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In this heavily related question: Why did Agent Johnson try to kill the Key Maker?

The asker asks (bold emphasis mine):

Agent Johnson (the one who fights Morpheus on top of the trailer) tries to kill the Key Maker which doesn't make sense since the Agents are programs inside the Matrix and The Key Maker is essential for The One to get to the source. Components of a system work together to achieve a mutual goal.

The answer there explains how the agents likely aren't "in the know", which may explain why they might not be a reliable source of information regarding whether or not the Key Maker is actually an exile. But either way, they clearly believe he is an exile, and apparently an important one at that:

Agent Johnson: The exile is the primary target.

...

Agent Thompson: Find the exile.

The Matrix Reloaded transcript

"The exile" can only refer to the Key Maker, which is made clearer by the fact that Agent Johnson tries to "delete" him once he thinks he's dealt with the humans:

Agent: You are no longer necessary.

Keymaker: We do only what we’re meant to do.

Agent: Then you are meant for one more thing. Deletion.

The Matrix Reloaded transcript

On the other hand, the Oracle tells us he's being held prisoner, and whilst it's not impossible for one exile to hold another exile prisoner, to me this might imply that the Key Maker is not actually an exile:

The Oracle: Then Zion will fall. Our time is up. Listen to me, Neo. You can save Zion if you reach The Source, but to do that you will need the Keymaker.

Neo: The Keymaker?

The Oracle: Yes, he disappeared some time ago. We did not know what happened to him until now. He’s being held prisoner by a very dangerous program, one of the oldest of us. He is called the Merovingian, and he will not let him go willingly.

The Matrix Reloaded transcript

Also note that, whilst obviously not official, the Matrix fandom wiki page on the Key Maker lists him as an exile, and various Q&As on this site speak of the Key Maker as though his status of exile is correct.


Whereas the other Q&A is more focused on the motives of Agent Johnson (or any of the agents trying to stop the Key Maker, for that matter), my question is about whether or not the Key Maker really is an exile.

If so, how does that make sense given that he's an essential part of the Path of the One? How else was Neo supposed to meet the Architect if the Key Maker is apparently now an exile and not part of the system anymore?

If he's actually not an exile, what evidence (besides that he seems to be the only way for Neo to meet the Architect) suggests that this is so? I guess the agents were simply not told the truth to create the illusion of opposition, as the answer to the other question states...

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    "Components of a system work together to achieve a mutual goal." - Suggests a lack of experience with large computer systems and IT organisations. – Jontia Aug 13 at 7:42
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    @Jontia Yeah, I didn't highlight that part, since I wasn't so sure about that either; I was mostly focused on the "how else was Neo supposed to get to the Source?" part. – NathanS Aug 13 at 7:46
  • I really want to write an answer for this, but it would almost certainly be entirely opinion based. But to my mind, the point is that TheOne and Zion's part of the system is to be the rebellion against the system. If the path to the Source and the Architect was easy, and clearly something The Machines wanted/needed then it is not a path they would walk. It has to been seen as a struggle and a way to win to get Zion to go for it. – Jontia Aug 13 at 7:48
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    @Jontia Yes, I agree with that; that's also the thrust of Valorum's answer I link to; that the agents, at least, are told the Key Maker is an exile so that the humans view it as a struggle, and therefore that the humans should believe that he is an exile too. Otherwise they'd realise it was too easy and would suspect the Key Maker of not being an exile... – NathanS Aug 13 at 7:51
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First of all, while this is an interesting question to think about it doesn't really make a difference whether or not the Keymaker is an Exile. The Agents are clearly hunting him just like any other Exile so he's a de facto Exile whether the system has actually flagged him for deletion or not. Unless the system -- represented by, say, the Architect -- intended to tell the Agents to stand down right before they succeeded in killing / apprehending the Keymaker (which did not happen) then it's a distinction without a difference.

That said, the system likely did flag the Keymaker for deletion (i.e. he is an actual Exile) because he was no longer able to fulfull his purpose (which is to help the One open the door to the Source) once he was imprisoned by the Merovingian. He may also have been flagged for deletion because it is presumably part of the Keymaker's purpose to control access to the backdoors -- and he's clearly failing to do that since the Merovingian's henchmen and the virus Smith (all Exiles) are seen accessing the backdoors in an obvious security breach. This security breach is probably why the Agents view the Keymaker as such an important target -- if they can eliminate the Keymaker then they can stop him from producing more keys for the Merovingian and his henchmen to access other parts of the system they're not supposed to.

The main reason to think the Keymaker is not an Exile is that he's obviously an important part of the path of the One which is essential to the Matrix system. However, it's possible for the One to reach the source without the Keymaker program so long as the One can obtain the key to the Source and has the information necessary to bypass the security protecting the door to the Source (such information can probably be provided by, say, the Oracle). After all, the Keymaker tells us that he's not the one who actually opens the door, he just provides the key:

Only The One can open the door...

The Matrix Reloaded transcript

Also, it's entirely possible that the system created a new Keymaker program to replace the imprisoned one, at which point the Keymaker would have been flagged for deletion. Such a Keymaker might be able to start changing the locks to the backdoors to prevent the Merovingian and Smith from accessing the backdoors (or at least make it more difficult for them to do so).

If a new Keymaker program exists, though, then why would the Oracle not just send Neo to that new Keymaker? There are plenty of reasons for the Oracle to send Neo to rescue the imprisoned Keymaker even if another Keymaker is available. For one, the Oracle already knows Neo will reach the Source so it's no more risky to send him to rescue the imprisoned Keymaker from the Merovingian than to find a new Keymaker program. Furthermore, since the Oracle knows Neo will succeed it's beneficial for her to send him to confront the Merovingian -- he is her enemy who hates her and is trying to destroy her system, he controls the Keymaker and has breached the security of the backdoors, he and his henchmen are Exiles the system is trying to delete anyway, etc. Finally, the Oracle probably knew that the chain of events caused by Neo confronting the Merovingian would be essential for the rest of her plan -- e.g. perhaps she wanted Neo and Rama Kandra to see each other in Le Vrai so they'd recognize each other later in Mobil Avenue and Rama Kandra would help Neo escape.

It seems more likely than not that the imprisoned Keymaker really is an Exile given that there are reasons for the system to flag him for deletion, the Agents act like he really is an Exile, and that particular Keymaker program is not essential to helping Neo complete the path of the One.

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  • Thanks! Your second paragraph certainly shed a lot of light on why the Key Maker might well be an exile, and your 3rd/4th paragraphs explain why he's not as important as I thought he was (i.e. it's the key, not him specifically). I also agree with your reasoning regarding the Oracle in your 5th paragraph, so yeah, I agree with everything you've said here. Thanks again! – NathanS Aug 13 at 16:00
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    @NathanS Happy to help! It's a very interesting and tricky question, and one I've thought a lot about over the years. – Null Aug 13 at 16:04
  • I've just realised; this also effectively answers another question I was planning on asking: "Why aren't the agents chasing the Key Maker interested in the Ghost Twins, who are also exiles?" The part of your answer that says: "This security breach is probably why the Agents view the Keymaker as such an important target -- if they can eliminate the Keymaker then they can stop him from producing more keys for the Merovingian and his henchmen to access other parts of the system they're not supposed to." answers my other question as well. – NathanS Aug 14 at 13:29
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    @NathanS Yeah, that's a natural question to ask and something I initially wondered, too. I've been enjoying all the questions you've been posting lately about The Matrix -- keep them coming. Maybe one of these days I'll finally get the gold tag badge for The Matrix... – Null Aug 14 at 14:41

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