I was asked if I could sum everything up in one page. Here goes...
Let's say that Abe invents time travel on Groundhog Day, Feb 2, 2001. What we would perceive as his last action is his first. It is backwards because this action is what Abe does in his last revisions. Abe and Aaron go back as far as they each can. It won't go back far enough for Abe because Aaron is still in control.
So Abe invents the box. Abe2 exits and breaks the box. He is a silent observer. He keeps a safety box in a storage unit and builds up money.Instead of inventing time travel in the first week of February, Abe's interference postpones his progress until March. Only when things go wrong in early March will Abe use his fail-safe and learn, as in the end of the film, that Aaron3 is already there.(A fail-safe that is coffin-sized is only useful for a few days at a time) Why? When Abe2 steps out of the box and breaks it, Aaron from the future(from 6 hours to four days) has already exited before him and insured that he has the upper hand.So, Abe builds the box, Aaron3 exits, steals a passport and moves to France, building a box the size of a house. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of March, he goes back several weeks, and arrives back on the scene around March1, 2001. You may say that we should call him Aaron2, the one that leaves to build the large box. It is, in a sense. Aaron returns as Aaron3 due to using the giant box. Thus he enters and exits, depending on your point of view. Truly brilliant of Carruth here.
He is actually, as the brought out, Aaron2 (or Aaron2 from Feb). He tells the Aaron2(from March) that he is Aaron3 or Aaron2's future. How much Aaron3 tells Aaron2 about time travel or the giant box he built in France or Granger is not stated. Hopefully, you can see why there are so many people when Abe 'first' discovers time travel in March.
Now, in March, despite Abe2's relentless efforts, Abe1 builds a successful box. From his perspective, it is the first time. From Abe2's perspective, it is the second time. Abe2 is angry when he finds out that the reason Abe1 didn't give up, the reason Aaron slyly says 'You can't watch them forever', is that Aaron knew what Abe says is correct. They would give up, unless Aaron3 gives Abe1 a phone call before leaving for France. From his perspective, I think he is insuring his survival.(It seems possible that if Abe does not invent time travel again, then Aaron3 may cease to exist. I wouldn't want to find out, if I was Aaron. Better safe then sorry.) If Aaron3 was calling Aaron1(instead of Abe1) then he should just say, "Here's the box and how to use it." It is much safer to create this relentless Abe1. He won't give up because he knows he can do it. And since he hasn't experienced it personally, he will not give up.
Sadly for this Abe, when he does invent time travel (now for the second time from our perspective) Aaron will still get the upper hand by taking a box and exiting and knocking himself out. Later, when Aaron3 arrives at this same point, he confronts Aaron2 and convinces him to leave, taking his place.(Obviously, Aaron3 has lived these events, recorded them and gone back a day or two, so that he has the recordings.) This Aaron2 leaves or exits, leaving Aaron3 in charge to make the final revision that everyone else will remember. Thus, (thinking backwards) the airport scene of Abe and Aaron arguing, can take place as early as Monday, while our brains from watching the film, makes us think that this event is later in the week.
So which box did Aaron2 find? He found not Abe1's box, but Abe2's box. This is why Abe is confounded when shown the storage manifest. He didn't build that box or even know that it existed. Abe2 knows how important a fail-safe is. He just didn't realize how much it would complicate matters, especially from our viewpoint.
In one way, we have Abe1, Abe2(from Feb), and Abe2(from March)....perhaps it becomes easier to call Abe2(from Feb), Abe3. It just gets confusing that Abe3 is around before Abe2(from March). Recently, I started to refer to Abe3 as Abe2a and Abe2(from March) as Abe2b (for clarity, believe it or not, as I know how confusing it can be to sit and read this). The same goes for Aaron. Aaron3 is first. He is an Aaron2 from Feb.or Aaron2a. Thus Aaron2 in March is really Aaron2b. This is mind-numbing.
The Primer Universe
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