Q & A: "Airplane level"
Q7.1) Was this a dream?
Answer: No. This was reality. The whole heist sequence was based upon the absoluteness of this level to work. Even the concept of limbo would not exist if the “airplane level” was a dream because no character who was plugged into the dream machine died at this level. The ending of the film suggested that this level could be either a dream or reality, but for now, take the “airplane level” as reality. It would make much more sense.
Q7.2) Why did Saito join the team?
Answer: He wanted to verify that the mission was successful and that the idea was planted in Fischer’s subconscious. Unfortunately, as we found out, he did not last long enough to witness the moment.
**Saito’s “death” could be a possible argument against the interpretation of reality in the ending. I will elaborate on this in Section 4.
Q7.3) Why wasn’t Ariadne initially selected to participate in the mission directly?
Answer: Cobb promised Miles that Ariadne would not be tagging along with him in the mission. Furthermore, she was just an architect, a constructor of infrastructure of the dreams. And because the original plan was to plant the idea into Fischer’s subconscious three levels deep i.e. “snow level”, only two hosts were needed for “van level” and “hotel level” – Yusuf and Arthur respectively. So technically, Ariadne was not needed for the mission per se. However, she was the only one who could understand Cobb’s problems with Mal. Thus, she managed to persuade Cobb to let her join him.
**Ariadne’s role in the heist sequence gives rise to a new theoretical understanding of the film’s ending. I will explain this in Section 4.
Q7.4) Was the drug that Cobb discreetly released into Fischer’s glass of water the actual sedative mixed by Yusuf?
Answer: Unlikely. It was just a normal drug used to put people to sleep. The team wanted Fischer to be knocked out first because he was the subject. The actual sedation mixed by Yusuf was added into the dream machine and released intravenously when the team was plugged into it.
Q7.5) For how long was the team sedated?
Answer: The flight lasted at least ten hours. So it could be inferred that the team was sedated for that long. According to the film, this gives roughly 1 week at the “van level”, 6 months at the “hotel level”, and 10 years at the “snow level”. (5 min in a shallower level gives roughly 1 hour in a deeper level).