Final Scene



Inception (Two-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in this sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind’s vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming.
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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

irene July 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

i think the clue is pretty simple. i noticed that whenever the kids showed up as a projection, they always wear the same clothes.. always.
in the end the clothes are different. means he’s awake. and the totem spins pretty stable before it actually fell earlier in the hotel room after Cobb and Arthur failed on Saito’s project. so i think it’s cut right before it fell.

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shardon September 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Cobb never left the chemist basement he didn’t check the totem he dropped it

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Dice January 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Agreed with shardon … why did Nolan choose to show us that specifically. Before that point we saw the totem fall, after the basement we never did.

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Anonymous November 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm

no Irene, you are mistaken, they still wearing the same cloths they were wearing before .
which mean that he didn’t make it .

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Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 3:16 am

No, they are slightly older and have different shoes on.

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Anonymous March 21, 2014 at 10:37 am

Look at imdb’s full cast. There r 4 kids playing cobb’s children. Two of them older than the other two. That means the kids grown up in the last scene.

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Clay July 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I have seen the movie four times and the clothes are the same, sorry to disappoint your memory. Watch it again.

There are so many pieces of evidence that support he is dreaming here it isn’t funny. The way Nolan shoots it in a dream-like state from the airport all the way here. He stands at the table exactly as he did in “reality” (I don’t believe he was ever in reality when that happened. I think Mal was right in assuming them to still be asleep). He looks up and sees them in the same exact position as all of his projections are. They are wearing the same clothes. He is dreaming.

Also, in case this is mentioned, the totem isn’t a reliable source. It was never Cobb’s to begin with and we never see him spin it to where it never falls over other than when he spun it in the safe, where it could have easily toppled. The only person in the entire film to actually spin it and produce a never-ending spin cycle was Saito at the end. The problem, though, is that we don’t know if the top will fall over. It could. Nolan might cut away right before it does. The totem is a false hope, and its purpose reels in the audience into believing the difference between reality and dreams just like it does Cobb. It’s a brilliant distraction, nothing more.

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NomiRox November 4, 2010 at 11:31 am

Very sorry to inform you that the clothes were different and its confirmed by the costume designers.
Well the one who think that the spinning shows that every thing was a dream is quite awkward because at one point in the film when Cob spins it, it actually falls.Secondly when Cob is chased by Cobol engineering guys,what did they say???????
“This isn’t a dream,isn’t it”
So I think the ending and every thing else was real and Nolan meant to conclude the movie with such kind of ending,like this world is like a dream.

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Anonymous June 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

actually dom cobbs totem was his wedding ring, if u notice thru out the film in real life he doesnt have it in the dream he does.

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Anonymous June 28, 2011 at 11:45 pm

ok that is me that said this ^ i forgot to mention maybe him leaving mals top ment that he got rid of mal.

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Henrik January 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I think you’re wrong. I think it’s real, and I’ll tell you why.

Never in the movie was it stated he’d been gone very long, so the kids would be looking the same. Clothing is just to throw the viewer off to make them think it’s still a dream, when it’s actually more about Cobb seeing his children just like he remembered them, though the clothing aren’t actually the same.
The whole thing is set up in a way to make you think that he might be still asleep, giving you the same doubts that Cobb and Mal has/had. They can’t know if anything’s real anymore and neither can you. If you watch the totem, it’s wobbling, about to fall over, but it’s cut before you get more than a taste of it, so you’ll doubt if you actually saw it or not.
It’s a scene made to be watched once, or it will break. I’ve watched things very, very carefully, and I’m sure it was going to fall over.

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Joe Schmoe August 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Actually they are different kids wearing different clothes, according to the credits and the wardrobe person on set

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Cory August 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Yes, different clothes (albeit slightly) and the credits also reveal the age difference.

More importantly, on my 2nd viewing of the film, the kids are *definitely* in a different position then throughout the film (Phillippa’s on the left at the end, hunched down).

That all said, there’s any number of ways this could still be interpreted as still dreaming, but I believe Nolan found the sweet spot between difference and similarity to make everyone guess from now till eternity. :)

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david August 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I think everyone is overanalyzing the movie. The ambiguous ending was done entirely as a artistic way to end the movie. Imagine if the ending clearly showed the top spinning forever or falling down, wouldn’t that turn the movie into another typical conflict resolution plot story? I think Christopher Nolan left the ending ambiguous to “seal the deal”, to make the plot highlight the whole dreams within dreams idea of the movie.

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Mo September 4, 2010 at 4:44 am

Rather, what if he left the ending there for you to choose your own reality, and really not care as long as it makes you happy. Ignorance is bliss…

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YS Princess September 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I think that’s the point Cobb got to anyway, considering he didn’t stick around to find out if the top would fall or not – he just stopped caring and was happy.

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BK January 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm

This does not actually make sense becuase he eventually would have to walk back into that room and see the totem (fall or not) at which point he would know if it was a dream or not. If he truly did not care then he would have never even spun the totem.

