be the movie's own attitude. Recall what Cypher says:

You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist.

And when Morpheus and Neo are fighting in the sparring program, Morpheus asks:

Do you think that's air you're breathing?

Cypher and Morpheus are both rejecting the view that the Matrix simulations really provide what they mean by "steak" and "air." That is, they're rejecting the view that all they mean by "steak" and "air" is interacting in certain ways with the Matrix program.

As I said, the philosophical issues here can get really complicated. One way to avoid these difficulties is to concentrate on what would be bad about living in the Matrix for the first generation of Matrix inductees: people who grew up outside the Matrix, and have just been freshly plugged in. Presumably what theymean by "eating steak" has to do with cow flesh, not with patterns in the Matrix simulation. Presumably what they mean by "air" is made up of nitrogen and oxygen, not 1s and 0s.

I want to try a different strategy. We can suppose we're talking about people who have spent all their lives so far inside the Matrix. I want to try to find something we value that goes beyond what experiences we're having, and where we can agree that the people inside the Matrix really would value that same thing. They wouldn't just value having some Matrix substitute. And yet this will be something that people inside the Matrix don't have. They only seem to have it.

If we can find something like that, then we'll have found something that really does deserve the name of "what's bad about living in the Matrix."

I can think of three possibilities.

The first has to do with certain kinds of scientific knowledge. I'd guess that physicists in the Matrix have some fundamentally false beliefs about the underlying make-up of their world, what the "laws of nature" are, and so on. For some people, figuring such matters out is important. They value learning the truth about those matters. But not everybody feels that way. For your average non-physicist, the possibility that we're mistaken about questions like these isn't going to provoke existential anxiety, or set them off on a crusade like the one Neo undertakes at the end of the movie.

The second candidate for being what's bad about living in the Matrix has to do with interpersonal relationships. One thing we place a lot of value on in life are our interactions with other people. Most of us want our friends' feelings to be genuine. For instance, it would be bad if the person who acts like your best friend really despises you. Even if you never found out about it. Most of us also want the important people in our lives to be real. We don't want them to be programming constructs, like Mouse's "Woman in Red." Perhaps for some people, programming constructs are enough. They may not care whether their friends and lovers really have an inner life of their own, and have their own thoughts and emotions, and genuine feelings towards them. It would be enough if their friends and lovers acted the their parts well. I think that for most of us, though, this would not be enough. Most of us really would like to have the real thing. It would suck if the children you devote so much love and attention to are really just parts of a computer program, and don't have any capacity to benefit from, or to appreciate, your efforts.


Here's another thought-experiment. Suppose that tomorrow we're going to wipe your memory clean and ship you off to a new colony. You'll be able to live a decent life there; you just won't have any memory of your past. Nor do you get to take any of your money or personal belongings along with you. But today, before we wipe your memory clean, we allow you to spend the money you have left to arrange a nice life for yourself in the new colony. For instance, if you spend $1,000 we'll set it up so that the apartment you get there doesn't have cockroaches. And so on. How would you spend your money?

What if there were two options on the menu. If you choose Option 1, you'll get an extremely realistic set of friends and lovers in the new colony. You won't be able to distinguish them from the real thing. But really they'll just be empty shells animated by a (non-intelligent) computer program. They won't have any inner life of their own. (In the terminology of role-playing games, they'll be NPCs.) You know this now, but when you get to the colony you will have forgotten it. If you choose Option 2, you get friends and lovers who are real people.

Most people I know would choose Option 2, even if it were somewhat more expensive, and so kept them from buying other nice things for their new life. E.g., they'd choose Option 2 even if it meant they'd have to put up with more cockroaches.

So one thing that many of us value in life is that the other people we form emotional attachments to are real people, and that they care about us in the ways they seem to. In Nozick's experience machine, this seems to be lacking. His experience machine sounds like a one-person Matrix. You just get to enjoy your own experience script. You don't get to interact with other people. (See the discussion of "solitary Matrices" in Richard Hanley's essay.)

In the real Matrix, on the other hand, it seems like people do get to interact with many other real human beings. So a lack of interpersonal relationships may be a bad thing about Nozick's machine, but it doesn't seem to be a bad thing about the Matrix we see in the movie.

I think our third candidate for what's bad about living in the Matrix is more apt. In the movie, humans in the Matrix are all slaves. They're not in charge of their own lives. They may be contented slaves, unaware of their chains, but they're slaves nonetheless. They have only a very limited ability to shape their own futures. As Morpheus puts it:

What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world, built to keep us under control...

Now—to me anyway—the most disturbing thing about this isn't that the machines are farming us for energy. We're not told enough about how the energy-farming works to make it seem very bad. Perhaps the machines are only taking energy we were making no use of, anyway. Perhaps the machines ensure that—except for the rare occasions when an Agent takes over your body and gets it killed—we live longer and healthier lives in the Matrix energy-farm than we would in the wild.

No, what seems awful about our enslavement in the Matrix is rather that our enemies have so much control over what happens to us. Suppose we discovered that a secret Nazi cabal were really running our government. Wouldn't that be awful? Suppose they're not actively causing any harm. Suppose that for the most part they'll keep the government running in ways we like. Many of us still wouldn't like it. We'd object to the mere fact of those old Nazis having so much power over us.

Similarly, the machines in the Matrix are our enemies. We've fought a brutal war with them. Now they have immense power over us. As long as it suits their purposes, they'll manage our lives in ways we like. But many of us will still be disturbed by their having so much power over us. We want to be in control of our own futures.

According to Agent Smith, the Matrix was designed to simulate the end of the 20th century, because the machines have found that keeps their energy-farm running smoothly. Generations of us have now lived out their lives in the Matrix. So generations of us have all experienced life in this simulated end-of-the-20th-century. What happens when the simulation gets up to 2003? Do the machines erase our memories and reset everything back to 1980? The movie doesn't say. But presumably they do something like that. This means there are real limits to how much we can accomplish. If your ambitions in the Matrix are relatively small-scale, like opening a restaurant or becoming a famous actor, then you may very well be able to achieve them. But if your ambitions are larger—e.g., introducing some long-term social change—then whatever progress you make towards that goal will be wiped out when the simulation gets reset. Any long-term efforts of this sort would be an exercise an futility.

And what if our ambitions don't please the farmers? For instance, what if we are computer scientists working to create artificial intelligence? The machines would probably find it easiest to just keep sabotaging our attempts. After all, they wouldn't want us to re-enact the war between humans and machines, inside the Matrix. That would be bad for their crops. And they certainly wouldn't want us to create benevolent AIs, AIs who would figure out about the Matrix and fight on our side. So the machines will tinker with our history, and see to it that grand, noble ambitions of this sort never get realized.

Of course, they'll also see to it that none of our grander baser ambitions get realized, either. They probably just disconnect or reprogram anyone who's hatching plans for mass genocide.

But if given the choice, I think most of us would like humans to be in charge of our own destiny. We don't want our long-term efforts to be futile. We don't want to be living out someone else's plan for our lives. Sure, there will always be some limits to what we can do. Very likely we'll never be able to vacation in the center of the sun. But we'd like to have as much control over our destiny as we can. We don't want other intelligent agents deciding such things for us. Especially when those agents' first priority is how well their energy-farms are doing; that may not correlate well with how well-off our lives and society are.

So it seems rotten if the machines control our fates and our civilization. One thing we place a lot of value on is being in charge of our own lives, not being someone else's slave or plaything. We want to be politically free.

And plausibly, what people mean by "political freedom" and "being in charge of our own lives" is the same inside the Matrix as outside it. We're not indifferent between the real thing and some Matrix simulation of it. We want to have the real thing. When we're inside the Matrix, we haven't got it. We just don't realize that we haven't got it.

So I think this is the best answer about what's so bad about living in the Matrix.

For me, at least, it's a surprising answer. The Matrix raises so many interesting metaphysical and epistemological issues. If you're of a philosophical bent, like me, then those issues will be intellectually compelling. But there's a difference between what we find intellectually compelling and what we place the most value on in life. Intellectual matters will be only one value among many. For most of us, the worst thing about living in the Matrix would not be something metaphysical or epistemological. Rather, the worst thing would be something political. It would be the fact that Life in the Matrix is a kind of Slavery, of the sort of we've discussed.

I think that is what's really bad about living in the Matrix we see in the movie. That is what motivates Neo and Morpheus and Trinity to fight the machines, and try to free everyone they can.

If the Matrix weren't a kind of enslavement—and it still involved interacting with other real people—then maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

The Oracle's Gamble

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.
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.  
Love, Actually

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.
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?
n 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.
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.  
  1. Neo's blindness

In the first movie he can see while in the Matrix, but when he leaves the Matrix into Zion, his eyes won't open initially because they hurt. Morpheus explains, "because you've never used them." Morpheus suggests that while in the Matrix, Neo has been blind. Later, in Revolutions, he is blinded in the world of Zion, but can still see in the Matrix. This juxtaposition with the first movie suggests that perhaps Zion is a constructed world as well. 

  1. The color scheme of the trilogy

Borrowed by the Wachowskis from Alice in Wonderland, blue represents fake while red is real. In the first movie, they don't even use these colors (except for the pills) because the audience is not meant to know what is or is not real. As we see the next 2 movies, more is understood. Neo wears blue while in Zion, as does Trinity and Bane, whereas Morpheus wears red. [* see TrinityNeo andSmith below for their roles as programs *]. When Morpheus makes the big cave speech in Reloaded, he is in bright red while the elder Councilman Hamann who introduces him is in blue. This same councilman speaks to Neo when neither of them can sleep (note that this is right after Morpheus says "Goodnight Zion", and that Neo is never really sleeping in any of the movies) and leads him to the engineering level where there are only machines and they feel more comfortable. Note the interesting and purposeful way red light is only seen on half of Neo's face, as if he's not completely human. InRevolutions, the color logic continues in spades. Look for it.

When Trinity breaks through the literal/figurative clouds of her world in Zion, she sees the bright blue sky above her. Right after this symbolic recognition of the limits of her world, she dies and knows that Neo cannot bring her back this time, because she no longer has a purpose, having finally guided Neo since the very beginning of The Matrix to the Source. As she says at the end ofRevolutions,"You saved me once before, but this time you cannot bring me back Neo." The sky is shown in the daylight with a moon in the background. It could have been any color: it didn't actually have to be blue as it is a world the audience has never seen. Blue was chosen to represent its falsity. Obviously, something as abstract as color choice is wide open to interpretation by the audience, so don't take this point too literally.

  1. Morpheus's last line in the film

The last shot of Morpheus shows him looking upwards toward the clouds and asking "Is this real?" Morpheus's name is from the Greek god of dreams, and his ship is named after Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king mentioned in the bible who is haunted by bad dreams.

  1. There is a shuttle system between the two worlds, controlled by the Merovingian.

[* read more on this transport system below *]

  1. Smith can transport himself to Zion through Bane.

As a program, and on at least this point there should be no debate, Smith would not be able to transport into Zion unless it were a computer construct as well. I have heard 2 unfounded possibilities how he can do this without Zion being simulated. First, he somehow "hacks the brain" of Bane and implants himself inside his head. This is unsubstantiated by the science fiction "rules" of the movie. Second, that he has gained the power from Neo as a result of their encounter in The Matrix. But then how does Neo get this power to go to Zion in the first place? There is no other explanation other than Zion being another matrix.

  1. It would be highly improbable that Zion is physically being built over and over again after it is destroyed.

If Zion was real, then by the first time the machines had destroyed it, they would have likely dug through most of the world to reach it. How could another 5 Zions have been created under their noses unless they allowed it to be as a simulation to house those that would not accept their former construct of the matrix world. Furthermore, it is to the benefit of the machines that Zion be a simulation. When the Architect saw that certain matrix inhabitants didn't accept their world, he had to put them somewhere where they would accept it. This way, the Architect and the machines could still harness Zion's inhabitants as batteries.

  1. Neo retains his powers in Zion

There are numerous examples of this. At the end of Reloaded, this phenomenon was first realized when he stopped the sentinels. As he says, "Wait... something is different." He realizes that this world is not real as well, so its rules can be broken the same as in the Matrix. The shock of this connection collapses Neo who is sent to Limbo [* More on the reasons for this collapse later *]. Again, by the science fiction "rules" of the movie, it wouldn't be reasonable to say he somehow can "bend reality."

  1. Programs die once they've served their purpose in Zion, just like in the Matrix.

Specifically, Trinity dies after guiding Neo to his destiny, and Neo dies after defeating Smith. But when both Neo and Trinity die earlier in the Matrix (at the end of The Matrix and Reloaded, respectively), they both come back to life because a program cannot be deleted until it completes its purpose. If they were real and Zion were real, when they die in the Matrix, that should be it. As Morpheus says, "the body cannot live without the mind."

  1. The architect reveals that all the previous Zions were created by the system

During the speech in Reloaded, the Architect tells Neo he is meant to rebuild Zion with 23 people from the Matrix. Why would the Architect along with Neo's help bother to physically build Zion unless it was part of their plan? Having built Zion, the System would undoubtedly know its location, so the machines would never have to look for it. Indeed, Zion is built as a another simulated reality to house and continue to utilize all those who don't accept the first Matrix.

  1. The people of Zion are religious.

Architect: Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion... simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.

It is interesting how people who are freed from the calculated world of the Matrix set up a Zion where religious belief is common and strong. The Wachowski brothers conclude the movie (as I'll show by the end of this essay) with a very negative view of religion, and specifically of Christianity. When Neo goes to fight Seraph, there is a shot of different religious objects (frame of Jesus, statue of Buddha, etc.) being sold to the public. In Zion, as Neo and Trinity get off the elevator, Neo is bombarded by many religious figures that want his help. Some have brought gifts, a woman approaches him to cure her sick child as Jesus did, and there are even Buddhists in the background - but Neo cannot help any of them. The rave party is called the 'temple gathering' and Hamann's speech 'opening prayer'. During this Hedonistic party, you see women dressed in Muslim or Hindu (anyone specifically know?) religious dress - which is all blue. Further Hamann, the councilman of Zion, is named for the despot "Haman" who ruled over the ancient Jews and is today reviled during the Jewish holiday Purim. Councilor Hamann even says to Neo, "I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines, I... I can't help thinking that in a way, we are plugged into them."

  1. There is a picture of Neo in Zion on one of the monitors in the background during the speech with the Architect.

I'm trying to somehow take the picture from the DVD, but it is at 1:51:17 on the top left monitor in the frame. It is certainly brief, but you can definitely notice Neo's blue sweater and shaved head - his costume attributes while in Zion. For the Architect to have a picture of this, that world must be another simulation constantly monitored by the Architect.

            That Zion is not real doesn't necessarily mean there is a world higher than it where humans still exist. Consider that in this highest world The Machines are God, who after a war with humans, have banished them all to both these lower worlds. In fact, the Source in Revolutions is named Deus Ex Machina in the credits, which is Latin for "god from the machine." [Incidentally, it is also used to poke fun at the contrivances of all formulaic movies and this movie itself. In movie-speak, Deus Ex Machina refers to any resolution to a story which does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and is so unlikely it challenges suspension of disbelief, and presumably allows the author to end it in the way he or she wanted]. Despite what happens with Neo, humans may always be trapped here. This explains the phrase "perception defines reality". Both of the worlds are constructs, created by the perceptions of its members. When one doesn't accept the world they are in, they shuttle back to the other (i.e. Cypher back to the Matrix, Morpheus to Zion, and in the Animatrix The Kid goes directly from one to the other).

