Matrix Resurrections #5

The Analyst (and the Merovingian)

Quietly yearning for what you don’t have, while dreading losing what you do…. Desire and fear, baby. Just give the people what they want, right?

The Analyst

You have to release everything, and pass between the pillars of fear and desire, above the blackened sky of the world, out of the world and into the timelessness of being, so that nothing — nothing — can make you do what you do. There becomes only will: the will to go back down below the clouds into the painful realm of time and act.

The Matrix: Revolutions, Explained

Pain, suffering, despair, torture, control: these are the kind of words the Analyst uses with Tom. Oh wait, there’s more: dangerous, ambush, triggered, anger, protection. The Analyst’s lines are (at least early on) delivered in what seems on the surface to be a kind, helping tone. Sorting things out. Follow my voice, Tom, focus on what’s here and now. That sounds like the right thing to say. But laced and threaded into practically every sentence are threat-words, planting fear at every step. What’s really being said is “Be afraid.”

And unlike actual presence and centering, the present that the Analyst is bringing Tom back to is full of worry and doubt, a place where he keeps having breaks, a place where he constantly has to wonder whether he’s going crazy. There is maybe a subtextual implication that Tom’s being isolated as well. I mean, he’s definitely isolated. We get the treadmill scenes, and him in his apartment, or at his office, and he’s always by himself. I’m leaning on the idea that this, too, is by design. There are handlers and bots everywhere. “You don’t know who to trust.” It fits the model. Kept alone, kept in a state of fear, with the one person he feels a connection to nearby yet unreachable. So his only lifeline really is the Analyst, who is not his friend. Jude is explicitly “not your friend.”

When Tom’s sitting with the Analyst the second time (well, in the film anyway, it’s probably in the thousands), the focal point is a bell. You hear that ringing bell it means do what you’re programmed to do. It means Tom’s been conditioned, trained. Get back in your pod. Lie down and sign up for more abuse. The Analyst even comes right out and says that that’s the point, that the more we torment you the more energy you produce. Record setting numbers!

Here again is a very good core of a coming-out thesis. You know what’s safe? Not coming out. Listen to the drums of all you’ll stand to lose. Be instead who the system tells you to be. Follow the program. I’ll continue to leave that theme to expositors better equipped than I am to wrangle it. I’ll stick with Star Wars comparisons. Luke in A New Hope is afraid to leave home, to disappoint Owen. Then something from outside reaches in (Leia), disrupting the timeless now, cracking open its illusory shell of safety. It’s then that time starts flowing, motion happens, transformation begins. That’s when Kenobi tells him that he’s taken his first steps into a larger world.

It’s when Tom gets out, gets free of the system that’s trapped him, and into Io, the “larger world,” that his isolation ends. He finds friends. The crew, even Niobe, who are there for him. This means something.

The Analyst’s Matrix

Now about the Matrix itself and its design. We know from Niobe that there was a power struggle among the Machines. The Analyst refers to a political-sounding, somewhat Herculean effort to get his design for a new Matrix implemented. I think those developments are overlapping or at least highly connected. Niobe called it “a new power rising.”

The Architect got fired. Maybe deleted. The Oracle too, gone. Or are they really gone after all? They might just be in cold storage.

I did a bit in Revolutions about there being four distinct “ages” or eras of the Matrix. That was based on comments made by the Architect and Smith, and I wrapped it up with Matrix 4.0, a potential Nirvana. We didn’t quite get there. Instead there was the power struggle. There was a purge. There was the Analyst. Some of the machines were ready for Nirvana but some, the ones who won the struggle, were not. They wanted to try again. But the thing is, this is it’s an experiment. Just like all the prior versions of the Matrix were experiments.

