MAJOR SPOILERS: Bioshock Infinite Explained

So I get that there's a lot of polarized opinions on whether or not Bioshock Infinite's ending was a good one or not, the old 'the enemy was actually me' trope being played for full effect didn't sit too well with some people. I don't expect this to necessarily change anyones' minds but I hope to at least give the people who played a full explanation as to what exactly the ending entailed.

The reason for this is because the ending did not tell you everything overtly, instead relying on subtle implication woven into the narrative. Admittedly this is something that a lot of people will miss and with it some of the flavor of the ending is lost. So let's start at the beginning of the end.

Comstock is dead, the Siphon is destroyed, and Elizabeth takes Booker on a tour of reality including a trip to the setting of the first game: Rapture. It's during this little walkabout that she utters the line that should be as famous as 'Would you Kindly?' but was somehow missed by quite a few people.

"There's always a light-house, there's always a man, there's always a city"

Rapture is Columbia, Andrew Ryan is Comstock.

Now you'll have to bear with me because this is gonna get twisty. In the original Bioshock we learn that the Bathyspheres only work for Andrew Ryan or his relatives because of the genetic lockout. This means that Jack, the protagonist of Bioshock, is related to Ryan because he can use them without issue. In the ending to that we find that Jack is actually a clone created from Ryan using ADAM, so Ryan and Jack are the same person genetically. When Elizabeth takes Booker DeWitt to Rapture he operates the Bathysphere without any problems either meaning that, on a genetic level, he is also the same person.

So let's do a little genealogical math:

Rapture = Columbia & Ryan = Comstock

Jack = Ryan & Booker = Comstock

Booker can use the Bathyspheres therefore:

Jack = Booker

Jack = Booker = Comstock = Ryan

It's all one great Parallel cycle. Andrew Ryan, Booker DeWitt, Zachary Comstock, and Jack are all the same person mirrored eternally in an infinite number of parallel realities, all cursed to replay the events of their twins. Hence the name: Bioshock Infinite. Booker was playing the role that Jack played just as Comstock was playing the role of Ryan and vice versa.

But it was more than that. Daisy Fitzgerald was the violent revolutionary that precipitated the fall of the great city just as Sinclair/Atlas did in Rapture. And remember how Tenenbaum was the creator of the force that resulted in Jack's creation? ADAM? In Columbia that role is taken by Lutece who develops the fixed quantum particles that allow Columbia to fly and eventually the machine that manufactured the original tear, allowing Booker to eventually come to Columbia and kill Comstock just as Jack killed Ryan, with multiple terrible blows to the head. The two 'Founders' died of the same injuries. And yes, I know he was also dunked in a fountain but he wasn't held underwater long enough to drown. Massive trauma to the head would be his C.o.D. Although that leads me to another parallel.

Both Ryan and Comstock died underwater.

All parallels echoing across all of reality.

Moving on from that point we reach the scene in the Baptismal River.

Booker's story didn't end with him dying before Elizabeth/Anna was born, remember, he needed to die before he became Comstock and Comstock couldn't have a daughter. Some people may have missed this fact because it was on a voxophone but it's implicitly stated that Comstock is sterile. He can't have a daughter, not in Columbia, not in his past either. But his parallel twin wasn't sterile and he had a child. Booker needed to die before he became Comstock and had Lutece and her brother use their machine to take away Elizabeth/Anna.

That would mean that to Booker you played as, the Booker DeWitt who denied the baptism, would never have existed, that reality would be shunted away and he would be returned to the crossroads that decided everything. The moment when he chose whether or not to give up Anna DeWitt to Robert Lutece, except Robert Lutece never came to him, because his Parallel twin, Rosalind Lutece, never contacted him via their study of particle physics.

And yes, even the Bioshock wiki agree's that if you pay attention to their scenes, that it is heavily implied that they, like Booker and Comstock, are simply parallel versions of each other.

