My understanding of Tenet is as follows:
The future version of the protagonist will build the organisation Tenet in the future and will direct Neil to travel back to the present day to guide the protagonist. In a way the present day protagonist and others (like the scientist and the person in the hospital) are all recruited by the future version of the protagonist.

The guy in the hospital mentions that the protagonist has passed a test by consuming the death pill. The qestion is,

  1. If the head of the organisation belongs in the future then who takes the loyalty test of the protagonist?
  2. Why did he need to prove himself? As his future self chooses himself, there would be no one else who would be appointed in that position, is there any need for this test?
  • 2
    The Protagonist might head the organisation, but is there any evidence that the scientist and the guy in the hospital know this? They may have been recruited by intermediaries, and therefore acting on standard operating procedures when dealing with The Protagonist. The organisation appears to be quite large, given the troops and equipment deployed in the final conflict, and it's unlikely they were all recruited directly by a single individual.
    – HorusKol
    Jul 12, 2021 at 22:19
  • @HorusKol that sounds good enough for an answer, not a comment
    – Luciano
    Jul 13, 2021 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


"Knowledge Divided"

By the time TP has the Tenet organisation set up and the second (unseen) half of the temporal pincer is in place he will have most definitely subscribed to the axiom stating that 'what's happened happened', IMO he has already accepted this by the time the credits roll.

There is nothing to suggest that Fay (his CIA handler on the medical boat) or Barbara (the scientist) were directly recruited by TP. If they were, they do a good job of acting if he were a novice and so the TP's best chance of them not spilling the beans is to avoid his future self coming into contact with either of them. As there is nothing in TP's intelligence work that exposes him to inversion prior to the opera siege (where he first encounters the Pu-241 / 9th section as well as the inverted round Neil uses to save his life) this becomes the ideal place to erm, introduce himself to these concepts for the first time.

While Fay sees the suicide pill as a loyalty test this may be more for his own benefit allowing him to introduce TP to Tenet as somewhere along the line his fellow agents pill has been deliberately replaced with a fake in order for TP to allow himself, retrospectively, to survive the interrogation following the siege.

Remember, it is Sator's goons who are giving him TP go over and as such he has realised that the pincer only worked due to himg hiding all this information from both himself and Sator's orbit until the final 3 - 4 weeks prior to the Talinn tent - pole inversion which is as far into the future as we see, notwithstanding the death of Priya in the final few shots.

If all of this still hurts ones head then it only means that you are human as we are continually dealing with chicken / egg scenarios here.

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