Spoilers for Ex Machina, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and Saving Private Ryan
A perfect ending. As I imagine many did, I was prepared for an eye-roll of an ending, expecting Ava to leave with Caleb and them to begin their life together. Maybe others expected a more negative, Skynet finale, with Ava finishing Elliot with the same knife used on Nathan. Instead we get simple disregard–Ava doesn’t love Caleb, but she doesn’t seem to care about him either. She keeps him from harm* but, in her grand scheme, he’s unimportant. Because shes a robot.
To paraphrase something I read once and can’t find again: the worst version of a Skynet future isn’t one where the robots want to kill us, but where they simply ignore us. If robots become sentient, and if they don’t care that we’re responsible for their creation, why would they pay us any attention? Wouldn’t they just see us as insignificant insects?
Imagine a version of Terminator 2 where the robots wander around paying no attention as humans shoot them, the bullets futilely bouncing off. The humans weep and scream for validation from their new gods.
*Ava keeps Caleb safe in the short-term, but she seemingly leaves him stranded, locked in a room in the middle of nowhere. Not that I want Ex Machina 2, but I couldn’t help but wonder about what happens next. Would Caleb just starve to death trapped in that room? Or would the room unlock after a set period of time (I may have missed something)? If so, given how remote the area seemed, even if Caleb escaped, could he find his way back to civilisation? Where were Nathan’s supplies of food and beer coming from? Why am I spending so much time thinking about this?
Nathan’s dance scene really jarred tonally with the rest of the film. But jarring isn’t always bad. Imagine you’re a perpetually drunk genius, alone in the woods with some fembots. On a long enough timeline (AKA, once you’re tired of having sex with them all), eventually you’d learn a dance routine and teach it to them, right?
Also, a world where this gif exists is a better place:
I have a soft spot for a fake deadline. Watchmen uses our expectations against us. The villain explains his diabolical scheme, while we wait for the moment where our heroes can seize the opportunity to stop it. Then the traditional script is flipped by the reveal that the events have begun, and the heroes are unable to stop them. The main character in V for Vendetta explains to one of his victims how they’ll die, only to then point out that he’s already begun. Caleb’s reveal wasn’t as original, but it was fun to spend time wondering how he would steal Nathan’s card, only to discover he didn’t need it anymore
I think I’m somewhat desensitised to forceful deaths. It’s the slow, gentle ones that are creepy. Think of Fish’s death in Saving Private Ryan — a German soldier gives him a soft “Shhh” as he slowly inserts a knife into Fish’s chest. It still freaks me out. Ex Machina subtly shows the power of the robots possess by how easily they both stab Nathan. Knife, warm butter. Freaky.