            It is not necessarily a matrix-within-a-matrix. Think of it more like the bottom of a triangle. Both worlds are the bottom corners, connected to each other through the Train System. At the top is a world these humans have never seen, or rather have been banished from. Humans might have once existed on this top plane of reality, equal to the Machines and even the creator of those machines. After a war in that world, humans were forced into the first version of the Matrix, a Utopia designed to store them for their bioelectrical energy. [Or maybe there was no war, and humans themselves went willingly into the Matrix. They may have done it to create a perfect world to avoid the harsh reality of their physical world.] But in the end, they couldn't get away from their base tendencies - when the utopian simulation failed, Zion was created to house any dissidents who wouldn't accept their world as it was. These rebels, though, are not being wasted by the Machines: their natural energy is harnessed as well. The goal of the Machines is to keep as many people alive as they can. When those in Zion grow strong enough to disrupt both worlds, they must be destroyed and it is the role of Neo to recreate this world with 23 people from the Matrix, with 7 males and 16 females. As it says in Genesis 7:16 (NIV): "The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in." [The movies often reference Bible verses with random numbers. See the license plate section for that]. Some will inevitably ask, "Why do they need humans, can't they just use nuclear power?" One possible explanation is simply this: why not? Even if the power from humans is marginal, it is no harm to the real-world machines to run this illusion. The humans can never escape, or so The Machines think...  [If the reason humans are in the Matrix is by their own accord, then maybe the higher-level machines are just following their program.]

Lets go over most of the architect's important speech in Reloaded:

Architect: You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.
Neo: Choice. The problem is choice.
Architect: I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a lesser mind, or perhaps a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection. Thus, the answer was stumbled upon by another, an intuitive program, initially created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche. If I am the father of the matrix, she would undoubtedly be its mother.
Neo: The Oracle.
Architect: Please. As I was saying, she stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly 99.9% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level. While this answer functioned, it was obviously fundamentally flawed, thus creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly, that if left unchecked might threaten the system itself. Ergo, those that refused the program, while a minority, if unchecked, would constitute an escalating probability of disaster.
Architect: The function of the One is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the matrix, which coupled with the extermination of Zion will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race.
Architect: Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the anomaly revealed as both beginning, and end. There are two doors. The door to your right leads to the source, and the salvation of Zion. The door to the left leads back to the matrix, to her, and to the end of your species. As you adequately put, the problem is choice. But we already know what you're going to do, don't we? Already I can see the chain reaction, the chemical precursors that signal the onset of emotion, designed specifically to overwhelm logic, and reason. An emotion that is already blinding you from the simple, and obvious truth: she is going to die, and there is nothing that you can do to stop it.

Neo went to the door on the left and made the choice to fail to comply with this process and it indeed led to the "cataclysmic system crash" killing everyone connected to the matrix. This is what happened at the end in Revolutions: everyone in the Matrix was killed because Smith - the cataclysmic system crash - took over everyone in that world. When Neo destroyed Smith, all the crops of humans he had taken over were lost, but those in Zion were spared by the machines.

            What would have happened had Neo chosen the door to his right, as he was supposed to? First, we have to acknowledge that all of Neo's predecessors had done things exactly as he had up until their meeting with the Architect in which they had a choice to make between the 2 doors. This means that everything in both The Matrix and Reloaded has occurred already to Neo's predecessors. They differ, however, with Neo because they fulfilled their roles and chose the door to the right. Neo is unique because he allows his emotion to "overwhelm logic, and reason." Had Neo chosen the door on the right, he would have returned to the Source (which he does voluntarily by the end of Revolutions anyway by flying to the Machine City), reinserted himself into the matrix (as he again voluntarily does eventually anyway through the Source), and sacrifice himself to Smith via "dissemination of the code" (once again, what he does freely by letting Smith take over him). But had he realized that his "emotion [was] blinding [him] from the simple, and obvious truth: [Trinity was] going to die, and there is nothing that [he could] do to stop it," as the Architect told him (and he indeed does literally become blind), he would have chosen the door to the right. In that case, he would have defeated the virus Smith before he took over all inhabitants of the Matrix, and most of that world's population would have been saved. The downside to this rejected option is that Neo would not rescue Trinity and return to Zion with her. Instead, Trinity would die then and there in Reloaded. Neo would have gone on to the Source, where he would have stopped the Smiths early on from destroying the Matrix world (e.g. Smith snidely asks, "like what I've done with the place?"). Meanwhile, Bane (as another Smith) would have infiltrated Zion easily without Neo's intervention and facilitated the destruction of Zion. He would have awoken from his state of unconsciousness and had no one to stop him. It is through Bane (literally, the 'bane of humanity') that the Architect has become increasingly efficient at destroying Zion. Had Neo gone this other way, he would then have lived because the door to the right allowed for a "temporary dissemination of the code" and would then select from the matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion, who would presumably take over the role of the council in the new Zion.

            In fact, it is so ingrained in Neo to make the choice to go to the door to the right that this is played upon humorously in the first movie. At the end of The Matrix, Neo is running from the agents to get to a phone in Room 303, and he makes a mistake that seems like a joke to the audience at the time. 

Neo (running in the corridor): "Need a little help."
Tank: "Door on your left."
Neo takes the door on his right
Tank: "No, the other left"


Architect: I've been waiting for you. You have many questions, and although the process has altered your consciousness, you remain irrevocably human.

            Neo is a program that is the "eventuality of an anomaly" due to the predication of free will in the Matrix, created by the Oracle. But the Oracle was "initially created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche." Consequently, the result of her input into the Matrix is "irrevocably human."  If he were truly human, he would actually die when shot repeatedly at the end of The Matrix. Neo is instead the representation of all humanity, as conceived and designed by the Source as a system of control. As a program, he never sleeps or has to. This is how he is able to have dreams that envision the future (Trinity dying, etc.), because his and her fate are already programmed to happen.

          Neo: And why would a program be deleted?
          Oracle: Maybe it breaks down. Maybe a better program is created to replace it, happens all the time. And when it does,          a program can either choose to hide here, or return to the source.
          Neo: The machine mainframe.
          Oracle: Yes. Where you must go.


Architect: As I was saying, she stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly 99.9% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level.

According to the Architect, without choice the matrix collapses. With choice, there are always some who cannot accept their reality (.1%) and must have a reality to accept, so Zion is created for them. Without Zion, those still in the Matrix who don't accept their world can lead to a systemic failure as they convince others to the truth (as Agent Smith says in The Matrix, "entire crops were lost" in the first perfect world that was created because there was no Zion). As Zion grows too powerful (in this case it is when they are "freeing more minds in the last 6 months than ever before," as Morpheus says inReloaded), it is destroyed by Bane and then repopulated by his alter-ego The One, and the process continues anew. The machines prefer this, because they at least retain the majority of human power cells in the Matrix construct even though they lose the sparsely-populated Zion construct.

In the other possibility, the matrix batteries die and Zion batteries live. This option is not desired by the machines, but as the architect says in Reloaded, "There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept."  The goal, however, is to keep as much of the population alive as possible.

Neo: You won't let it happen, you can't. You need human beings to survive.  
The Architect: There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept. However, the relevant issue is whether or not you are ready to accept the responsibility for the death of every human being in this world."


Architect: [To Neo] You are the eventuality of an anomaly.
Architect: she [Oracle] stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly 99.9% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level. While this answer functioned, it was obviously fundamentally flawed, thus creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly, that if left unchecked might threaten the system itself. 

The architect speaks of 2 anomalies. Neo is the first, but Smith is the second. The Oracle created choice but this also created the "otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly" that is Smith. In every version of the matrix that allows choice, the systemic Smith virus is created and it causes an "increasing probability of system crash". As the Oracle says in Revolutions, Smith and Neo are the same, with respect to being an anomaly caused by the free will allowed to humanity in the Matrix. 'Choice' is in contradiction to "a harmony of mathematical precision" and thus causes the anomaly of Neo and Smith.

Specifically, why is Smith a virus? In The Matrix, he correctly categorizes humans not as mammals, but as viruses during his speech to Morpheus. When Neo - the Son of Man (translation of "Anderson") and the representation of humanity - is spread through him at the end of the first movie, Smith is imbued with this aspect of humanity, the one he hates the most.


The blinded Neo was plugged back into the Matrix through the Source (at the end of Revolutions, when the machine head plunged the large cable in his head). A rogue program, according to the Oracle inReloaded, is either deleted or goes into exile. At this point, Smith is in exile. His earpiece is removed inReloaded (he symbolically gives it as a gift to Neo) and he is now banished from the Source's control. His newfound powers realized when Neo "disseminated his code" in The Matrix by jumping into him, Smith is now a virus and has taken over everyone in the Matrix. When Smith absorbs Neo at the end ofRevolutions, Smith is once again connected to the Source and can finally be deleted directly. Neo acts as the conduit between Deus Ex Machina and Agent Smith. But all the people that he absorbed in the Matrix must die. This is the "cataclysmic system crash" the Architect referred to in Reloaded, if Neo was to make the choice to go to the door on his left.

How does Neo figure out how to destroy Smith? Had he chosen the door on the right in Reloaded, he would have destroyed him right then and there by "disseminating his code." By going through the left door, he is not guided in killing Smith. At the end, when Neo faces Smith in the rain, he wrongly believes he can fight him and defeat him. The Oracle allows herself to be absorbed by Smith to tell Neo what to do. When Neo is getting beaten by Smith - in fact the particular Smith that had absorbed the Oracle - Smith/Oracle tells Neo, "Everything that has a beginning has an end." This was the Oracle's line earlier. Thus, the Oracle communicates through Smith a message to Neo, who understands now what he must do and lets Smith taking him over. His disseminated code spreads through all the Smiths, which are now directly connected to the Source and can be deleted by Deus Ex Machina.


            Trinity is meant to guide Neo to the Source, so he can complete his designed mission. As the Oracle tells Trinity in The Matrix, "[Trinity to Neo] She told me I was meant to fall in love with the One." Trinity follows her purpose first by seeking Neo out in the Matrix, over Cypher's objections. In Reloaded, she actually does lead Neo to the Architect, the representation of the Source in the Matrix world. Trinity gets shot by an Agent and is ready to die, her purpose having been completed, but Neo makes the wrong choice to the door on the right, and she comes back to life in a kind of 'reboot.' Her purpose once again is to guide Neo to the Source, but this time she must do it in Zion. This last meeting with the Source allows her to finally die, as a program no longer with a purpose. Trinity is like Eve guiding Neo/Adam to the apple. This implies, and is most definitely conjecture on my part, that perhaps the Wachowskis believe God took the form of Eve to convince Adam to willingly leave his sacred garden of Eden, that Man was unwanted in this world.

* I know I've already compared Neo to Jesus, but it's all about context. The Wachowskis themselves said in an interview that characters have multiple references and meanings.


Councilor Hamann: Care for some company?
Neo: Councilor Hamann.
Councilor Hamann: I don't want to intrude if you prefer to be alone.
Neo: No, I could probably use some company.
Councilor Hamann: Good, so could I. It's nice tonight. Very calm. Feels like everyone's sleeping very peacefully.
Neo: Not everyone.
Councilor Hamann: I hate sleeping. I never sleep more than a few hours. I figure I slept the first 11 years of my life, now I'm making up for it. What about you?
Neo: I just haven't been able to sleep much.
Councilor Hamann: It's a good sign.
Neo: Of what?
Councilor Hamann: That you are, in fact, still human. Have you ever been to the engineering level? I love to walk there at night, it's quite amazing. Would you like to see it?
Neo: Sure.
*Neo and the Councilor walk out onto the engineering level.*
Councilor Hamann: Almost no one comes down here, unless, of course, there's a problem. That's how it is with people - nobody cares how it works as long as it works. I like it down here. I like to be reminded this city survives because of these machines. These machines are keeping us alive, while other machines are coming to kill us. Interesting, isn't it? Power to give life, and the power to end it.
Neo: We have the same power.
Councilor Hamann: I suppose we do, but down here sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines, I.. I can't help thinking that in a way, we are plugged into them.
Neo: But we control these machines, they don't control us.
Councilor Hamann: Of course not, how could they? The idea's pure nonsense, but... it does make one wonder just... what is control?
Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.
Councilor Hamann: Of course... that's it. You hit it! That's control, isn't it? If we wanted, we could smash them to bits. Although if we did, we'd have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air.
Neo: So we need machines and they need us. Is that your point, Councilor?
Councilor Hamann: No, no point. Old men like me don't bother with making points. There's no point.
Neo: Is that why there are no young men on the Council?
Councilor Hamann: Good point.
Neo: Why don't you tell me what's on your mind, Councilor?
Councilor Hamann: There is so much in this world that I do not understand. See that machine? It has something to do with recycling our water supply. I have absolutely no idea how it works. But I do understand the reason for it to work. I have absolutely no idea how you are able to do some of the things you do, but I believe there's a reason for that as well. I only hope we understand that reason before it's too late.

            It is my belief Hamann was the previous One before Neo. Neither of them can sleep. When Neo says he is unable to sleep, Hamann notes that it's "a good sign" and shows that Neo is "in fact, still human." Both Hamann and the Architect know that "although the process has altered [Neo's] consciousness, [Neo] remains irrevocably human" (from Reloaded). Hamann, unlike Neo, has fulfilled his role as the One. He has created Zion with 23 people from the Matrix, 7 male and 16 female, and then remains to lead Zion's council. As it says in Genesis 7:16 (NIV): "The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in."

            Hamann feels comfortable with the machines. He even subtly shows that Zion is not real when he says, "I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines, I... I can't help thinking that in a way, we are plugged into them." More importantly, Hamann aids Neo by allowing him the opportunity to fulfill his mission, as if he knew what that mission was. When Commander Locke tells the Council to divert all ships to the frontlines, it is Hamann that overrules Locke and allows the Nebuchadnezzar to leave so that Neo can meet with the Architect/Source. Hamann, the previous One, is named after the despot Haman who abused the Jews over 2000 years ago. He now runs the simulated world of Zion, still keeping his people under a vast illusion.

Morpheus: He did it.
Kid: He saved us. He saved us. It's over, he did it! He did it, he did it, it's over! It's over, he did it! He did it!
Councilor Hamann: What is it, what happened?
Kid: Sir, he did it, sir - Neo - he did it!
Councilor Hamann: Did what?
Kid: He ended the war, the machines are gone! The war is over, sir! The war is over! 

            Hamann doesn't understand what has happened. As the previous One, he fully expected Zion to be destroyed. He doesn't know what Neo did to have things result differently than when he was the One.

            First, Persephone from the perspective of Greek mythology... The Titan Kronos had six children: Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia and Zeus. The beautiful daughter of Demeter and Zeus,Persephone is the focus of the story resulting in the division of the seasons. Persephone is kidnapped as part of a secret agreement between Zeus and Hades; Zeus gave up his daughter to placate Hades. Hades abducted her and took her to his underground kingdom. After much protest, Persephone came to love the cold blooded king of the underworld but her mother, Demeter (the mother of the earth's seasons), was consumed with rage and sorrow. She demonstrated her anger by punishing Earth's inhabitants with a bitter and cold winter. Unless Persephone was returned of to her mother's side, Earth would perish.

