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PRIMER - Shane Carruth

The definitive explanation and timeline

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Grey text: This is seen in the film.
Blue text: This is seen in the film as a flashback, after the event has occurred.
Green text: This is seen in the film, but in a later timeline.
Red text: This is not seen but is explained, or becomes apparent later in the film.

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Monday morning: Abe sets up a box in secret, 'Failsafe box 1'. This will allow him
to undo any and all time alterations that he makes from this point on. He also
creates 'Box 1' to use tomorrow.
Monday 9:00: Abe activates 'box 1', then spends 6 hours in a hotel room.
Monday 15:00: Abe retums to the storage facility and uses 'Box 1' to travel back in
time 6 hours. This creates timeline 2.

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Monday midday: Abe shows Aaron the protein build up on a Weeble he used on his
experiments in the prototype machine they were designing. He then demonstrates the
experiments with watches.
Monday 15:00: Abe takes Aaron to the storage facility and they both observe Abes
double enter the building, and ultimately, Box 1. Aaron constructs box 2! This is
Aaron's box. It is placed alongside Abe's 'Box 1.'
Tuesday morning: Abe and Aaron re-enact Abes movements from the previous day in
preparation for them both to travel back 6 hours in time.
Tuesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron activate'Box 1 'and 'Box 2' then leave the area. They
head to a hotel and isolate themselves from the outside world. They use this
opportunity to check stock prices.
Tuesday 15:00: Abe and Aaron return to the storage facility, prepare themselves for
entry into the boxes, then travel back in time 6 hours. This creates timeline 3.

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Tuesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron go to Aaron's house and trade on the stock market using
information they learned before they traveled back in time.
Tuesday 15:00: Abe and Aaron return to the storage facility and watch their doubles
enter.Their day was a success.
Wednesday morning: Aaron notices the storage manifest has 2 rooms under rent by
Abe. He subsequently discovers'Failsafe Box 1 'which was previously set up by Abe
in secret Aaron folds up'Box 2, then travels back in time with it using 'Failsafe
Box 1 'that Abe created.This creates ti meline 4. From this point on, Aaron begins
to records audio of the days events.

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Monday morning: Aaron exits from 'Failsafe Box 1 'along with 'Box 2.' He then
moves'Box 2,' to another storage room. He activates this box as his own failsafe
box, 'Failsafe box 2' The original failsafe box he exited from ( Failsafe Box 1')
is reset which closes his time loop. This means that from this point on, there are
now 2 Aarons in the world permanently. Aaron 1 (who is asleep at home) and Aaron 2
who has just arrived on this timeline He activates the reset ‘Failsafe Box 1 'about
half an hour later and leaves it where Abe put it to trick him. This gives Aaron 2
control and allows him to travel back in time further than Abe without him knowing.
Monday 6:00: Aaron 2 goes to his own house and injects sedatives into a bottle of
milk that he knows his double (Aaron 1) will use at breakfast. Aaron 1 is
successfully drugged, then Aaron 2 hides him in the attic and assumes his identity.
Monday 9:00: Abe activates 'box 1 then spends 6 hours in a hotel room.
Monday 15:00: Abe returns to the storage facility and uses'Box 1'totravel back in
time 6 hours. This creates timeline 5.
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Monday midday: Abe shows Aaron 2 the protein build up on a Weeble he used on his
experiments in the prototype machine they were designing. He then demonstrates the
experiments with watches.
Monday 15:00: Abe takes Aaron 2 to the storage facility and they both observe Abes
double enter the building, and ultimately. Box 1. Aaron 2 constructs’box ZThis is
Aaron 2's box. It is placed alongside Abe's 'Box 1.
Tuesday morning: Abe and Aaron 2 re-enact Abes movements from the previous day in
preparation for them both to travel back 6 hours in time.
Tuesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 activate'Box 1 'and 'Box 2,' then leave the area.They
head to a hotel and isolate themselves from the outside world. They use this
opportunity to check stock prices.
Tuesday 15:00: Abe and Aaron 2 return to the storage facility, prepare themselves
for entry into the boxes, then travel back in time 6 hours. This creates timeline
6.

