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Elizabeth's Story: A Different Perspective on Bioshock Infinite's Ending
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Elizabeth's Story: A Different Perspective on Bioshock Infinite's Ending
by Matt Christian on 04/18/13 08:54:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

NOTE:  This writing assumes the reader has completed Bioshock Infinite; it is an analysis of the events contained within the game, specifically the ending.  Without playing the game this writing could spoil several major plot points.  Go play the game.

It is 9 P.M. on a Wednesday.  My computer sits glowing blue on my living room floor, a thin black cable running up to my 55-inch LED TV where Father Comstock stands glaring at me.  I glance back at the 20-inch LCD monitor on the desk behind me.  Yes, this was a good decision.

Unbeknownst to me my time in the flying city of Columbia is drawing to a close but some sixth sense is telling me this new-age masterpiece has an ace up its sleeve.  Something within whispers to me, informs me that even though the action is rising, this is the end of my journey with Booker DeWitt.  In normal circumstances I may have begun to reminisce, maybe even tear up.  But for now I am content; I watch Booker DeWitt crack Zachary Comstock's aged skull against the stone basin in front of me and in 30 minutes have experienced the ending that has the game industry buzzing.

Anyone browsing the internet or recent YouTube gaming channels has seen the articles, the videos advertising 'BIOSHOCK ENDING EXPLAINED!'  For the most part, these videos are pretty accurate and have some really great points explaining the reasoning behind the complex ending.  An ending brimming with answers and emotions as we learn that Elizabeth is Anna and Booker (in some timelines) is Comstock.  As someone who has finished the game (I hope!) you've now experienced and, to some degree, understand a good portion of the ending.  But part of the draw, the interesting nature of the ending to Bioshock Infinite, is not how it can be explained but how we have all experienced a different ending through the same means.  If the ending was marked with a simple period we wouldn't see interpretation videos and conversational write-ups, we would see a Wiki article summarizing the end and call it a day.  Instead, Infinite ends with an ellipses leading to a question mark followed by an exclamation point with small words in-between that simply asks 'What do you think happened?'  As Lutece says, 'It's a matter of perspective,' and this is simply another perspective.

During the ending sequence of Bioshock Infinite we find Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock upon the bow of Zachary Comstock's zeppelin.  The Songbird that has relentlessly pursued the two now bends to their will and destroys the Siphon hampering Elizabeth's tear powers.  As they lose control the Songbird turns and makes a beeline for them; and in that instance Elizabeth opens a tear to a familiar place, a place where there are no gods or kings, a place called Rapture.

It was in this moment I thought one thing: Elizabeth created Rapture.

Now I know many of you have just thought 'Nope, you're wrong,' but let me entertain this theory for a moment as we consider the lifestyle of Elizabeth.  As a child growing up under Zachary Comstock, Elizabeth was unaware of their pervasive measures of watching her daily activities within the tower she was kept in.  Throughout the game Elizabeth matures and understands the world she was hidden from is not so perfect or so simple as she once believed.  The pristine 1912 "master-society" of Columbia contrasts extremely well with the incessant gore and bloodshed of Booker's mission so well for the player that one can only imagine the profound impact upon a character within that setting, especially one so sheltered as Elizabeth.

Returning to that instant while upon the bow of the zeppelin it isn't farfetched to believe the stress of the situation along with the events up to that point would have deeply changed Elizabeth.  Had she influenced the outcome of the resulting tear that sent her and Booker to Rapture, is it so odd that her instinct could produce Rapture, an imaginative locale where an oppressive leader rules over a dystopian society of people trapped within the confines he (Andrew Ryan) created?  No, because that's exactly what she knows.  This is the story of Elizabeth Comstock's life and Rapture is exactly the tragic environment to convey it.

But in the end an imaginative setting with an oppressed society of complex people struggling against their dystopia is what makes it Bioshock.  More than likely, Ken Levine sat down and thought to draw parallels between these fascinating settings and nothing more.  Plus, Rapture is even kind of explained in Infinite; manufacturer Jeremiah Fink has a hidden voxophone where he states he has seen the merger of man and machine in tears, thought to refer to the Big Daddies roaming Rapture.  However the formation of Elizabeth's character throughout her time with Booker is strikingly similar to the confined, cruel city of Rapture.  Her life story and the dark recesses of the underwater city draw undeniable comparisons.  Where one see's Rapture, one might see Anna, or Elizabeth, or Columbia.  It's all a matter of perspective...


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