Or, hey – we know the basics of Quantam Physics
So if you’ve played through the latest Bioshock game you probably experienced what I did by the time the credits rolled: like someone had punched me in the gut and I let out a slow “fuuuuuuuck”.
The ending has confused some people, certainly left me scratching my head at parts, and while I think I have most of it puzzled out there are still definitely some unanswered questions, as the game developers intended I believe. I am disappointed, however, by a lot of the criticism the game is receiving by those who are annoyed that the “choices” you are given in the game didn’t pay off and that to have alternate endings or storylines influenced by your choices (like a Skyrim or Fable game) would have made it better.
I think these people missed the point. And so, also for my own sake to refer back to, this is my mini primer on Bioshock Infinite.
In the beginning…
The Lutecs are essentially the masterminds behind everything that happens in the game where you begin. The main question I asked myself at the end was…how did DeWitt end up in Columbia where there was a Comstock, or, another version of himself? How, without the aid of Elizabeth’s ability to open tears, did he manage to jump to a dimension he didn’t belong to?
There is always a man and there is always a lighthouse. The Lutecs have taken you to a lighthouse that leads you to that other dimension. Right from the beginning do we have a jump to an alternate dimension.
A brief timeline
Booker DeWitt serves at the battle of Wounded Knee and walks away from it most probably suffering from PTSD and survivor’s guilt. He wallows away in drinking and gambling and gives up his daughter to the Lutecs to wipe away his gambling debt. Later, he is so guilt-ridden by having given up his daughter he goes through a baptism to wash away his sins and becomes Comstock.
OR the idea of the gambling debt is a memory DeWitt created, as “the brain adapts” and creates false memories when the truth is too difficult to bare. DeWitt goes through baptism and becomes Comstock because of Wounded Knee in one dimension, and DeWitt in another dimension gives up his daughter Anna for a reason that isn’t clear.
Either way, DeWitt agrees to the Lutecs scheme to “get back the girl and wipe away the debt” a second time in order to be reunited with his daughter (though he forgets this)
You are presented with a few choices throughout the game. Heads or Tails. The bird or the cage. Spare or execute your former commander. These choices do not matter to the story and that is the point. There are many different paths but they all lead to the same shore. In every alternate dimension there are differences, the variables, but there are also constants, things that cannot change. The reason why this game takes this particular journey is you are playing as the DeWitt who can finally alter one of the constants.
Near the beginning of the game when you are going to the Columbia raffle you are confronted by the Lutecs who ask you to flip a coin. One of the Lutecs is wearing a blackboard sign with their tally, all of which are heads and none are tails. This implies that all of those tics have been the several DeWitts before you who have attempted the journey.
The Lutecs invented the technology to be able to open the tears. Elizabeth can do it naturally and better, which is why she is experimented upon. The reason is because she is in two different dimensions: in one she lives in Columbia, and in another she has a small part of her finger left behind in DeWitt’s world.
Characters who are in a new dimension where they have died in another one will remember on some level and get nosebleeds as reality tries to reconcile the paradox. DeWitt ends up with a nosebleed when he jumps to a dimension where he was martyred for the Vox Populi cause. He also continues to get nosebleeds as the story progresses because in the dimension he is in he “died” and was reborn as Comstock.
The Lutecs are not twins, they are the same person existing within the same dimension. The female Lutec jumped to another dimension where she was born as a boy and brought him/herself back into her own dimension. This is why the male Lutec, when commenting on creating false memories, sympathizes with DeWitt and tells him “I went through the same thing”. This is also how they can finish each other’s sentences.
So…how did all of this start?
My theory is the Lutecs engineered everything from the beginning in order to stop Comstock once they saw the tyrant he became. It makes me wonder if they knew Elizabeth would have become the natural tear opener/dimension hopper when they began, but for the Lutecs time is non-linear. So, they may have known or it may have been an accident, but it probably remains just another constant. It has happened, it is happening and it will happen. They go through several DeWitts to try and accomplish this goal, but as we see from the martyred DeWitt in one dimension, you are probably playing the only one to actually succeed.
It seems to me that the significance of having several Elizabeths or Annas at the end where DeWitt commits suicide in order to prevent himself or Comstock from ever having existed is that this is now happening across several dimensions. Each Elizabeth is here to oversee her DeWitt following through with the same act so that Comstock will not exist in any dimension and hence she will not exist and become the destroyer of New York/America.
It ends with the same musical notes C-A-G-E and each Elizabeth vanishes except…for the last one, whom we’ve journeyed with. Is it like the end of Inception where the screen goes to black but we assume that our Elizabeth vanishes as well? Or, does she remain?
I think the logical answer is that, this was a more poetic way to end that image but the implication is that yes our Elizabeth disappears as well to remain Anna DeWitt in another dimension. She will never exist in the dimension she stayed in for most of her life as there is now no Comstock in that dimension. It’s bleak yes…but so is the entire game. If the implication is that she does remain, which is still a possibility it could also be a more hopeful ending where she returns to her original dimension when she was born as Anna DeWitt, as she has always been Anna DeWitt and now her future as Elizabeth is erased and she can proceed to a more “normal” life as DeWitt’s daughter.
All the Lighthouses/Bioshock 2
You get to travel back to the city of Rapture! And it is a clever nod back to Bioshock 2 as you consider that the city of Rapture is another one of the lighthouses where there must be a version of DeWitt from that universe as well. The similarities between both games can be seen as another dimension’s manifestations of that.
For example, Eve and Plasmids are Salts and Vigors. The Big Daddies are the Handymen. There is a Fink in both worlds. And, my personal belief, is that Doctor Sophia Lamb in Rapture is a version of Elizabeth.
There are tons of other analysis and commentaries on the story of Infinite that other people have written, some with actual degrees in physics, and they are fascinating to read. I think really the big thing to take away from this is that along with BioWare and the rising sophistication of video games, Bioshock Infinite is a great entry into the rising legitimacy of videogames as a fantastic medium of Story.