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Santi August 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

The reason is stops when it does is because; in dreams, it always stops when it is about to get good and you wake up. It’s pretty much a metaphor for dreams, I thought.

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Jesper Jørgensen August 20, 2010 at 4:49 am

Hi

As I interpret the movie, everything in the movie is a dream, UNTIL he wakes up in the aeroplane from where on he is back in reality. Possible plot:

[Before movie start] Mr Cobb (or whatever his real name is) is a frequent airplane traveler and quite a celebrity at the airport. This day, he enters a plane (possibly in Sydney). During his earlier travels and while at the airport in Sydney he notices faces (airport staff in LAX and travellers), details etc from his surroundings. During his flight from Sydney he falls asleep.
[In the movie] During his dream on the airplane, he uses the faces of airport staff and travellers to create an exciting environment. Ariadne appears to be an airport staff member in LAX in reality.
[End of movie] Mr Cobb (or whatever his real name is) wakes from his dream on the plane from Sydney. “Mr Saito” is just a co-traveller. This explains why many of his friends from the dreams don’t talk to him in the airport, and why others behave strange compared to the “apparent reality” during the movie.
[Afterthoughts] Mr Cobb may just live a boring life and has or have had issues with his wife. He travels a lot and loves to return to his kids.

/Jesper

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Mo September 4, 2010 at 4:42 am

You should sell that plot line :)

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Jim September 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Agree w/Mo, excellent interpretation!

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Sal September 25, 2010 at 8:40 am

Nice!

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PeterPan October 31, 2010 at 2:06 am

I totally agree with this plot interpretation..

I should know as i never grow old, you could say im in my own dream world?

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Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

motherfucker go fuck ur self and die in shame don’t destroy a beautiful plot like inception wid ur vague and crap mind……………if u say dis in personal i will shoot u in head

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boo November 16, 2010 at 6:57 am

if u sch00t hem i se hed i wil sh00t y00 in ur vag1n0, mosaf0ka – in personal, rilli

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Anonymous November 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm

That would work except for one extremely important detail: he would have no use for the totem in this situation.

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J November 21, 2010 at 9:27 pm

That’s an interesting theory, but in the dreams you don’t remember how you got there, you’re just suddenly there.
So if everything in the movie is a dream UNTIL he wakes up in the plane, then we wouldn’t have known how he got to the plane, but we do (Saito buying the airline, his competitor’s heir being on the plane.) Unless you’re saying the entire movie that leads up to him waking up in the plane is just his dream of how he got there, then it would have shown him waking up twice in the plane. Also. if you were traveling with a group of likely wanted criminals who use military technology to steal corporate and political secrets, along with a man who is wanted for the *murder* of his wife, after you used said technology to disband the world’s largest energy company, then I wouldn’t give more than a glance to my fellow conspirators at the airport with security and immigration scrutinizing my every step…so it makes sense…just my opinion.

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Iza February 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

If so, why is he spinning his top at the end?

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Henrik January 20, 2014 at 10:35 am

Your interpretation doesn’t make sense. First of all, the totem wouldn’t matter AT ALL if it was all a fantasy. Second, if Ariadne was airport staff, where would he have seen her if he just flew across the world, unless you mean she was on the flight, in which case, where was she when he woke up, dressed as a stewardess or in normal clothing?
No, you are missing too many key elements in the movie for this to be correct.

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Jake August 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

An extraordinary movie. Bravo Chris Nolan. Guys like Clay shouldn’t make definite statements like that when they end up being wrong lol kind of sophomoric.

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Kinson August 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Was told there was an important scene at the very end of the film (i.e. after all the words rowed out)… really wish to know that cause I missed it….

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Jim September 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I just watched the movie and sat through to end of credits — no extra scene, nothing!

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Gary Allen Vollink August 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Of all of the explanations I’ve seen, nobody seems to have noticed the one thing I thought was most important in the movie.

Cobb never left the chemist’s basement. He was never able to check the totem when he woke up from there. We never see the totem fall after that point. Add that additional layer, and none of the “this is why they are in reality” graphs don’t make sense either.

From the perspective of “don’t screw with Saito” this makes perfect sense. He get’s thrown into a job, put in with a chemist he’s never worked with before, and dropped into a coma for a while. That he resolved the thing with his dead wife is his own doing, and was done outside of someone else’s control anyway.

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Jay August 24, 2010 at 8:41 am

That is exactly what I thought on first viewing. Saw it a second time and still came to the same conclusion. He never left that basement.

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BK January 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

That doesn’t make any sense. If this was true then every thing we saw after that point was a dream. None of the dreams we saw were natural dreams but rather, “constructed” dreams…. and you need an achitect to “build” a dream and the details of the dream have to be built around someone’s interpretation of reality. This explanation would imply that Cobb created (as the architect) everything we saw after the basement including several people he had never met (Ariadne and others). This does not match what we were told about how dreams were built and populated with “characters”.

