I recommend reading the original comic first, then coming back to this interpretation/explanation. While you can certainly read this instead if the comic seems too time-consuming to read, your experience will be more interesting if you read the comic first.
The most important thing to learn from this comic is that the primary purpose of the Matrix isn't to provide power for Machines, contrary to what Morpheus explains to Neo in the first movie. In fact, it is well-documented that the Wachowskis originally intended to explain human enslavement in terms of providing RAM and a very big, powerful CPU to Machines! They determined that this concept would be too difficult for most people to understand, especially those without a background in computers, so they instead explained human pods as providing power to the machines "when combined with a form of fusion" (a form of fusion we presumably haven't discovered yet).
In other words, the real explanation for what the Matrix is - the one you should really think about - is that the Matrix is actually one giant brain, and each human in each pod represents one neuron in that giant brain (making up the brain's "thinking" ability), and each human also provides one unit of data storage (making up the brain's "memory"). This would make the Matrix itself a form of life! This also explains the common question that people ask about the movies: "If machines are only after power, why don't they just use cows and jack them into a grass-grazing simulation?" The answer is, of course, that we are the mentally superior species on the planet. The other reason is from the unshakeable reverence that machines have in their source code for humans (see Matrix System).
The main character tells a story of his past, starting in 1977, when he was sitting at his job as a bookkeeper in a discount carpet warehouse in Edgware (North London). One day, the entire Matrix world around him literally melted and dripped away until total blackness was around him, finally revealing a bright colored "puddle" beneath him that didn't cover his shoes as he walked. (This may describe the same thing Neo saw at the end of M3 as he walked through the Machine City corridor, even though Goliath is still inside of a simulation.)
He meets a nicely-dressed man with horn-rimmed spectacles who has an American accent with an "odd intonation". After commenting on how big the main character is (7 feet tall, fingers like bananas, custom made boots, life expectancy of 40 years), he informs Goliath that there has been a missile attack on two hundred thousand people hooked up in parallel that he calls the central processing unit (see "CPU" above). In other words, people in their Matrix pods have been killed by a missile attack, which is why Goliath's world melted away. Two hundred thousand neurons and memory cells in his Matrix simulation instantly went down. This also means that Goliath is special since he wasn't killed in the attack. Apparently, his physical body is apart from all the "dead meat" that resulted from the missile attack.
The American says there is a mirror that will be up and running soon, which means the machines apparently had two hundred thousand other people serving as "backup" memory for the people who were killed.
This conversation takes place literally in a couple of nanoseconds, which means that machines can hard-wire (or program) humans to be able to perceive time the same way machines do, allowing them to perceive time as being slower or faster than it actually is. This explains why Neo could move like Agents, and ultimately, why Neo was even capable of communicating with the Source (apparently in a subconscious machine language).
Finally, the world he knows returns back to him, and he finds himself going through the same day 20 minutes before his world originally melted away (the ultimate deja vu): he knew everything that everyone would do and say for 20 minutes. This means the backup "mirror" had been made 20 minutes before the missile attack.
Ten years later, he's on a subway, and he experiences what begins to feel like an infinite loop: the train kept going through Euston, stopping to let half the passengers on the train off, going through Euston, stopping to let half the passengers off, over and over again. A black girl sitting next to him finally handed him a note that said, "ARE WE DEAD?", so he wasn't alone in experiencing this loop.
Everything then fades to white, and he has no sense of space or time, which sounds a lot like what Neo experienced in the white construct with Morpheus. The man with the horn-rimmed spectacles appears again, recalling that he had "just" talked to Goliath, the "big guy". Goliath says that was 10 years ago when he worked at the carpet warehouse, and the American explains that it was actually 37 minutes ago. "We've been running in an accelerated mode since then, trying to patch and cover, while we've been processing potential solutions."
Goliath asks the American who attacked ("U.S.S.R.? Iranians?"), and the American says that aliens attacked. He says they (machines) have been sending out seed probes for a couple hundred years, and some aliens followed one back. Machines didn't know about the aliens until the first missile landed, and it took "a good 20 minutes" to formulate a retaliatory plan. In order to speed up processing, machines have been running the Matrix in overdrive mode, which is why it feels to Goliath like a decade has gone by (although it feels like the decade has gone by "fast").