I actually loved the ending after giving it some thought and reading things like this. Not everyone will give the ending as much thought as you and actually seek out explanations if they do not understand it, leaving them disappointed. I think that is a shame since there is so much depth and and interesting details that not everyone will necessarily understand in one play through.

I am playing the game again on 1999 mode and I am noticing an incredible amount of foreshadowing of the ending that I never could have comprehended or understood without having already beaten the game once.

For example, in the beginning of the game when the Lutece "twins" (they are not actually brother/sister, just male/female versions of the same person from different dimensions) ask you to flip a coin. When you flip, it comes up heads. On the scoreboard you can see that it ALWAYS comes up heads. The outcome is always the same no matter how many hundreds of times the scenario takes place. There will always be a visionary that has an all encompassing vision that creates a utopian city, and a person that is somehow related to the visionary shows up and tears it all down.

There are also other similarities which are not as mind-blowing but still interesting nonetheless. The Songbird and Big Daddy's are similar in that they are tasked with protecting a young girl.

I love this game.

Supersruzz:
I actually loved the ending after giving it some thought and reading things like this. Not everyone will give the ending as much thought as you and actually seek out explanations if they do not understand it, leaving them disappointed. I think that is a shame since there is so much depth and and interesting details that not everyone will necessarily understand in one play through.

I am playing the game again on 1999 mode and I am noticing an incredible amount of foreshadowing of the ending that I never could have comprehended or understood without having already beaten the game once.

For example, in the beginning of the game when the Lutece "twins" (they are not actually brother/sister, just male/female versions of the same person from different dimensions) ask you to flip a coin. When you flip, it comes up heads. On the scoreboard you can see that it ALWAYS comes up heads. The outcome is always the same no matter how many hundreds of times the scenario takes place. There will always be a visionary that has an all encompassing vision that creates a utopian city, and a person that is somehow related to the visionary shows up and tears it all down.

There are also other similarities which are not as mind-blowing but still interesting nonetheless. The Songbird and Big Daddy's are similar in that they are tasked with protecting a young girl.

I love this game.

Playing it through again really gives you a great experience, like one of the Voxophone recordings of Comstock describing how a man goes into a baptism and comes out a different person. Knowing the truth about Booker/Comstock gives you a new understanding of the recording.

Yes, I see the ending similarly, as a hopeful second chance for a Booker Dewitt who's come to realize the value of his own self-determination and his family.

Another bit that people tend to miss, one that I personally do NOT think is a coincidence;

None of the Elizabeths that drown you are wearing a necklace. None of them. Despite her wearing the thing through your whole adventure, until after the flash of light at the end of the game(during which Elizabeth vanishes for a moment... how 'bout dat shit?), and a similarly clothed Elizabeth approaches. She's not wearing it.

If Elizabeth's full powers, uninhibited by the siphon, work similarly to the Lutece's, then she shouldn't be affected by causality. It stands to reason that the Elizabeth of BSI's adventures is off in inter-dimensional Paris somewhere, while simultaneously Anna gets to live her own life, and create her own branching timelines.

J Tyran:
*snip*

Here's another really clever one;

Remember how enraging it was that Comstock "falsely" inserted himself into various military struggles?

Remember what Booker Dewitt did for a living before his debt...?

lordmardok:

Jack = Booker = Comstock = Ryan

For some reason, reading that made me laugh like a maniac for more than a couple minutes. I guess that's one of the side effects of having your mind completely blown apart.

Casting aside my bitter disappointment over certain critical unanswered questions, I loved the game and now I have another reason to play the game again.

nameless023:

lordmardok:

Jack = Booker = Comstock = Ryan

For some reason, reading that made me laugh like a maniac for more than a couple minutes. I guess that's one of the side effects of having your mind completely blown apart.

Casting aside my bitter disappointment over certain critical unanswered questions, I loved the game and now I have another reason to play the game again.

