In Inception, how do Cobb and Saito escape Limbo?

  • At the end of the movie:

    Cobb and Saito are both stuck in limbo, and according to someone on the team (can't remember who said it) limbo is a place you don't want your mind to be in... but some how Cobb and Mal once managed to get out of it without returning back to the real world as "vegetables" by killing themselves in the limbo world.

    But my question is:

    How did Cobb and Saito actually manage to get out of limbo and return to the plane? maybe I missed something, but didn't they miss the kicks? and wasn't Cobb drowning in the van and Saito had been shot and killed? so they'd fall back to limbo again? Or is this just a dead give away that they are still stuck dreaming (in limbo?)

    @Giles - I don't entirely agree with your edits, however I do see where you are coming from. I don't read the meta site very often, but seems like a topic/question that should be covered there rather than commenting here. Just saying though :)

    I always thought that the ending implied that they didn't leave.

    I always thought it was implied that they shot themselves.

  • Chuck Dee

    Chuck Dee Correct answer

    9 years ago

    The implication is that once you are in unconstructed dream space, you lose track of reality over time, and time passes really quickly. It wasn't that they wouldn't have the ability to wake up- the drug in their system would wear off no matter where they were. But once they were in Limbo (1) time would be passing at a greatly accelerated rate, and (2) they wouldn't even know to wake up, since the kick doesn't work there.

    So, once the time passed that the drug was out of their system and they could wake up, they could wake up at any time. But they had to realize that they needed to wake up and take steps to do so.

    The first explanation of this is when Cobb explains what happened to him and Mal to Ariadne.

    From the script:

    COBB: "A truth that she had once known, but had chosen to forget...That her world was not real. That death was a necessary escape."

    So then, the same thing happens when Saito and Cobb confront each other after years.

    First he has to convince him- it is very apparent that he has forgotten.

    From the script:

    SAITO: "Cobb? Not possible! he and I were young men together. And I am an old man..."

    From the script - a note on what we see after that:

    The top IS STILL SPINNING PERFECTLY, AS IF IT WILL NEVER TOPPLE. Saito looks at the top. Then back to Cobb.

    Then, the final nail:

    SAITO: "You came to convince me to honor our arrangement?"
    COBB: "Yes. And to take a leap of faith."
    As Saito-san listens to Cobb, he looks at the GUN on the table between them...
    COBB: "Come back and we'll be young men together again."

    Thus it's implied that this is how they get back, and the Cobb, having spent so much time in Limbo and having done it before, is able to still distinguish reality from the dream.

    The shot from before brought Saito to Limbo, but he is now hale and whole. His mind would have been lost if he had died in Limbo is my assertion. Coming back before living your whole life just makes it hard to adjust to being young again.

    Just realized: To exit limbo, Cobb told Saito that this world wasn’t real. But this is how he did the inception on Mal! Will Saito disbelieve the real world is real after coming back?

    @ÉricAraujo The inception Cobb performed on Mal was different; he didn't *tell* her that that world wasn't real, he planted a symbol of that idea in the secret area that represented her inner mind.

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