THERE MAY BE MASSIVE SPOILERS LEFT UNMARKED HERE.THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.
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Why is it that Possession is such a drain on salts until you upgrade? It's because you were given a free sample — something you can only try out a couple of times per go. The Possess For Less upgrade is basically you shifting from trial-version to official!
A Bible passage tells the story of how Jesus stopped a crowd from stoning a prostitute by demanding that the one who is without sin may cast the first stone. Booker wins a raffle to cast the metaphorical 'first stone' at an interracial couple. Earlier when Booker first arrived in Columbia he had to go through a baptism, which is traditionally seen as a way to cleanse one of their sins.
The Cage, or the Bird? Like the two faces of a coin, both are actually same thing from different perspectives. Back in the early 20th century, there used to be these novelty toys involving a loop of string and a card with a bird printed on one side and a cage on the other. When the loop of string is twisted and released, the card quickly flips back and forth, creating an optical illusion where the bird is in the cage. Aside from foreshadowing how Songbird can be defeated, it also illustrates Bioshock Infinite's concepts of predestination and free will (which the Cage and the Bird symbolize) and their simultaneous representation in the story. This also doubles as a quantum physics reference: the illusion of the card showing both bird and cage represents a quantum superposition. Booker choosing one of them for Elizabeth to wear collapses the superposition into either one or the other. Made better by this being implied to be one of the variables (as opposed to the constants such as the coin toss).
The comment that people brought back from other realities have conflicting memories about what happened in the other reality? That applies to YOU THE PLAYER. Every time you respawn you have memories of another reality where you got killed. From an ingame perspective, this would be identical to what those NPCs are feeling, there are memories where things went horribly wrong and you died, but then again, things didn't go that way , you survived.
One of the plasmids used in the original BioShock is Electro Bolt, and after using it is described as, "bucks like a mule." One of the vigors revealed in Infinite is Bucking Bronco. And the actual counterpart is "Shock Jockey".
From what we saw in the first of BioShock Infinite, Booker is travelling in a boat along with a lighthouse-like structure to (supposedly), get to Columbia in the sky. Since the first game was set in an underwater world, the opening of the with each other. The first game started on a plane and then goes to the ocean, where Infinite starts in the water and goes into the sky.
Why is Columbia a flying city? Given the religious fundamentalism, it may be Comstock's attempts to create a form of 'heaven'. Sure enough, as soon as you arrive on Columbia:
Booker: Where am I? Priest: Heaven, friend. Or as close as we'll see 'til Judgement Day.
The background material about Comstock states that he was at the battle of Wounded Knee and also used Columbia to raze Peking to the ground during the Boxer Rebellion (supposedly in retaliation for Americans being held hostage). But in the game itself, Booker had never heard of anyone named Comstock at the battle of Wounded Knee. Why? Because Comstock was the name a alternate version of himself chose after accepting baptism for his sins after the battle. Which then led to the events in the story.
Vigors and the Songbird sure are reminiscent of the Plasmids and Big Daddies from BioShock, aren't they? That's because a log entry implies that Fink's been viewing a tear to Rapture's biolabs.
How do you control a songbird? Put him in a cage. C, A, G, E are the notes Elizabeth needs to play to control him.
Initially, I was confused as to why the game is called BioShock "Infinite". Then I remembered Elizabeth and her powers. "Infinite" refers to the infinite multiverse that BioShock takes place in.
Some people are probably disappointed with how some gameplay sections from the trailers aren't present in the final game. Then you see the E3 Elizabeth in the ending alongside multiple other Elizabeths. The beta/E3 sections were alternate timelines from the main, meaning they may have happened after all - just not for you.
All the DeWitts are arranged alphabetically in order of plot importance: Anna (Elizabeth, the MacGuffin Girl), Booker (the Player Character), and Comstock (the Big Bad). Incidentally, the player's Booker is the 123rd iteration pulled in by the Luteces, judging by Robert's tally of the coin-flip.
