“…Change The Memory
When Ariadane jumps into Cob’s dreams, she sees that he’s in a world where he is re-visiting his memories. He describes them as moments of regret and that the he has to “change the memory”. This simple notion of ‘changing the memory’ is mentioned very briefly, but is pretty key in this perspective. In the scene in the kitchen where he is wants to call out to his kids in the yard, he decides not to, and rushes to leave the country after being falsely accused of murder. He looks back onthis moment as one of regret. One he wishes he could change.
Although the movie’s end depicts Cob successfully completing Inception and being allowed entry into the U.S; unfortunately, in reality, this is not the case. He is in fact, still in exhile from his home, unable to see his children, and wishes only to return home. He can’t. He knows he does not have the means to. The only thing he wants to be able to do is dream about them, and since he recognizes his weakness; he constructs a dream that will allow him the scenario to confront Mal and remove his guilt so he can simply dream of his children’s faces. Note that in the last scene when he does reunite with his kids, their clothes are the exact same as they are when he is dreaming, but can’t see they’re faces. They’re also playing in the yard the exact same way.
Cob confronts his sub-conscious projection of Mal in one of the final scenes. She is still being projected as defiant of what is true reality.She makes a case for Cob to consider that the ‘reality’ in the movie is not real. She tries to convince him to think hard about these ‘faceless corporations’ chasing him. There is never a in-depth description of the corporations employing/chasing Cob. They’re simply there as the foundation of the 1st level of the dream to basically get the movie going. Just like a dream, it’s not explained how they got there; they’re there. But Cob knows this fact already in this scene. He knows already that the logic his projection of Mal is stating is true, but it doesn’t matter. He’s not there to determine what’s reality and what isn’t; he just wants to confront her and dream of his kid’s faces. To be able to ‘see them again’ as he says in the movie a few times as his goal for doing the job.
Who Are You To Say Otherwise?
In the movie, it’s established that you would need significant real world time to do multiple-level dreams. So if the movie’s ‘reality’ of Saito tasking Cob to perform Inception were to be actually the 1st level of a multi-level dream, where would Cob go in order to be sedated that heavily to handle an additional 2 levels of dreaming? Would he partner with anyone?
In this perspective, I believe that the shop of the chemist Yusuf is where in actuality, Cob is dreaming. Although Yusuf is probably just a projection, he takes Cob down below to a basement to reveal a handful of people heavily sedated, sharing a dream. In this room, there is an old man watching over them. This old man, I believe, is working with Cob. Saito asks of the reasoning why these people in the room wish to dream for so long. It’s stated that they don’t do it to dream, they do it to wake up. To ‘wake back up’ in their dream to be in a place of happiness. While the character’s scoff at this notion, the old man looks at Cob and says ‘Who are you to say otherwise?”
This line always struck me as odd. It implied that the old man knew something about Cobb. As if he had some sort of context to give Cob a light hearted hard time about the notion of people dreaming to escape reality. That Cob was actually one of those people in that lower room, heavily sedated, and on a mission to go deep into his dreams to confront Mal….”