            In the trilogy, Hades is really the Merovingian, who keeps Persephone at his side. That the Merovingian is Hades helps relate why he controls the Train Station, symbolic of the river Styx [* more on the Train Station below *].  The Oracle is really Demeter, who is Persephone's mother, and the Architect is Zeus, who has given  Persephone/Trinity as the Eve to the Merovingian/Neo's Adam. [* read more about Trinity's specific role above *]. He uses Persephone by forcing her to stay with the Merovingian. This way, she can guide Neo back to him (she leads Neo to the Keymaker) when Neo is rejected by the Merovingian.   

The Architect says in Reloaded that before the appearance of the One, there were 2 failed worlds. The first was a utopian hell, where no complex system of control existed. When that world failed, the Architect created a dystopian hell, based on the "grotesqueries" of human history. My speculation is that in this second failed world, the Architect/God created his order of angels - Seraph (hebrew for 'angel'), the Merovingian/Devil (in the Bible the devil was a fallen angel), etc. But when this second world failed and was altered to include choice, the Merovingian escaped deletion (he himself says there is a "bounty" on his head) and stayed on through to the creation of the One, symbolically and figuratively taking control of the Keymaker, the key back to God. Persephone was secretly given to Merovingian without the Oracle's knowledge, as a system of control over the undeletable Merovingian. When the future One must find his way to the Source, she guides him past the Merovingian's unsuspecting eye. Her updated version, Trinity, has the same goal: find the One, make sure it is him through a kiss, and lead him to the Source so he can make his fateful decision.



The Dystopian world created by the Architect didn't allow for choice. Consequently, the Merovingian believes in causality (the existential view, which incidentally was a predominantly French philosophical movement) rather than choice. The Oracle, who wants to end the war (as she says inRevolutions to Neo), is the "intuitive" program that came up with the idea of choice (as the Architect says in Reloaded). Thus, the Merovingian wants her dead as he hates choice and profits from the war, relishing his lavish existence in the Matrix. The Merovingian's restaurant La Vrai (The Truth) is on floor 101. Neo's apartment in The Matrix was 101. The number 101 is from the Orwell classic 1984, and is the room where people were brainwashed and controlled. The Merovingian never had to make the choice posed by the Architect to Neo. As such, he never had to save Persephone and their love was not put in jeopardy, so it withered away. They only still remain together forcibly by their very natures as programs, but the love is gone. This is why Persephone wants to kiss Neo, to remember that passion she once had, and to verify that he is indeed the One. Trinity's last words before she dies in Reloaded are "Kiss me, once more. Kiss me." This is the final parallel between her and Persephone, who also is fixated on kissing the One and having him fall in love with her. This is the function of the Trinity/Persephone program.

As the first and only superpower in the "grotesquery" Matrix (he did not have Smith as an enemy), the Merovingian is able to take control of the Keymaker and the Train Station [* read further for Merovingian's specific role *]. The train station is like purgatory, or limbo. Note that "Mobil" Ave. - the sign in the train station - is an anagram for Limbo, which is why Neo cannot escape no matter where he runs. This realm is akin to the river Styx, the Greek's portal between the Earth surface and the underworld, and controlled by Hades. The dirty bum that conducts the trains is akin to Charon, the vile boatman of Styx, who ferries souls across the river. Despite Neo's powers granted to him in the Zion and Matrix worlds, here Neo can do nothing. In Greek mythology, no one could cross Styx without Charon's permission. That the Merovingian controls the Keymaker, possessor of the key to Heaven, is symbolic of needing to go through hell to get to heaven.

            The other previous Ones were meant to die in Zion. After they "temporarily disseminate their code" to destroy Smith and create Zion with 23 people, they are denied access back to the Matrix by the Merovingian.  The Merovingian, who controls the ultimate transport between the 2 worlds (the Train Station) denies Neo the right to go back in. This is how, as the Merovingian states to Neo, "I have dealt with your predecessors before." As it says (used as reference to 7 males, 16 females) in Genesis 7:16 (NIV): The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah.Then the Lord shut him in."

            In every other version before Neo (including Councilor Hamann), Merovingian waits for the time when the One connects to the Source, and then banishes him/her from the Matrix construct through the train system. He even does it again, as he is supposed to, to Neo in Revolutions. He traps Neo there after Neo connects with the machines in Zion. But Neo does this prematurely, when he goes through the wrong door in Reloaded and then stops the Sentinels in Zion. With this connection made by Neo that Zion can bend to his powers now (Neo: "Something is different"), he collapses and is sent to Limbo (more accurately, he emits a 'virtual EMP' that knocks out both himself and the sentinels; similarly, Bane is unconscious because he sets off an EMP on the ship). The Merovingian expects that Neo has defeated Smith and is ready to banish him to Zion, as the Merovingian had done with Neo's predecessors. Accordingly, he doesn't expect Trinity to walk in the door of his Club Hel (more Hades symbolism) inRevolutions, as her character was dead by this point in the previous versions of the Matrix.

(Hel Club - VIP lounge)
Merovingian: What in the hell? *laughs* I don't believe this.
Merovingian: *laughs* Quelle bonne surprise, n'est pas? (Trans: What a fine surprise, 
isn't it?) Who could've guessed we'd all be seeing each other so soon after our last 
meeting? A fate too kind.
Seraph: You know why we are here?
Merovingian: *laughs* Come, now. What kind of question is this? Of course I know. It's 
my business to know. Some might think this a strange coincidence, but I do not. I am 
curious, though, as to how it actually happened. Do you know?
Trinity: No.

Oracle: Mmm, I love that smell. I sure am gonna miss it.
Seraph: Oracle.
Oracle: I know, I know. Sati, honey! Take a few cookies and go with Seraph.
Sati: Can I come back? I would like to come back!
Oracle: I would like that too.
Sati: So I'll see you tomorrow.
Oracle: I hope so, honey, I hope so.
(Matrix: inside the building on the floor of the Oracle's apartment)
Sati: I'm scared, Seraph.
Seraph: Come.

            The oracle changed the game that the "real, real" Machines setup. When Neo made the choice to go to the door to the left, this was supposed to lead to the destruction of Zion as well as the Matrix. While the humans of the Matrix couldn't be saved once this decision was made, the Oracle made a cunning attempt to save those in Zion. How? She allowed herself to be absorbed by Smith, hoping this would end the war, "one way or another." Her interference might have led to the death of all humanity. Right before Smith comes to absorb her, the Oracle tells Seraph to leave her and guard Sati instead. Seraph is the Oracle's only protection, but she gets rid of him. She is well aware that she will be taken over by Smith and actually allows it, hoping that this will allow her to later relay a message to Neo when Neo fights Smith. Fortunately, she is able to do this, when she speaks through Smith: "Everything that has an end has a beginning." As Smith suspects, she must already know he's going to "kill" her, but he does it anyway. [Note that both Smith and Neo knock over something in the Oracle's apartment - Smith a plate of cookies and Neo a vase. They really are born of the same anomaly. In both cases though, the Oracle knows that its going to happen].

Smith: *sweeps plate of cookies off table* Maybe you knew I was going to do that, maybe you didn't. If you did, that means you baked those cookies and set that plate right there deliberately, purposefully. Which means you're sitting there also deliberately, purposefully.

            However, this was a "dangerous game" as the Architect says at the end of Revolutions, because if Neo hadn't understood this message, he wouldn't have known how to defeat Smith, which was by letting himself be taken over. Neo had been pointlessly fighting him through hand-to-hand combat - the only way Neo knew how to oppose him. He received the message, and then sacrificed himself to Smith. Had this message not been received, Smith wouldn't have been destroyed, Neo would've failed, and the Machines would destroy Morpheus and the others in Zion because Neo didn't keep his end of the deal. All humans would have died and the game would have ended. Furthermore, the Oracle would have been permanently trapped and incapacitated inside one of the Smiths, leading to the destruction of the "mother" of the Matrix and "both worlds" (Zion and the Matrix).

Oracle: And if you can't find the answer, then I'm afraid there may be no tomorrow for any of us.
Oracle: *nods* Very soon he's going to have the power to destroy this world, but I believe he won't stop there; he can't. He won't stop until there's nothing left at all.
Oracle: One way or another, Neo, this war is going to end. Tonight, the future of both worlds will be in your hands... or in his.
Neo [to the Source]: The program 'Smith' has grown beyond your control. Soon he will spread through this city as he spread through the Matrix. You cannot stop him, but I can.
            This is also further evidence of Zion not being real, as Smith will eventually take over and replicate in Zion as well. Also, as a slight digression, the song playing in the background when Neo speaks to the Oracle is Duke Ellington's "Beginning to See the Light" (I love these little touches).

Neo: You know the Oracle?
Rama-Kandra: Everyone knows the Oracle. I consulted with her before I met with the Frenchman. She promised she would look after Sati after we said goodbye.
Neo: Goodbye? You're not staying with her?
Rama-Kandra: It is not possible. Our arrangement with the Frenchman was for our daughter only. My wife and I must return to our world.
Oracle: So, do you recognize me?
Neo: A part of you.
Oracle: Yeah, that's how it works. Some bits you lose, some bits you keep.
Morpheus: We want to make a deal.
Merovingian: *laughs* Always straight to business, huh, Morpheus? Okay. I have something you want. To make a deal, you must have something I want, yes? And it so happens there is something I want. Something I've wanted ever since I first came here. It is said they cannot be taken, they can only be given.
Morpheus: What?
Merovingian: The eyes of the Oracle.

            Just a further point on how they explain the new "shell" of the Oracle... In reality, Gloria Foster died between shooting of Reloaded and Revolutions, so they had to use another actress. From Revolutionsand Enter the Matrix, it is clear the Oracle wants to protect Sati at all costs. The Merovingian wants to kill the Oracle, but he knows he can't just kill her, as her 'code' "can only be given." So the Oracle gives part of her code to Rama Kandra to use as a bargaining chip. Rama Kandra meets with the Merovingian inReloaded (we see the end of the meeting when he is being escorted out right as Neo is walking into the restaurant) and gives him this code in return for safe passage of his daughter Sati into the Matrix world. As an exile, she is queued for deletion (Smith calls Sati "the last exile") but is saved by this brokered deal. Her parents, however, are not allowed passage.


            The lives of the humans in the trilogy are caught in a catch-22. The more successful Zion is in freeing minds, the more imminent its doom is. Further, if the One becomes significantly attached to Zion (via Trinity) over the Matrix construct, then the more imminent the doom of the Matrix world is. One of them has to be destroyed, though, along with its population.


            The destruction by Bane and repopulation by Neo is akin to this Japanese philosophy. It is similar to how the human body operates by catabolism and anabolism; neither character is the 'good' one and there is no such thing as evil. Furthermore, Bane is part of the crew of the Caduceus, which refers to the symbol of the medical profession - a winged staff with two serpents twined around it. It is fitting that as both Neo and Bane lie across each other in a coma, they are treated by the ship's doctor.

The trilogy also parallels the Yin and Yang with Rama Kandra/Kamala [names given in the credits] (as Sati's parents; Rama Kandra, as seventh version of Vishnu is regarded as the Preserver while Brahma/Kamala is the Creator), and the Architect and the Oracle (calculating and pragmatic versus the Oracle's "intuition").

As the 2nd and 3rd movies progress, Morpheus comes to the revelation that the One in which he has invested a life's worth of faith is merely another system of control invented by the architects of the Matrix. Morpheus, the only "human" in the movies given any importance, is seen to have been fooled. He is asleep, like all other humans, and as smart as he is, his humanity still hinders his vision. I guess the Wachowskis purposely phased him out to show his insignificance, and to play another trick on the audience by making them invest so much in him in the first movie. Let it be said, though, that I still wanted to see Morpheus kick some ass in the last movie.


The Matrix

The Matrix opens with a shot of a computer screen, indicating that a phone call is being traced, as we overhear the voices on the phone line discussing whether they have found “the One.” Policemen enter a motel room and confront one of the parties to the phone call: Trinity, a leather-clad, renegade computer hacker. Trinity dispatches them all with gravity-defying kung-fu moves. Reinforcements arrive in the form of Agents, men in business suits with ear radios and sunglasses, who commandeer the scene and try to capture Trinity. They pursue Trinity through a nameless city, and both the Agents and Trinity reveal themselves to be more than human. They sprint over abandoned rooftops and leap over city blocks, and Trinity dives through a window across streets. The chase ends inside a phone booth on a secluded street. Trinity answers a ringing phone and disappears. The Agents remark on her mysterious disappearance and discuss the next target, Neo. Next, a garbage truck, driven by an Agent, destroys the booth.


We next see Keanu Reeve’s character asleep at his computer desk. He wakes up to messages flashing across his computer screen. The messages, from an unknown source, call him by his hacker name, Neo. Neo sells illegal software, and just before a client knocks on Neo’s door, Neo receives a message on the screen saying “Follow the white rabbit” followed by “Knock, knock, Neo.” Delivering his goods to the client, a confused Neo notices a tattooed rabbit on the shoulder of the client’s girlfriend, and so, heeding the message, he follows them to a techno Goth club. There, Trinity approaches Neo. Neo doesn’t know who she is, but Trinity explains that she knows all about him. She knows he’s searching for something called the Matrix and that he’s suspicious of what it is. Abruptly, the club scene gives way to a ringing alarm clock. Neo wakes with a start, back in his own bed. He’s late for work.

At work, Neo’s boss reprimands him and reveals some vital information—Neo’s real name is Mr. Anderson, and he’s a successful computer programmer. A cell phone is delivered by FedEx to Neo’s cubicle and rings immediately. On the line, a deep-voiced man identifies himself as Morpheus. Morpheus tells Neo that Agents are after him and, directing him by cell phone, helps him navigate through the labyrinth of cubicles in his office and escape to a ledge outside the building. Neo doesn’t have the courage to walk across the ledge to some nearby scaffolding, and Agents capture him, then take him for interrogation. Neo demands his rights from the creepy lead Agent, Smith, who renders Neo mute by magically sealing over his mouth so that it nearly disappears. Agents hold Neo down and forcefully insert a metallic insectlike device into his stomach.

Neo jolts awake at home. Soon after, he receives a phone call from Morpheus, who explains his belief that Neo is “the One” he’s been searching for all his life. Morpheus and Neo arrange a meeting. Trinity, along with two other renegades named Switch and Apoc, pick Neo up under a bridge on a stormy night. Unsure of what’s happening, Neo decides he wants to get out of the car, but Trinity calmly empathizes with his confusion and his desire to know more, so he stays. Trinity then removes the bloody, wriggling, mechanical “bug” from Neo’s stomach with a terrifying spike and tube instrument, and Neo is shocked to realize that the episode with Agent Smith actually happened.

In an old room in an abandoned building, Neo finally meets Morpheus. Morpheus tells Neo that Neo has always been a slave and offers to reveal the Matrix to him. Morpheus presents two pills, red and blue. If Neo selects the blue pill, he’ll wake up again at home and remember nothing. If he selects the red pill, Morpheus will allow him to see the truth. When Neo chooses the red pill, a mirror near him liquefies. When he touches it, its mercury-like substance oozes over him, threatening to envelop him. His world dissolves in front of him, and he panics. Neo wakes up naked and hairless in a vat of jelly, with plugs connecting him to the vat. Millions of similar vats, each with a human inside, stretch around him in all directions. Flying robotic insects drill a hole in the back of his neck. Then the jelly drains from Neo’s vat, and Neo slips through pipes down into a pit full of water. A metal claw rattles down from a spaceship and plucks him up into the light.