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Pierre August 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm

How come Saito can use the same expression as Ariadne asking Cobb to “take a leap of faith” ? I can’t understand…

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heavy d November 2, 2010 at 3:09 am

this only my opinion. but this brings up the whole idea, pun intended, of the film. the totem is a lie, that thing which grounds one in reality is a borrowed notion/idea from somebody else. like clay said, the totem is a distraction. the totem is mal’s, not cobb’s. saito touches it at the beginning, then we see throughout the film cobb spinning it. right away we’re told the totem is never to be touched by anyone else it loses validity. once we discover that cobb steals into the depths of mal and institutes the idea that “your world isnt real” the totem, from that moment on is meaningless.
theres a particular theory of postmodernism which says that all life, reality, is a fictional construct. narration, the art of depiction, is our greatest access to reality; not only do stories gives us meanings but its the essence of life itself. since there is nothing in this world that can ground us into reality, no legit totems, they’re all borrowed and handled by others, then life is up for grabs. life is a fiction, so write what you want, make what you want, the mind “creates and simlutaneously percieves the world.” why can saito and ariadne say to cobb “take of leap of faith”? because their fictional beings apart of cobb’s larger fictional story, shared by us larger fictional beings, and thus impling that despite our world not being real, despite not being able to decipher between real and “unreal”, cobb chooses to leave the totem where its at because he is able to say ‘it doesnt matter. i’m going to take a leap of faith and create/write my own fiction as i see fit. real or not’. does that make sense? which is why after coming up out of the water arthur asks ariadne, “will he be ok?” she responds “yes.”

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Brandon November 24, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Saito touches it at the beginning, but you learn at the end of the film that this took place limbo, where it doesn’t matter whether or not Saito touched it. The totem much be touched in the real world for it to lose its affect. Even though the totem was initially Mal’s, the purpose is to reveal if it is reality or not because within the dreamer’s mind they would not know the weight shape ect. of the object. Therefore, the object would not behave on its true terms, letting user know that they are within someone’s mind. In that case it would not matter if Mal had also touched the totem because she was dead and they weren’t inside of her mind in any of these stages.

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Henrik January 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I agree with Brandon. You would need to touch the totem in the real world for it to lose it’s validity, and at that it would have to be more than a touch. You’d need to really feel it, understand it.
Since Cobb is the only remaining person who knows what the spinning top feels like, he’s the only one who can know if it is moving or feeling out of order. No architect can recreate that without knowing his totem very well. Touching it in the dream wouldn’t matter, since it doesn’t have it’s own properties there, and thus you cannot learn it’s nature.

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David August 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I am of the opinion that it is Cobb’s memory and that he is in limbo because the angle which he sees the kids is pretty much the same, if not identical to shots of his kids in his memory. There is the secondary fact that the children appear to be the same age as they were in his memory. There is not frame of reference indicating just how long he’s been on the run out of the country, but the likely hood is that it was long enough for his children to have grown. Then there’s the other comment that his children were wearing the same clothes as in his memory.

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sd August 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I think it is obvious he is still dreaming at the end. The kids are way too young in the final scene. His daughter sounds a lot older in the conversation they had in the beginning of the movie.

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Mo September 4, 2010 at 4:40 am

That is your reality… since there was no mention of time elapsed, you can only assume. So back to square one?

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Jeff C September 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

If you look in the credits and on imdb.com there are two sets of kids and the two in the end are older….so he has to be in real life right…

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Robin September 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Whether or not they’re the same set of kids, they’re still too young to match the voices that we hear in the phone conversation.

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Henrik January 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm

There’s no mention of how long Cobb’s been away, the kids actually don’t look the same in the end and there’s no proof that the kid on the phone is older than she is in the movie scenes.
Two months would be a long time to be away from your family, but not long enough for your kids to grow so much you can’t recognize them. Two weeks would be a long time for a child who misses a person that’s almost always with them, at least enough to wonder when they’re coming back. More so for a child who just lost their mother.
It’s evident to me and friends of mine that the end is real, but made in such a way as for us to doubt ourselves. It’s made for the cinemas, because when you rewatch it and look really close at everything tied to reality, you see that it movie is just screwing with you, not the story.

Afrim September 29, 2010 at 12:32 am

I just worked out why there are 2 sets of kids. One set is for the visual appearance i.e. at the beach and wherever else their backs are shown. The other set is when Cobb talks to them on the phone i.e. the first set was only used to appear in the movie, but not necessarily talk.

Therefore there being two sets doesn’t mean one pair is real. This was just done for the production of the movie – nothing to do with the plot line. That’s how I see it.

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Patrick December 29, 2010 at 5:45 am

Ah, now that makes sense.

akol August 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm

One point that nobody has referred to is the first job Cobb takes. What was it about Cobb and Saito?? After Cobb, Arthur and the other guy woke up from the second dream, they left and Saito never learned that they entered his mind. What they wanted from him? An Inception… The inception was “Make me this offer, so I can return back to my children”. He could make an inception like “Make a call, so I can return back to my children”, but maybe it was not so powerful to grow as an idea.

