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The plane scene leading up to the inception of Fischer proceeds as follows:

  1. Eames swipes Fischer's passport
  2. Cobb returns the passport to Fischer and chats him up about his father
  3. The flight attendant brings Cobb and Fischer drinks
  4. Cobb slips a sedative into Fischer's drink and hands it to him

It seems that they have taken a few unnecessary risks in pick-pocketing Fischer, and then spiking his drink where he could potentially see it.

At face value, the passport is stolen to give Cobb an opportunity to drug Fischer. (In my mind, a stupid, risky mechanism). An alternate explanation is that returning the "dropped" passport builds trust between Fischer and Cobb, so that Fischer will go along with the Mr. Charles character in the dream. Plausible, and more importantly, necessary.

However, the flight attendant is already working with them, and she could easily administer the sedative completely unnoticed. Plus, any conversation that happened, should it be necessary for the inception, could still occur without Cobb touching Fischer's drink. So why have Cobb do it? Is it simply that spiking the drink needs to be shown on screen, and it makes more sense to have use that time with a lead character rather than a minor one, or is there a more important, plot-based reason?

The scene for reference

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  • Sorry - your question is very well phrased (better than the one linked here) but it has been asked before
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 17:53
  • Ah, yes. I tried to make sure I wasn't duplicating, but I guess I didn't search the right terms, or the search engine on SE isn't that forgiving.
    – buckminst
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 19:20
  • Yeah - the search is not that forgiving. I personally like Inception and remembered the previous question.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 1:33

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