In the true real world, Morpheus and his crew rehabilitate Neo’s body, for Neo has never actually used it. His muscles have atrophied, and his eyes have never actually seen. After this rehabilitation, Morpheus tells Neo that the year is actually closer to2199 than to 1999, and Neo meets the crew of Morpheus’s hovering ship, theNebuchadnezzar. Besides Trinity, Switch, and Apoc, whom he’s already seen, Neo meets the brothers Tank and Dozer, the snakeskin-jacketed Cypher, and Mouse, the youngest crew member. Tank works as the Operator of the ship, staying in the real world, guiding those who are plugged into the Matrix, and helping them find exits. These exits are pay phones through which the hackers can escape the program of the Matrix and return to the real world. Neo settles into a chair, and Tank thrusts a sharp spike into his head, via a hole at the back of Neo’s brain. Neo enters a computer program.


Morpheus explains that, years ago, humans developed Artificial Intelligence but lost control of it. In desperation, humans chose to create a nuclear winter, thinking that by blocking out the sun, they could eliminate the solar power the robots needed to survive. But the robots adapted, and now they run the ravaged world and harvest humans for bioelectric food. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world designed to keep these humans under control. Humans are kept sedated, effectively living a virtual life. Neo awakens in a bed back on Morpheus’s ship, and Morpheus further explains that one man was born into the Matrix with the power to change anything in it. This man freed the first human minds. An Oracle has prophesied his return, and Morpheus believes Neo is the reincarnation of the One.

Tank tells Neo about his homeland, Zion, the only city of free humans left. Zion lies deep underground, near the warmth of the earth’s core. Neo begins training with Tank, who downloads programs into Neo’s head that teach him martial arts. Instantaneously, Neo becomes a jujitsu master. His training carries on for ten hours, as Neo absorbs all martial arts. Morpheus tests Neo with a Kung Fu fight in a virtual computer world, emphasizing that Neo can bend or break the rules of whatever world he’s in. The crew eagerly watches their fight, which includes ultrafast punching, artful dodging, wall-cracking punches, and gravity-defying leaps.

Morpheus speaks in koans, or paradoxes, and tells Neo that he can show Neo the door, but Neo will have to open it himself. He plugs Neo into a test program in which he must leap from the top of one skyscraper to another. No one ever has enough faith to succeed on a first jump, yet the crew hopes that Neo might, since they believe Morpheus’s predictions that Neo is the One. Neo fails to clear the jump, however, and emerges from the program with a bleeding mouth. He learns that though the program world is virtual, his mind itself is real, and it affects his body. In other words, he can die in the Matrix, even though the Matrix isn’t real. Another training program demonstrates that the Agents work as a part of the Matrix and can immediately transform themselves into anyone in it. Therefore, no matter how innocuous he or she seems, every person in the Matrix is a potential enemy. Morpheus explains that no one has ever defeated the Agents, yet at some point Neo will have to fight them.

Back in the real world, robotic sentinels, which the crew refers to as “squiddies,” pursue the ship. The sentinels, which resemble metal octopi, can detect the electricity expended by humans. Their only function is to destroy. TheNebuchadnezzer hides out in an abandoned server port and switches its power offline to avoid detection. The ship’s one weapon against the sentinels, an EMP (high-voltage electromagnetic pulse), renders all the objects currently using electromagnets useless within a certain radius, but it can be used only once, requiring a long time to recharge. The Nebuchadnezzer escapes detection by the sentinels.

Cypher explains to Neo that from the Operator’s chair he understands the Matrix by reading its computer code, not by seeing any images. Cypher also offers him moonshine and explains his doubts about the whole journey. When Neo leaves, Cypher covertly enters the Matrix to make a deal with Agent Smith over a virtual steak dinner. Cypher, answering to his Matrix name, Reagan, promises to deliver Morpheus to Agent Smith in exchange for a safe return to the blissful ignorance of the Matrix, accompanied by an increase in socioeconomic status. Agent Smith wants Morpheus because, as the captain of the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus has access codes to Zion, which Smith wants to destroy.

In sharp contrast to the rich steak dinner, the crew eats foul, nutrient-rich gruel in their cold, functional mess hall. Mouse chatters about the human need for sex and ponders the question of real taste in the simulated Matrix. Morpheus decides to take Neo to see the Oracle, and the crew knows the meeting will be meaningful. In the Matrix, Morpheus, Trinity, Cypher, and Neo drive to see the Oracle, with Switch, Apoc, and Mouse covering. Unseen, Cypher drops a cell phone in a trash can, allowing the Agents to discover their location. Neo watches his old city pass by in a new light. The Oracle appears in the form of a black grandmother in a tenement house. Young telekinetic prodigies fill her apartment’s waiting room. Neo encounters a young monk, who teaches him to bend a spoon using only his mind.

The Oracle speaks confidently and tells Neo that he’s not the One. Instructing him to “know thyself,” she reveals that soon he’ll make a choice to decide between his own life and Morpheus’s life. She claims that Morpheus will willingly give his life for Neo. Neo notices a black cat moving forward, then seemingly rewinding and moving forward again, as though he’s seeing the same thing twice. Such experiences of déjà vu indicate that a glitch has occurred in the Matrix, and this time, the Agents have set a trap with Cypher’s help. The group hides in the walls of the building, but dust triggers a cough from Cypher, and Smith’s Agents discover their location. Morpheus and Neo leave the Oracle, but Agents ambush Mouse, who dies with his guns blazing. Morpheus blasts through the drywall onto Smith so the others can escape, despite Neo’s protests. Smith and Morpheus fight in a rusted-out bathroom. A host of officers eventually overpower Morpheus and capture him, despite his valiant efforts.

Cypher mysteriously splits from the rest of the group and returns first to theNebuchadnezzar. There, he shoots Tank and Dozer and assumes control of the board. When Trinity and the rest of the group find an exit, Cypher answers the Operator’s call. Trinity perceives Cypher’s betrayal immediately, watching helplessly as Cypher unplugs Apoc and Switch, who collapse to the ground, their life support severed. Cypher doesn’t believe Neo is the One and argues that if Morpheus were really right, then a literal miracle would have to occur immediately to save the lives of both Trinity and Neo. Cypher believes he holds their lives in his hands. The miracle happens. Tank turns out not to be dead, but only grievously wounded. He manages to kill Cypher, thus saving Neo and Trinity.

Agent Smith, along with his subordinates, Brown and Jones, transports Morpheus to a secure skyscraper for interrogation, where he is hooked up to electrodes and given drugs. Smith hopes that this torture, combined with the wear from the beatings, will force Morpheus to reveal Zion’s access codes. Morpheus remains silent. Smith begins to explain the history of the Matrix. A previous version existed in which the machines created an entirely perfect world for humans, but the program failed. Smith believes the failure relates to humanity’s definition of itself through misery and its inability to handle happiness. Thus, the second, intentionally flawed Matrix was developed.

Back on the Nebuchadnezzar, the survivors discuss the option of pulling Morpheus’s plug. They reason that, despite their love for Morpheus, all of the humans in Zion together are more important, and they can’t risk him breaking and giving up the access codes. Just as Tank solemnly prepares to kill their leader, Neo remembers something the Oracle said to him. He begins to have faith in himself and believes he can save Morpheus. Although what he wants to attempt has no precedent, Neo believes he can do it. He plans to enter the Matrix and rescue Morpheus. Trinity accompanies him.

As Neo and Trinity outfit themselves with numerous firearms, Agent Smith describes his theory of humanity to Morpheus, who is beaten, bloody, and drugged. Smith reasons that humans are not mammals but viruses, since they spread exponentially, using up every resource they have then moving on to devour the resources of another place. When Morpheus refuses to break, Agent Smith asks the other two agents to leave him alone with Morpheus. This decidedly unmachinelike behavior alerts us to Smith’s anomalous position in the Matrix. Removing his glasses and disconnecting himself from his earpiece (the earpiece that connects him to his machine superiors), Smith admits to Morpheus that he despises the Matrix. He views himself as superior to it, and he wants Zion’s access codes to destroy humanity and free himself from the Matrix forever.

Meanwhile, Tank places Neo and Trinity at the lobby of the skyscraper, and the pair proceed to shoot their way through it, killing a team of security guards in the process. Agents Brown and Jones return, surprised and confused to see Smith without his earpiece. Because the earpiece was out, Smith didn’t hear that Neo and Trinity are trying to save Morpheus. Neo and Trinity drop a bomb down the elevator shaft and ride the elevator cable up to the skyscraper’s roof, where they battle a host of soldiers. The bomb cuts the building’s power, and the sprinklers come on, drenching the Agents and Morpheus. An Agent shifts into a helicopter pilot’s body, and a showdown begins between him and Neo. The Agent dodges all of Neo’s bullets at superhuman speed. Neo, with increasing confidence, manages to dodge most of the Agent’s shots. His skills aren’t yet perfect, though, and he gets nicked by a bullet. Just as the Agent stands over him, ready to finish him off, Trinity appears and shoots the Agent in the head. Before the body falls, the Agent shifts back out of it, leaving only a human soldier dead on the roof. The Agent himself is gone.

Tank downloads a B-212 helicopter flying program into Trinity, and she and Neo lower the helicopter right outside the room where Smith holds Morpheus. In an explosion of glass, bullets, and water, Neo empties the copter’s cannon, forcing the Agents to hide. Morpheus breaks his chains and runs toward the copter. Just as he’s ready to leap, an Agent’s bullet catches him in the leg. Realizing Morpheus won’t make it, Neo, tied to the copter, jumps to meet him in midair, sixty stories or so above the ground. He catches Morpheus as Trinity flies the copter away. The Agents empty their weapons, piercing the copter’s fuel tank.

Neo and Morpheus drop onto a roof. The helicopter crashes spectacularly into a nearby building, with Trinity leaping out just in time, grabbing onto the rope bound around Neo. Neo lets himself be dragged to the edge of the building, stands upon the edge calmly, and reels Trinity to safety, after which Morpheus proclaims that Neo is the One. Neo protests that the Oracle told him differently. Morpheus counters smoothly that the Oracle told him all he needed to know.

Tank finds an exit for the trio in an abandoned subway. Morpheus exits first. Trinity, worried, stops to confess something to Neo that the Oracle had told her. Soon after, Smith shifts into the body of a homeless man in the corner. Smith shoots at her just as she exits. He misses her but succeeds in slicing the phone line, which removes any possible exit for Neo. A final showdown between Neo and Smith begins. Although everyone has told him to run when an Agent arrives, Neo, starting to believe in his own abilities, turns to face Smith. Tank, Morpheus, and Trinity watch the code at the Nebuchadnezzar’s board. A colossal fight ensues with spectacular special effects, and Neo heroically bounces back many times from seemingly certain defeat. Smith refers to Neo by his Matrix name, Mr. Anderson, but just before a subway car crashes through, Neo fully assumes his new identity, saying forcefully, “My name is Neo.”

The subway appears to crush Smith, but even this collision proves insufficient to stop an Agent. The subway screeches to a halt, and Smith emerges for more fighting, but Neo finally runs. Back at the Nebuchadnezzar, sentinels close in. Multiple Agents chase Neo through crowded streets, shifting into any body that can get a good shot at him. Aboard the Nebuchadnezzar, the crew charges the EMP but can’t fire it until Neo finds an exit and joins them. Neo steals a cell phone, and Tank directs him through the streets and alleys back to the motel where we first saw Trinity. The sentinels land on the ship and begin to slice it open, but Morpheus believes Neo can make it and holds off from discharging the EMP. Neo opens the door to Trinity’s room, only to find Smith right in front of him. Smith empties his gun into Neo, who falls to the ground, dead. On the ship, as the sentinels approach the deck, Trinity whispers her revelation into Neo’s ear: the Oracle told her she would fall in love with a dead man, and that he would be the One. She kisses him. With this, Neo is resurrected.

With his newfound realization and acceptance of his role, Neo rises and assumes even greater powers. Three agents empty their guns at him, but with a quiet “No,” Neo stops all the bullets with his mind, holding out his hand and causing the bullets to drop harmlessly to the floor. Through his point of view, we suddenly see that everything around him is covered with green computer code. Neo is finally able to see the code that creates the Matrix. The agents are now powerless against him. Neo flies into Smith’s body, and in a blinding glow, explodes outward from within him. The other Agents run, Trinity screams at Neo on the ship as the sentinels pierce the deck, and Neo picks up the phone and exits the Matrix. With Neo safely back on the ship, the crew discharges the EMP. The sentinels drop away. Neo and Trinity kiss.

The Matrix ends with Neo talking to someone on a pay phone. He warns that he’s going to expose the truth of what’s really out there. He flies straight up into the sky.

The Matrix Reloaded

Trinity flies through the night air on a motorcycle, crashes into a building, and kills a host of security guards. Suddenly we see an image of her falling out of a skyscraper, shooting bullets upward at an Agent, who falls down with her. The Agent strikes Trinity with a bullet, something crashes hard into the ground below, and Neo wakes up from this nightmare, in bed next to Trinity. She tries to calm him. TheNebuchadnezzar sits and waits, the crew members hoping the Oracle will summon them. Morpheus speaks with the ship’s new Operator, Link, telling him that if he wants to volunteer for this mission, he has to trust Morpheus completely. Neo has accepted his new role as the One, but doesn’t know what to do. He, too, sits and waits.


The captains of all the humans' ships, both the Nebuchadnezzar and others, meet inside the Matrix, in an underground bunker. Niobe, captain of Zion’s ship, theLogos, reports that the machines have begun drilling toward Zion. A quarter million sentinels are ready to attack the remnants of humanity once they reach the core. Commander Lock requests that all ships return to Zion and prepare to defend it. Morpheus resists, wanting at least one ship to stay in case the Oracle calls. During this meeting, Neo senses something is amiss. Agent Smith has pulled up outside and asks a young guard to deliver a package and a message to Neo: “He set me free.” The package contains Smith’s earpiece. Neo orders the guards to leave, warning that Agents have arrived. The Agents refer to Neo as the “anomaly.” After an intense battle, Neo escapes, but something has shifted. Two identical Agent Smiths speak to each other, agreeing that things continue to go according to plan. Neo flies to visit the Oracle, but she’s not home.

Having left another ship behind, the Nebuchadnezzar enters Zion dramatically. A vast cylindrical city burrowed deep into the earth, Zion maintains central axes for defense and has living quarters around its perimeter. Humans guard it by sitting in the rib cages of large anthropomorphic robots that respond to each driver’s every move. Captain Mifune, a severe military patriot, greets Morpheus and his crew and escorts Morpheus to Lock’s office. We discover that Niobe used to work with Morpheus until the Oracle made a certain prophecy and has since been loyal to Lock. A teenager excitedly greets the Nebuchadnezzar’s crew and offers to help Neo with anything. Apparently, Neo once saved the Kid’s life. The Kid wants someday to become a crew member of the Nebuchadnezzar.