Would you mind discussing which questions you feel went unanswered? I'd be interested in hearing it and maybe trying to explain if I have an answer for you.

OT: Yeah, I really enjoyed the ending, and replaying it gives a whole new perspective on the game.

Also- Elizabeth = Little Sister. Think about it.

I don't think the fact that the colors on their dresses are almost the same is a coincidence.

My interpretation of the ending is that the Elizabeths drowning Booker collapses down all the possible realities that create a Comstock and just leave the version of reality where Booker denies the baptism. I'm basing this on the post-credits sequence where Booker re-appears in the room and goes to Anna. If Booker is never baptized in any reality, there's never a Comstock to steal Anna, so he gets to live out his days with his daughter, which at the end of the day, would be what Elizabeth would want. Elizabeth basically aborts any possible universe where Booker doesn't reject the baptism, the only version of reality left is one where booker rejects the baptism, marries his wife, has Anna, then lives out his days with his family. With no Comstocks, Anna is never traded away for his debts, her finger is never cut off, she never gets her powers, Columbia never exists.

And Lutece and her brother are not implied to be parallel clones, they're flat out said to be in the audiologs in Lutece's lab. Also the impression I got from audiologs was that every version of Comstock was sterile because of working too closely with whichever version of Lutece was in their reality because of the nature of the tears, and that's why they had to steal Anna/Elizabeth from alternate realities.

Shodan1980:
My interpretation of the ending is that the Elizabeths drowning Booker collapses down all the possible realities that create a Comstock and just leave the version of reality where Booker denies the baptism. I'm basing this on the post-credits sequence where Booker re-appears in the room and goes to Anna. If Booker is never baptized in any reality, there's never a Comstock to steal Anna, so he gets to live out his days with his daughter, which at the end of the day, would be what Elizabeth would want. Elizabeth basically aborts any possible universe where Booker doesn't reject the baptism, the only version of reality left is one where booker rejects the baptism, marries his wife, has Anna, then lives out his days with his family. With no Comstocks, Anna is never traded away for his debts, her finger is never cut off, she never gets her powers, Columbia never exists.

And Lutece and her brother are not implied to be parallel clones, they're flat out said to be in the audiologs in Lutece's lab. Also the impression I got from audiologs was that every version of Comstock was sterile because of working too closely with whichever version of Lutece was in their reality because of the nature of the tears, and that's why they had to steal Anna/Elizabeth from alternate realities.

That's was I was going on but now I kind of like the idea that Bioshock and Infinite are the same adventure told two different ways, I think that's pretty interesting.
Anyway.
I'm getting most of it but can someone please dumb down this part right here?

lordmardok:
He can't have a daughter, not in Columbia, not in his past either. But his parallel twin wasn't sterile and he had a child. Booker needed to die before he became Comstock and had Lutece and her brother use their machine to take away Elizabeth/Anna.

That would mean that to Booker you played as, the Booker DeWitt who denied the baptism, would never have existed, that reality would be shunted away and he would be returned to the crossroads that decided everything. The moment when he chose whether or not to give up Anna DeWitt to Robert Lutece, except Robert Lutece never came to him, because his Parallel twin, Rosalind Lutece, never contacted him via their study of particle physics.

The pieces of my brain that are still in my head aren't quite "getting" putting this part together properly.

This, and the suspiciously similar thread on pcgamer http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/04/04/bioshock-infinite-ending-explained/ were awesome. I haven't played other games in the Bioshock series, but the way that Irrational uses it's IP is the best I've ever seen in the gaming industry.

Now of course, I have to wait a long time before playing Bioshock to forget the twists.

So would you kindly not quote me?

The story doesn't matter. When there's an infinite number of universes and an infinite number of different possibilities, why would one guy's story matter when there are millions of slightly different ones, where the above analysis doesn't apply. The only thing that the story says that matters is that nothing matters.

