Is "Building Level" Limbo?
Based on my theory of limbo which I have already explained and proved, a conclusion I would make is that the “building level” during the heist sequence is not limbo. Of course, there will be many who would argue against this. But that is the whole point of debating; the person with the strongest analysis backed up by plausible and logical explanations wins.
Why was the “building level” not limbo?
Let’s take a look at this level. This was obviously Cobb’s dream, the same one he shared with Mal a few years ago when the latter was still alive. During the heist sequence, the persons who were at this level were only Cobb, Ariadne, and Fischer. How did they get to this level? They were plugged into the dream machine at the “snow level” by Eames.
My first argument is this: Can a person in a dream be plugged into limbo? No. That is not in accordance with my theory of limbo, which is a dream construct where a person connected to a dream machine goes to if he or she dies in a “one layer deep” dream while still very heavily sedated in reality. Moreover, assuming a person in a dream could be plugged into limbo, it means that he or she could get out of limbo easily by killing himself. That does not reflect the fear that limbo creates when one is trapped indefinitely with no escape route. Thus, “building level” could not have been limbo.
My second argument is this: Ariadne and Fischer killed themselves by jumping down from the building. They ended up back at the “snow level”. Once again, if “building level” was limbo, then killing themselves would not have worked. However, it worked for them. Thus, “building level” was not limbo.
My third argument is this: According to my theory, limbo could be interpreted as a dream construct that is like a “halfway place” between reality and a one-layer deep dream, where the mind is trapped in while waiting for the heavy sedative to wear off in reality. This means that limbo does not rely on a dream level to function i.e. it is not within a dream, but rather works as an “alternative dream to a dream”.
With this reasoning, the “building level” was not limbo because it was clearly within the “snow level”. Furthermore, when Eames tried to defibrillate Fischer at the “snow level”, the electric shocks on the latter caused a looming electrical storm at the “building level”. The electrical storm would not have occurred if the “building level” was limbo because limbo was not within the construct of the “snow level”. Thus, the “building level” was not limbo.
The case of old Saito’s limbo
Old Saito in limbo was in no way related to Cobb’s “building level” dream. You might argue that in both scenarios, the characters found themselves on a beach, and it could be the exact same one. Or that during the “building level”, Cobb mentioned to Ariadne that he must stay back to find Saito in limbo and that Saito was “somewhere here”, meaning that the “building level” could be limbo.
However, reflect on this: When the snow fortress exploded and killed everyone, the team (except Cobb) got “kicked” back to the “hotel level” and then to the “van level”. This implied that the deeper dreams did not exist anymore i.e. the “building level” would be absent. Cobb’s mind would have gone back to the “van level” where he was made to deliberately drown, which brought him into limbo. If the “building level” was limbo, this meant that Cobb went to somewhere that did not exist, which was quite absurd. In the same light, old Saito would also not exist if limbo was the same as the “building level”. Thus, old Saito’s limbo was not related to the “building level”.
Moreover, Cobb was washed ashore when he entered limbo where Saito was. He could not remember how he got there. This was an indicator that he had entered a new level of dream (it was established early in the film that no one can remember the start of any dream). Thus, old Saito’s limbo is not related to the “building level”.