Morpheus and Lock clash in their beliefs concerning the best way to defend Zion. Lock is angry at Morpheus for leaving one ship behind, blatantly disobeying Lock’s direct order to bring all ships back to Zion. Lock puts little stock in the Oracle’s prophecies. Zion’s inhabitants notice that more ships are docked at one time than ever before, and rumors flood the city. People fear the coming of the Armageddon between Good and Evil, Man and Machine. Councilor Hamann, a senior member of Zion’s Council of Elders, wants to assemble Zion’s population that night and speak to them, but he is unsure what to say. Lock advocates discretion in delivering information. Morpheus advocates telling the complete truth and hoping inspiration will deliver them from fear.

Link and the Kid leave Neo and Trinity alone in an elevator, where they begin to kiss. They look forward to a few hours alone together. When the doors open, Neo finds that the sick and destitute of Zion have come to him for guidance and salvation, treating him as a Christ figure. Trinity leaves Neo to do his work. Link returns to his wife, Zee. Zee, sister of Tank and Dozer, worries about Link’s volunteer status with Morpheus, but Link reassures her that he’s starting to believe in the acts he’s seen Neo perform.

At a nighttime assembly in a great cave of Zion, Morpheus tells the people the truth about the impending attack from the machines but immediately inspires them with his fearlessness. The Zionites celebrate with a sweaty, pulsing, underground rave. Simultaneously, Neo and Trinity consummate their relationship under an arch in private quarters away from the assembly. As Neo and Trinity make love, Neo again has his nightmare vision of Trinity falling from the skyscraper and being pierced with a bullet. Trinity attempts to reassure him by telling him she’ll never let go. Finally, Zion sleeps.

Meanwhile, in the Matrix, two renegade hackers flee from Agents. One man makes his exit, but another, Bane, is intercepted by one of the two Agent Smiths. Smith slices his hand into Bane’s chest, infecting Bane’s body with the same type of fluid Neo first saw after he took the red pill. Smith exits the Matrix into Bane’s body, aboard Bane’s ship, in the real world.

Neo walks outside his room overlooking the sleeping city of Zion restlessly, knowing that something isn’t right, but unsure what to do. Hamann, the aging Elder of Zion, also wandering, joins Neo for conversation. Hamann takes Neo down to the engineering level of the city, the part no one thinks about. Hamann claims that people don’t want to know how things work, as long as they keep working. They converse about the symbiosis between man and machine, then discuss the nature of control. Hamann admits he has no idea how Neo does the things he does.

Someone knocks on Trinity’s door. Neo is there. Finally, the Oracle has summoned him. The Nebuchadnezzar prepares to leave. As Link readies to once again risk his life, Zee offers him a good luck charm. Link doesn’t believe in it, but Zee does, so he willingly takes it and promises to return. Bane/Smith has returned with his ship to Zion and can’t take his new human body, so he slashes himself. As Neo readies to board the Nebuchadnezzar, Bane/Smith approaches from behind with a knife, but Neo turns at the last minute when the Kid calls him. Though puzzled at Bane’s presence, Neo accepts a gift that someone instructed the Kid to deliver—a spoon. Neo understands. Lock doesn’t want the ship to leave and expresses his frustration to Hamann.

In the Matrix, Neo wends his way through a Chinatown and enters a door into a wood-and-paper templelike structure. An angel named Seraph awaits him politely, then begins to fight him. Neo and Seraph fight throughout the temple, knocking over wooden bowls. Seraph, the Oracle’s benevolent protector, insists that he had to be sure Neo was the One, and that the only way to do that was to fight him. Leading Neo down a white hallway full of doors, Seraph opens a door onto a city playground, where the Oracle sits on a bench.

Neo begins to realize that Seraph and the Oracle are not humans, but parts of the machine program that constitutes the Matrix, a fact that the Oracle confirms. Wondering aloud how he can then trust her, she replies only that he has to choose for himself what to believe in. She suggests he’s already made major choices and is presently only trying to understand them. She explains the anomalous programs a bit more. Everything in the Matrix is a program, but the noticeable ones are the ones that aren’t working. They’re either rebellious, failing, or resistant to being replaced. When a program faces deletion, it can either hide itself or return to the Source, the machine mainframe, where, she suggests, the path of the One ends. The Source, the Oracle reveals, comprises only light. She affirms that Neo can now see outside of time. He naturally wonders why he can’t see the end of his frightful vision of Trinity. The Oracle says he can’t see beyond the choices he doesn’t yet understand. As their time together ends, she tells Neo he must see the Keymaker to gain access to the Source. If he can’t, Zion will fall.

Agent Smith arrives as soon as the Oracle leaves, implying a connection between himself, Neo, and the Oracle. Smith and Neo discuss this idea explicitly. Smith maintains they’re both anomalies in the system, no longer part of it. However, both are still imprisoned and must play out their purpose, a purpose Neo has yet to discover. Smith tries to replicate himself inside Neo as he did with Bane, but Neo resists it, beginning a colossal street fight that pits Neo against Smith and dozens of replicated Smiths. Smith has departed from the strictures of the program, but he is still a machine. He has no free will and can’t escape his program. Neo eventually escapes again.

Back at Zion, Lock addresses the Council and emphasizes the seriousness of the machine threat, requesting them to hold all ships in port, as nothing has been heard from the Nebuchadnezzar. The Council overrules him and asks for two volunteers to search for the Nebuchadnezzar. Captain Soren from the Vigilant answers the call, as does, to Lock’s surprise and disappointment, Captain Niobe from the Logos.

In an effort to find the Keymaker, Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo visit the Merovingian, a haughty Frenchman, at his upscale restaurant in the Matrix. The Merovingian dines with his wife, Persephone. In their conversation, the Merovingian suggests that the three don’t understand why they’ve come, or why they need the Keymaker—they simply obeyed the Oracle’s order automatically. To demonstrate his power over the program, the Merovingian sends a coded slice of cake over to a gorgeous woman. The cake slowly affects her erogenous zones, a subtle process that the Frenchman narrates in appreciative detail. He observes that we are all similarly out of control, slaves to causality. He refuses to make a deal for the Keymaker. The Twins, a pair of white-suited, powder-skinned, dreadlocked enforcers, escort Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus to the elevator.

Unsure exactly what the Oracle intended to happen, the three ride the elevator. It opens onto a floor where they are surprised to be greeted by Persephone. She escorts them into a fancy bathroom and rants against the Merovingian, whom she says used to be like Neo but has since changed. Explaining that she can see true love written all over the stoic faces of Neo and Trinity, she requests that in exchange for the Keymaker, she wants to receive one kiss from Neo. She orders Neo to kiss her just as he kisses Trinity so that she can experience real love again. Trinity draws her gun. Persephone insists, saying that if she lies to them, Trinity can kill her where she stands. Neo kisses her chastely, then realizes the gravity of the situation. He removes his sunglasses and kisses Persephone passionately, with Trinity standing by. Persephone leads them through the restaurant’s basement into an impossibly large hall, then through the hall to the Keymaker, who grinds away making keys in a key-lined closet, waiting for Neo.

As they leave, the Merovingian and his henchmen confront the group. Persephone accuses the Merovingian of cheating on her with the girl from the cake episode. Though plainly guilty, he denies it. Seeing the Keymaker freed, the Merovingian orders an attack on all of them. The Twins disappear into the floor and come up on the other side of the room. The Keymaker flees, and Morpheus and Trinity run to help him. Neo stays to handle the rest in the great hall. He stops all their bullets, as well as the thrusts of the swords they pull from the great staircase. An extended battle and chase sequence ensues.

The Twins, occasionally shifting into matterless ghosts, chase Morpheus and Trinity into a parking lot, where they battle. Trinity gets into a car and drives it around, leading the chase onto city streets. Just as Neo defeats the henchmen in the great hall and aims to catch up with the others in the parking lot, the Twins close the door. When Neo forces it open, he’s suddenly miles away, high up in a mountain range. Careening onto city streets, the chase pits the Twins against Morpheus and Trinity, who attempt to protect the Keymaker. Agents arrive on the scene and also try to catch the “exile.” Link guides them onto the freeway.

During the chase, numerous cars crash, Agents shift into multiple drivers, and the Twins bleed into whatever car they want. At one point, Trinity and Morpheus split up, and Trinity grabs the Keymaker, leaps off an overpass onto a trailer carrying motorcycles, and drives the Keymaker down the wrong side of a crowded highway. Morpheus slices the gas tank of the Twins’ SUV with a sword and fights an Agent atop a speeding eighteen-wheeler. At one point, while defending the Keymaker, who has been passed to him, he’s knocked off the truck and crashes onto the front of a car driven by Niobe, who has arrived just in time.

Finally, Trinity escapes. Morpheus knocks an agent off an eighteen-wheeler and stands there helplessly with the Keymaker. An Agent drives the truck directly toward another eighteen-wheeler, also driven by an Agent. Morpheus pleads quietly for Neo’s help. The trucks smash into each other, erupting into balls of flame. In midair, Morpheus and the Keymaker are caught by Neo, who has flown in from the mountains. Watching the Matrix at his board, Link cheers.

In Zion, sentinels relentlessly grind away into the earth. The Keymaker explains to Soren’s, Niobe’s, and Morpheus’s crews that one door in the primary skyscraper leads to the Source. To access it, the units have to work together and knock out power in a massive grid as well as disable the emergency power system. They will then have only 314 seconds to access the door. They strike at midnight, during a shift change of security guards. Morpheus gives an inspirational speech in which he affirms his belief that this night will bring the Oracle’s prophecy of the end of the war to fruition. Neo, worried about Trinity, asks her to stay behind. Reluctantly, she agrees. During their attack, sentinels discover Soren’s ship and disable it, killing Soren and all his crew. Therefore, the emergency power system remains engaged. Link can’t contact Neo, so the only option left is for Trinity to enter. Otherwise they would miss their only chance. She has only five minutes.

We return to the beginning and witness the playing out of Neo’s vision: Link patches Trinity near the skyscraper, and Trinity flies in on a motorcycle, taking out a group of guards. At the same time, the Keymaker leads Morpheus and Neo down a white hallway with countless doors. As they turn the final corner, they meet Smith and hundreds of replicated Smiths. During the fight, Morpheus is nearly absorbed and replicated by the penetrating hand of Smith, but Neo saves him. The Keymaker hides. Trinity finds Soren’s lifeless crew and hacks into the emergency backup system, disabling it grid-by-grid. Just as the system finally falls, the Keymaker sneaks out and opens the correct door. At the sound of the click, all the fighters stop and turn. Neo grabs Morpheus and flies him through the crowd of Smiths, diving through the door just as the Keymaker closes it. The Smiths empty their guns as the door shuts, striking the Keymaker. As he dies, he affirms that he has fulfilled his purpose and gives Neo the key to the correct door from around his neck. Neo inserts it, and blinding light immediately surrounds him.

Neo finds himself in an all-white room ringed by monitors. He meets the Architect, the creator of the Matrix. The Architect reveals that his original, perfect Matrix failed because he didn’t understand the frailty and flawed nature of the human mind. His increased understanding spurred the creation of the second Matrix, in which a certain percentage of people did not believe. The Architect allowed Zion to exist so the disbelievers could congregate there. Once the instability in the system could be contained, the rebels, conveniently assembled all in one place, could be periodically destroyed. The Architect tells Neo that Neo represents the sixth cycle of these growths and extinctions. One of the earlier “Neo”s was the Merovingian, but Neo has been built much differently from his predecessors. With increased efficiency, the machines have this time created a “savior” who has direct experience and knowledge of the humans in the Matrix. The idea is to manipulate his capacity for love and thereby cause him, effectively, to choose to eliminate all of humanity.

The Architect gives Neo two choices, which explain Neo’s visions of the falling Trinity. Walking through one door will lead to the death of Trinity but the salvation of humanity for yet another cycle. Zion will be rebuilt from scratch and, essentially, the program will repeat with its previously acceptable levels of instability. Walking through the other door will give Neo the chance to save Trinity, but doing this will likely lead to the permanent elimination of all humanity. The Oracle and her prophecies of the One, then, were also intentional inserts into the program, further systems of control to manipulate the One into following his predetermined path. The One’s function is to return to the Source. Neo now has the potential to stop the cycle of mass extinctions. Possessing no humanity themselves, the machines are unable to predict what will happen if Neo chooses the door allowing him to save Trinity, selecting love over saving the human race. In the end, Neo chooses to save Trinity.

Trinity finds herself fulfilling the nightmarish visions Neo has been having of her. Trying to escape after disabling the emergency system, she’s met by an Agent at an elevator. As they fight, she is forced to leap out of the building. As she falls down in a hail of bullets and broken glass, shooting unsuccessfully at the Agent, who dives after her, Neo flies through the city in a blaze unlike anything seen before. Fire trails behind him, and cars and street matter are swept up behind him in his tumultuous, tornado-like wake. As in Neo’s vision, a bullet strikes Trinity, but just before she hits the ground, Neo swoops in and catches her. The Agent smacks into a car at street level, and Neo’s blazing wake destroys the entire block.

After soaring carefully to the top of a building, he reaches inside of Trinity’s body and removes the bullet. Nevertheless, Trinity dies in Neo’s arms. He reaches inside of her and massages her heart, resurrecting her as she did him. They kiss. Morpheus and Link look on at the board.

Back on the Nebuchadnezzar, Neo reveals the falsity of the prophecy to Morpheus. Though Morpheus doesn’t want to believe it, the fact that the war has not ended remains undeniable. Sentinels show up near the ship but stay out of EMP range. Neo senses that they’re building a bomb, so the crew evacuates the ship—just in time. The Nebuchadnezzar explodes as Morpheus watches, confused and despondent. The crew ventures out onto the mechanical wires of the real world, becoming utterly vulnerable. The sentinels attack, but something has changed—Neo can feel their presence. He stops running from them and disables them all with his own self-generated EMP. Then, exhausted, he collapses and enters a coma. Captain Roland’s ship, the Hammer, swoops in to pick up the crew of theNebuchadnezzar. The crew of the Hammer relates a pointless tragedy in which five ships were lost by an improperly discharged EMP.

The only survivor, Bane/Smith, lies in a coma, right next to Neo, in the Hammer’s medical bay.

The Matrix Revolutions

Captain Roland’s ship, the Hammer, drifts through the real world, trying to establish contact with Captain Niobe’s ship, the Logos. Trinity sits patiently by Neo’s bedside. The health monitor, Maggie, tells Trinity about the suspicious conditions surrounding Bane’s survival and Roland’s desire to interrogate him when he wakes up. On the Hammer’s deck, Morpheus asks Roland to search for Neo in the Matrix, even though Neo is not jacked in. Roland doesn’t see anything, but Morpheus’s suspicion—that Neo no longer needs to be jacked in—proves to be correct. The people of Zion believe that the city has approximately twenty hours left before the sentinels’ first drill pierces the upper dome of the city. Seraph calls the Hammer, and the Oracle beckons Morpheus. Trinity accompanies him.

Neo wakes up in a pure white train station. A small Indian girl, Sati, hovers over him. Sati, who is a program, not a human, explains that the Trainman will soon come to take her away. Seraph, Morpheus, and Trinity meanwhile meet the Oracle in her new shell. She explains to them that the Trainman, who smuggles programs between the Matrix and the real world and who works for the Merovingian, eventually will hold Neo hostage. They have to save Neo or Zion will be lost, but the Merovingian has set a bounty on their heads. Neo remembers seeing Sati’s father, Rama-Kandra, who reminds him that they met at the Merovingian’s restaurant. Rama-Kandra and his wife, Kamala, both of whom are programs, have made a deal with the Merovingian to smuggle Sati away from the coming battle to safety in the custody of the Oracle. Neo wonders how these programs can feel such human emotions. Rama-Kandra says love is only a word and what matters is the connection the word implies and the actions that follow based on that connection.

