Joan of Arc monument in Philadelphia

Matrix Reloaded Theory One

The Matrix Reloaded has caused plenty of discussion coupled with tons of confusion. Questions abound as people continue to try and figure the puzzle out or simply give up and dismiss the movie as nonsense.

I have continued thinking.

After seeing the movie for the third time, I sat down and drew out what I believed was going on with the Matrix. Since I’m a visual person, this did wonders for my understanding. As discussions would arise in the workplace, among friends, and complete strangers, I would pull my diagram out of my back pocket and go over it with people. They’d make comments and suggestions, and I’d make tweaks here and there. It’s been over two weeks and I believe I have it locked down.

Theory One

I will refer to everything I’m about to explain as a “theory”. I say this for two reasons:

  1. Not everyone agrees with me (Yes, I was shocked too). There will be at least one more theory posted on this site in the near future.
  2. As we saw with the first two movies, everything we thought to be true was thrown out the door. So this theory may hold its own water until The Matrix Revolutions hits theaters.

The basis of this theory is to take what The Architect told Neo as the truth. From there, dialogue and actions from everyone in the first two movies has a completely different spin unlocking new secrets to this Matrix theory.

I will start off by showing the diagram, which may be self-explanatory by itself. Then I will follow it up with a detailed explanation as to how I came to each conclusion.

Matrix Released Theory One

There are only three, maybe four, physical existences of the Matrix.

When explaining to Neo that the Matrix is much older than humans realize, the Architect says, “I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next, in which case this is the sixth version.”

Later in the dialogue, the Architect goes on to explain the three, maybe four, failures of The Matrix. The perfect human world version was “a triumph equaled only by its monumental failure.” Agent Smith described this in the first movie as well. He said that human beings rejected it expecting to wake up.

The second version was redesigned to “more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature.” For whatever reason, The Architect says he was again “frustrated by failure”.

The third version was based off of 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.” But this solution was flawed since the population of the matrix grew. The amount of the 0.1% that didn’t accept The Matrix “if unchecked, would constitute an escalating probability of disaster.” From here, he doesn’t explain whether or not this physical version of The Matrix crashed, but the machines did introduce the concept of the One and Zion. In this third/forth version, there have been six emergences of the One.

The purpose of the One

NeoThe Architect describes the purpose 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.” The machines know of the One and construct the events in his life in such a way that he will ultimately end up at the source to meet the Architect. This is done in a way so that the One believes he has chosen to go to the source himself, but was instead being led there the whole time.

The One is merely the glimmer of hope given to the people in The Matrix and in Zion. Lies are fed to the humans so that they think that when the One returns to the source, the war with the machines will be over. Instead, this event is the end of Zion. This deals with the problem of choice and allows the machines to still keep the humans in check.

The purpose of Zion

Zion exists merely as a container for the 0.1% that will reject the Matrix. They are kept there until the One returns to the source and Zion is destroyed. The One then takes 23 individuals from the Matrix to repeat the process. I believe that once The One goes to rebuild Zion, the machines do not know where Zion is. They wait until the 0.1% rejection rate equals a number that will become too big to control, and then the machines seek out Zion to wipe it out.

Neo is the first to choose door two

TrinityI’m assuming that the five previous Ones chose door one. If they didn’t, “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.” When presented with facts like that, it’s hard to make a rational decision. You either make the human race extinct or lose approximately 250,000 people in Zion. At least with door one, there is still a chance to figure something out.

The previous Ones had a “general love for humanity” that was orchestrated by the machines. The machines chose family, experiences, and other world events to affect them in such a way that they would choose door one.

Neo is different since he has a “specific love” for Trinity. This love caused him to go against what the Architect suggests and instead save Trinity. From this point on, I believe that not even the machines are sure what is going to happen.

The purpose of making Neo choose a door

Some of you have asked why does The Architect require that Neo choose one of the doors? Why not just make Neo go into door number one when he shows up at the source?

While this seems logical at first, doing this would ruin a lot of things. Making it so the One chooses which door he goes through makes him live with his choice. If the One choose to have Zion destroyed by choosing door number one, he can’t say anything like, “The machines made me do it!”

In fact, I believe that the five previous Ones lived with the guilt of what they did so much that they never fully explained what happened to anyone else. In the fist movie, Morpheus talks about the previous One who could do anything in the Matrix and that he freed the first of them. Morpheus says the One prophecied his return. The One, having freed 23 others, obviously knew everything The Architect told him, yet he never gave anyone the full story.

Why? I think for several reasons: Guilt for what he did, fear of how others would react, and hope that the next One would find a different way.

Neo’s new powers

Agent SmithNeo appears to have new powers inside and outside the Matrix. Inside, he is able to defy gravity and take on agents. It appears that this was planned by the machines, but what doesn’t seem planned is his ability to bring Trinity back to life with something a machine could never understand: love.

Outside the Matrix, Neo was able to stop several sentinels. Doing so put him in a coma, but the power is definitely there. I think this power outside of the Matrix is a combination of not returning to the source, thus keeping the code that makes him “The One” and having a bond with Agent Smith. Smith described getting killed by Neo and that a piece of Neo was copied over onto him giving him his super-agent powers. It stands to reason a piece of Smith may now be in Neo.

Final thoughts

There you have it – my theory on The Matrix Reloaded. I’m definitely curious to hear your spin on the whole thing.

And let us not forget that The Matrix Revolutions will probably throw all of our theories out the door in November.

Further Reading

More Matrix transcripts and analysis

Philosophers Explore The Matrix (2005) edited by Christopher Grau

Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and the Religion in the Matrix (2003) edited by Glenn Yeffeth

The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002) by William Irwin

More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (2005) by William Irwin

Journey to the Source (2004) by Pradheep Chhalliyil