“Bioshock Infinite” Secrets Revealed
Because I can’t seem to get over the magnificent spectacle that is Bioshock Infinite, I’ve decided to delve deeper into the game’s lore and give my explanation on a few things. React and comment on the post! And be forewarned *SPOILERS INBOUND*!!
The Lutece “twins” are actually the same person from different dimensions. In one, a girl was born and named Rosalind, and in the other, Robert the boy. Eventually, after they both pursued inter-dimensional physics, they tore a hole and were able to work together in the Universe of Columbia, Comstock, and the main story of the game (that I’ll now call Columbia). You can see hints of this at the Lutece statue early in the game, where a tear cases it to shimmer from Rosalind into a statue of Robert.
Using their Tears to peer into other dimensions, Comstock was able to see his “Prophesies” of the future, past, and alternate realities. They also used their technology to take Anna from Booker. After years of Elizabeth being imprisoned, they expressed their reservations to Comstock only to have him order Fink to sabotage their equipment. As a result of the malfunction, they were unstuck in time and retained existence in what Rosalind calls “the in-between”. They are apparently able to travel between times and dimensions at will. This power and constrained form of immortality has left both of them somewhat mad, but brilliant enough to retain focus. The entire game takes place because Robert initiates a plan to pull Booker into the Columbia timeline in an effort to rescue Elizabeth and likely get revenge for what Comstock did. My theory is that Robert feels some measure of guilt for stealing Anna and also loyalty to Booker (who shares a home universe with him). Rosalind doesn’t seem as interested in this plan and seems to just go along with whatever her brother wants, for she says in a voxophone that the most important thing for her is that they “are together.”
Dead Guy in the Lighthouse
The going theory is that this was some sort of assassin sent by Comstock to kill Booker when he arrived at the lighthouse. A nearby map has a note that says, “Be prepared. He’s on his way. You must stop him. -C”. The map appears to track Columbia’s movements and we can only assume that the note is written by Comstock. Comstock has seen much of these events happen already through Tears. For instance, he knew that Booker (The False Shepherd) would come to Columbia and surely tried to stop him in his tracks. This “assassin” is the first line of defense. Why he would send one man and not an army to surprise a nearly unarmed Booker is beyond me. Yet still: we find a man tied up, bagged, and apparently shot in the head. On the body is the note, “Don’t disappoint us”. Most people take the “us” to mean that the Lutece twins killed this man. For the most party that seems to be the only possibility, but if the Luteces can go to a point in time and start killing people, then why wouldn’t they do it more? There are 2 plausible factors here:
1. This man is no assassin. It makes more sense for him to have been some kind of keeper of the lighthouse that was easily dispatched in such a brutal manner. It’s doubtful that a skilled assassin would be easily captured enough to be brutally murdered in such a way.
2. The Luteces, while now powerful in their own right as inter-dimensional time travelers, realize how delicate the process is. For a third party to directly influence a timeline of events, that said party could stand to cause any number of paradoxes and rewrite history quite easily. The twins echo at several points in the story the notion that everything has happened, is happening, and will happen, that all of time and space is delicately set in stone. Even in the act of trying to change something, the characters are merely fulfilling destiny. The Luteces have to be mere instigators because ultimately, they can’t be the ones to erase Comstock from ever existing. For the same reason, that’s why they were able to kill the keeper of the lighthouse and do little more beyond passively supporting Booker along the way. In killing the guard so, they showed Booker that this is going to be a serious, bloody affair.
It’s also interesting to note that on my initial play through, I took this whole “murdered guy in the lighthouse” to mean that Booker’s employers killed the guard, which eventually proves to be true if we accept that it was the Luteces.
Products of Using Tears
Plasmids vs. Vigors
You might have noticed that Vigors in Infinite are virtually indistinguishable from the Plasmids from the previous two Bioshock games. Plasmids were created and powered by EVE, a modified kind of ADAM (the raw form of the unstable stem cells harvested and processed from a type of Sea Slug parasite). It’s unclear exactly how Vigors were created, but they run on what’s called “Salts.” The likely explanation, implied through a few voxophone recordings, is that Jeremiah Fink stole the technology for Vigors from Plasmids.