Seraph, Morpheus, and Trinity approach the Trainman on one of his subway cars to try to make a deal for Neo, but the Trainman refuses to make a deal without the approval of his boss. The three chase him through a station, making the Trainman late to pick up Sati. The Trainman narrowly escapes their pursuit by jumping in front of an oncoming train and disappearing into it from the opposite side of the tracks as it rushes by.

Back at Neo’s station, as the Trainman’s train finally arrives, Rama-Kandra explains that the Oracle has agreed to care for Sati. Neo tries to carry Sati’s luggage onto the train but doesn’t fool the Trainman, who created the station and all its rules. Laughing, he punches Neo into the wall, suggesting ominously that Neo’s prospects for escape are dim, since his freedom depends on the Merovingian. Neo tries to run after the train out of the frame, but he loops back to the other side. The program has trapped him in a closed circuit.

Seraph, Morpheus, and Trinity fight their way down into the Merovingian’s Dantean S&M club, Hell. They kill the bouncers and then the guards at the gun check. They move through the crowd of Hell’s latex- and leather-clad revelers by covering themselves in triangle formation. The amused Merovingian, wearing a bright red shirt, agrees to talk with them above the dance floor, amid masked thugs with guns. Sitting next to his wife, Persephone, who also wears red, and the grungy Trainman, the Merovingian licks two olives provocatively. Seraph, Morpheus, and Trinity try to make a deal for Neo, whom the Merovingian will return only in exchange for the eyes of the Oracle. Trinity refuses that deal and knocks away the nearest guns. The brief fight concludes with guns drawn all around, but no one dares shoot, since Trinity has hers pointed directly at the Merovingian. Powered by her willingness to die for Neo, Trinity revises the deal. Either the Merovingian returns Neo, or she pulls the trigger, sparking a chain reaction that will inevitably result in the deaths of everyone present. Persephone and the Merovingian both understand that her threat is sincere.

Meanwhile, at the station, Neo concentrates in an attempt to envision a means of escape. He has a vision in which he sees three heavy cables, but doesn’t know what this image means. A train finally pulls up, and Trinity, who has persuaded the Merovingian to release Neo, gets out. The two embrace and kiss. Morpheus, Seraph, and Trinity take Neo to visit the Oracle, who is baking cookies with Sati. Neo sees the Oracle from a new perspective and decides it’s time for him to learn more. The Oracle agrees and helps him realize he has no choice but to go back to the Source, and that the fate of Zion lies with him. She explains to Neo that Smith represents Neo’s programmatic opposite, “the equation trying to balance itself” in the face of instability, passion, and the fight for free will. Finally, she says cryptically that “everything that has a beginning, has an end.”

Smith, in Bane’s body, finally wakes up aboard the Hammer. Seraph takes Sati from the Oracle and tries to lead her to safety, but they are cornered by many Smiths. Eventually the Smiths enter the Oracle’s apartment. Waiting calmly, the Oracle sits at the kitchen table, smoking. Frustrated, Smith can’t figure out how much she knows or why she’s staying if she knew he’d come. The Oracle allows him to do what he came there to do, so he replicates himself into her. However, something doesn’t go quite right with the replication. The first Agent Smith steps back in confusion as the new Agent Smith stands up and laughs.

The crew of the Hammer interrogates Bane/Smith, but he claims he doesn’t remember anything. He agrees that his arm scars are suspicious but insists he has no recollection of the events he’s being questioned about. The health monitor, Maggie, notes his unusual neural activity and try to figure out a way to force him to remember. Alone in his quarters, Neo again envisions the three cables winding up through some dark, ravaged land. Finally, the Hammer locates Niobe and theLogos, which is damaged but reparable.

Lock delivers a bleak outlook of Zion’s chances to the Council and asks for volunteers to help his grossly outnumbered forces hold the dock. The city is evacuated, but Zee stays behind to volunteer. She grinds handmade artillery shells in her metal bunker apartment. The Kid offers himself as a volunteer to Captain Mifune, who realizes that though the Kid may be young, every available volunteer is needed.

As the crews repair the Logos, both ships’ Operators note something unusual taking place in the code of the Matrix. The three captains, Roland, Niobe, and Morpheus, try to figure out a way to sneak their ships back to Zion to assist in the city’s defense. At Niobe’s insistence, they decide to risk flying through a little-used, extremely narrow mechanical channel. Neo enters and announces that he must take one of their ships to the Machine City. Roland strenuously resists this idea, pointing out that no one in a century has ever made it even close to the city. Niobe offers to give up the Logos, claiming that she doesn’t believe in the prophecies, but does believe in Neo.

Alone in the medical bay with Maggie, Bane/Smith pretends to slowly regain his memory, admitting that he did blow the EMP. Maggie tries to sedate him, but he stabs her to death before she can warn anyone. In a quiet moment in a bunk, Neo tells Trinity he doesn’t know what’s going to happen at the Machine City, and that he’s probably not coming back. She tells him she’ll accompany him anyway. Neo and Morpheus say goodbye warmly, as do Link and Trinity. Niobe pilots theHammer, which takes off for Zion. Just as Trinity and Neo get set to launch theLogos, all the power shuts off. Trinity investigates the fuses below the hatch.

As they fly off, Roland’s crew discovers Maggie’s body and notices that Bane has disappeared. Realizing that Bane must have stowed away on the Logos, the crew know they cannot go back, because Bane may have gained control of another EMP. On board the Logos, Trinity fights with Bane/Smith, letting Neo know via intercom that he’s on the ship. Neo emerges from the cockpit with a gun and finds Bane/Smith holding a knife to Trinity’s throat. Though Trinity urges Neo to shoot, Bane/Smith notes with disgust the emotions of love that spur Neo to lay the gun down. Bane/Smith calls Neo “Mr. Anderson” and throws Trinity down a hatch, grabbing the gun.

Slowly, Neo realizes that Smith has concealed himself in Bane. Just before Bane/Smith can fire a fatal shot at Neo, Trinity manipulates the fuses and kills the lights. In the ensuing fight, Bane/Smith blinds Neo by jamming a work light into his eyes, burning them out. He taunts Neo by slipping into the shadows of a stairwell as Neo waves his arms helplessly. Bane/Smith picks up a massive crowbar and prepares to smash Neo’s head. As Bane/Smith swings, Neo ducks, and we see from Neo’s point of view that Neo can still see machines and programs. In the ensuing fight, Neo gains the upper hand and knocks Bane/Smith’s head off. He frees Trinity from the fuse room, and they embrace.

At Zion, the dock prepares for battle. The Kid loads ammunition into the anthropomorphic robots, but because he is inexperienced and too eager, he spills the ammunition, costing the soldiers valuable time. Mifune and his men strap themselves into their robots, and Mifune delivers a rousing speech. Zee and a volunteer friend promise to stand and fight with each other. Niobe approaches Zion slowly, creeping quietly through the tiny mechanical line. Despite her skill, she nicks an outcropping, and the sentinels instantly sense her. Demanding full power, she orders Roland and Ghost to man the turrets and Morpheus to work as her copilot. She races down the line.

The machines finally breach the dome. A monstrous corkscrew splits the upper sphere and falls through the city, causing massive damage. Hundreds of sentinels swarm into the opening like a plague of locusts. Zee and her friend load rocket launchers with their handmade shells—Zee loads, her friend shoots—and they take a leg off a drill. At the dock, bullets fly. To reload the oversize robots, the men have to wheel ammunition onto the dock while under attack and then elevate the ammunition awkwardly into the robot as the battle continues. Sentinels swarm over a command center. Zee’s friend shoots again, as another massive drill drops through the dome. Niobe races toward Zion, covered by sentinels and driving recklessly but successfully. Zee and her friend climb up a few levels and try to shoot down into a drill’s core, but they accidentally hit a sentinel. In response, several sentinels try to squeeze into their narrow opening. They kill Zee’s friend, but Zee escapes.

The crew members see the Hammer’s signal on Zion’s radar and tries to open the city’s gate to let the ship in. The gate jams, but Zee and the Kid together manage to fight off the sentinels and open it manually. Niobe blasts through the half-open gate and slams into the city wall. The Logos discharges its EMP, and thousands of sentinels, suddenly disabled, stream down through the sky and cylinder to the pit of the city. The people greet the disembarking crew as heroes, and Link and Zee reunite. Lock, though, is furious, for the EMP disabled all of Zion’s hardware, leaving the city completely vulnerable to another wave of sentinels. Lock blows up a shaft, sealing the city off for a couple of hours from the incoming sentinels, which have already arrived in a mushroom-cloud-like plume. The three captains report to the Council, explaining their decision to give a ship to Neo, a decision Niobe and Morpheus defend.

Trinity and Neo slowly approach Machine City, hovering over a vast crop of humans awaiting harvest. Neo, using his second sight, directs Trinity toward a mountain range, where he sees the three power cables he saw earlier in his vision. Massive city-sized ships emerge from the landscape and unleash hundreds of pods at theLogos. Neo wards off as many as he can but is unable to deflect them all. Sentinels attach themselves to the ship. Neo and Trinity’s only option is to fly directly up, straight over the city. As they rise, sentinels fall away, and for a brief, beautiful moment, Neo and Trinity peek up above the black post-nuclear clouds into a brilliant pink and orange skyscape. Just as quickly, they descend back down into the dark, flying behind the city, straight toward the heart of a tower. They crash.

Neo crawls over to Trinity, who has been impaled by many twisted rods. Through the wreckage, Neo is amazed at what he sees—nothing but light all around. Trinity reassures him yet again that this is her time to die and that nothing’s going to bring her back this time. She wants to say goodbye the right way. They express their love and kiss, and she dies.

At the now defenseless Zion, another drill breaches the hull of the dome. The city’s people gather at the temple and wait. In the machine city, Neo climbs through the wreckage and walks across beams of light. Little mechanical spiders and other tiny insectlike machines creep around him until he gets to an outcropping at the end of the wreckage. A spirit—the Deus ex Machina—rises, assembling a giant face made up of many tiny machines. Neo shows no fear and speaks quietly, asking only to be allowed to say what he came to say. The face grants its permission. Neo points out that the Smith program has gotten out of control and will eventually take over the real world as well as the Matrix. The face resents this and spits a swarm of robot bees all around him. Neo doesn’t flinch, and he tells the face he wants only peace. The robot bees calm. Neo allows himself to be jacked in to the Matrix.

The final battle between Smith and Neo occurs in the Matrix on a rainy highway at night. Smith has apparently replicated himself onto every inhabitant of the Matrix, which is now entirely full of Smith replicas rather than people. Neo fights a representative Smith as countless other Smiths look on. The fight ranges from the street to the sky to empty warehouses, and the two strike each other with enough force to send shock waves through the atmosphere, breaking glass all over the city. Neo gets up every time he gets knocked down. Smith says that the purpose of life is to end, as he drives Neo deep into the ground, forming a crater filled with rain and green liquid sewage. Smith demands to know why Neo keeps getting up. What is the cause? Freedom? Survival? Truth? Peace? Love? Neo answers that he gets up because he chooses to. Strangely, Smith says that “everything that has a beginning has an end,” revealing that a bit of the Oracle lurks inside him. Neo allows Smith to replicate himself into Neo; the Deus ex Machina gives Neo a bit of a jolt; and Neo, in a flash of light, explodes out of Smith’s body. The nature and cause of Neo’s triumph remain somewhat mysterious, but Neo has apparently purged the Matrix of Smith and restored it to its former state.

Precisely where Smith had been only a moment before, the Oracle lies in a puddle of water—the Smith that fought Neo was the replica that had originally been the Oracle. Neo lies on the wreckage in the Machine City, exhausted. At that moment, the sentinels suddenly withdraw from Zion. The Kid delivers the good news to the city, and the people rejoice. Link and Zee embrace, as do Niobe and Morpheus. Neo is slowly pulled into the Source, with no clear indication of whether he’s alive or dead. The real world Matrix remakes itself. The Architect and the Oracle meet on a beautiful expanse of lawn and confirm that all those who want to be freed will be freed. Seraph and Sati arrive, and Sati embraces the Oracle. They both admire the brilliant, multicolored sunrise that Sati made for Neo. Seraph wants to know if the Oracle knew all along that it would work out this way. The Oracle assures him that she didn’t know anything, but she believed.

Neo (a.k.a. the One, a.k.a. Thomas A. Anderson) - 

Played by Keanu Reeves

The protagonist of the trilogy, a hacker who eventually liberates humanity from the Matrix. Soft-spoken and reclusive, Neo is initially confused when he is torn out of the Matrix by strangers. Morpheus and his followers look up to Neo, thrust major responsibility onto him, and seem to know all about him, but he has little idea why he has been chosen as the object of their admiration. As the trilogy progresses, Neo becomes more sure of himself as he accepts and nurtures his newfound abilities. Neo is a unique kind of superman: healthy, but not overmuscled; strong, but not especially masculine. He assumes responsibility but gives no lectures on moral goodness, and he doesn’t shy away from violence when it’s necessary. His character develops gradually from passivity toward action, until he finally initiates conflict in order to bring about resolution.

Read an in-depth analysis of Neo (a.k.a. the One, a.k.a. Thomas A. Anderson).

Trinity - 

Played by Carrie-Anne Moss

The underground hacker who first contacts Neo and later becomes his lover. Trinity is a force of quiet intensity and utter confidence. She plays a crucial role in the first Matrix, when she resurrects Neo from the dead. Trinity is extremely loyal, and she is ready to die for Neo not long after meeting him. Her physical fighting skills are top-notch, and she tends to pilot the helicopters, drive the luxury vehicles, and speed on the motorcycles when in the Matrix. In the Matrix, she always wears black leather or latex, and with her closely cropped hair she appears both androgynous and attractive.

Read an in-depth analysis of Trinity.

Morpheus - 

Played by Laurence Fishburne

The brooding and mysterious leader of the Nebuchadnezzar, a renegade ship. A tall, strong presence, Morpheus leads his crew bravely, delivering inspiring speeches and exhibiting utter calm in the face of every challenge. His physical size and rock-solid confidence make him an anchor for the ragtag crew of theNebuchadnezzar. Morpheus is one of the first people to believe Neo is the One, and, since his faith in Neo has always been strong, Morpheus will go to any lengths to protect him. Morpheus is willing to die for Neo, but Neo is determined not to let this happen. Morpheus sports stylish sunglasses in the Matrix that consist only of lenses and a nose bridge.

Read an in-depth analysis of Morpheus.

Agent Smith - 

Played by Hugo Weaving

The most important Agent, who proves to be Neo’s foil. Able to inhabit any body in the Matrix, Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones are literally no one and everyone. Smith is the most dangerous and powerful, and he proves to be much different from the other Agents. Over the course of the trilogy he develops humanlike anxiety that becomes increasingly desperate and egocentric. Initially he represents only inevitable death, but eventually he develops a personality, a blend of sarcasm and incomprehension of the program in which he’s an anomaly. Smith, like the other Agents, wears a standard gray business suit, sunglasses, and a white earpiece through which he assimilates the information of the Matrix’s code. Smith manages to replicate himself a million-fold, rendering himself Neo’s toughest, most persistent enemy.