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Jeff Bridges August 31, 2010 at 10:32 pm

If the top keeps spinning, won’t Cobb eventually come back inside, notice it’s still spinning, and then just go off himself to get back to reality?

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Mo September 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

Would he want to?

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BK January 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Yes because he had demonstrated a strong desire at several points to get back to his kids in the real world rather than just construct a dream world with his kids in it. He had several opportunities to live in a dream world with his kids but he KNEW it would never work because (as with Mal) he could never re-contruct their characters in a way that would be satidiying to him. He would never choose to stay in a dream and with his totem spinning in the dining room he would eventually have to see it and thus know his current state.

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Justin September 1, 2010 at 12:34 am

Why was his Dad at the airport in the USA when Cobb last saw him in France. Kinda odd don’t you think? I think he’s dreaming in the end

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Mo September 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

Sorry bud, but “his Dad” was expected, he was going to go see the kids that is why he came to drop off the gifts and pick up the chick.

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cb September 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

When he finally realizes he let his wife go, he can now go on and see his children, whether it is in a dream or reality. I believe the ending is whatever you want to believe it is….as long as he is happy!!!

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incepted September 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I’ve only seen the movie once but i’ve thought about it a bit and i’d like to share some thoughts.

Perhaps Cobb was dreaming the entire movie.
- throughout the film there is a tinge of the fantastic, or surreal.
~~the Jack Bower/SplinterCell knowledge and execution of sophisticated tactical maneuvers
~~captains of industry that seem to have endless resources at a whim (e.g. buying an airliner)
~~the apparent “happily ever-after” ending

Perhaps the ending scene “Reality” is actually a dream in which Cobb will remain indefinitely.
-the idea that one can live lifetimes in deep level dreams was mentioned in the movie
-the scene with the room full of beds and people sleeping displayed assisted sleeping
~~”you of all people should know what that is like” -perhaps referring to assisted sleeping (that Cobb is in the entire movie?)

On Totems
A Totem is an object that is used to test if oneself is in one’s own reality (dream or non-dream) and not in another person’s dream.
A Totem has a specially modified weight, balance, or feel in the real world but in a dream of someone who does not know it well, the characteristics of the totem will very likely be off.
In order to protect its integrity, only the totem’s owner should ever handle it. That way, the owner is able to tell whether or not they are in someone else’s dream.
In the owner’s own dream world, the totem will feel correct. (http://inception.wikia.com/wiki/Totem)

-the top totem is suspect
~~it was mal’s
~~Saito touched and spun the top ((MORE ON THIS LATER)
(+++perhaps that means that Saito can create a dream that Cobb can not be distinguish from his own+++))

Possible assumptions
The inception on Robert Fischer was real and as payment Saito supplies the happily ever-after reality in which Cobb chooses to remain.
-Saito perhaps has the resources allow Cobb to remain in a suspended dreamstate.

The inception was performed on Cobb- to rid his self conscious of Mal and Saito supplies the happily ever-after reality in which Cobb chooses to remain.

It was a double inception on Robert Fischer and Cobb and as payment Saito supplies the happily ever-after reality in which Cobb chooses to remain.

Loose ends and foggy ideas and observations
-The guilt of an old man is referenced multiple times.
-When Cobb washes up on the shore (Saito’s limbo?) he was carrying two things the top and a gun
~~maybe the gun is Cobb’s totem
-If the entire thing is a dream are each member of the “dreamteam” projections of himself or others?
-When they were in the plane and enter the dream where Robert Fischer was looking for a cab in raining weather it was blamed on Yusuf “You couldn’ve gone on the plane” (that stuck with me for somereason)
-The killing of Mal seemed to be the execution of the inception of the idea “Kill Mal because she is preventing you from completing your tasks…” or “… going home”
-Mal means bad
-Train and plane and the ending reality are the base level of his dream (what is presented as “reality”)
-In the “sleeping room” i believe the lines were “people come here to wake up- you of all people should know what that is like” perhaps referring to the idea that people wake up from dreams within dreams or to waking up and entering created realities.

-Thanks that was cathartic

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Patrick December 29, 2010 at 5:51 am

“-Saito perhaps has the resources allow Cobb to remain in a suspended dreamstate.”

If he had those resources, he probably wouldn’t need Cobb and his team to perform inception in the first place, right?

The rest of your analysis looks great, though. Good work.

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Watson April 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Yusuf was blamed for the weather because he, as the only one left in the 1st level dream state, was in control of the dream and the rest were within his subconsious. Assuming he drank quite a bit of fluid before the job, his bladder caused him to include it in his dream. No real importance behind it, they were just wishing for better weather.

