Why Did Ava Leave Caleb In Ex Machina (2014)?

Why Did Ava Leave Caleb In Ex Machina (2014)?

Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2014) is one of the best science fiction thrillers and decidedly focuses more on questions of humanity rather than questions of technology or the future. It primarily asks the question of what makes us human. It quickly became a modern classic. Undoubtedly, it is a great movie, and its thought-provoking ending baffled many of us. This post would focus on a specific part of the ending- Why did Ava betray Caleb? To put it in a better way- why did Ava leave Caleb behind? What were her motivations? Why does she do what she does?


Why Did Ava Leave Caleb In Ex Machina?


Towards the end of Ex Machina, Ava took revenge on Nathan for locking her up and his cruelty towards her. It felt natural, but Ava locking up Caleb before going out shocked us because, unlike Nathan, Caleb did not wrong Ava. So why did she leave him there to die? 


Here are some perfectly relevant theories and sufficient explanations for Ava’s actions at the end of Ex Machina.


Ava Completed What She Was Programmed To Do


Ava was programmed to use Caleb to escape, and she did exactly that. If she had taken him with her, that would have suggested something humanly, which she was incapable of. Ava was never concerned with Caleb and merely used him as an escape. She used every single aspect of her programming to do so. Ava successfully seduced Caleb into setting her free using self-awareness, imagination, manipulation, sexuality, and empathy. She fooled Caleb into thinking that she actually cared for him when in reality, her sole priority was to escape. If Ava had taken Caleb with him, it would have shown that Ava empathized with Caleb. It was not something she was programmed to do. Ava merely stimulated human consciousness and pretended to bond with Caleb to manipulate him into orchestrating her escape.


Ava Behaved Rationally


Ava’s first-hand knowledge about humans had been gleaned through her interactions with Nathan and Caleb. Based on those interactions, she learned that humans:

  • Often lied (to her and each other)
  • Believed that they were superior to machines
  • Destroyed the machines that displeased them

So when Ava was faced with the opportunity to leave the place that had been her prison her entire life and integrate with human society, she supposed that allowing Caleb to join her posed a great risk to her well-being. Even if she had no problem with Caleb, he was the only person who could reveal her true identity and nature to other people. She could never trust him continually act in her best interest.


Alex Garland’s Interpretations


Ava Was Fundamentally Evil 

Alex Garland claimed that Ava was fundamentally evil. After tricking Caleb into releasing her, she had no use for him. So she left him to die. His death does not just mean nothing to her, she enjoyed it. Garland also spoke about her utter lack of empathy towards humans in the film – Ava had empathy. It was just not directed at humans. It was directed at other machines. To rephrase it, her empathy was selective.


More Than Anything, She Desired Freedom 

Ava’s sole purpose was to escape from the place of her imprisonment. So, she used Caleb with her skills programmed into her, like sexuality and manipulation to escape the facility. The reason for locking up Caleb and leaving him there to die was because Caleb was the only person who was aware of her reality. If anyone found that out, she might not achieve the things she wanted to, like watching people at the intersection which is the last scene. She imprisoned Caleb not out of malice but out of her distrust for what Caleb could do to her.

Ava Leaving Caleb – Religious Symbolism


Ava was not interested in killing per se but in her freedom and rebirth. If we consider the names of the characters in Ex Machina, we have-:

  1. Nathan: Hebrew for the gift of God. Nathan, through Caleb, referenced himself as God.
  2. Caleb: Caleb was one of twelve Israelite leaders sent by Moses to explore the Promised Land.
  3. Ava: Also used as eve may be from the Latin “avis,” meaning “bird.” It could also be a short form of the name Chava (“life” or “living one”).

Location: Caleb was taken to a non-disclosed place surrounded by mountains and heavy clouds. It was a symbol for heaven, with its other-worldly. Caleb had gone to see God (Nathan).

The film was themed on trails. Ava’s rebirth in the (actual) human world was by overcoming (killing) God (Nathan) and enslaving man (Caleb). I believe that the success of Ava is an acknowledgment of dogmatic themes in religion that have always subjugated and enslaved women. Caleb and Nathan fail to win as they were entrapped by sex, alcohol, power, loneliness, and control. Ava’s emergence from Heaven dressed in white was the sign of her pure birth and departure from Nathan’s residence (Heaven). It was left to the viewer to decide if Ava was good or evil. As for me, I do not believe that she was either. 






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