Other Name meanings: Booker - Book-maker. Comes into play when you realise how much Booker wants to re-write his own story. Dewitt - The White One. Pretty self-explanatory.
Bryce DeWitt was also a famous scientist in the field of quantum physics, and the suggester of the Multiverse theory.
DeWitt is also very phonically similar to 'do it', which is played with in a few lines of dialogue in the game. 'Do it' fits neatly with the predeterminism of the game.
The ending seems as though it would erase all Bookers, but we see this isn't the case at the end (or at least it seems that way). The Brilliance, however, is that Booker is killing every version of himself that went through with the baptism. All the ones that ran away from the baptism survived, thus leading to Anna and Booker together at the end.
Songbird's behavior is a lot like a Big Daddy from the first . Justified because the techniques used to make it came from a tear from Rapture. Which also explains why you could control it in the end, as some version of the same vocal commands Fontaine used at the end of BS1 to shut Jack down.
If you think about it, Elizabeth has some elements of the Big Daddy/Little Sister relationship as well. She's acting like a normal person would behave if they were guarded by a Big Daddy, and not some's been brainwashed like a Little Sister. But a Meaningful Background Event during Songbird's death is that of a Little Sister mourning the loss of her Big Daddy. So when songbird dies, how much of Elizabeth's reaction is due to Stockholm Syndrome and how much is genuine?
At the very start of the game, you're shown a quote about a mind struggling to fill in memories. You don't realize it at the time, but this is exactly what Booker is doing... and what the player is doing, trying to piece together Booker's backstory.
The Tower is a recurring symbol throughout the game. Look at the meanings of the Tower. And in many versions, it's struck by lightning. What happens, visually, when the Songbird destroys it?
It seems weird that women are so equal in Columbia when one would expect it to be a far more chauvinistic society. There is, however, some historical backing for this. One of the arguments for women's suffrage is that it would help keep white protestants in control. Considering how Comstock needs as much support he can get, he probably didn't need to hear any more.When you consider how Comstock also selected his successor to be a woman and that having women active in society would help people get used to that, this was probably a no-brainer for him.
After Booker's initial dumbstruck reaction to first seeing Columbia, as well as his admission to Elizabeth that he had never heard of the city before taking on the job, the line "I don't keep up on current events" might seem a bit of an asspull from the writers in order to preserve the wonder of experiencing a new city firsthand...until you find out that Booker is actually an alternate reality version of Comstock, the 'Prophet' of Columbia, and that in his reality the city never existed because he himself never founded it.
Heard all those anachronistic covers of more recent songs, like 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World', 'God Only Knows' and 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'? In modern times, these songs won't be original ones, they would be treated as historical songs, being "written" decades before their times. Given a double fridge brilliance in that Booker and Elizabeth's voice actors made a cover of 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken'.
The use of religion in the game has been controversial, but there's quite a bit of brilliance in it.
Booker is able to save the world from Comstock only by being drowned in every universe where he's baptized. In other words, he saves the world by dying for our sins. which religious figure did the same thing. Hint: the Preacher who baptizes Booker says his name.
This time, he understood the meaning behind the ritual properly. It was not a ticket out of guilt, but a step to coping with the guilt and atoning for what he'd done and become a better father.
Booker, who the main religious establishment of Columbia hates and fears, is revealed to have been martyred as a hero to the Vox in, then seems to come back to life. Comstock would certainly believe him to be the anti-christ, seeing his actions as a perverting of the Jesus mythology.
Common use of "AD" is used to notate Anno Domini, or in the year of the Lord, a timeline marked by the unusual birth of a child who performed miracles.
While there's a lot of skillful foreshadowing in the game itself, an absolutely brilliant example can be found in the trailer.
Because they essentially already are. The cybernetic enhancements strip at least a bit of their free will away from them, and make them fight when they don't want to, judging by their not exactly taunting "taunts".
Alternative Handymen Possession theory: The immunity is grounded in the fact that they're cyborgs: Possession can be used to control organics or synthetics, but not a mixture of both.
The first time you see the Luteces' faces has quite a bit packed into a short scene.