ResonanceSD:
This, and the suspiciously similar thread on pcgamer http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/04/04/bioshock-infinite-ending-explained/ were awesome. I haven't played other games in the Bioshock series, but the way that Irrational uses it's IP is the best I've ever seen in the gaming industry.

Now of course, I have to wait a long time before playing Bioshock to forget the twists.

So would you kindly not quote me?

Too bad, a man chooses but a slave obeys.

That 'suspiciously similar thread' certainly is suspicious considering it was posted about five to six days AFTER my original post here. That makes me laugh a little and it also makes me feel a little proud that I nailed so many of the points.

Here's something you didn't cover.

Lady Comstock is most likely Elizabeth's mother, just in a different reality.

Booker's wife, Anna's mother died in childbirth. Lady Comstock, wife of Mr. Comstock, didn't have a child because Mr. was sterile and because she didn't have a child, she wasn't killed in childbirth.

While it wasn't specifically stated that Comstock and Booker married alternate versions of the same woman it makes sense in the terms of the story.

The Rapture sequence is just fan service. They just happened to be able to tie the first game in with Infinite, and went with it for giggles. About the bathysphere, like you said, Elizabeth, who is now basically God, is just taking him on a tour of the infinite realities. I don't think some technical problems like a little mechanical lock would be considered. (Also notice how quickly they reach the surface, and that they don't enter inside the lighthouse.) Nothing in the ending should be viewed completely literal.

Sight Unseen:

Would you mind discussing which questions you feel went unanswered? I'd be interested in hearing it and maybe trying to explain if I have an answer for you.

Well, one of the main questions I had lying around was the source of Elizabeth's powers but that link to pcgamer pointed out the answer that I might have overlooked the first time: "It would seem the universe does not like its peas mixed with its porridge".

Assuming I understood it correctly, it means that she got her powers from being moved from one dimension to another, right? But then that only makes more questions, would that mean either one of the Luteces has the same kind of powers? I guess that would make sense seeing how they're always showing up in the right place at the right time. But what about Booker? He gets moved around different tears throughout the game and all he gets is a lousy nosebleed. Or is Elizabeth different because she's been exposed to this change for a long time? I don't know. I seem to lack that fine attention to detail you people have.

I also had some questions about Songbird, Daisy Fitzroy and a couple other things but I can't seem to find the list I had made days ago. Playing 1999 Mode this weekend will hopefully give me a better ending.

nameless023:

Sight Unseen:

Would you mind discussing which questions you feel went unanswered? I'd be interested in hearing it and maybe trying to explain if I have an answer for you.

Well, one of the main questions I had lying around was the source of Elizabeth's powers but that link to pcgamer pointed out the answer that I might have overlooked the first time: "It would seem the universe does not like its peas mixed with its porridge".

Assuming I understood it correctly, it means that she got her powers from being moved from one dimension to another, right? But then that only makes more questions, would that mean either one of the Luteces has the same kind of powers? I guess that would make sense seeing how they're always showing up in the right place at the right time. But what about Booker? He gets moved around different tears throughout the game and all he gets is a lousy nosebleed. Or is Elizabeth different because she's been exposed to this change for a long time? I don't know. I seem to lack that fine attention to detail you people have.

I also had some questions about Songbird, Daisy Fitzroy and a couple other things but I can't seem to find the list I had made days ago. Playing 1999 Mode this weekend will hopefully give me a better ending.

The main reason I think that she has her powers is because she is literally split between two universes. Part of her (her pinky) is in her original universe, and the other half is in another. So this causes instability in the universe, and the appearance of tears which she can manipulate. That's my understanding of it anyway.

The timeline doesnt fit to Jack being Booker.
Consider this:
Rapture exists in an opposite universe where Rosalind is Robert, booker is a woman.
Therefore Anna/Elisabeth is actualy Bookerina's son Andrei aka Andrew Ryan, the names and the age of Ryan fit with this

 

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