So this Matrix 4.0 is the one the Analyst built. (Matrix 3.0 is the Architect’s and Oracle’s version.) By the accounts we get it’s highly successful, even compared to the Architect’s obviously very winning formula. Although we only get this report from the Analyst, and he might not be a fully reliable source. This Matrix is also intensely personal. Matrix 4.0 is founded on the Anomaleum, the two core pods specially made for Neo and Trinity, routing everything through them. “Anomaleum” is a kind of portmanteau, which I’ll break down as “mausolem of the anomaly(-ies).” Like twin sarcophaguses (sarcophagi?), resurrection tombs, feeding the living from the dead. I mean, remember who designed these things. It was Sati’s dad, and this kind of thing was his function.

The Architect mainly sat back in his weird room full of TVs clicking his remote. All math, that guy. The math said Neo would arrive eventually, and he always did, and then he’d choose his door and that was that. The Analyst, though, he’s hands-on. He’s there all the time with Neo and Trinity, keeping them right in the spot that makes the Anomaleum work. It might be because he has more at stake. There’s a potential machine revolt if his Matrix fails. The “suits,” as the Analyst calls them, are always watching. Tom has handlers. The Analyst himself has handlers. This experiment isn’t well trusted.

The unplugging of Neo presents a big problem for the Analyst. Red alert. It initiates a “failsafe,” which is apparently a backup plan in case the Analyst can’t pull this off. A failsafe that means this Matrix is junked and, guess what, they reinstate Matrix 3.0 with the Architect and the Oracle and the incarnations of Neo. I would very much assume this also means the squiddies destroy Io. One big giant reset button. So I don’t think the Architect and the Oracle are truly gone. They’re on ice.

There’s not any good evidence that Smith is aware of this eventuality, and it’s hard to say whether he’d prefer it. If it goes all the way back to the beginning, with him being a regular-ass (slightly disobedient) Agent he wouldn’t like that at all. He might be alright with how things were once he was able to replicate himself over coppertops and programs. This is likelier in the event of a reset. Old code doesn’t seem to get perfectly cleared out (c.f. Merovingian).

In any case, Smith has the ability to replicate right now, in this Matrix, thanks to the Analyst’s swarm mode. No reason to go off rebooting things. Plus it’s unclear that Smith had the ability to deal with the Architect—even the Oracle caused him some internal trouble. He definitely thinks he can deal with the Analyst, though.

SMITH – All you have to do is stay out of the Matrix, and leave the good doctor to me.

So what doesn’t Smith want? There are two possible outcomes that he wants to avoid.

  1. Neo goes back into the Anomaleum with Trinity, back onto the treadmill, and back under the Analyst’s control. This leashes Smith too.
  2. Neo and Trinity connect.

And there are two ways to get what he wants.

  1. Neo does right what it says on the invitation and stays out of the Matrix. Go live in Io or something, just don’t come back. This leaves Smith empowered and the Matrix vulnerable.
  2. Smith kills Neo. This has the same result.

In a way this mirrors the Analyst’s choice. Voluntarily sacrifice yourself, Neo, and voluntarily sacrifice Trinity too. This isn’t narratively to take away Trinity’s choice, I don’t think. It’s because Neo is pliable and vulnerable and Trinity isn’t. Remember what she said?

Keeping Neo out of the loop is going to be tough, given his history. Smith I’m sure expects this choice to be rejected, which is why he’s entirely prepared to kill him.

(P.S. I suspect Smith might not survive Neo’s death. They’re bound up. Smith is not that good at predicting these kinds of outcomes.)

The Merovingian

Which brings us to the return of everyone’s favorite pop-synth group The Merovingian and the Exiles.

Why are these guys even here, in this film? Aside from it being cinematically great that they are, there are a surprising number of reasons.

  • The Merovingian himself is a philosophical metaphor
  • Merv is not at all in the same shape as we last saw him
  • Smith found these wrecks and brought them here—specifically to fight.

Smith’s Connection

Starting with the last first. The scenario is that Bugs, Seq, Neo, and the crew jack into the Matrix at a warehouse to get Trinity. What they get there is Smith.

