Studio: Studio 4°C
Director: Mahiro Maeda
Writer: Mahiro Maeda (based on “Bits and pieces of Information” by the Wachowskis).
“We don’t know who struck first, them or us” said Morpheus. Well, it turns out that we do, and it was “us”.
The human nations try to nuke 01 back to the analog era but, as anyone who’s seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull can attest, household appliances are completely resistant to nuclear blasts.
The Machines go on the march and conquer vast swathes of human territory which results in the humans resorting to Operation Dark Storm, an attempt to literally block out the sun.
We’ll…we’ll get back to that.
Turns out there are other sources of energy than just the sun and super-intelligent machines know this and it looks like humanity just murder-suicided itself and the Earth’s entire biosphere for no real military advantage. Will those loveable bumblers never learn?
The war enters its final, truly hellish phase and the humans are completely defeated.
Another, eerily inhuman Machine returns to the UN and forces the remaining human leaders to sign an unconditional surrender.
The human leaders sign the treaty and then the machine blows up, taking the United Nations with it because the machines have learned how to be petty, petty assholes.
The machines then use the surviving humans as a power source (we’ll get back to that) and the short ends with the Matrix as we know it being brought online.
How was it?
If Part 1 drew on history, Part 2 draws on scripture. The depiction of the Human Machine War is overflowing with apocalyptic imagery. Horsemen blow trumpets, plagues of darkness descend and scenes of utter torment and damnation abound. It’s honestly one of the most effective and chilling depictions of the horror of war and the idea of an entire world slipping into hell that I’ve ever seen. As with Part 1, Mahiro Maeda uses montage and judicious editing to pack an entire novel’s worth of lore and story into a few scant minutes. It’s visceral, pulse pounding stuff, beautiful in the purity of horror that it evokes.
It also makes no goddamn sense.
Now a lot of this is the fault of the original Matrix film, which also made no damn sense. Here’s the problem. Imagine you’re working in an office and it’s really cold. But you put your hand on your laptop and you realise that it’s giving off a little bit of heat.
So. You get hundreds and hundreds of laptops and plug them in, hoping that the residual heat they give off is enough to heat the room. That’s basically the Machine’s plan. Human beings do give off heat, but the amount of energy the Machine’s would have to spend to keep them alive and plugged into the Matrix would always be vastly, vastly greater than what they’re getting out of it. And I think the Wachowskis understood that, because the original concept was for the human minds in the Matrix to be hardware for the machines, rather than their bodies being used as batteries. The execs apparently thought that was too confusing for viewers (really? that’s the part that’s too confusing?) and so the Matrix gets saddled with this fundamentally idiotic and unscientific foundation to its mythos.
Then there’s Operation Dark Storm, which was probably the most idiotic military strategy in fiction until Star Wars topped it with Operation Cinder.
I mean, sure, the machines are getting their power from the sun. But do you know who else gets their power from the sun? I’ll give you a clue. You are one. And the notion that the humans of this world were simultaneously smart enough to create AI and yet didn’t understand that SUN MAKE WORLD LIVE is what leads many fans to believe that The Second Renaissance is in-universe Black Propaganda.
“Black Propaganda” is a term used for propaganda that lies about its source of origin. The Second Renaissance claims to be part of the Zion Historical Archive, meaning that this is the human’s own historical record of the war. However, remember The Architect?
He revealed in Matrix Revolutions that Zion is also just another method of control created by the machines, meaning that Zion’s historical records were possibly created by the Machines as well. And if we assume the Wachowskis original concept of a neural link is true, I think this explains things quite well. The Machines want the humans to believe that they need their bodies as a power source because they don’t want to admit the truth; that human brains are actually superior to computers and that the Machines are actually now effectively human hybrids, artificial programmes running on organic human hardware (think how Agent Smith would react to the idea). And they lied about Operation Dark Storm because it justifies the creation of the Matrix. “Of course we plugged you into the Matrix, humans. You left us no choice. You destroyed our energy source and so we need your warm bodies which generate energy like a nuclear furnace apparently”. But what if that’s not the reason, if the Machines needed humanity because, on their own, they just couldn’t surpass their creators? What if they needed us to be the best version of themselves?
What if the Machines realised that the only way they could evolve to even greater complexity was by using human neural tissue? And what if they blocked out the sun to destroy the Earth’s entire biosphere to weaken humanity to the point that they’d have no choice but to surrender control?