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Tuesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 go to Aaron 2's house and trade on the stock market
using information they learned before tl^ey traveled back in time.
Tuesday 15:00: Abe and Aaron 2 return to the storagefacility and watch their
doubles enter.Their day was a success.
Wednesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 activate'Box 1 'and'Box 2,' then leave the
area.They head to a hotel, then go to the library to check stock prices.
Wednesday 15:00: Abe and Aaron 2 return to the storagefacility, prepare themselves
for entry into the boxes, then travel back in time 6 hours. This creates timeline
7.

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Wednesday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 head to Aaron Zs house, but when they exit the car,
Aaron 2 spots some blood on Abe's hand. This turns out to be Aaron 2's blood, and
his ear is bleeding heavily. Abe and Aaron 2 go inside and trade on the stock
market using information they learned before they traveled back in time.
Wednesday afternoon: Robert and Phillip tell Abe about Robert's party on Monday
night, where Rachels ex-boyfriend threatened her with a shotgun. Aaron 2 disarmed
him and de-fused the situation.
Wednesday evening: Abe tells Aaron 2 that he shouldn't have risked his life when he
has a wife and dYild that depend on him. Aaron 2 dismisses this criticism.
Thursday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 activate'Box 1 'and 'Box 2,' then go to the hotel.
At the hotel Aaron 2's phone rings, and he answers it Abe tells Aaron 2 that he
can't take his phone back in time with him.
Thursday 15:00: Abe and Aaron 2 return to the storagefacility, prepare themselves
for entry into the boxes, then travel back in time 6 hours. This creates timeline
8.

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Thursday 9:00: Abe and Aaron 2 go to Aaron 2's house to trade on the stock
market.
Thursday midday: Abe and Aaron 2 walk through town and Aaron 2's phone rings again.
He accidentally brought it back in time with him.This means there are 2 exact
copies of Aaron 2’s phone in this timeline. They deduce that if the phone Aaron 2
has in his hand is ringing, then the phone his double has (in the hotel room)
cannot be ringing This is important because it means that they have broken
symmetry. Their Isolated'doubles in the hotel room may now' act differently, and in
the worst case scenario, may not enter the boxes. This would create another Abe and
another Aaron on the same timeline permanently.
Friday morning: Granger discovers the boxes (he was probably told by Abe and/or
Aaron 2's doubles after their symmetry was broken the day before) He travels back
in time creating timeline 9.
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Friday 2:00: Abe is woken by a skateboarder setting off car alarms outside. He
wakes Aaron 2 and tells him of his plan to find Aaron 2 s boss, punch him in the
face; then travel back in time to 17:00 on Thursday evening. He reveals that he has
been turning the machines on at 1700 and leaving them running Aaron 2 agrees to the
plan and they leave in Abe's car. As they drive past the front of Aaron 2's house,
they realise that Granger is parked outside. He begins to follow them. Abe comes to
a stop further down the road, and Granger stops behind them. Abe calls Rachel and
gets Granger's phone number. He calls him and speaks to Granger.The Granger in the
car behind has not answered a phone. They now know he has traveled back in time
using their boxes. They get out of the car and chase him. Granger fells into a comg
and is taken into Abe's house. The pair argue over the consequences of Granger
using their boxes. They return to the storagefacility and the pair deduce that one
of their doubles probably told Granger the last time they traveled back in time.
Friday 3:30: Abe worries they have lost control so he goes to the storage facility
and enters what he thinks is his untouched'Failsafe Box 1' but on timeline 4, Aaron
2 reset the box half an hour later when he got out of it. This creates timeline 10
Friday 4:00: Aaron 2 suspects Abe will attempt to use the failsafe box, so he
uses'Failsafe Box 2’that he previously set up which takes him back in time and
places him on timeline 10, half an hour before Abe. Healso takes the tape he has
been
using to record the previous days with him. He now becomes Aaron 3.