SMITH – Predictable as ever.

NEO – How did you find us?

SMITH – (Dismissive) You never appreciated our relationship.

He knew they were coming. There are lesser reasons for this, but what I’m going with is that Smith is still imprinted with the essence of the Oracle, keyed into the background patterns of the Matrix, because I like that explanation. I think Smith can read code. And then Smith says this:

SMITH – I found some old acquaintances of yours.

He found them? Meaning he went out looking for them, collected them, and put them in this spot. And brought them to this exact location. Now why would Smith do that? I going to bet Smith wasn’t sure he could take Neo. Smith is uncertain. He’s afraid. This is why he tries to give Neo a way out without fighting.

NEO – Sounds like conflict.

SMITH – Doesn’t have to be.

It’s when that gets turned down that Smith brings out the Exiles.

Merv’s Fallen State

This guy is a mess. In fact all the Exiles look like they’ve been living in a trash can. Which might not be too far removed from the truth.

That’s a far cry from the sophisticate. What hell happened to this gang anyway? We don’t know enough to be sure, but here’s my conjecture: the purge. That and mostly likely the locking-down of pathways between the Machine City and the Matrix—for example the train and the Trainman.

The purge was supposed to wipe out old code, old programs, and exiles. The reason there was a purge was because of the machine civil war. The victors had to do away with everything that wasn’t obediently loyal to the “rising power” (which means “the Suits,” the Analyst’s bosses). Furthermore, the Suits had to close up all the routes disobedient programs used to traffic to and from the Machine City. Primarily to prevent any newly disobedient programs from emigrating to the Matrix, but also because they know a purge won’t be entirely successful.

Resetting the Matrix from 2.0, where the Merovingian originated, to 3.0 didn’t get rid of all the old code. Some of it stayed around. It’s reasonable to guess that the Architect either didn’t see it as a problem or that exiles were somehow part of the design. To me, it’s the second one. There had to be ways to transmit back to the Machine City so that The One could merge back to the Source, a whole process that turned on acts of disobedience, which in turn was a safety valve for that fraction of both populations who wouldn’t do what they were supposed to do.

In Matrix 4.0, the tolerance for this kind of thing is dramatically lower. But they still don’t rewrite everything from scratch; old code still persists. It just (a) has to hide out in the deepest darkest corners, and (b) doesn’t have a meaningful function anymore. The conduits exiles used are gone or too closely monitored.

Ergo yes, the Merovingian and the Exiles were essentially living in the trash bins of the Matrix. That was the only way they didn’t get purged. And since the information routes are no more, the source of the Merovingian’s success and power, he’s now relegated to rags and bad teeth.

The Merovingian Metaphor

Recall the Merovingian’s philosophy in Reloaded. This is another reason why I believe he and the other exiles were part of the Architect’s system.

MEROVINGIAN – There is only one constant, one universal, it is the only real truth: causality. Action. Reaction. Cause and effect.

That sounds very predictable, doesn’t it. It is very predictable. Track a sufficient number of variables, have the right equations, and bang—you know how things will turn out. This is also how Matrix 3.0 is built, on the scaffold of the Architect’s maths and models. Of course the Merovingian thrives in that environment!

Matrix 4.0 doesn’t operate that way.

ANALYST – [The Architect’s] Matrix was all fussy facts and equations. He hated the human mind. So he never bothered to realize that you don’t give a shit about facts. It’s all about fiction. The only world that matters is the one in here. And you people believe the craziest shit.

Perhaps another way to say all that is that this Matrix is grounded in irrationality. The craziest shit. Things that don’t make sense. Not getting what you want.

Or yet another way is to say that everything is an anomaly. That makes sense, since everything is channeled through The Anomalies.

This kind of environment, so antithetical to the Merovingian’s core belief, is more than anything why he’s reduced to almost nothing. His ruin represents the systemic rejection of what he’s all about.