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SPC September 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Obviously it’s left open for the audience to decide if he is awake or dreaming, because the final shot with the spin top does not last long enough. The shot ends while there is still time for the spin top to fall over on its own, but it is also possible that it will keep spinning perpetually as during a dream. Either case is equally plausible.

If he’s awake, then victory for Cobb, they all live happily ever after.

But if the top keeps spinning after that final shot, and he is dreaming, then I think the question is why and how is it that Cobb is still dreaming?

I think the answer the movie sets the audience up for is this: Cobb is dreaming because he is still in the “dream” that Mal tried to wake up from when she jumped out of the anniversary sweet window. The “dream” that she wanted Cobb to wake up from too. This means that the deep dream they took together where they created their “world” was a dream within a dream. Basically, if you think the spin top will keep spinning perpetually, then you think that Mal was right the whole time, and that the whole movie has been a dream within a dream.

Regardless of clothes on kids changing or not, kids growing or not, totems varying after basement sedations, or any other anomaly, I’m impressed that the conflict between Mal and Cobb about being in reality is what makes the audience question if Cobb is awake or dreaming at the end of the movie. One of them is right, who is it?

This is the central conflict. The crux of the resolution of if Cobb and Mal were in reality when they woke up from their shared, “created world” dream is up to that spin top in the final scene. The genius of the movie is that the final scene does not reveal that crux. Thus the resolution is open to audience interpretation. —— I’m attached to both possibilties and see it either way :)

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truthseeker September 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm

“At one point he tells himself this, through the voice of Mal, who is a projection of his own subconscious. She asks him how real he thinks his world is, where he’s being chased across the globe by faceless corporate goons.”

http://www.chud.com/articles/articles/24477/1/NEVER-WAKE-UP-THE-MEANING-AND-SECRET-OF-INCEPTION/Page1.html

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Incepted October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I feel that the ending was just to bring in the poem that Mal and Cobb were saying to each other. It doesn’t matter if he’s dreaming or not because they(cobb and kids) are together.

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metalmute October 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I think it was pretty obvious that it was reality and it wasn’t cleverly disguised. Everytime he spun the top throughout the movie, the top would immediately spin in one spot, save those times he was awake.
When he spins the top at the end, it goes around in circles before spinning in one spot. Then, right before it cuts to black, it dramatically wobbles.

Whatever the case, this was easily the best movie I have seen all year.

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PeterPan October 31, 2010 at 2:04 am

It was all a dream, up until he wakes on the plane it just happens that the ending ties into what he was dreaming about, just like the plot Jesper Jørgensen posted!

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karolina October 31, 2010 at 2:31 am

I watched it twice to prove my theory. He wears a wedding band in his dreams, and doesn’t have one in reality. He wasn’t wearing one in the end.

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Anonymous November 15, 2010 at 4:35 am

clutch

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Anonymous November 25, 2010 at 12:03 am

super clutch

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Patrick December 29, 2010 at 5:54 am

triple clutch

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Anonymouse March 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm

quad clutch

Joseph George May 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

infinite clutch

Martin Ghosal October 31, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thing is that totem is his wifes, if the gun is his totem right at the end that girl touches it and shoots Mal. Maybe that’s why he’s that annoyed she shot his fake wife. Because that was his totem, and Saito touches his wives totem as well. But I think he is in reality at the end.

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Ur3rdIMcFly October 31, 2010 at 10:38 am

From truthseeker’s linked article…
“And Fischer, the mark, is the audience. Cobb, as a director, takes Fischer through an engaging, stimulating and exciting journey, one that leads him to an understanding about himself.”

I jumped to the conclusion, as it’s something that troubles me personally, that what Nolan was getting at in the film, is reality itself is a dream.

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Arianne Ardon November 6, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I do have a question. In the first scene, the ‘limbo’ state where Cobb sees the old Saito, Saito touches and uses his totem. As I understood, the totem worked in this way: only the owner knows how it works, the weight, surface, etc. Also, if it spins indefinitly it means you are in a dream, if it stops it means you are in reality. In the scene where Saito spins it, it doesnt stop, as to prove that they were in a dream. But! the totem is supposed to be working ONLY for the owner. So why did it respond to Saito, as if it was spinned by Cobb? That added with what heavyd noted about Cobb actually being the one that implanted the ideea of the neverending spin if you’re in a dream state, makes the totem actually worthless and unable to prove any point at all( if Cobb really is in a dream or not by looking at the spining totem).

As for the question how much of what we thought to be reality in the movie was actually dream I have a theory.
At the end of the mision, right before waking up in the plane, the film shows scenes with the other characters WITHOUT Cobb in it, having a short conversation(the scene where they get out of the car and water). Or the entire ideea of a continuuos dream state presumes that the one that is in it APPEARS every second in it! You cannot dream yourself absent from something happening in your own dream and still be conscious about it!
That means that the entire mission is real, and not a projection of Cobb’s own mind. (that should rule out the theory that he never left the basement or that the dream began before this scene).
Wich leaves that if the last part (Saito’s limbo and then the waking into the ‘real’ world) is a dream he’s not aware of,that state of dream began AFTER he fell into the limbo, and from one limbo he just slided into another one, unconscious(or not wanting to be aware) of that fact.
Or he really woke up and the totem actually stops at the end.

