In The Matrix, Neo learns that everything he knows is wrong. In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo learns that everything he knows is wrong. There's recursion here, like false awakenings in a dream. And so, we learn, it is with the Matrix, cycle after cycle, rebirth after rebirth.
Neo is an expected anomaly in the Matrix. He signifies a critical level of instability in the system. And the system is not just the Matrix -- the system includes all of humanity, both in the Matrix and in Zion.
And that is, I think, the biggest revelation: the system is RL as well as VR. The Architect tells Neo that he's carrying code inside of him. I took that to be the seeds of the next Matrix, but I'm not really sure.
As I said, Neo is an expected anomaly. Everywhere he goes, people are only to happy to tell him that they've been expecting him. But no one seems to be expecting Smith.
Smith is the true anomaly, the unplanned-for variable. Even in The Matrix, you can see that. While he's torturing Morpheus, he takes the plug out of his ear, becomes personal, talks about his fear that he's become infected by humanity. And so he has -- he's emotional and it causes him to act irrationally.
Neo destroys Smith by merging with him. (In my obsession with The Coat, I've been watching Neo's outfits through the two movies and it struck me that one of the things he wears is Smith.) Diving inside of him and taking him apart from the inside. In this way, he must have learned Smith's program, absorbed it.
Then we find in Reloaded that Smith -- back from the dead, just like Neo -- has absorbed something from Neo and he can now manipulate the system too. Not to the same extent, but he's no longer bound by his former programming. And, like Neo, he's found a way to jump out and affect the world beyond the boundaries of the Matrix.
Smith is Neo's shadow, his dark self. But he is also necessary to Neo's power and knowledge.
Perhaps that's what makes Neo different from those that came before him -- that it's his connection with Smith that lets him see beyond the Matrix into the whole system -- the VR, the RL, the humans and the machines. (Possibly I'd just like to think that so I can continue to obsess over Hugo *g* but I don't think it's an implausible theory.)
This is all about the power of the mind, really. In The Matrix, Neo finds that he can affect the Matrix with his mind -- that believing makes it so. In Reloaded, he finds that he can affect other machines with his mind. In Revolutions, will he be able to affect other humans?
Maybe Neo will learn to share his power, not like Smith's vampiric reproduction, but opening the minds of others so he's no longer the One, but one of many.
The Matrix was about knowledge. The Matrix Reloaded is about understanding. And it's that understanding that lets Neo see beyond the dichotomy the Architect offers him.
And I've more, so much more to say, but this is enough blather for today.