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Matter Of Perspective: Bioshock Infinite

Who are you really?

Warning: This post contains spoilers for BioShock Infinite, do not read if you have yet to complete the game.

It’s strange how life works out, isn’t it? We’re the products of our own choices and the decisions made for us, and if just one of those things went differently, our lives could have turned out completely different. From the school you went to, to the friends you made, and the jobs you were or weren’t accepted for, all of these have shaped us, to you, and has led to our crossing of paths here. I chose to write this while you chose to read it. Either one of us could have chosen to do different and our journey through life would have featured a new, insignificant change that could have led to a different fate.

The story of BioShock Infinite, Booker Dewitt, and Elizabeth is all about fate and how one choice or action can lead to completely different alternatives. The story of Infinite begins with Booker making the decision to allow Zachary Comstock, the founder of Colombia, to take his daughter to an alternate Universe and become his heir. It’s a decision Booker instantly regrets and decides to get her back, which he first fails in. Luckily for him the Lutece twince, the scientists who manage to cross realities, make a decision to help Booker to get his daughter back.

However, that story has been told and instead we need to see the view from Comstock, founder of his own Eden, where there are set classes and boundaries, and an extreme patriotism to the founding fathers of the United States of America. What leads Comstock to this existence, what events triggered the journey he found himself? This path began with the Battle of Wounded Knee, which is now known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. In 1890 the United States military massacred Lakotan Native Americans, and in Infinite it is revealed that both Booker & Comstock were there pulling the trigger.

Comstock

That event is a fixed point in time from where Booker then decided to stay Booker, or embrace religion and be reborn as Zachary Hale Comstock. It’s a moment where each version of Booker decided that either he disagreed with the events that occurred on that fateful day in 1890, or believed it to be the right action that had to be done feeding the patriotism until it became too extreme for the US, which led to Comstock cutting ties with the government and shaping his Colombia into the society he believed the US should be.

Religious dedication, racial and class divides, and unquestioned obedience is what Comstock demanded of his flock, because he always had to be right. If he Comstock ever allowed someone to question his authority he would have to confront the fact that the events of Wounded Knee were wrong which, as we’ve seen, would change the very core of the person he was. Comstock was cruel because without that cruelty he would be his own largest victim, and if he failed then Colombia itself would fall out of the sky, killing his perfect society.

Comstock is evil, at least from our perspective, as he is a megalomaniac tyrant, but from his own perspective his doing what needs to be done to make sure he and his people survive in the way he sees fit. This is where Elizabeth comes into play, because Comstock’s hold can only be eternal if he has a legitimate heir to continue his mission. Since he and his wife cannot have children of their own, Comstock literally steals his daughter from another dimension with bonus that she is technically biologically related to him. This action is done so Comstock’s Colombia doesn’t just survive but has time to build up to be a war machine to take out the United States, the country he believes is not evolving as it should.

Elizabeth1

Comstock wants to bring divine justice to the world below, a place that he feels is full of immorality and evil, failing to climb to the righteousness of him. He sees a hell below him and wants to turn it into just that, but knows he won’t live to see the day. That’s why he needs an Elizabeth he can raise and brainwash into his beliefs, so that war can still happen. Another massacre to cover his guilt of the first one, and something that really solidifies his beliefs as the right ones, over the other Booker.

We glimpse this massacre happening, and it takes place in one (or more) realities while in others Comstock is stopped, but Elizabeth knows that the cycle of destruction and this thread of existence must be destroyed at the root. So Booker is led to the moment he made his choice to remain as himself or become Comstock and since the only way to end this cycle is to make sure the decision is never made by killing Booker before it even takes place.

This decision has a huge affect on the world, because without Booker there is no Comstock, without Comstock there is no Colombia, and without Colombia there is no flying city raining hell upon the surface. This leads to different realities where the world is either more like us, or another person decides to break from society building a city under the sea. Or another reality exists where none of those occur.

After all, once Booker is dead the various fates of the dimensions become unknown.

7 Comments
  1. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Thanks for the spoiler warning, will have to come back to this, am just playing it…

    Comment posted on 17/03/2014 at 20:14.
  2. SamBeThyName
    Member
    Since: Sep 2013

    I love the Matter of Perspective pieces, they’re such a good idea

    Comment posted on 18/03/2014 at 06:56.
  3. rob_b
    Member
    Since: Jan 2014

    SPOILER

    Terrible ending, killing Booker at the end achieves nothing, that version has already been through the choice and turned out ‘good’

    Drowning him at that point in the past is pointless as he is a future version (you as the player) who just happens to have gone back in time, he was never going to become Comstock after this point.

    Going to alternate dimensions and killing their Bookers before the choice? Yes that would have made sense but showing it through your eyes as the player already having experienced the game made no sense, that Elizabeths then started disappearing again just didn’t work.

    SPOILER

    Comment posted on 18/03/2014 at 09:56.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      No offence intended, but i don’t think you really got the point there. He was killed during the choice, making the choice null & void. I don’t want to elaborate any further for fear of spoilers, but lets just say that it all makes sense when you consider the alternate realities & consequence of choice (which Bioshock games have always been centered around).

      There are a few good explanations on the net of the true ending though, so i’d just say to google it (rather than reveal all here).

      Overall I felt it was a good ending which does make sense when you consider the factors that go into it.

      Comment posted on 18/03/2014 at 15:11.
      • rob_b
        Member
        Since: Jan 2014

        SPOILERS



        None taken, as I disagree :D

        Not wanting to say too much but you play the whole game, then go back to the start as that person who’s already experienced it all not as the same person BEFORE it all, just because you are there at that time doesn’t mean you are that person at that time. Seeing multiple identical women you wouldn’t know doesn’t seem to be an issue??
        This of course ignores the fact that the ‘ old’ you isn’t there.

        Comment posted on 18/03/2014 at 17:02.
      • anacanapana
        Member
        Since: Mar 2014

        But didn’t he choose to allow the Elizabeths drown him? He doesn’t fight back.

        Didn’t they choose to drown him?

        There are still alternate choices. He doesn’t choose to let them drown him…Elizabeth decides not to do so. Either of those choices brings us right back to Columbia.

        Comment posted on 19/03/2014 at 18:59.
  4. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Thank you for this very good article. Finished the game now, am currently a bit torn. On the one hand, this is really excellent as a game making you feel connected to the characters.
    On the other hand, I have to agree with rob_b, as the ending doesn’t quite add up logically, either. However, I don’t think it’s a terrible ending, as it’s one that makes me think. Happens rarely in a game…

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 21:06.

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