What happens when one dies in a dream?
Normally, one would wake up if one dies in dream. However, in the case of the last mission a strong sedative is used which prevents waking upon death. Instead, upon death one enters a state called "limbo", which is usually a state of delirium where the character can no longer tell reality from a dream. If the sedative operates at all levels, this will be the case for all levels. If the sedative only operates on Level 1 - if, for example, it is only administered on the plane, as some have conjectured - then death only leads to limbo on Level 2 (death on all other levels should lead to either a regression to a previous level, or to Level 2).
This may be, but in the movie Fischer dies on level 3 (snow fortress) and goes to limbo. He is not in a coma as I have read elsewhere here...people in a coma have cardiac activity, and defibrillation will not only not pull someone out of a coma but it will stop their heart. Accepting Fischer died, then the sedative had to be working on level 3 since he went to limbo. What is interesting is that the machine is able to send people in a reversible fashion to limbo from the lowest designed level. This explains how Cobb and Mal spent years in limbo, and then came back to reality by "suicide" on the train track in limbo.
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