(p.s. sorry if you find spelling mistakes, english isn’t my first language)

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Uri November 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm

You may all find this VERY interesting and probably a lot more assuring…

“Inception Ending Revealed by Sir Michael Caine” – http://gizmodo.com/5651826/inception-ending-revealed-by-sir-michael-caine

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I got it! November 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

why dont we see anyone else’s totem in the movie except cobb’s?
cause he took it from maud, who dreamed it up, when they were together, causing her to percive the dream she was in as reality, since she has the totem.
cobb’s proved her wrong by spinning it and closing the safe
however, he later on has it, her totem, which is useless since its not even his, so it doesnt work

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Brandon November 24, 2010 at 11:50 pm

You see Arther’s totem, it’s a loaded die. Ariadne’s totem is that chess piece she welded.

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saf November 26, 2010 at 2:29 am

Anything about Cobb planting something on his mind? Inception?

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thetruth December 6, 2010 at 6:01 am

Nolan adds that he tries to leave his movies open to interpretation. “There can’t be anything in the film that tells you one way or another because then the ambiguity at the end of the film would just be a mistake,” he says. “It would represent a failure of the film to communicate something. But it’s not a mistake. I put that cut there at the end, imposing an ambiguity from outside the film. That always felt the right ending to me.”

The real point of the scene, he explains, is that Cobb is looking at his kids and not the top. “He’s left it behind,” says Nolan. “That’s the emotional significance of the thing.”

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ju December 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

why is the granddad in america and meeting him at the airport, surely if it was real life he would still be in paris teaching, in the telephone call cobb makes to his children its clear that only the kids and grandma are at the house in america….

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jrock December 9, 2010 at 4:24 am

In the last scene I liked the throw in of Fischer’s limo guy holding Fischer’s
name on a poster(where limbo and limo kinda the same who knows anyway) where I
noticed the camera shot that left Off the last letter of Fischer’s name which in
turn spelled “fische” when at quick glance or sight when said in the head sounds like “fishy”
which means something is “fishy” or not right just a little observation.. Great
movie I can come up with many endings bout time a movie like this came out!!

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that one guy December 12, 2010 at 3:36 am

He was asleep the whole time … the top never fell when he tried the new sleeping potion out

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Isaac December 13, 2010 at 3:38 am

Answer me this as a starter why is Cobb young when he meets saito in limbo but saito is an old man?

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Nate December 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm

One thing about this movie is that it is a lot like the first Mission Impossible – I think you have to watch it at least twice before you start picking up on all the little details. The movie is often giving you more information than you realize, but because it is out of context, you unknowingly dismiss it because it doesn’t stick out or doesn’t hold meaning.

The easiest explanation is that the first scene on the beach was that it was out of context and was a “future” which we then went back in the timeline from to build up the context.

This technique is used a lot in stories where the author wants you to know that something is happening, and then percieve and make judgements based on the little bit of information provided, but knowing that that perception will change when the context is filled in. We backfill understanding from our own experiences until the story can do it for us, and if the story has been well told the perceptions will be different.

Like, say, in a movie about a cop starting in the middle of the final chase scene. The cop may be really ragged and we have an aversion to the character because they seem like they are willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to catch the bad guy. Then, the story flashes back to when the Cop was a normal person and build the story of what drove them to that point and when we get back to where we started, instead of aversion we all the sudden may feel sympathy for the character. We may be rooting them on, because we find out that the “people” being sacrificed were body-snatching aliens or something. Or we may find out that the “bad guy” is really not bad at all, and the original perception was not only partly correct, but the aversion has been magnified greatly.

When first watching Inception, things like the impact of death, the significance of totems and memory, the reason as to why someone would be in a delirious state on a beach with nothing but a gun and a top, are all unknowns and we backfill context from our own experiences. The thought of one of the characters killing off the other is rather negative. We interpret the facial reactions and the words shared by Cobb and Saito with what little context we have. After the film has flashed back to their original interaction and we have then progressed the story to the point where that scene is now being shown in-context, the impression and interpretation is completely different with our backfilled context having been replaced with the movie experience. Now, the deaths are instead something which frees the characters and allows the story to continue, and the overall impression is positive.