This raises the question of how machines have been able to overcome the sky of dark clouds full of electrical storms. How can machines send out probes if any electrical device is disabled by the energy in the clouds?
Also, this implies that Goliath's dream world simulation is running separate from the actual Matrix, because we know that Zion hovercraft operators can communicate in real time with people jacked into the Matrix. If the Matrix were ever being run in "overdrive" or "underdrive", operators simply wouldn't be able to communicate with redpills in the Matrix.
The American says machines are going to counter-attack and "take out" the aliens, but they have to wait until the proper machinery is constructed. At that point, the all-white scene faded into "dark pinks and dull reds". Goliath opened his eyes "for the first time" and saw the real world of humans in their pods for 30 seconds, what he calls a nightmare.
He then found himself back on the train, which went through Euston, and half the passengers got off - this time only once. He started talking to the black girl (Susan) and eventually moved in with her. He eventually made a mistake with Susan that I can't articulate any better than it is articulated in the story:
I made the mistake of telling Susan some of what I believed one night - about how none of this was real. About how we were really just hanging there, plugged and wired, central processing units or just cheap memory chips for some computer the size of the world, being fed a consensual hallucination to keep us happy, to allow us to communicate and dream using the tiny fraction of our brains that they weren't using to crunch numbers and store information.
The above description could very well be what the Wachowskis originally had in mind for Morpheus to say to Neo in M1.
Susan moved out the following weekend, leaving Goliath to be very lonely. Moments of deja vu came more frequently, with moments that would "hiccup, falter and repeat". Then he woke up one morning, and it was 1975 again (he was 16). This means the machines were returning him to his original self. Remember that a decade or longer went by in only 37 minutes, so really, Goliath was not 25 or 30 years old. He has been a teenager in the real world for this entire story. Goliath has the experience of a man with the body of a very big high schooler.
Goliath walked out of school and into the RAF recruiting office. The man with the horn-rimmed glasses was the recruiting officer, who said he is Canadian despite Goliath thinking he was American. The Canadian said, "So you want to fly?" to which Goliath responded, "More than anything." Goliath then comments:
It seemed like I half-remembered a world in which I'd forgotten that I wanted to fly planes, which seemed as strange to me as forgetting my own name.
Here, it becomes clear that machines manipulated Goliath's memory at the time of the alien attack, causing him to forget his own identity. Then, after the machines allowed his RSI to return to its original 16-year-old self in 1975, he remembered who he was again. This is further evidence of the fact that one's RSI in the Matrix is part of the choice people have thanks to the Oracle's choice-based Matrix model. Machines can supress RSI and make people think anything about themselves if they want to. Remember when Neo went to Mobil Avenue, his clothing changed. Neo had no choice about how he appeared in Mobil Avenue, because Mobil Avenue is not part of the choice-based Matrix.
The horn-rimmed Canadian recruiting officer said they'd have to "bend a few rules" to get Goliath in the air, to which Goliath says, "And he meant it, too." He says the next few years passed "really fast", which surely means time inside the Matrix was still being accelerated. He spent all his time in cockpits, and he kept working his way farther and farther up in military clearance (Secret Clearance, Noble clearance), eventually gaining "Graceful" clearance that not even the Prime Minister has. This clearance had him flying saucers and other craft that moved with no visible means of support. Clearly, Goliath is being trained to help fight the aliens. Why do they need a human to fight the aliens?
Goliath married a woman named Sandra, and they never had children because the military warned that he had been exposed to radiation that has probably fried his "gonads". Goliath also comments that he always seems to know what is going to happen, and that in fact everyone seems to know what is going to happen, "Like we were sleepwalking through our lives for the tenth or the twentieth or the hundredth time." This suggests the machines have been forcing humans to relive the same simulation over and over again at accelerated speed.