Read an in-depth analysis of Agent Smith.

The Oracle - 

Played by Gloria Foster (The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded) and Mary Alice (The Matrix Revolutions)

The gentle seer who guides the freed minds through the complex world of the Matrix. In a trilogy filled with stereotyped characters, the Oracle takes on the most stereotypical form of them all, that of the wise and kindly grandmother who bakes cookies in a tenement apartment. The Oracle moves slowly around her cozy green kitchen, drags pensively on her cigarettes, and conducts conversations that are alternately circuitous and direct. She often roots through her purse for hard candy to suck on. She is a source of faith and belief for Morpheus, and of maternal guidance for Neo. The Oracle doesn’t determine Neo’s fate, but she helps him realize for himself what his path should be.

Read an in-depth analysis of The Oracle.

Sentinels (a.k.a. Squiddies) - 

Created by the special effects team

Computer-generated, squidlike robots programmed to seek and destroy humans. The Sentinels are all eyes, slithering pads of searching, red, electromagnetic sensors. Their many surveillance mechanisms make them highly sensitive. Their responses are terrifyingly fast, and their aerodynamic tentacles can either entangle a helpless victim immediately or extend back into a cometlike tail for pursuit. When they appear en masse through the dome of Zion, they resemble plague of locusts, intent on bringing extinction.
Cypher - 

Played by Joe Pantoliano

The mustached, snakeskin-jacket-clad, traitorous crewmember of theNebuchadnezzar. The anxious Cypher accepts his role as a traitor over a last supper in the Matrix, savoring his juicy steak. He can no longer tolerate the depressing grind and tasteless gruel aboard the Nebuchadnezzar, and in exchange for betraying Morpheus, he expects to be granted a happy return to the Matrix, with no memory of the real world. He prefers the illusion to reality. His name suggests both the number zero and the act of making or breaking codes. His reptile-skin jacket hints that he is a serpent or tempter, but unlike the serpent in Genesis, he covets blissful ignorance rather than knowledge.
The Merovingian (a.k.a. the Frenchman) - 

Played by Lambert Wilson

The pompous and refined computer program who was a previous incarnation of the One. A very campy and entertaining character—and a bit of a ham—the Merovingian deliberately overemphasizes his French, delivers portentous lectures on causality, and professes to have lost all faith in all things human. He dresses impeccably in tight, expensive suits and sits as if on a throne, next to his voluptuous wife, Persephone, whom he treats as a trophy. His wife’s name, among other things, suggests that he corresponds to the lord of the underworld in Greek mythology. Having failed in other realms and given himself over to the thirst for power in his own, he is interested only in exploring poetic, subtle exploitations of that power, and in maintaining it. His name refers to a seventh-century Frankish dynasty of suspicious kings who stayed within their own kingdom, distributed power in a hierarchy, and believed themselves to be descendants of Christ. Neo attempts to persuade the Merovingian to help him find the Keymaker.
The Keymaker (a.k.a. the Exile)  - 

Played by Randall Duk Kim

The apron-wearing entity imprisoned by the Merovingian who holds the key to the Source. Believing that his only purpose is to deliver this key to the One, the humble, big-hearted Keymaker grinds away in a small closet filled with keys, waiting for the day of his calling. When it comes, he fulfills that purpose with serenity, conveying necessary information and organizing the renegades with acumen. Short and hunched, he contrasts with the muscular figures and sleek styles of the rest of the warriors in the Matrix. The keys to practically anything that needs to be started or opened are tangled somewhere around his waist, though he wears the most important key around his neck.
Commander Jason Lock - 

Played by Harry Lennix

The hardened military chief in charge of Zion’s home defense. An exasperated, tight-shouldered man, Lock believes in Zion and attempts to defend it the way he was trained, with as much fortification and as clear a plan as possible. He always pursues the proper channels when relaying his orders and voicing his opinions, but he has little room for creativity or hope in his desperate plans. Jealousy over Captain Niobe eventually starts to eat away at his normally confident demeanor.
Niobe - 

Played by Jada Pinkett Smith

An expert pilot and captain of Zion’s ship, the Logos. Niobe, whose name refers to a mortal who suffers a tragic fate in Greek mythology (she was a queen of Thebes who had to watch all her children and her husband die), embodies intensity, individualism, and courageousness more successfully than the other captains. She makes her decisions based on her own beliefs and instincts, and she allies with, and is swayed by, no one. She is both a skilled military asset and a source of contention between Morpheus and Lock.
The Architect - 

Played by Helmut Bakaitis

The dignified, white-suited, and white-bearded creator of the Matrix. A nonhuman figure of vast intelligence, the Architect cannot completely hide either his slight disgust for the weaknesses of humanity or his intense interest in investigating its behavioral patterns. He is so powerful that the mere clicking of a pen completely transforms the wall of monitors behind Neo in his room. As the creator of the Matrix, he strikes a Godlike figure, but the Architect operates on a different plane of morality. In Gnostic theology, Satan, rather than God, created the world and formed its sufferings and burdens to shackle humanity. Since the Architect provokes the coming Armageddon, he likely represents the Gnostic Satan instead of God.
Seraph - 

Played by Collin Chou

The tranquil, angelic spirit who protects the Oracle. Seraph first appears in a flowing white shirt, sitting cross-legged in meditation upon a wooden table in a sparse temple room. Seraph is a martial arts expert and tests Neo when he comes to visit the Oracle. His name refers to the seraphim of Christian theology, the highest order of angels. Composed of pure light, the seraphim communicate directly with God, since they are the caretakers of God’s throne. Seraph always wears sunglasses.
Tank - 

Played by Marcus Chong

The initial Operator of the Nebuchadnezzar. A friendly and muscular man, Tank serves Morpheus loyally and believes in his leadership.
Dozer - 

Played by Anthony Ray Parker

Tank’s more muscular brother and fellow Nebuchadnezzar crew member. When Dozer and Tank appear together, they may obliquely recall James and John, the brothers who were both apostles of Christ.
Zee - 

Played by Nona Gaye

Link’s strong and careworn wife in Zion, and the sister of Tank and Dozer. Essentially stuck in a small, dreary compartment, the winsome Zee exudes a quiet integrity and inner strength after having survived trial after trial. She is superstitious and gives Link a good luck charm when he reboards the Nebuchadnezzar.
Sati - 

Played by Tanveer K. Atwal

The young Indian child who escapes the Matrix through a deal her parents make with the Merovingian. Sati is a program, not a human. Wide-eyed and clear-speaking, she represents the future of humanity after Armageddon. Her parents’ love for her surprises Neo, who had assumed programs were incapable of human emotions such as love. Sati’s name perhaps refers to an Indian widow who bears the burden of following her husband in death at the funeral pyre, forced by the pressures of society or hallucinogenic drugs. At the end of the trilogy, Sati creates a stunning sunrise for Neo.
Rama-Kandra  - 

Played by Bernard White

The father of Sati. Rama-Kandra, a program, makes a deal with the Merovingian to save his daughter’s life.
Kamala - 

Played by Tharini Mudaliar

The mother of Sati. Kamala, a program, makes a deal with the Merovingian to save her daughter’s life.
The Trainman - 

Played by Bruce Spence

The grungy creator and operator of a limbo world in between the Matrix and the real world. Sporting a dirty jacket, long, unkempt hair, and an angular sunken face, the Trainman looks like a homeless derelict but actually reveals himself to be an ingenious programmer who loses himself in his invisible world of subway trains. He sometimes smuggles programs between the Matrix and the real world. His decisions are always contingent on those of his boss, the Merovingian.
Persephone - 

Played by Monica Belluci

The Merovingian’s curvaceous, alluring wife. Mostly silent around her devilish and loquacious husband, Persephone wallows in the loss of his human passion and their true love. Jealous of her husband’s attention to a virtual woman, Persephone betrays him by leading Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus to the Keymaker in exchange for a kiss from Neo. In Greek mythology, Persephone became the goddess of the underworld when Hades kidnapped her and took her below. The Merovingian’s Persephone also lurks beside her husband in Club Hell, and she is thrilled by Trinity’s commitment to die for Neo.
Captain Roland - 

Played by David Roberts

The captain of Zion’s ship the Hammer. A gray-haired, drawn-mouthed officer, Roland seems more human than the rest of his inspired captains. He thinks logically, makes mistakes, and changes his mind. He behaves like a kindly career military official.
Mouse - 

Played by Matt Doran

The young techno-whiz who creates the Nebuchadnezzar’s training programs. Mouse was an original member of Morpheus’s crew, and his excitability justifies his name. An incredibly intelligent philosopher-savant, he enjoys bringing up human concerns appropriate to his age level, such as sex and the taste of cereal.
Councilor Hamann - 

Played by Anthony Zerbe

The aging Elder of Zion, fond of prattling good-naturedly. Hamann is a kind of wild card on the Council. His approach to issues balances the wisdom of his age and experience with the irrationality of hope and faith.
The Twins - 

Played by Neil and Adrian Rayment

The powder-skinned, white-suited, white-dreadlocked bodyguards of the Merovingian. The shape-shifting Twins remain almost wordless through much ofThe Matrix Reloaded, but when they do speak, their calm British accents attest to their solidarity with the Merovingian in terms of smooth style and haughty decorum. The Twins look and act like something out of Ghostbusters, and they exemplify the Oracle’s claim that the ghosts and monsters of legend are actually anomalous programs.
Bane - 

Played by Ian Bliss

The crewmember of a Zion ship whom Agent Smith replicates himself into to enter the real world. With a goateed, shady face, Bane/Smith speaks with Smith’s considered affect but maintains Bane’s physical exterior. Bane/Smith lurks around the cabin and appears suspicious right from Smith’s first infiltration. His face lends Smith a new mask of terror late in the trilogy.
Deus ex Machina - 

Voiced by Kevin M. Richardson

The ultimate spirit at the heart of the Machine City, which takes the form of swarms of metallic insects. A face of light rising above the thick cables of the City, Deus ex Machina, sets up Neo’s final confrontation with Agent Smith when Neo has the courage to address him. Latin for “god from the machine,” the name is likely used ironically in the credits, since the entity is never addressed by name during the film. In Greek and Roman theater, a god would often suddenly emerge from the rafters to resolve a plot that had tangled itself impossibly or save characters who were in hopeless situations. In more recent works, it refers to any contrived or artificial device that ends a story in a manner that doesn’t follow logically from the plot.
Captain Mifune - 

Played by Nathaniel Lees

The extremely intense Zionite patriot who battles with his men on the front lines of the dock. With a seemingly bottomless pit of passion, Mifune screams and yells and ripples his biceps throughout much of The Matrix Revolutions.
The Kid - 

Played by Clayton Watson

The eager youngster passionate about Zion’s dock defense. Initially nervous and excitable, the Kid learns to stay calm and get the job done in battle, in the face of dying comrades and swarms of sentinels.
Captain Soren - 

Played by Steve Bastoni

The stolid captain of Zion’s ship the Vigilant. Captain Soren admirably volunteers with Niobe to ascertain the fate of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Switch - 

Played by Belinda McClory

An original crewmember of the Nebuchadnezzar. In contrast to the rest of theNebuchadnezzar’s crew, Switch wears crisp, clean, all-white suits and sports a spiked blond hairdo.
Maggie - 

Played by Essie Davis

The red-haired medical advisor on the Hammer. Maggie is murdered by Bane/Smith.
Councilor Dillard - 

Played by Robyn Nevin

The regal and authoritative director of Zion’s Council of Elders. Dillard’s poise speaks to years of experience, and the respect she commands on all sides is a further testament to the central position she holds in deciding Zion’s future.
Councilor West - 

Played by Dr. Cornel West, author and Princeton University Professor of Religion and African-American Studies

The funkiest, most soulful member of Zion’s Council of Elders.
Apoc - 

Played by Julian Arahanga

An original crewmember of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Ghost - 

Played by Anthony Wong

An expert gunner and member of Niobe’s crew.

Neo (a.k.a. the One, a.k.a. Thomas A. Anderson)

Early in The Matrix, Neo learns that his life as he knows it has been an illusion, a computer-generated world beyond anything even his own computer-hacker sensibilities can comprehend. He gets over his shock swiftly and undertakes the task of liberating others from the virtual fate that’s been forced on them. Neo’s path to enlightenment is quick and smooth. He is sought out by those who already understand the truth and given the choice to learn the truth or return to a life of falsity. He chooses the red pill—the choice that opens his eyes and changes his direction from lazy hacker to hero of the universe. Neo never shows much emotion, and we get a sense of his growing self-confidence mainly by watching his increasingly shocking and skillful fighting moves.


As he embraces his role, Neo becomes a Christ figure in the trilogy. Morpheus, the Oracle, and other characters in the Matrix trilogy call Neo “the One,” and they are certain he is the man who will liberate and save them. Several parallels exist between Neo and Christ. Neo is resurrected from the dead at the end of The Matrix, a feat that cements his role as savior of the human race. Christ was both earthly and godly, and Neo, once he fully understands who he is, can see the Matrix’s code covering everything around him, which demonstrates his own ability to transcend the division between realms. Even Neo’s Matrix name, Thomas Anderson, suggests a parallel with Christ. “Anderson” literally means “son of man,” a phrase used to describe Christ in the Gospels. “Thomas” suggests the New Testament figure of the disciple Thomas who won’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he sees proof with his own eyes. Neo makes this same connection between believing and seeing, and he doubts himself and his abilities until he begins to actually accumulate experience. Neo is not meant to actually represent Christ, but these suggested connections elevate his status in the films and underscore the important role he plays in the battle to save the human race.


Morpheus serves as a leader in the real world, steadfast and courageous in the face of great danger and difficulty. He is the one who plucks Neo out of his comfortable life in the Matrix and shows him the truth, and he believes immediately that Neo is the One. Morpheus’s faith in Neo remains consistent even when Neo proves to be less than perfect, and his loyalty to Neo is so deep that he is willing to die so Neo can continue his work. Morpheus is a kind of father figure for Neo, Trinity, and the rest of the Nebuchadnezzar’s crew, and though Neo eventually eclipses him in terms of fighting skill and power, Morpheus remains the epicenter of wisdom and guidance. Morpheus represents the best kind of leader and teacher: He teaches Neo what he knows and guides him to the right path, then steps aside and lets Neo proceed on his own. Morpheus does not seek glory, and his selflessness makes him heroic in his own way.

The many philosophies and religions alluded to in the Matrix trilogy suggest that Morpheus has multiple roles and meanings. The name Morpheus itself suggests the Greek god of dreams, whose name literally means “he who forms.” The god Morpheus has the ability to change his own shape and manipulate reality, as well as the power to bewitch other people’s minds with dreams and fantasies. He also has the power to wake people up, and in The Matrix, Morpheus wakes Neo from the world of illusions. The root of the name Morpheus, “morph,” which means “form,” appears in words such as morphine, a drug known for its sleep- and dream-inducing qualities.