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Leslie December 23, 2010 at 2:28 am

Because it has to do with the bending of time during a dream state. Saito dies within minutes (or even seconds) of Cobb finding himself in Limbo, but it’s said in the movie that the deeper one goes, the longer time becomes in each dream state. A minute is an hour in a dream, an hour is 6 months, the 4 hour flight is 10 yrs dream time (or something like that) and each amount of time grows exponentially the deeper down one goes into each level (they reach level 4 in the movie). But there is definitely a moment where they are all absorbing the amount of “dream time” that will have passed while they accomplish their mission – 10 years. Cobb and his wife had 50 yrs dream time together when they were only asleep for a few hours because they had played around and got down to level 4 together. In the movie, Saito dies in the 3rd level. A few moments later (real time), Cobb reaches Limbo as well. But they are so deep down that those few moments obviously made up around 50 yrs of Limbo time for Saito. In other words, Cobb joined Saito in Limbo a few moments after Saito doed, but that would be yrs and yrs later in dream time because these events occured when Saito and Cobb were in Levels 3 and 4, respectively.

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Nate December 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I’ll take option 3 – it’s irrelevant whether or not he’s in a dream.

What I mean by this is that whether or not he’s in a dream only matters if Cobb’s story is to continue right where we left off, or if any sequel is made that makes references to the first movie. We don’t know what Cobb’s new perspective means with respect to reality and how he reacts to dream worlds. All we know from the last scene is that at that moment, for him just seeing his kids mattered more than whether or not he was dreaming.

What this means is that he may very well be dreaming, be completely aware of it, and not care for the time being. I can’t see, for instance, any regret that he had spent as much time in “limbo” as he had – what he regretted was that his wife decided to make it her new reality and that it took inception to get her to leave it, and that inception had in turn led to her suicide.

So, it’s not that I don’t think you could make an argument either way, as I do have an opinion as to whether or not he’s still in a dream, but unless you are assuming that the story should be taken in a certain direction, it’s relatively moot to argue it. What the movie gives us in its final moments is the picture of a man who is happy and content with whatever reality he is in, and that I think is a more important element to take away than wondering if he was still in a dream or not.

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Bart December 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I think he’s awake at the end. What Cobb sees in his dreams are memories. In his dreams you don’t see his father and you can hear his mother. At the ending his father is there and you don’t here is mother calling the children so it is reality and not his memory again.

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Rick December 20, 2010 at 1:06 am

My thoughts:

The whole thing is Mal’s dream. Cobb planted an inception in Mal causing her to realise that not only was their shared dream-world not real, but that the world they returned to wasn’t either. She then tried to get them both to kill themselves to return to the real world, but Cobb wouldn’t. So, she put together a plan to get him to kill himself.

Firstly she had to disconnect him from his perceived life, so she killed herself by jumping out the window of the hotel and set things up so he would lose contact with his kids. He then had to go on the run to unfamiliar places which was critical. Then, when she had returned to the “real world” she would have woken up next to Cobb. She would have then re-entered the dream world and induced Cobb into a dream she was now the sole architect of.

Throughout that dream she set up fake tasks for Cobb to complete throughout which she continually tried to sabotage and kill him. Trying to cause him to jump back through the dream layers and further lose hope/control/his mind. When he was at his weakest, she would try repeatedly to get him to kill himself. But he never would.

Eventually, after trying one last time to get him to join her in a mutual suicide, he tells her he never will and they have had their time together. In tears, she realises it is over and enacts her final play. She permits the mission in the dream to become a success, her creation Saito makes a phone call and Cobb can return to the US to be with his kids. She realises if she can’t get him back, it is better that he is happy and home.

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Katelyn December 22, 2010 at 1:39 am

That is very interesting view on it.

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Anonymous December 22, 2010 at 1:38 am

Here’s my theory. I believe that Cobb’s wedding band, which he wears only sometimes, has a significant part in the plot. Being as though he only has it on when he is dreaming, I think that this is Cobb’s totem. Whenever he is awake, the ring is not there.
Which brings me to my next theory which questions Mal’s actual existence. If you pay attention, every time Cobb flashes back to what happened during he and Mal’s marriage, he is wearing the ring. Which means that everything that occurred between them was a dream. Which in terms just means that he is only married in his dreams.
I believe that the ending is reality because if you look very closely, you notice that he is not wearing the ring.

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sly January 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I’ve studied this film several times over and I have come to this conclusion: Cobb is dreaming the entire time!
Here is my theory:
- Yusuf “the chemist” in the warehouse says Cobb has been in Limbo before
- Yusuf goes on to say there is no escape from Limbo especially not killing oneself
- Cobb stops Eames from shooting Saito because even at the second level of dreaming you cannot kill yourself and wake up
- In that same scene Authur says the deeper we go into the dream the deeper we go into Cobb
- Now Cobb claims that he and Mal let the train run over their heads and they woke up in the real world. However, according to Yusef and Cobb himself that is not possible… Yusef says killing yourself only throws you deeper into the subconscious. So when Cobb and Mal killed themselves and when they woke up in their home they were still dreaming. Mal was disturbed by it all because she knew they were still dreaming, Cobb however wanted/needed to believe it was real. It felt guilt that he had brought her down this deep and couldn’t get her out to the real world. Mal refused to believe it and set up the suicide scene. She thought the falling would wake them up…

Cobbs only recourse was to believe she was dead and concoct this new dream that would bring him back to his family… Saito, the businessman, the architect, the chemist, the forger were all facets of his subconscious.