The Songbird, Handymen, and Other Big Enemies
In much the same way that Fink used tears to copy the Plasmid technology, Fink peered into tears and glimpsed the tech for Big Daddys. In a voxophone it says he saw “a merger of machine and man, that was the lesser of man yet the greater of both parties.” He’s clearly looking at a Big Daddy here, technology that undoubtedly influenced his design of both Handymen and certainly the Songbird. The former are powerful men enhanced with giant suits and wrought with pain, because they are supposedly disabled / injured citizens who were grafted to the robotic body to prolong their lives, albeit into lives full of pain. But the Songbird is the real marvel: 60 feet long and feared by all. And there’s only one of them.
My theory is that the songbird is a Big Daddy-fied version of Booker from an alternate timeline. Stripped of his humanity and transformed into a powerful robot, he retained only his eagerness to protect Elizabeth. So it’s all paternal instinct and mind control for him now. Sound familiar? It’s lightly supported in a brief exchange between Booker and Elizabeth at one point. Elizabeth mentions her finger and says, “Maybe Songbird knows but he’s not talking.” Perhaps Songbird does know, because Songbird is her real father. If you were Comstock, wouldn’t the perfect guardian for Elizabeth be a version of Booker who had recently had his daughter stolen from him? In all the grief and longing to get her back, a twisted, perverted machination of those intentions would be the perfect cocktail of protectiveness and ruthlessness to manufacture the ideal guardian. A long shot? Yes. A pretty decent guess? I think so.
Comstock’s “Prophesies” and the Archangel
While active, the Siphon drained Elizabeth of her power and allowed different characters to benefit from its use, most of all Comstock. Our dear Prophet used the tears to make his “prophesies”, including identifying Booker as the “False Shepherd” before he ever came to Columbia. For me, it was easy to undervalue the presence and use of the Siphon in Bioshock Infinite, but it actually affected quite a bit in this world. That’s how and why modern music winds up in 1912 Columbia, along with much of its technology (except for the Lutece field which levitates Columbia, a technology invented solely by Rosalind).
But where does Comstock’s scripture come from? It’s clear that many of his prophecies and supposed omniscience was the scientific work of the Lutece’s, but what about the “Archangel” that comes to him and grants him the vision of Columbia? Was this an actual vision or simply more manipulative malarky that he makes up to control the masses? It’s clear that his newfound zealotry post-baptism allowed Comstock to become an influential political figure before he ever encountered Rosalind. The most logical assumption is that she is his “archangel” that granted him a “vision of the future”. It’s also quite possible that Comstock genuinely believed that these were divine prophesies granted to him by God.
Another thing that is interesting to note, however, is that every single statue of the Archangel that we find in Columbia bears a keen resemblance to a familiar face:
“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and the “Infinite” Loop of Bioshock Infinite
There’s a song that pops up throughout the game called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, a real-life Christian hymn written in 1907. It’s the song sung at the baptism at the beginning of the game and even the one performed by Booker and Elizabeth in a random basement during the game. You can see the song lyrics on the link attached to the song title above, but the chorus is as follows:
Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?
I probably don’t need to tell you the significance of the home awaiting in the sky. Being a religious hymn, it’s an obvious heaven reference but it does double duty when you consider Columbia. The really significant bit, however, lies with “Will the circle be unbroken?” Why is this song so prominently featured in the game? What circle are they talking about?
We can begin to grasp an explanation for this almost whenever Booker interacts with the Lutece twins. Periodically, one or both of them will say something that implies that this isn’t the first Booker to try rescuing Elizabeth. Repeatedly, in a myriad of different timelines, they have to find yet another Booker existing in a Universe where Comstock stole his daughter. So they bring him to Infinite‘s Columbia in the hopes that he might be the one to finish the job. In one particular scene, they have Booker flip a coin. There are 12 tally marks on the front of Robert’s board and at least a hundred or so on his back. That many times a Booker came to Columbia and flipped heads. It happened, is happening, and always will happen.
You can see this idea in the several little variables throughout the game. Which necklace pendant did you choose for Elizabeth? Did Booker get the jump on the guy at the ticket booth or get his hand stabbed and subsequently bandaged? A million times he chooses one or the other and in a million more it’s an entirely different combination.
