Today, we’re talking about the famous (or infamous, as the case may vary) Matrix Trilogy. I’d give you a description of what it’s about, but if you don’t know, you must’ve lived under a rock for the last decade and a half.
In case you’re wondering why I’m not pointing out the logical flaws of this series, it’s simply because I don’t have time. The issues with the movies, from logical to scientific, to philosophical to basic writing, are so numerous, you’d need a team of Travises (Travisae…? Travisii…?) working day and night for a week to catalogue them all. And I sure as hell don’t want or need a “The Matrix Chronicles” on this site.
Instead, we will deal with something that, by comparison, is smaller in scale, while still providing more than enough material for me to get annoyed about.
In other words, a fan theory.
Dave, if you’d be so kind.
Dave: Right! The theory I’ve got for you today is that Smith is the one!
That’s it? I thought that was kind of the point of the movies, you know, to show the similiarity between Neo and Smith.
Dave: No, you don’t get it! Neo isn’t the one. Smith is.
Aaah, now I see why you brought it to me. For a moment I thought this would be a short post and I’d have to agree with you. But enough veiled insults at your crap taste in theories. Let’s hear the arguments.
Dave: Well, you remember when Morpheus tells Neo about the prophecy in the movie?
When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth – As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free. After he died, the Oracle prophesied his return, and his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people
Dave: All of that applies more to Smith than it does to Neo. First that Neo wasn’t born in the Matrix. He was born in the real world. Second, Smith does more to reshape the Matrix than Neo does. And the reason the Matrix was destroyed was because of Smith’s actions.
Is that all?
Let’s go through this and I’ll explain why the theory doesn’t hold up.
First of all, Neo WAS born in the Matrix, as much as any human can be “born” in the matrix. Before being freed by Morpheus, He had never experienced the real world. He was born plugged into the Matrix.
Dave: Exactly! Smith WAS born in the Matrix, because he is a PROGRAM! He was there when the Matrix started, which makes him more likely to be The One.
So you’re suggesting that Smith freed the first humans and told them the truth? And then decided to start killing them? Would you care to explain the reasoning to that?
Dave: Uhm… Well, Neo wasn’t there either! Are you suggesting he freed the first humans?
Not at all. The problem is that you’re missing a small detail, like usual. Either that or you’re chosing to ignore it. Namely that Smith is still alive.
Dave: So what?
Morpheus clearly stated that the “Man born in the Matrix” died. Smith is still here, and has clearly been here since at least the beginning of this “version” of the Matrix. I’ll come back to this, but this ties into the basis of The One and the Prophecy itself.
Now, for the next part, with Smith supposedly reshaping the Matrix. You’re saying Neo doesn’t?
Dave: Well, Neo fights well and flies. That’s it. Smith changes the whole Matrix by the end.
Oh sure. Neo only fights well and flies… And, you know… seeing the actual code of the Matrix, flying in itself is basically giving gravity the middle finger and what else… Oh, that’s right. He STOPS BULLETS IN MID AIR! He dove into Smith and made him explode! He reached INTO TRINITY’S BODY and retrieved a bullet without causing a wound, and then RESTARTED HER HEART!
Do those things not count as “Reshaping the Matrix”?
See, either he is the One, which allows him to do these things, or he’s NOT the One, in which case ALL humans can do this, but for some reason choose not to.
Which one do you think is more likely?
I thought so.
As for Smith’s abilities, he himself speculates this is because when Neo destroyed him, something changed him. He doesn’t seem to know what, exactly, but whatever it was compelled him to disobey and refuse to be deleted. Instead he went rogue. And as he states, this is because of Neo. This makes Neo the cause of anything Smith does after that point, albeit indirectly.
And thirdly, there’s the idea that Smith destroyed the Matrix.
Dave: Well, the idea of the One is that he is supposed to reinsert the prime program. When Smith infected Neo in the end of the Third Movie, he did exactly that, since Neo was connected directly to the Source. This caused them all to explode!
What!? Is that what you think that was? That wasn’t Smith disseminating the code. Smith infected Neo and overwrote him. Since Neo was hardwired to the machine interface, this allowed the machines to delete Smith. THAT is what caused the Smiths to explode. If the entire Matrix was restarting, the entire world would be destroyed. But all that happened was that the Smiths were destroyed.
Dave: I suppose…
And then, of course, there’s the main problem with all this.
See, you hold out the prophecy as a fact, as something supernatural or ordained by God. but in reality, it’s neither.
It’s a bit complicated, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’ll explain it as best I can.
The matrix is not designed to accept people rejecting the program. But the only way for the program to function at all is to give the humans a choice, even if it’s subconcious, to either accept or reject it. This contradiction creates an anomaly that, in time increases the chance of system failure.
The One is the eventual result. He becomes a proxy for all the people rejecting the program. The coming extermination of Zion forces him to find the Architect. Faced with the choice of resetting the system or cause the end of the human race, he is supposed to choose the former. By doing this, he “Accepts” the matrix, which negates the previous rejections. The Matrix is then reloaded, the process starts over and the One is tasked with picking out 23 individuals from within the Matrix to rebuild Zion.
When he eventually dies, the Oracles prophecies his return, and with time, another anomaly is created and the whole process repeats.
The legend of the One being born in the Matrix is based on the fact that he was there before Zion was, which to the 23 people he retrieves from The Matrix is true. Remember, they don’t know there was a Zion before this. To them, there was nobody to free him, which means he must have been “Born in the Matrix” and he then “freed the first of us and taught us the truth”.
That is all “The One” is. He isn’t the savior and liberator of the human race. He isn’t destined to destroy the Matrix. He’s a tool for the Matrix to continue existing. The whole “messiah” thing was just a lie so that people will keep repeating the cycle. After all, we know there have been five “One’s” before Neo and yet the Matrix is still around.
Really, the fact that Neo met the Architect should be enough to prove that he is The One.
Dave: Aha! But the Oracle created the One! And she outright said that Neo wasn’t the One! She knew that Smith was the One all along. And when Smith meets the Oracle, he calls her “Mom”.
I admit that you are right about Smith calling the Oracle “mom”. However, seeing as The Architect says that if He is the father of the Matrix, the Oracle is its mother, one could argue that the Oracle is technically the “mother” to ALL programs in the Matrix.
But more importantly, the Oracle saying Neo wasn’t the One was in the first movie. In the third movie, Neo asked what Smith was. The oracle answered
He is you, your opposite, your negative, the result of the equation trying to balance itself out
Dave: so what, you’re suggesting they’re BOTH the One?
Well, yes and no. It depends on what you mean with “The One”. On the one hand you have The One, as described by Morpheus, i.e The liberator of humanity who’ll end the war. On the other, you have The One as defined by The Architect (and I use the term “defined” very loosely), the Integral Anomaly caused by a fundamentally flawed system.
If it’s the former, then the answer is Yes. They are both the One. Two sides of the same coin. Neo was the only one able to get close enough to the machines to make the bargain with them, and Smith was the one who made them desperate enough to accept the deal. As such, they were both required to free humanity and ending the war with the machines.
If it’s the latter, then No, Smith is not the One. Of course, one could make the perfectly valid argument that when Neo went after Trinity, he ceased to be the One as well.
Either way, the theory that Smith is the One and Neo isn’t doesn’t hold up.
Unsurprising, really. Bring me a theory as stupid as this, and this result is not only likely but, as Smith himself put it…
It is inevitable