I do understand the Stable Time Loop premise of the movie and all the things related to it, even the "insurance" woman at the end. But I just don't understand the meaning of the "Bob" guy and the prison guard who shows up on the escalator near the end. Were they time travelers too? And, if they were, how's the story of their travels? Or where they only fragments of Cole's imagination?
My brother had this idea that the Bob guy started out as a time traveller, but ended up going back so many times that he became a "part of time" and could speak to Cole in any time or place, his memories were fragmented as a result.
My assumption has always been that the "insurance" scientist and accompanying guard are there to prevent wayward "volunteers" from bucking the system, as Bob apparently has. (And I don't mean the penal system, but the linear-time system.)
I got the impression that Bob was sent to the wrong time and ended up going insane and becoming homeless. His scenes in the "present" were from after he eventually got rescued (or between trips), and he really was just in the next cell.
The guy in the next cell. Well, maybe he's in the next cell. Maybe he's in the Central Office. Or maybe he's just in Cole's head. Well, which is it? And if he were just another "volunteer", why would he be fucking with Cole like that? Why for that matter if he's a spy?
He's totally the spider, you guys. He got into his mind that way when he ate it.
When I first saw the coda on the plane with the virus-terrorist guy, I actually had the opposite impression from "Everything's going to be alright"; I actually thought that the woman in the plane wasn't the female scientist flung back in time to get a sample of the pure virus. She was, in fact, that female scientist in the year 1990. As she then says she's in "the Insurance business", I then got the depressing idea that none of the council of scientists were actual scientists - just people with an air of authority who thought that messing with a time machine could solve what had happened. She's only on the council because she's driven by the guilt of having met the man who wiped out 90% of humanity and failing to stop him back in 1990.
In the future, they had no idea who the real culprit was until James left his last phone message, so if that was the original non-time-traveling scientist on the plane, she wouldn't have come to the conclusion that she met the guy responsible for the virus and decided to join the scientist council.