They make you play a game of heads and tails. So far it has always come up heads, just like in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This is a brilliant reference because most of what they say falls into the genre of absurdism, they are into physics like Rosencrantz, they enjoy word-play that borders onto philosophical debates, they present to you choices that actually have no effect of the game echoing the free will vs. determinism theme in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and they have been dead for the whole game.
The marks on the chalk board Robert is wearing? It plays into the idea at the end of constants and variables. While Booker can have a few choices during the game (who to throw the baseball at, whether or not to kill Slate) when you get right down to it, they don't matter, because they're always going to lead to the same result. This explains why there's only ever one ending for this game, considering the original BioShock was one of the first games to popularize moral choices that led to a different ending back before the whole trend got used by every single game ever; in a way Infinite is deconstructing the entire concept, because when you have a developed character like Booker, it doesn't matter what choices he makes (the variables) because they will never change who he is (constants) and because of that, only occur. Once you get right down to it, the Luteces are probably fascinated by that, the impossibility of a coin landing on heads every single time, no matter which of the infinite number of multiverses they decide to ask him to flip in.
This all helps illustrate that Infinite is another game in the series making a meta-commentary on video game linearity, choice and story branches. No matter what happens, the general storyline, even the ending, does not change. Even with access to infinite universes, with infinite possibilities, the player can not really deviate from the story the dev team chooses to present.
"The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none existed before...", which is exactly what Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do for most of their play.
There's a brilliant bit of foreshadowing during the rowing sequence at the beginning. The "Gentleman" says the Booker "doesn't row". The "Lady" replies, "He doesn't ROW?" (the subtitles make sure you get the emphasis). The man then replied, "No, he DOESN'T row." First play through, you just figure they're weird, especially since the woman's response of "Ah, I see your point," comes across as sarcastic. Second play through, you realize that they know that in no universe do you EVER row. It's not that you can't or won't, but that you simply DON'T: it's a constant. Which is also an explanation for why they start panicking if you stay on the boat for some time: Each Booker reaches his lighthouse and his city—it's a constant. A Booker that doesn't go? "The universe has gone horribly wrong!".
Consider some of the songs featured:
The red tear in the music shop has Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" coming through it. A song which includes the lyric, "Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world." Elizabeth really just wanted to have fun. Also:
"Oh mother dear we're not the fortunate ones" — Elizabeth commiserating with Lady Comstock
"My father yells what you gonna do with your life" — Father Comstock's criticism of her indecision between following him or the false prophet
And then "Oh daddy dear you know you're still number one" — Elizabeth drowning Booker, preventing the creation of a "number two", Father Comstock
Battleship Bay's soundtrack is a street organ rendition of the same song, to which Elizabeth is happily dancing right after escaping from her "gilded cage". While Booker is more worried about being pursued and his debt, she just wants to have fun, indeed.
When you first enter Soldier's Field, you hear "The Readiness is All", which is pretty much a white power song meant for Columbia's children. But the part about "the warring hordes come marching into town" really did come true.
"God Only Knows (What I'd Be Without You)". After all the time and space shenanigans, what would Booker be without Elizabeth? What would Elizabeth be without Booker? God only knows.
Tainted Love - Some of the lyrics could be interpreted as being about Elizabeth and Songbird's relationship. "Sometimes I feel I've got to run away I've got to get away" "Once I ran to you now I'll run from you"
Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants To Rule The World". Comes up a few times from a cameo, Elizabeth singing it, and a Fink record. Its fair to say that this could be considered representation of Comstock's desires to rain fire from the skies with Elizabeth. It could also be interpreted that, at some point in space and time, everybody has a desire to rule or reign. Comstock is Booker, it's clear he wants to rule. Eventually Elizabeth gives in and follows up to Comstock's wishes, and Daisy went mad while ruling the Vox Populi and now wants to take over everything for herself.
CreedenceClearwaterRevival's "Fortunate Son." An a capella gospel version is sung by a girl during the Vox uprising. It's quite appropriate.
