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The Fischer inception job refers to a radical and risky operation undertaken by Dominick Cobb and his team almost immediately after the failure of the Saito extraction job. The goal of the mission was to achieve inception on Robert Fischer by planting the idea of breaking up his father's empire into his mind, a decision that would be beneficial to Saito's company, Proclus Global, and to the world at large, as it would prevent the creation of another "superpower" due to the company's widespread control of energy resources.
Saito convinced Cobb to head the operation on the grounds that if he succeeded, the former would use his influence to ensure that the charges against the extractor would be dropped, allowing him to return home to his children. All members of Cobb's team received payment for their work; Cobb promised to give all of his share to Yusuf in return for not informing the rest of the team that partaking in the operation posed the risk of being trapped limbo.
In order to ensure that the idea was implanted "deep" enough into Fischer's head, Cobb and his team planned an unconventional, three leveled dream, or a "dream within a dream within a dream". The goal of these dreams was to bring the enormous business decision of breaking up Fischer Morrow down to the simple, emotional level of Robert Fischer reconciling with his father.
After Maurice Fischer's death in Sydney, Robert Fischer accompanied the body on a flight back to Los Angeles. This gave Cobb and his team an opportunity to isolate Fischer and perform inception on him while sitting with him in a sectioned-off, first class cabin. As a conversation starter, Cobb returned Fischer's passport, which had been pickpocketed by Eames, drugged his water, and then proposed a toast to his late father's death. After Fischer was sedated, the paid-off flight attendant assisted the team in setting up and activating the PASIV device. Afterwards, Fischer was brought into a shared dream with Cobb, Ariadne, Eames, Arthur, Yusuf, and Saito.
The first level of the dream, constructed by Yusuf, took place in the rainy streets of New York City. Upon arriving in the level, Arthur and Saito commandeered a taxi, picked up Fischer and Eames and then held Fischer at gunpoint. Cobb and Ariadne followed the other members of the team until they were unexpectedly hit by a train, temporarily stalling and separating them from the rest of the team. Gunfire then opened on the part of the team holding Fischer captive, forcing them to take refuge in a warehouse, where they discovered that Saito had been shot.
Upon arriving to the warehouse, Fischer was taken into another room while Saito was laid on a table. Cobb's began to reprimand Arthur for not checking Fischer's background and figuring out that his subconscious had been trained and militarized by an extractor. Before Eames can shoot and kill him to wake him up, he is stopped by Cobbs, who informs him that they are too heavily sedated to wake up from death, and that they will instead be set to limbo in the advent of dying. While wondering why they had taken such a risk, armed forces closed in on the warehouse. They then learned that Fischer's subconsciousness had been trained and militarized to fight against extraction and that the projections in conflict with them were part of that defense. As Saito's condition worsened and the hostile projections closed in on them, the team decided that they had to finish the mission as fast as possible.
Ariadne confronted Cobb about the control he had over his subconscious, to which he confessed that he couldn't keep Mal out of his head. He then explained his history to her: how he and Mal had been experimenting with dream states, wanting to see how far down they could go into their subconscious, their eventual reawakening, Mal's growing disillusionment and loss of reality and her death by suicide. Ariadne tried to convince Cobb that Mal's death was not his fault and that he needed to focus on the mission.
Eames prepared to impersonate Peter Browning while Cobb and Arthur interrogated Fischer, demanding to know the combination to his father's safe. They pressured Fischer by using 'Browning' as leverage. Eames shouted from another room, as if he had been interrogated, before he was brought into the room with Fischer to try and get him to remember. He told Fischer that the safe contained an alternate version of his father's will, one that would dissolve the company if he so chose. 'Browning' told Fischer that his father loved him and wanted him to build something of his own. As Fischer's projections close in on the warehouse, he reveals that one word he could decipher out of his father's last words was "disappointed", in an attempt to convince 'Browning' that his father in fact did not love him.
With the warehouse in danger of being infiltrated, the team once again pressured Fischer into giving them the combination to the safe, demanding he give them the first six numbers that popped into his head. He told them a series of random numbers that came to mind before they loaded him into a van and drugged him once again. The team got in and prepared to enter the second level of the dream while Yusuf stayed in level one and drove the van, swiftly evading the pursuing projections.
The team then progressed on into the second level of the dream, constructed by Arthur and set in a hotel. Cobb employed the Mr. Charles tactic, where he informs the subject that they are dreaming by pointing out the strangeness of their dream. He met Fischer at a bar and told him that he was there to protect him and someone was trying to access his mind. He convinced Fischer that he was dreaming by pointing out the strangeness of their surroundings. He helped Fischer remember that he was kidnapped and led him to a hotel room where the rest of the team regrouped. Fischer's projection of Browning arrived and he confessed that he was the one behind the kidnapping; he couldn't allow Fischer to access the safe and destroy everything that his father built. Cobb suggested to Fischer that they enter Browning's dreams to figure out what was really in the safe so that he could decide for himself. Fischer agreed, unknowingly assisting in his own inception, and the team was hooked up to the PASIV device again, this time with Arthur remaining behind to watch over them and administer the synchronized kick.