In 1985, another decade after 1975 (presumably another 30 minutes later in the real world), the Canadian walked into his house when Sandra was gone (Goliath was getting on Sandra's nerves, so she moved out to get her some "breathing room"). The Canadian said it's time for him to go, and that he'd be piloting something close to a PL-47, which even people with Graceful Clearance weren't supposed to know about (Goliath says he's flown one a dozen times). Goliath comments that the PL-47 looks like a teacup and flew like something out of Star Wars.
The Canadian asked Goliath to sit down on the floor and breath deeply. Goliath went through great pain, trying to scream but hearing that his voice wasn't screaming. He woke up in the real world, a wet naked body on a metal disc surrounded by cables that "...were retracting, moving away from me, like scared worms...". A glass screen set into the floor of the metal disc came on with the image of the Canadian. The conversation between Goliath and the Canadian is so packed with information, that trying to summarize it would result in an even larger amount of text:
Canadian: "Do you remember?" he asked. "You should be able to access most of your memory for the moment."
Goliath: "I think so," I told him.
Canadian: "You'll be in a PL-47," he said. "We've just finished building it. Pretty much had to go back to first principles, come forward. Modify some factories to construct it. We'll have another batch of them finished by tomorrow. Right now we've only got one."
Goliath: "So if this doesn't work, you've got replacements for me."
Canadian: "If we survive that long," he said. "Another missile bombardment started about fifteen minutes ago. Took out most of Australia. We project that it's still a prelude to the real bombing."
Goliath: "What are they dropping? Nuclear weapons?"
Canadian: "Uh-huh. Rocks. Asteroids. Big ones. We think that tomorrow unless we surrender, they may drop the moon on us."
Goliath: "You're joking."
Canadian: "Wish I was." The screen went dull.
Goliath's metal disc navigated him through a world of cables and other sleeping naked people, presumably people like him, until they arrived at the PL-47 at the top of a metal mountain. After "tiny metal crabs" finished inspecting the craft, Goliath got inside and found that he fit perfectly - it was made just for his gigantic size. After cables plugged into his neck and spine, he suddenly was able to sense 360 degrees around him, above and below the ship, while still operating the ship from the inside.
Goliath saw the Canadian on a small screen and asked another question:
Goliath: Why me?"
Canadian: "Well," he said, "the short answer is that you were designed to do this. We've improved a little on the basic human design in your case. You're bigger. You're much faster. You have faster processing speeds and reaction times."
Goliath: "I'm not faster. I'm big, but I'm clumsy."
Canadian: "Not in real life," he said. "That's just in the world."
At that point, he "took off". The story doesn't say how his ship got through the electrical storm in the clouds, but it is likely that his ship was shut off before entering the electrical storm, having enough momentum to carry him well into outer space. Once into outer space, Goliath would be able to restart the ship, similar to how Trinity and Neo restarted the Logos as they fell into Machine City.
He saw the alien ship orbiting the moon, and it looked like a gigantic fungus growth off of a rotting log "the size of Tasmania". 200-mile-long tendrils began hurling asteroids at him when he was a couple hundred thousand miles away, which he was able to dodge and outrun. He eventually got within 100 yards of its "eye" or "nucleus" and delivered his payload, destroying the alien ship.
Overjoyed to save Earth, machines and mankind, Goliath began talking to the Canadian, quickly finding out that his trip was one way because Goliath himself is seen as a "unit" or "disposable part". A return trip would have been too costly of a redundancy. His controls begin turning off, he loses his 360-degree perception of his ship, and all that is left is himself along with the 2 hours of air in his cabin. After some time to himself, he contacts the Canadian again for one last request, to finish the last 57 minutes of his life back in the old "dream world" he grew up with. The Canadian is able to grant his wish, and he jacks back into the dream world remotely from the head and spine plugs in the ship.
The rest of the story finishes with a narrative written from Goliath to his new wife, Susan, and we learn that the entire story is actually a note to be delivered to Susan upon Goliath's death. He explains that the last time he told his loved one what he knew about the truth, she walked out on him, and that his true coffin is orbiting the moon.
He concludes by saying that he can't help feeling grateful to machines, and that "the last twenty minutes have been the best years of my life." His gratefulness is probably a large part of his design, just as Neo was designed with "a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to the rest of your species".
|Back to Comics|