During the ending when the multiple Elizabeths drown Booker, they begin to vanish. However, you'll notice the Elizabeth you've been with during the game does not. And then the screen goes blank, similar to the post credits scene. This means that the Elizabeth you saved from Columbia could very well still be alive and kicking in the same way Booker is, perhaps even maintaining her powers. She might just have gotten to Paris, after all. Particularly fitting, given the emphasis on quantum mechanics in the game. Both the pre-credits and post-credits scenes have ambiguous, unresolved endings, and multiple interpretations of the endings could consequently be true.
Gear is pretty bizarre: you'll find hats that make you invincible while eating, shirts that give you more ammo from dead enemies, pants that give you ghostly allies, and shoes that give you health from melee kills. Where's the narrative justification in all this? Like everything else in Columbia, Gear is probably powered by tear energy siphoned from Elizabeth, which we know can do anything.
Both the Boxer Rebellion and the Lakota Sioux Ghost Dancers were fueled by Christian-influenced Millenarianist theologies, laying the groundwork for Comstock's similarly apocalyptically focused cult of the Founders, the Prophet, and the Lamb.
This may be unintentional, but think about the events in BioShock Infinite and its title. You're going through alternate realities to find out the truth of an Eldritch Abomination, eventually hoping to prevent it from being unleashed, and end up with a Gainax Ending. Sound like Marathon Infinity?
Why does Elizabeth specifically mention Les MisÚrables when she describes a revolution? Because a film version of it just came out when the game was released! Though she was clearly talking about the book, and the context suggests she doesn't know how it ends.
Why do the Negro Workmen in Battleship Bay have the same model? Daisy Fitzroy said in recordings that when she was on the run from Comstock she used her race to blend in, because to the guards, they all looked the same.
When you meet the Lutece twins in the BBQ restaurant early in the game, you can attempt to shoot them, but the bullets don't register and they'll just tell you that you "missed". At first this just seems like a joke about the nature of friendly NPCs in games, but it actually makes a lot of sense with their reveal of being unstuck in time.
Another theory regarding the first nosebleed: Booker's first nosebleed is a side-effect of the paradox of directly interacting with this universe's version of himself. The nosebleed happens again when he kills Comstock.
Early in the game when going through the hall of heroes Elizabeth remarks that she has read about how Comstock fought at Wounded Knee. To which slate angrily shouts "COMSTOCK WASN'T THERE!" It's more complicated than that, though: After the battle of Wounded Knee, Booker turned to baptism to assuage his of his guilt and PTSD, but whether he goes through with it or not is what creates Comstock. However, it is telling that if he does get baptized and is born anew without sin, he goes on to create the Hall of Heroes which feature him as the glorified hero of those battles. And yet Booker, who refused baptism and wasn't absolved of his guilt, instead insists he's no hero for his deeds and doesn't even want to talk about his involvement in the Boxer Rebellion or Wounded Knee. Once again, however, Comstock did the exact opposite of repenting. By attempting to take credit for Wounded Knee and repeating his actions at Peking, he's shown he's utterly unrepentant for his actions. He's actively trying to turn his vices into virtues. Booker, who genuinely repents of his deeds at Wounded Knee but can't see baptism washing away the sin, later drowns and is reborn in new life.
If you listen to NPCs walking before you enter the Fair, you learn that Monument Island was once like the Statue of Liberty, where new immigrants passed through to enter the city. Now it's Elizabeth's prison. This further underscores how Columbia is a twisted version of America: a symbol of Liberty is now a symbol of Imprisonment.