Similarly, whenever Booker dies (or at least when Elizabeth isn’t there to pump him full of what looks like a syringe of ADAM), he awakens once again in his office only to walk out the door and into the same firefight that just claimed his life. This seems to imply that Booker isn’t just being revived: they are shipping in a whole new Booker to try and win the fight. What we get is an endless circle, infinite loop, in which Booker is always being brought over and over again into Columbia by the Lutece’s so that they might somehow be able to close the loop. Hence, we have our Bioshock Infinite and the reasoning behind the “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” song.
Does Booker find his “better home awaiting / in the sky, in the sky?” Let’s revisit that ending to see!
What Really Happens in the End?
At the end of the game Booker is drowned to erase Comstock from ever being reborn. In his final moments, several incarnations of Elizabeths speak cryptically to explain the situation. Here’s a nice little transcript for you:
Preacher Witting: Booker DeWitt! Are you ready to be born again!?
Booker: What is this? Why are we back here?
Elizabeth: This isn’t the same place Booker.
Booker: Of course it is. I remember. I– You’re not? Anna? Who are you?
Multiple Elizabeths: You chose to walk away. But in other oceans you didn’t. You took the baptism. And you were born again as a different man.
Multiple Elizabeths: It all has to end. To have never started. Not just in this world. But in all of ours.
Booker: “Smother him in the crib.”
Multiple Elizabeths: Smother. Smother. Smother. Smother. Smother. Smother. Smother.
Random Other Elizabeth: Before the choice is made.
Elizabeth: Before you are reborn!
Preacher Witting: And what name will you take my son?
1940s Housewife Elizabeth: He’s Zachary Comstock.
Clean Schoolgirl Elizabeth: He’s Booker Dewitt.
Booker: No. I’m both.
I talked in a previous post about how Booker in the final sequences assumes the role of an All-Booker or Every-Booker, being able to drift through time to whatever world and whatever time period Elizabeth wants to show Booker the true nature of things. He is both himself, the Player, and himself in whatever moment. Think of it more like the consciousness is moving from body to body. Whatever actions he takes essentially rewrites what happens in that universe rather than replay it.
It’s also important to note that the two occurrences – the rejection of baptism and reaffirmation of Booker vs. the acceptance of baptism and rebirth as Comstock – are fixed points in time. They happened, they have to happen, and they always will happen. A billion other universes are created, each affected and influenced by those two decisions. It’s a coin flip that defines one possible factor in the Universe. Elizabeth nearly says as much with the line: “You chose to walk away. But in other oceans you didn’t.” The first “you” is Booker. And the “other oceans” represent the million different Comstock worlds, only further reinforced by the line “this isn’t the same place”. The “place” that they are in for this finale is only the Comstock baptism. By going back to the creation of Comstock and rewriting it to be Booker’s drowning, the Player basically just scratches off tails on the coin…but heads still remains. The Player, our Booker, ceases to exists and dies so that Comstock is never born. Columbia is erased. Elizabeth is erased. Our Elizabeth may or may not still exist in some form, but who really knows about that? What we do know that in one possibility, Booker rejects the baptism and goes home to be a drunk private investigator and eventual father of a baby named Anna. I like to think that the Player’s Booker, having been transcended into the Every-Booker by Elizabeth, is sent into the body of that Booker at the conclusion of the game as payment for his sacrifices. So in the post-credit scene we aren’t just seeing a random Booker in his office. We are seeing THE Booker react with utter surprise and gratitude at finally being reunited with his daughter. He’s almost fearful that it’s not real:
Anna…? Is that you…?
This article will likely be a work in progress. Are there any other topics that you want me to cover? Let me know!
- Explaining the Ending to “Bioshock Infinite” (snippetstudios.wordpress.com)
- Reactions to “Bioshock Infinite” (snippetstudios.wordpress.com)
- BioShock: Infinite Review (amsiddiqui0001.wordpress.com)
- Bioshock Infinite: The Character Of The Songbird (techzwn.com)
- BioShock Infinite and games as edutainment (reviews.cnet.com)
- A look inside: BioShock Infinite – The Siege of Columbia (geeknative.com)