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Maybe I overlooked something, but Mal is trying to sabotage (killing his teammates) all dreams of Cobb concerned with his work (theft of information in dreams, inception of ideas). But during the training of Ariadne in the large industry hall, there is a scene, where he dreams on his own and then Ariadne joins the dream. When Mal sees her, she instantly gets angry.

Of course, Mal is a projection of Cobb, so why is she always sabotaging his professional dreams, when he seems to be able to dream of her as his loving wife?

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I'd guess when it's his own dream Cobb might have more control. But at the beginning, when he tries to steal from Saito, and later during 'Inception' he enters other people's dreams (Illustration) – Oliver_C Oct 10 '12 at 13:44
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Mal is a subconscious representation of Cobb's wife. He has no control over her at all. She is an aspect of his own psyche. I would say that Mal is sabotaging Cobb's team because she is a representation of his failure and guilt over his actions leading to his actual wife's suicide. You could say that deep down Cobb doesn't want to succeed and he wants to kill himself. The sweet Mal that he sees is just him trying to convince himself to die. Mal might actually be the most complicated character of all since she is Cobb's hidden desires.

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