Many players were vexed that, after Elizabeth kills Fitzroy, the game seems to lose all interest in the internal matters of Columbia entirely and focuses exclusively on our protagonists, treating Columbia as nothing more then the place they're running around in. Why ignore the city when the first half of the game seemed so obsessed with it? Several reasons:
Firstly, Elizabeth and Booker don't really seem to care anymore. Think about it; Booker was in awe of Columbia (for more reasons then just the positive) because it was totally new to him and he's never heard of or seen anything like it before. Elizabeth is much the same, having spent her whole life cooped up in a cage with nothing but books and lockpicks, and is at first excited and later disturbed by how wondrous and massive the city is compared to what she's always known. By the time Songbird ruins their escape, the initial curious wonder has worn off. They've seen more then enough of Columbia, for what it wants to be seen as and for what it actually is underneath, and now they just want to leave and get to Paris. From that point on they're focused more on their own internal drama then whatever the ruin of a city is still putting itself through, because that's what will actually matter when it comes to them finally escaping.
Second, from a meta perspective, we as players don't care about Columbia anymore. Not really. We've seen the city as tourists, we've seen the seedy underbelly, and we've seen it reduced to a battlefield in civil war. What's left for us to see... but what we've already seen elsewhere. In Rapture. We know how the story of Columbia ends, so there's no reason to keep reading along.
Another reason from a story perspective is that, compared to Rapture, there really isn't anything or anyone worth saving in Columbia for Booker and Elizabeth to care. After seeing the city for what it is, they ultimately find it pointless to save it without destroying the whole thing. Rapture at the very least had people who deserved to be rescued, such as Tenembaum and the Little Sisters. But neither the Founders nor Vox Populi offer anything really to justify Columbia's continued existence, let alare worth salvaging for the rest of the world. All they care about by that point, as mentioned, is to simply leave.
Comstock accuses Booker of being a False Shepherd. Comstock is Booker and has led all of his flock astray.
There's actually been a theory forwarded on some forums that Comstock is an atheist. A lot of Comstock's heretical actions according to Christianity make sense if you view he's attempting to create a secular scientific Christian Apocalypse. He's created his own substitute for Jesus, Mary, and God with Elizabeth, Lady Comstock, and himself. He isn't waiting for Jesus to return but actively preparing for his own Apocalypse with his own raised messiah. Plus, his prophecies are the result of science, passed off as gifts from God. Comstock may desperately want to believe in God but has no faith.
Comstock has a baptism to absolve himself of his actions at Wounded Knee. Booker does not. Comstock later takes credit for his actions at Wounded Knee, popularizing them. Booker is afflicted with horror and guilt over them. In short, Comstock never repents of his sins while Booker does. Comstock's baptism is meaningless to him, save as a means of gaining a new identity. Later, Booker has a sincere baptism that allows him to be reborn as a new person.
The different endings in the previous BioShock games can be somewhat explained by the ending. Go have a look see.
Many players were annoyed they didn't have the option of a morality-based bad ending for Booker. Thing is it'd be redundant because by the end, it's revealed that thanks to trans-dimensional meddling, Booker's been trekking his way through the setting of the "bad ending" of his own personal story all along, a flying city that "bad Booker" founded while under the alias of Zachary Comstock.
When Elizabeth bargains with the songbird for Booker's life, why does is take her to Comstock house instead of Monument Island when she says that she'll let it take her home? Because you're still in the world where Elizabeth was moved to Comstock house and Booker was a martyr of the Vox Populi.
Why does Elizabeth seem to be able to scavenge items (like rare weapon ammo) for you even when they cannot be there? She doesn't pick them up. She pulls them out of alternate realities. She also explains that the tears she opens are a form of "wish fulfillment", which explains why she always has the item Booker needs at the time (e.g ammo if his weapon's running out, health kit if he's injured).
Some people have wondered why anyone would pick the cage at the start of the game. The bird can symbolize freedom, or the Songbird. The cage can only symbolize confinement, right? Look closer; the cage is empty.
As an Easter Egg/Early-Bird Cameo early on in the game, when you first see the Statue of Columbia, there is a pair of binoculars that you can use to the left of it. As you look in them, you can see a couple right in front of you that weren't there before; a man and a woman, the man is juggling and the woman is watching him. However, when you exit out of the binoculars, the pair have vanished. At first, it seemed odd, but I brushed it off as a glitch. On my second playthrough, I instantly recognised them - it's Robert and Rosalind Lutece, before you encounter them at the fair!
