This contains spoilers for BioShock: Infinite and its first DLC, Burial at Sea.
I can barely remember what I had for breakfast Monday, let alone the fine details of a game I played almost a year ago.
But that’s exactly what BioShock Infinite is asking us to do with its final piece of downloadable add-on content, Burial at Sea: Episode Two. Released this week for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC — and coinciding with the one-year anniversary of BioShock Infinite — Episode Two wraps up the story of its two main characters, Elizabeth and Booker DeWitt. This time around, you get to play as Elizabeth as she tries to escape from Rapture, the underwater dystopia that was the main setting of the first BioShock.
But unless you played through BioShock (which came out in 2007) and BioShock Infinite recently, it’s difficult to remember all of their complicated plot twists and characters. The short summary video that accompanies Episode Two is a good starting point, but it glosses over some crucial areas … and I know this because I was totally confused when I finished the game the other day. After tirelessly searching for answers online, I selected six moments from BioShock history that you need to remember before finishing the DLC.
Hopefully, this will make Burial at Sea’s ending a little easier to understand (you can see the best theories about it here).
‘A man chooses. A slave obeys’
A pivotal moment in the first BioShock is finding out what the hell is going on between you (a silent character named Jack), Rapture mastermind Andrew Ryan, and the supposed people’s champion, Atlas. In the speech above, Ryan reveals that Jack has no free will of his own and is genetically conditioned to obey any orders preceded by the phrase “Would you kindly?” This causes Jack to do terrible things, such as hijacking his plane, and, as Ryan demonstrates, murdering people without mercy.
This also shows that Atlas, who helped you up until this point, isn’t a real person. It was merely a disguise for Frank Fontaine, a criminal who rose to power by smuggling in items from the surface and creating a business around developing and selling Plasmids, the fluids that gave you powers when injected into your body. He became so strong that the tension between him and Ryan eventually led to an all-out war for the control of Rapture. Fontaine also took Ryan’s bastard son, Jack, when he was just an embryo and placed him in a lab where Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum and Dr. Yi Suchong ran experiments on him. In addition to implanting the infamous activation phrase, Jack aged at an accelerated pace, and the doctors gave him fake memories of growing up with a family.
Calling him his “ace in the hole” in his war against Ryan, Fontaine sent Jack up to the surface when he was just 2 years old, where he would stay until the criminal needed him.
‘You gave them the one thing that was stolen from them — a chance’
If you save — and not harvest — most of the Little Sisters, you get BioShock’s “good” ending. After the boss fight with a juiced-up Fontaine, Tenenbaum sends the remaining Little Sisters to kill him with their ADAM extraction needles. Now free of their bonds with Rapture, the girls go back to the surface with Jack, and he raises them as if they were his own daughters, giving them a chance to finally have normal lives.
The significance of nose bleeds in BioShock Infinite
After crossing into an alternate reality from Chen Lin’s cell in BioShock Infinite, you meet dazed soldiers who are bleeding from their nose, soldiers that you killed in your world. Even though these men are alive in this timeline, they still remember their other selves dying from Booker DeWitt’s hands. Their minds are unable to reconcile these competing memories, resulting in strange physiological reactions like the nose bleed. Later on, DeWitt experiences a few nose bleeds himself whenever he talks to Comstock.
Daisy Fitzroy’s death
DeWitt and Elizabeth find out that Daisy Fitzroy, the leader of the resistance group Vox Populi, isn’t who they thought she’d be. She murders the villainous Jeremiah Fink — owner of Fink Manufacturing, a powerful company in Columbia that, among other things, produces and sells the Plasmid-like Vigors. He almost kills his son were it not for Elizabeth literally stabbing her in the back with a pair of scissors. It’s a crucial turning point for Elizabeth, and not just because of the new clothes and haircut she gives herself after the incident. Like DeWitt, the blood is now on her hands, too, and it’s something she won’t forget.
‘Constants and variables’
For better or worse, BioShock Infinite overwhelms the player with one revelation after another in the last 15 minutes. Not only do you return to Rapture to kill Songbird, Elizabeth’s obedient but deadly guardian, but you find out that you’re in just one of the infinite number of worlds (or “doors,” as Elizabeth says) within the BioShock multiverse. Some have minor adjustments compared to the timeline we played — like which brooch we picked for Elizabeth earlier in the game — but others are more dramatic, like having an entire city exist underwater instead of floating in the air.
During this mind-bending journey, DeWitt realizes that he actually gave up his only child, Anna, to “wipe” away his gambling debts. The child ends up in Comstock’s hands via a transdimensional tear and grows up to become Elizabeth. When DeWitt travels to Columbia 20 years later through another tear created by the god-like Lutece Twins, he makes up new memories that conveniently hide the existence of Anna and Comstock. Then we find out the true origin of Comstock: He’s actually Booker DeWitt. In other worlds, DeWitt copes with his sins from the Battle of Wounded Knee by finding religion, and he adopts a new identity as Zachary Comstock after being baptized in a river.
Elizabeth and her father agree that the only way to get rid of Comstock’s presence throughout the multiverse is to kill DeWitt right before he accepts his baptism.
Chasing down Comstock in Rapture
Burial at Sea: Episode One uses Rapture to set up a familiar context — you’re back playing as DeWitt, and you have to rescue a girl named Sally from the clutches of evil. But here, Elizabeth plays a dramatically different role. The naiveté we saw in the original game is gone, and throughout this chapter, you get the sense that she knows way more about the situation than she’s letting on.
She reveals her true intentions right at the end, where pulling Sally — who had already turned into a Little Sister — from the vent causes DeWitt to remember who he really was: another version of Comstock. Except in this universe, Comstock panicked when he tried to steal baby Anna from a different DeWitt in the past, accidentally lopping off the child’s head when he demanded that the Lutece twins shut down their tear-opening machine. Consumed by guilt, Comstock escapes into Rapture, where his old memories disappeared when he tried to build a new life for himself.
In an act of revenge, modern-day Elizabeth used Sally’s disappearance to deliberately lead DeWitt to this point, where she knew he would remember his crimes. She watches silently as a Big Daddy brutally kills him.
Irrational Games is an award winning video game developer located in Quincy, MA and founded in 1997 by Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey and Robert Fermier. The team made its name with the much loved first person shooter System Shock 2. This w... read more »
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