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Late in the movie ARQ, the two key characters escape from the sealed building they have been hiding in and we see the outside world for the first time. They observe a line of "petrification" around the building caused by the extent of the time loop created by the ARQ. The outside world looks like some apocalyptic, war ravaged landscape.

We know from the dialog in the movie that there is a major war going on and the outside world is dangerous and contaminated (people need gas masks to survive in it). But the characters know they have been in a time loop (though not yet how long that loop has been running). They choose to go back to the house rather than to escape their pursuers to try to rescue the ARQ. They eventually find proof they have been in the loop a lot longer than they originally thought.

Was the extent of the destruction in the outside world worse than they were expecting (implying they had been in the loop longer then they originally thought)? was this part of the motivation for choosing to rescue the ARQ rather than to escape?

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"Did the outside world suffer extensive destruction during the time loop?"

Yes, as stated in the movie, they lopped over a thousand times. Years have passed as the war ravished on.

"Was the extent of the destruction in the outside world worse than they were expecting"

Yes, as stated in the movie, after 9 loops, the ARQ resets itself based on the repeating chain of events (ZMP’s always hit on the 9th loop). As a result of the ARQ resetting, all memories of those nine days are erased (reset). They think 9 days have passed but in actuality, years have passed.

  • Yes this appears to be the implication of the multiple loops they have experienced. But is there any internal evidence about just how much more destruction the world had undergone or the real time experienced outside the loop? Were they really shocked by the state of the world and did this influence their decision to return to the house and save the ARQ? – matt_black Jan 4 '18 at 10:33
  • The only evidence is what they saw outside for that brief moment. When they checked the records they realized that the ARQ had looped over a thousand times. They realized when the ARQ resets that it wipes out all of their previous memories (9 loops until the ZMP forces the reset). Yes, I believe they were shocked by the amount of destruction outside and realized much more time had passed than 9 days. I would say, with confidence, that it did indeed influence their decision to save the ARQ. – jayjay123 Jan 4 '18 at 15:11
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Was the extent of the destruction in the outside world worse than they were expecting (implying they had been in the loop longer then they originally thought)?

No

Every time the loops resets, it resets the whole time everywhere - the zone near the house is only area where people inside can find that indeed the time is repeating.

There are multiple arguments for that:

  • There is always the same message from the dispatcher when Sonny contacts Torus ("Identify yourself!... ZMPis on its way!")
  • When Hannah and Renton go outside, they are not showing surprise about the destruction of the nearby city - if indeed years would pass with the war outside, they landscape would change. This is especially important if you'd recall that Pope on the TV mentions that both sides are close to mutual destruction.
  • Sonny has called multiple times for dispatch - if indeed time would keep running on the outside normally, the dispatch would notice that they keep getting bogus repeating messages.
  • Neither Bloc or Torus go to look for the missing soldiers.

All those facts suggest that ARQ resets time everywhere, not only inside the zone, the speeding up clocks suggest that indeed time on the outside passes faster, but at the end of each 9 loops cycle everything resets itself.

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