The first clue I got was the helicopter scene when Saito said you have to take a “leap of faith”, the same words Mal said to him before she jumped.

More clues that it was all a dream:

- Adriadne “the architect” in the warehouse tells Cobb “the deeper we go into this dream the deeper we go into you”
- Only Cobbs subconscious projections showed up in the dreams – because it was his dream
- they were on a train when Cobb, Authur and the architect and Saito woke from the opening scene
- remember the words Cobb uttered to Mal while lying on the tracks “you’re on a train, you’re not sure where it will take you”
- the kids in the dream and the kids in the “real world” looked the same
- in the hotel room that Mal had wrecked; when Cobb steps on the broken glass, beside his shoe is Mal’s totem. She knew it wasn’t the real world because she probably spun it before wrecking the room… hence why she jumped…
- in the end scene why was his home exactly as he had left it? if was fugitive and no one thought he was coming back why would they continue to pay the mortgage? why would the parents continue to live in that home?

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ron January 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

wow after reading so many comments, you managed to plant your idea into me. lol.

i like the part you mentioned how they cant just die in a limbo to wake up,
but rather fall even deeper into limo. the hotel scene where mal jumped off might really be because she tried spinning the totem and discovered she can never escape.
Thus concludes that no one can actually escape limbo unless they remember exactly how they entered.

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joe January 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm

people here keep on saying that the ending was very dream like (from the airport to the home) therefore Cobb was still dreaming. However, I think that the significance of the dream-like filming is that Nolan is making a comment on the real world. The entire film was commenting on perception vs reality thus it would be fitting that this ending leaves the audience in doubt of their perception. Hence, the final verdict is that since DiCaprio shares Cobb’s personality, and since DiCaprio is still walking today, Cobb is still alive and not still stuck in limbo. ;)

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zulu2521 January 21, 2011 at 4:26 am

I think he ended the movie so that the view would have the same experience and the people in the movie. In the movie it is a struggle to determine reality from dream. By ending the movie this way, the viewer is drawn into the same struggle and can relate to the character. Plus it facilitates endless conversation about the movie.

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Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 4:59 am

Does everyone NOT see that the top starts to wobble at the end? It was obviously slowing down, about to fall. In the dream state it just kept spinning, didn’t slow down…

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Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm

This is my theory, in the movie, inception is described as a seed, or an idea that you plant in someones brain until it grows and grows and that is all they think about, well the ending is inception you are all trying to think and dream up ideas about what happened and thats why christopher nolen is a genius! He has “incepted” your minds with wether the totem spins or falls!

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Ryan March 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Maybe the totem they used in the actual filming of the movie is still spinning and we are all projections in Cobb’s dream world. I think I just blew my mind…crazy!

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Noah July 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

I don’t know the ending because when mall got killed by the architect in the limbo your suppose to wake up. So what happened to her?

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Adrian May 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm

We never actualy see cobbs children untill the end so what we see in the dreams are images drawn up from photos of them that he has seen more recently and has subconsciously replaced in his dream.
Also when Saito Mal or cob wake up from limbo they go strait to the same place. This is easy to tell as they all can even those without training can tell, without effort where they were befor and how they arrived there and it fits with previous content.
Another the spinning top has a tendency earler on to spin continusly almost to the point where cob would shoot himself, at which point is would wobble and fall over accountable for the timespan of the last scene.
Finaly if the level where they seam to come from is a dream why does Mal never appear as logically she should appear at that level at least once since she died which would show him that what he believes is wrong.
In all I think that cob wakes up in the reality where he meets his children

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Anonymous November 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm

cobb is in reality in the end sequence because if you watch cobb closely in dreams he is wearing his and mals wedding ring but in reality he isnt. this could prove that the end sequence is reality ?

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Princess December 10, 2012 at 1:12 am

Mal in not in the ending scene. Thus, Cobb is pack in reality! The kids “look” the same because Cobb stated that the one moment he regret when fleeing from accusation of killing his wife, is not calling out to his children one last time. He wished he could have that moment back. Nolan ended the movie like that because he basically got the moment back.

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Nima March 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm

i font no u noticed or not but when ever Cobbs with Mal in dreams he weara a ring but in reality no… so its obviously not a dream

aslo when Saito & Cobb in dream are old, when Saito drop the totem,it never stop spining,not even a little bit… but in final scene it stumbled

i dont think Nolan be a director to imitate like David Lynch’s Mullholand Dr.

Wake Up Guys From Ur Dreams and think Wisely :D

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Adrian April 9, 2014 at 8:40 am

He’s wearing his ring when Mal jumps/dies, so she is sent to limbo (ring symbolizing it’s a dream). This is why he meets her again in limbo later, before he gets the kick and returns to reality. Mal doesn’t get this kick, so he’s sent to reality and she’s left behind again.

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