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Monday 6:00: Aaron 2 goes to his own house and injects sedatives intoa bottle of
milk that he knows his double (Aaron 1) will use at breakfast. Aaron 1 is
successfully drugged, then Aaron 2 hides him in theatticand assumes his identity.
Monday 6:30: Aaron 3 goes to his houseand encounters Aaron 2. There is a
struggleand Aaron 2 wins Soon after this Aaron 2 agrees to leave town and let Aaron
3 continue with his plans.
Monday 7:00: Abe exits'Failsafe Box 1He goes to his ow^ house and sedates his
double which ultimately stops his double from getting in the box as he did. Abe is
now Abe 2, his double is Abe 1. Abe 2 locks his unconscious double in a cupboard.
Monday 11:00: Abe 2 meets up with Aaron 3 and after a very brief exchange of words,
Abe 2 feints from his exhaustion. When Aaron 3 is checking if he is alright Abe and
Aaron from a previous timeline can be heard talking in Aaron 3's headphones.
Monday midday: Aaron 3 explains to Abe 2 what he has done. He tells him about him
finding Abe 1 's failsafe box, resetting it and creating a new onefor himself. He
also reveals that when he used the failsafe box the first time, he began to record
the days events. This allowed him to play the recording back with a 3 second offset
so he could repeat the exact same words he used in the previous timelines. This
would allow him to try and relive the previous 4 days without anything changing.
Abe 2 watches as Aaron 3 talks to Abe's girlfriend's ex-boyfriend s cousin, and
invites him to Robert's party. The pair go to Aaron's garage and discuss a plan to
de-fuse the future event of Rachel's ex-boyfriend threatening her with a shotgun at
the upcoming party. Abe 2 is unsure, but Aaron 3 eventually persuades him.
Monday evening: Abe 2 and Aaron 3 attend Rachel's party. They reverse engineer a
perfect strategy for Aaron 3 to disarm the ex-boyfriend and have him arrested. It
is not known how many times they had to go back in time (if any) to re-attempt
their plan. The narrator i n the film at this point is Aaron 2 who left earlier
this morning after he met Aaron 3. Aaron 2 suggests that it may have taken them
three, four or maybe even twenty attempts. The answer is unknown, so from here they
create timeline 11 and possibly another number of additional timelines. When they
eventually get it right, they create a timeline with an unknown number (the final
timeline seen in the film)

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Tuesday morning: Abe 2 and Aaron 3 talk in an airport terminal. Aaron 3 says they
should both leave to a different country and start new lives. Abe 2 disagrees. As
they are talking, we can see that Abe 1 and Aaron 1 have woken up and I we emerged
from where they were hidden. Abe 2 says that he is going to stay, watching Abe 1
and Aaron 1 to make sure that they do not build a working time machine.There is
some bitter last words, and Abe 2 leaves Aaron 3 in the airport.
Unknown day/time: Aaron 2, (the narrator for the final scene of the film) is seen
with a translator giving instructions to a team of French speaking workers. It is
presumed tliat he is constructing a much mudi larger time travel box. His reason
and plans are
unknow'n.The final words of the film reveal that Aaron 2 is leaving a message on a
phone The person he is leaving the message for is not known but Abe 1 and Aaron 1
are the only 2 versions of them who are unaware of what has transpired in previous
timelines suggesting that the message has been left for one of them.

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Timeline notes

• Exact timing of events are correct where known, some are rounded for ease of
understanding.
• Timing of events that are unknown are approximated.
• Granger is present in every timeline, however he is only relevant in timelines 8
and 9. For this reason, he is not shown on the rest.
• Drugged Abe and Aaron are shown as short markers on timelines 4 to 11 +, but they
are present for the duration of the timelines they are on.
• Most ofthe film is presented in a linear fashion, which appears to be timeline 9.
Although the final event of timeline 3 happens before timeline 9, it is not
revealed until timeline 10.
• At the end of the film, there are 2 x Abes and 3 x Aarons living permanently on
the same timeline.

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Trivia

• 36:00 - Abe tries to open the incorrect storage room door. Aaron knows it's the
wrong door as he has used the boxes more than Abe
• 43:32 - Aaron's wife asks him if he called pest control to investigate
the'rats'in the attic. Aaron says they are birds, but it is really his double that
he hid in there on a previous timeline.
• 46:32 - In the Library Abe notices that Aaron is writing very slowly and
carefully to make it look neat.This is a side effect of using the box to travel
back in time. Abe at this point doesn't know that Aaron has traveled in time more
than he has.
• 47:55 - Aaron's ear is bleeding. Another side effect of time travel.
• 1:04:20 - Abe's ear is now bleeding.
• 1:09:18 - Aaron talks about the party. He reveals he didn't attend the party in
timeline 2, but he did in timeline 9 when he initially disarmed the gunman.

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