In level one, Yusuf was still evading Fischer's projections and momentarily lost control of the van, causing it to tumble down an incline; the tumbling effect affects Arthur's level two dream as he fights off Fischer's projections in the hotel, with the environment around him spinning as gravity reversed and then corrected itself. While driving, Yusuf was cornered on an elevated bridge with one car full of projections stuck with him. He played music through Arthur's headphones to warn him of the incoming kick before driving backwards off the bridge. As a result of the van plummeting in mid air, there was a loss of gravity in Arthur's dream. The impact also affected the third level of the dream; Saito and Fischer looked up the mountainside and were forced to cut their lines as an avalanche swept down upon them. Cobb realized they had missed the first kick, but still had time for the second one when the van hit the water off the bridge.
With little time left, Cobb demanded to know if there was another way into the fort and Ariadne relented into telling him of a secret underground entrance that Saito and Fischer could access. Cobb sent them there, all while Saito's condition worsened. They finally entered the main room where the safe was located, while Cobb and Ariadne covered them from a vantage point with a sniper rifle. Succumbing to his injuries, Saito was left to lay down, coughing blood as Fischer continued forward. However, as Fischer came into Cobb's view, so did another person. Mal dropped in from the ceiling and shot Fischer down. Cobb eventually came to his senses and shoots her. Eames was ordered to the room as Cobb and Ariadne rushed to the site. Finding Fischer dead, Cobb deems the mission a failure, since the only other place where Fischer had gone was limbo. Ariadne, however, convinced him that if they go into limbo, they'll have enough time to find Fischer and bring him back. Eames agreed to use a defibrillator to jump start Fischer's heart to assist while Cobb and Ariadne go deeper into the dream.
In level two, Arthur devised a unique plan: He used phone wires to tie the team together and guided them into the elevator. He flew back down the shaft to the top of the elevator, squeezed past the car to the bottom and started to set the explosive charges among the bottom of the car, with the intention of using explosive force to create gravity and, as a byproduct, a kick, on level two of the dream. He then scrambled to arrange the sleepers on the floor of the car and stuck playing headphones on a sleeping Eames to warn him and the rest of the team that the kick was approaching.
In limbo, Cobb and Ariadne toured the deteriorating world that the extractor and his late wife once built. They saw old homes and buildings before they found the one where Cobb knew Mal would be located. They knew that if they found Mal, they would find Fischer, because Mal wanted to use something Cobb wanted to bring him to her. Sure enough, they entered the apartment and and were welcomed by Mal, who was waiting for them. She tried, again, to convince Cobb that his place was with her in their real home with their children, but Cobb then revealed a truth; the reason why Mal believed that her dreams were real.
While they were in limbo, Mal had stored away a truth that she didn't want to believe anymore – her totem, placed within her safe, resulting in her thinking that her dream—her limbo—was reality. In an effort to save her mind, Cobb broke into her safe and spun the top to convince her that their world was not real. However, he did not know that once they really woke up, the act would carry over into reality, causing Mal to believe that it too was a dream and that suicide was the only way for them to return to what she then perceived as reality. This was how he knew inception would was possible; he had performed it on Mal first and his guilt over her subsequent death has been plagued him ever since. He told his projection of Mal that he would stay with her in limbo if she told him where Fischer was and she then revealed that he was on the porch. Ariadne finds him there and pushes him off as an improvised kick.
Fischer came back to life in level three with Eames' aid and opened his safe, finding within it a image of his bed-stricken father muttering his last word. Fischer acknowledged that his father was disappointed in him not because he couldn't be him, but rather because he tried. Maurice then pointed to a cabinet where his son found the will and a paper fan his father made for him once as a child. Tearfully, Fischer looked up to see his father had passed and broke down as the van in level two hit the water.
In limbo, the synchronized kick pulled on Ariadne and she called for Cobb to join her. He told her that he was staying in limbo, but not with Mal. By this time, Saito had died and joined them in limbo as well. Cobb decided to go find and free him and promised Ariadne that he would return. Ariadne leaped off the side of the apartment building and rode the kicks back to level one. In the van, Fischer wakes up and escapes the submerged van with 'Browning'. Arthur, Ariadne and Yusuf shared with each other before escaping the submerged van, leaving Cobb.
Fischer and 'Browning' made it to shore, where the former revealed to the latter that his father really did want him to be his own man and that he was going to do just that and liquidate Fischer Morrow. Knowing that inception had successfully been done on Fischer, Eames then dropped his Browning guise.