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After watching Tenet I'm somewhat confused about Priya's role in the story.

From the beginning, it seems like she works for Tenet and her goal aligns with the rest of the organization.

But when the Protagonist travels back to Oslo with Neil and Kat and then meets Priya again, based on their conversation it seems like it was her goal all along to have Sator acquire the complete algorithm (I watched the dubbed version, so I can't speak of the authenticity of their dialogue).

So was Priya helping Sator? Why did she want Sator to have the complete algorithm?

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  • No, Priya has been a loyal member of Tenet, all she does is trying to forward Tenet's plan.
    – Yu Zhang
    Oct 18 '20 at 22:37
  • @YuZhang OK, but why did she want Sator to acquire the complete algorithm then? How is this forwarding Tenet's plan?
    – ruslaniv
    Oct 19 '20 at 6:13
  • The protagonist manages to defeat Sator and acquire the algorithm back from Sator in the end.
    – Yu Zhang
    Oct 19 '20 at 8:46
  • Saw this twice in 2 days, first in IMAX then as a standard UK digital cinematic presentation. As much as I loved the film, it took a 2nd viewing just to get my head around the general elements (the first run through was a spectacular rush but thanks to another uber - bombastic Nolan IMAX sound mix alot of the most important dialogue was blown out, which when paired with the relentless pacing, did not help one soak up every detail). I cannot wait to get the 1080p BD to pick over this magnificent film but with a UK release not happening this side of xmas and most cinemas closed again..:-( Oct 22 '20 at 12:27
  • 1
    @StephenFrancis I have not checked but I think somebody mentioned it on reddit that Tenet is hitting digital platforms in December.
    – ruslaniv
    Oct 23 '20 at 6:50
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Priya was not helping Sator.

The reason she wanted The Protagonist to get the algorithm and lose it is because Sator has all the other 8 parts. No one is able to locate these other 8 parts. The team gains access to only one of the parts at the Kiev Opera. They realize that only when Sator gets the final part, will he expose the location of the algorithm as he needs to trigger it to end the world.

When Sator gets his hands on the algorithm he does exactly this. The battle of Stalsk-12 is Sator planning the triggering of the algorithm.

What Priya is keen on doing is finding and killing Kat. The Protagonist doesn't want this. He knows leaving Priya alive will only result in her trying time and over to kill Kat. Though he doesn't want to he chooses Kat's life over Priya's.

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    BTW why was she keen on killing Kat? Just because she knew too much? But in this case she should have been trying to kill the Protagonist, Neil and Ives instead. Or at least the Protagonist who she thought she had been giving orders to.
    – ruslaniv
    Jan 13 at 8:06
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    @rusl, I think Kat is the one person who's not directly connected to Tenet, yet knows too much, hence making her a loose end.
    – MovieMe
    Jan 14 at 18:23
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MovieMe's answer is correct, but there is another big aspect to it as well. Basically the entirety of Tenet's plan is about making Sator believe that he's won. The idea is that if Sator didn't get the last piece of the algorithm then he'd continue trying to get it, and since he has basically infinite resources being sent to him from the future it's likely that he'd succeed.

Sator's convoluted plan is to put all the pieces together and then bury them under a nuclear bomb. His death will trigger a message to the future, recording the location of the buried algorithm, so that the people in the future can dig it up and activate it, thus ending the world for everyone in the present. In his last moments Sator believes he's been successful, but in fact he hasn't, because the algorithm is pulled out from under the bomb at the last moment. As a result, Sator dies without being able to change the outcome, and his plan can't continue.

So the Tenet plan is to let Sator almost succeed but then thwart him in the last moments of the final battle. This might seem like a risky plan, but it's not, because it's a temporal pincer movement. The whole thing is set up by a future version of the protagonist, who has lived through it once and knows exactly how it will play out. Priya is acting, under his orders, to make sure things happen they way they always did: the protagonist must fail to capture the last component of the algorithm, and the soldiers must fail to defuse the bomb, in order for the splinter unit to be successful in capturing the algorithm in the end.

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  • In his last moments Sator believes he's been successful When Kat showed her scar, I think he realized if not that he had lost but at least that something was not going according to his plan. That's why later she said something to the effect 'I could not let him die thinking he has won'
    – ruslaniv
    Jan 13 at 7:43
  • @Rusl sure, he knew at that moment - but then she shot him, so he didn't get a chance to change his plan!
    – Nathaniel
    Jan 13 at 7:51
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    A small correction: it wasn't a nuclear explosion that buried the algorithm, just a normal one.
    – Möoz
    Aug 17 at 4:16
  • @Möoz I'm pretty sure it's meant to be nuclear. The explosion that buries the algorithm is the same one that Sir Michael Crosby discusses with the protagonist earlier in the film, where it's stated that it was a nuclear test. I agree that on screen it doesn't really look like a nuclear explosion though.
    – Nathaniel
    Aug 17 at 12:56
  • @Nathaniel The Protagonist speculates that it's nuclear, but Sir Crosby doesn't confirm that. Also, the explosion didn't look and feel like a nuclear one; Ives, Neil and the Protagonist were standing there all calm afterwards.
    – Möoz
    Aug 17 at 22:22

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