Once a computer hacker, Trinity was freed from the Matrix by Morpheus and is now one of a band of rebels living in Zion. Tough, leather-clad Trinity is a kind of super-woman in the Matrix. Master of kung fu fighting and a skilled shooter, Trinity can take out a roomful of gun-wielding enemies without tousling a hair out of place. She isn’t made entirely of steel, though, and when she meets Neo, she proves to be a loyal partner, willing to follow him into danger and chase after him when he’s in trouble. Her love for Neo is powerful, and she brings Neo back to life at the end ofThe Matrix by declaring her love. Trinity is also a martyr, and though Neo does everything he can to keep her alive, she accepts her death as a necessary part of Neo’s work to save the world. This willingness to die for Neo is not the mark of a weak will or a yearning for victimization. Rather her death demonstrates her total commitment to the cause she believes in. She’s just as determined to save the world as Neo is—her role in the quest is just different.

The name “Trinity” carries with it a host of Christian connotations. The Trinity, in Christian theology, represents the unity of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). According to a Christian view of salvation, we can receive eternal life through the Trinity. Just as the Holy Trinity acts as the center of Catholic religion, the Matrix trilogy is in many ways united by the relationship that develops between Trinity and Neo. God is the only savior who offers us salvation, and he offers it through Jesus Christ, whom we can only come to know through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Matrix trilogy, Trinity serves as a uniting force, the one who gives us access to Neo.

Agent Smith

Smith is a computer program with a particular purpose to serve within the Matrix. When programs die in the Matrix—as the Keymaker does, for example—they are deleted because they have fulfilled their purpose. When Agent Smith fights Neo at the end of The Matrix, something unexpected happens to him. His program evolves or becomes corrupted, and increasingly Smith finds himself at odds with the Matrix world, where all the other Agents remain at ease. He is a program, but somehow he also demonstrates an evolution of character and purpose.

Hugo Weaving portrays Smith as a confused, complex entity. Smith is a program, but he also seems to possess human qualities. We see his desperation, for example, when he faces the Oracle and tries to figure out what she knows and how she knows it. Smith’s style of speech evolves as the trilogy progresses. Initially, Smith is smug, slow, and methodical in his questions, assured that whatever programs he is a part of will run smoothly. Slowly, though, doubt creeps into his voice, and his facial expressions become less controlled. He shows anger. The tone of his voice grows more varied. At crucial moments, Smith takes off his sunglasses and reveals his eyes. Smith blurs the line between man and machine, and though ultimately humans prove more powerful, his resilience suggests that victory was never certain, and that machines have more influence and potential than it might seem.

The Oracle

Like Morpheus, the Oracle is a trusted figure of wisdom and guidance who helps Neo make sense of his mission, but the actual scope of her powers is never quite clear. At times, she seems to be able to control the future, while at other times she seems able only to predict it or offer possibilities. In either case, her prophecies suggest that the future is predetermined and, therefore, that Neo and the others have no free will. However, her powers and her role evolve throughout the trilogy, as does our understanding of her. Eventually, we may question whether she truly knows anything about the future, or if she is instead simply a good judge of character. The discovery that the Oracle is actually a program, part of the Matrix itself, complicates our understanding of her abilities even further. Ultimately, her calm and comforting demeanor may help Neo and the others with their mission almost as much as an actual prophecy would or does.

The Wachowskis adapted their Oracle from the mythical Oracle at Delphi, who, according to legend, once declared Socrates the wisest man in the land. Socrates responded that if he was wise, it was only because he knew nothing. Neo, too, is aware of his own ignorance, and the inscription over the Oracle’s door, “Know Thyself,” suggests that self-knowledge is of the utmost importance. The Oracle in the Matrix films isn’t as grand or as awe-inspiring as the Oracle of ancient Greece, however. Where the ancient Oracle sat over a chasm in a three-pronged seat, inhaling hallucinatory vapors from the depths of the earth that were believed to be the breath of Apollo, here the Oracle sits on a three-legged stool in her tenement apartment and breathes in the smell of cookies baking in the oven.





The Blurred Line Between Humans and Machines

The films of the Matrix trilogy pit man against machine in a clearly drawn battle, but they also reveal that the humans are more machinelike than they think, and that the machines possess human qualities as well. The humans, for their part, are as relentlessly driven as machines. Morpheus’s faith in the Oracle’s prophecy, and in Neo, is unwavering and unquestioning, and his own followers follow him automatically. Trinity’s loyalty and attachment to Neo have machinelike constancy. Her actions suggest her love, but her love expresses itself not so much as passion or emotion than as ceaseless, frenzied activity. As Neo, Keanu Reeves exudes an almost robotic calm, and both he and Carrie-Anne Moss wear sleek, androgynous clothes. Their incredible fighting skills and superhuman strength seem to put them in the machine category, and their fluid movements are the result of programs that have been downloaded into them. The Agents, by contrast, are fluid, adaptive, and creative. They shift seamlessly throughout the programs and listen intently to human speech, responding accordingly and sensitively. When Agent Smith removes his glasses and orders the other Agents out of the room in a decidedly unmachinelike manner so he can confess something personal to Morpheus, he infuses his speech with human emotions such as disgust and horror. Indeed, Smith seems to become almost desperately human, and his endless replication of himself is decidedly egocentric.


With the line between man and machine blurred to the point almost of disappearing, theMatrix trilogy raises the complicated question of how interdependent man and machine actually are, or might be. One fear of artificial intelligence is that technology will entrap us in level upon level of dependence, and in the trilogy Neo discovers more and more about the thoroughness and subtlety of the Matrix. Technology threatens to become smarter than humans, but one larger point of the trilogy is that technology doesn’t have to be smarter than us to enslave us. As long as humans turn to technology to solve human problems, humans and technology are interdependent. In the trilogy, the machines are dependent on the humans for life, and they grow and harvest humans so they can continue to exist. Though the reverse doesn’t necessarily follow—humans don’t rely on the machines for their existence—the trilogy’s entire story hinges on the fact that at one point humans needed artificial intelligence for something, and so created A.I. to fulfill that need.

Fate vs. Free Will in the Matrix and the Real World

When Morpheus asks Neo to choose between a red pill and a blue pill, he essentially offers the choice between fate and free will. In the Matrix, fate rules—since the world is preconstructed and actions predetermined, all questions already have answers and any choice is simply the illusion of choice. In the real world, humans have the power to change their fate, take individual action, and make mistakes. Neo chooses the red pill—real life—and learns that free will isn’t pretty. The real world is a mess, dangerous and destitute. Pleasure exists almost entirely in the world of the Matrix, where it’s actually only a computer construct. Cypher, who regrets choosing the red pill and ultimately chooses to return to the Matrix, views any pleasure, even false pleasure, as better than no pleasure at all. Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and the others in Zion, of course, value free will and reality no matter how unpleasant they may be. The Matrix trilogy suggests that everyone has the individual responsibility to make the choice between the real world and an artificial world.

Though Neo is the exemplar of free will, fate plays a large role in his adventure. Neo relies on the Oracle, and everything she says comes true in some way. If she can see around time and guide Neo to the right decision at each encounter, he doesn’t have to exhibit much, if any, free will. Morpheus tries to describe the Oracle as a “guide,” not someone who knows the future, and at the end of the trilogy she tells Seraph that she actually knew nothing, she only believed. Nonetheless, the Oracle is always right, raising doubts about how much free Neo actually has. In another way, as an integral part of the Matrix, the Oracle’s intelligence and composure lead her visitors to believe what she says, a trust that perhaps renders her prophecies self-fulfilling. In this sense, she shares the same final goals as Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity, and together they actively shape the future.

The Relationship Between Body, Brain, and Mind

The Matrix trilogy explores the interconnection between the body, the brain, and the mind, especially how that connection changes when the world turns out to be an illusion. Two different kinds of humans populate the world of the Matrix films: ordinary humans and those who, thanks to a port in their head, can be jacked into the Matrix. People in the Matrix can feel physical sensations, which are created by the mind, and the Matrix trilogy makes it clear that the body cannot live without the mind. If skills, such as fighting skills, are downloaded into the brain, and if the mind is free, a person can control his or her body as if he or she actually has had these skills all along. The trilogy suggests that humans need the body, brain, and mind working together simultaneously to stay awake in the world, which, in a way, is a declaration of the power of individuality and humanity. The existence or absence of all three elements separates Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity from not only the Agents but also the Architect, the Oracle, and all the other Matrix-bound entities.


Sexuality and Sensuality

In The Matrix, all references to sex occur only in the Matrix—that is, in the mind. Mouse, the young techno-whiz, creates a fantasy woman dressed in red as part of a simulation of the Matrix. The Matrix Reloaded shows an earthier version of sex in the real world, in the human city of Zion. Neo and Trinity, whose passion was previously much colder, make love under an arch, a traditional symbol of heavenly blessing. The film interrupts their lovemaking with scenes of the earthy, sensual Zionites celebrating their community to the beat of tribal drums. They’re loosely garbed in earth-toned clothing and are muscular, tattooed, and sweaty. The vast population jumps up and down, undulating in a sweep of ecstasy that seems to serve as a connection to the earth. Sex and sensuality are concrete in the real world, while in the Matrix, they are illusions like everything else.


he Matrix Revolutions portrays the Merovingian’s underground club, Hell, as an S&M paradise, full of latex, whips, chains, masks, and muscular bodies. The club suggests Dante’s circles of hell, in which sinners receive various tortures and punishments. Here, the Wachowskis present the idea that the simulation of punishment, the sensations of various materials, bindings, and masks, and the assumption of various roles of domination and submission can be a liberating and sensual experience. What the Christian Dante condemns as debauchery, the Merovingian presides over as an entertaining party.

Sunglasses, Eyes, and Mirrors

The renegades and the Agents always wear sunglasses in the Matrix. Sunglasses hide the eyes and reflect those who are being looked at. The removal of sunglasses signals that a character is gaining a new or different perspective, or that he or she is vulnerable or exposed in some way. When Neo removes his glasses to kiss Persephone in The Matrix Reloaded, he looks deeply into her eyes, indicating both the precariousness and gravity of the moment. When Morpheus offers Neo his crucial choice between the pills, the blue pill is reflected in one shade of his sunglasses, the red pill in the other, an overt reference to the two different ways of seeing that Neo must choose between. When Neo enters his new world, his sunglasses serve as protection for him, keeping him invulnerable to the dangers and surprises he encounters.

Mirrors reveal how we see the outside world, but also, crucially, how we see ourselves and our own world. When Neo takes the red pill, he enters the real world, and the mirror he touches infects him slowly with metallic goo, suggesting the fraying of all his illusions as he enters a new realm of perception. Other reflective materials are shattered throughout the trilogy. Skyscraper glass rains down, water rains from above and pools below, and anything transparent continually shifts forms and locations, transforming whatever it reflects.

Biblical References

The films in the Matrix trilogy frequently employ biblical references to augment character development and suggest a significance greater than the mere actions taking place. On the plaque of Morpheus’s Nebuchadnezzer, for example, as part of its identifying numbers, is the notation Mark III, No. 11 . In the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament, Mark describes large crowds who follow Jesus and are healed of their diseases. Chapter 3, verse 11 (King James Version) reads, “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him and cried, saying, ‘Thou art the Son of God!’” In some ways, Morpheus parallels a Gospel writer delivering news of a savior. He is, after all, the first person to believe and declare that Neo is the One. When Neo disembarks at Zion for the first time in The Matrix Reloaded, afflicted crowds await him and treat him as a messiah, begging for his healing touch just as the crowds in Mark’s Gospel do. Though Neo isn’t necessarily a messiah, the biblical reference here suggests he embodies the qualities of one and presents a possible interpretation of his role.

Just before Agent Smith’s first appearance in The Matrix Reloaded, we see the license plate on the luxury car he drives: IS 5416. In the Old Testament, Chapter 54, Verse 16, of Isaiah, reads “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire and that bringeth forth an instrument for this work; and I have created the waster, to destroy.” In this chapter, Isaiah refers to the Lord’s assurances that Zion, the promised land for the Israelites, will be victorious in future glory. He reminds his people that he created everything and goes on to reassure them that “no weapon forged against you will prevail.” Though we don’t necessarily need to recognize and understand the biblical reference in order to understand the Matrix trilogy, references like this one add a second layer of meaning to the films. They augment what we do know about the characters and add depth to the conflict, giving the films hidden meanings and reinforcing the idea that what we’re seeing isn’t all that’s there—more lurks beneath the surface, if we just know where to look, much as those who take the red pill discover an alternate universe just beyond what they know.



The meaning of the human city of Zion changes throughout the Matrix trilogy. InThe Matrix, the city is discussed but not seen and works mostly as a metaphor for a promised land of sorts, and a goal that makes the fighting worthwhile. The Zion in the films recalls the biblical city of Zion. In the Old Testament, Zion is Jerusalem, the heavenly city God promised to the Israelites. The city sits on the top of a hill, commanding a distant view of the kingdom—both for meditative purposes and for safety. The people in Zion live in harmony and are unified in their faith. The word Zion suggests safety, since the city became a religious haven for the Israelites after years of wandering and enduring torture. In the Matrix trilogy, Zion is still a promised land as well as a safe haven, but the parallels end there. The Zion of the Matrix commands not a vast view of land, but is instead buried within the heart of the earth, and though it offers the illusion of safety, in The Matrix Revolutions the enemy infiltrates that safe haven and crashes violently through its borders.

The Zion in the Matrix trilogy contrasts with the illusory program of the Matrix. The Matrix represents a system of control that operates completely in the mind. As a complex, machine-driven program, it appropriates any personal, political, or ideological leanings and renders them wholly false. It allows illusions but no action. Zion, as a promised land, represents a real, tangible, human place fought for, worked for, and died for. Zion is a living sanctuary and a memorial to the efforts and faith of a chosen people. When Zion appears in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, its symbolic connotations intensify as its inhabitants fight for a true human community.

The Green Light of the Matrix

Everything in the Matrix is bathed in a green light, as if the camera were capped with a green-tinted lens. (The green in question is the color that characters on computer screens used to be before the advent of Windows and word-processing programs that used black-on-white color schemes to make the computer world look more like the “real” world of paper and ink.) This color suggests that, unlike in the real world, what we see in the Matrix is being shown, or filtered, through something else. When Neo finally develops the ability to see the Agents as code rather than as their fake human shapes, he sees them in the same menacing green color that saturates the rest of the Matrix. In all three of the movies, when something is evil, green light is involved—Club Hell, for example, is bathed in green light, and green flames surround Bane/Smith just before Neo kills him. We might expect, then, that Neo will see nothing but green when he approaches the supposedly evil Machine City. Instead, with his second sight, Neo sees golden spires of light reaching toward the sky—no hint of green. Whatever the machines are, they’re not only embodiments of evil indulgence and selfishness as are the Merovingian and Smith.

Three/The Trinity

The Matrix trilogy itself is, of course, three films, and arrangements of threes and references to threes saturate the films. The number three has strong spiritual significance, which appears in the character of Trinity. The name Trinity suggests the holy trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which represents the divine nature of God. In the Matrix films, Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity form their own trinity, as do Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones. Three ships’ crews, another trinity, try to access the door of the Source: Soren’s, Niobe’s, and Morpheus’s. The reappearance of the number three perpetuates and emphasizes the idea of the trinity. The Matrix begins and ends in Room 303 at the Heart O’ the City Motel. Without the zero, the number becomes 33, which recalls the purported age of Christ at the time of his crucifixion and resurrection. Neo also has visions of three thick cables bound together in The Matrix Revolutions, and these power cables lead to his penetration of the heart of the city.