1.) When Cobb and Saito were in limbo, Cobb realized he was in Limbo because of the spinning totem. But how did Cobb realized he was in limbo, when he and Mal were stuck there?

2.) And in case it was because Cobb did that by spinning the totem there too, then he should have been very confident to get into limbo every time. He should be not scared about anyone dying in the mission, as he can go to limbo and not forget that he is still dreaming.

EDIT: Added point number 3

3.) And Cobb wouldn't have stopped Eames from shooting Saito. (Saito couldn't have survived even the first level of dream since the first level itself was of 1 week duration). He should have been like "oh sh**.. but ok, I'll go to limbo and get him back." Thats more doable than keeping Saito alive for a week on the first level with a bullet wound on his chest. I don't think they could have used any 'hospitals' since the doctors would have been Fisher's projections.

4.) If it is the case that Limbo is infinite and it is difficult to 'find' anyone lost in limbo, Cobb could have trained the entire team to deal with limbo situation. They spent days training how to carry on the mission and spent weeks of 'dream hours' planning it. Considering the time difference between limbo and actual time, they had enough time to practice it.


COBB: It's not so bad at first, being gods. The problem is knowing that it's not real. It became impossible for me to live like that.

ARIADNE: But not for her?

COBB: She accepted it. At some point...


Firstly, it's worth stressing that Cobb was never fooled by Limbo and (initially) neither was Mal

COBB: It’s not so bad at first, being gods. The problem is knowing that it’s not real. It became impossible for me to live like that.

ARIADNE: But not for her?

COBB: She accepted it. At some point…

One of the keys to the film is that as Mal refused to countenance leaving Limbo (and knowing that if he did so alone that it could result in her insanity), he eventually used inception on her to make question whether Limbo was really real. That's how he knew that it would work on Fischer.

So why weren't Mal and Cobb fooled?

Cobb (and Mal) were both dreaming experts working at the very cutting edge of dream technology and the PASIV machine. It's reasonable to presume that their ability to remain conscious and lucid within Limbo is much higher than that of the others that they took into the dream with them, especially Saito and Ariadne who've had less than a few weeks exposure.

So why doesn't he give them Limbo training anyway, knowing that it's a risk?

Had Cobb started training them to escape Limbo, it would have raised a considerable number of questions that he doesn't want to answer, most obviously "Why do we need such extreme training if this is supposed to be such a simple op?" and "Erm, what else aren't you telling us?"

Why should he be worried about someone falling into Limbo if he can just go and rescue them?

That's a bloody good question and one that isn't explicitly answered. It certainly took him (subjective) weeks and months to find Saito and when he found him, Saito was on the verge of dying (e.g. becoming insane). Had he had to find the others as well, it's possible that one or more could have lost their minds before he was able to get to them.

  • " One of the keys to the film is that as he watched Mal slide into depression at being unable to escape from Limbo, [[[he eventually used inception on her to make her think that Limbo was the real world.]]] " Did I read it right??? When did this happen? I've watched the movie over and over again... did I miss it? Dec 21 '15 at 4:58
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    @BimanTripathy - I don't think I was being very clear. Have a look at the edit. He took the spinning top and locked it away (on its side in the safe in her old house) so that she would question whether Limbo was reality. When she got out, she still kept questioning whether reality was reality, hence her suicide.
    – Valorum
    Dec 21 '15 at 6:27
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    I've added more details in the question. And by the way, Cobb didn't lock the spinning top away. Mal did so. He just spinned the top and left it in its usual location, the locker, so that when Mal discovers it again, she'll realize that Limbo is not real. Dec 21 '15 at 18:11
  • Good point and worthy of a quick edit.
    – Valorum
    Dec 21 '15 at 18:19
  • @BimanTripathy "so that when Mal discovers it again" - I don't think that's necessary. The safe and the top are metaphors of Mal's subconscious.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 15 '20 at 14:04

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