Why do the people of Columbia not practice ethnic slavery even though they openly idolise it? Because Jeremiah Fink controls the city's industry, and he's figured out that he's getting a better deal out of wage-slavery — he can hire and dismiss workers as he pleases with no owner's obligations towards them and make them compete with each other for who will do the same work in the shortest amount of time for the smallest pay. This way, he also won't be responsible for the actions of the malcontents like he would if they were considered his property. Some analyses have shown that urban factory workers in the Gilded Age North were treated worse than Southern slaves for this very reason. Slaves were expensive, but workers were dispensable. You could always hire a new child to run the lard machine (and get free lard out of it, or at worst be out a batch), but a working slave would set you back several hundred dollars, and the outlawing of the slave trade meant that breeding was the only way to replace lost stock. Of course, the rise of unions and labor laws changed those economics dramatically... which is precisely why Fink, et al. crack down so hard on such "infringements" on their power.
There are (at the moment) 4 Gold Weapon variants that were be acquirable by pre-ordering the game and the DLC. Comstock's China Broom, Comstock's Bird's Eye, Comstock's Broadsider, and Comstock's Triple R. But Comstock is never seen with them and Booker gets a damage buff while using them. Booker is Comstock's Alternate universe self.
According to the BioShock wiki's entry on Lutece, their last name comes from the French word for the Roman city that became Paris. So in a way, Booker did take Elisabeth to Paris after all, albeit as a small child.
During the ending why does the door into the lighthouse from the original BioShock lead into the land of infinite doors? Because that first game was where it all began. There's always a man, a lighthouse, and a city, but BioShock was the first game to inspire it all; millions upon millions of stories in potential games, sequels, and fanfiction all waiting behind that first ever door that lead beyond the sea...
Slate seems really on the nose with his confrontations with Booker in the Hall of Heroes, doesn't he? Almost to the point where it's implied that Slate knows the truth of Comstock/Booker's relationship. Remember, this is the universe where Booker became Comstock, which means Slate knows full well about how his old war buddy went and got saved and ended up building Columbia. So when he sees Booker come in, sans beard and holier then though attitude, it's pretty obvious he knows the score, even if he's not in on the specifics of how tears and alternate universes work.
Before you get into the actual city of Columbia, you're stopped by a blind preacher who wants to baptize you. This preacher turns out to be the same preacher that baptized an alternate version of Booker and "remade" him as Comstock, and his blindness was the only reason why he hadn't recognized Booker. Hilarious when you look back on the preacher's first words to you- "Is it someone new?"
A woman yells over to Elizabeth, calling her Annabelle. True, it was probably just a ruse to get Elizabeth to admit her real name - but technically, the woman got it right the first time; that is, if Anna DeWitt's full name is Annabelle.
When you first see the policewoman, she appears to be primping herself while looking in a compact mirror - actually, she's looking over her shoulder while giving the signal to the rest.
Preston Downs recalls in an early Voxophone where he jokingly told Comstock he's had to scalp a few white men in the past for "bedding down with the local color", and Comstock didn't so much as crack a smile. Not only is such stoic resolve totally in character for a holy man like him, but it's also likely a touchy subject considering the stigma of his Sioux ancestry.
The opening quote is by "R. Lutece". As all the Lutece's vox are focused on Rosalind, you therefore assume it's from her. Till the end where you see them pull Booker through the tear, and Booker begins forming "his story", where they note that this proves Robert's theory, meaning the opening quote is his.
When you think about it, the game is actually very pro-spirituality, despite having Comstock existing because of undergoing conversion to an extreme form of Christianity. Besides the whole "true baptism" mentioned above, the entire game is a morality play in modern form. We have Booker and Elizabeth, the protagonists, Comstock, Fitzroy, and Fink the embodiments of sin (ego, extremism, and greed, respectively), and the plot structure follows the everyplot of a morality play for both our leads: Hero begins in innocence (Liz in her Tower, pre-Wounded Knee Booker), Hero falls to temptation (Liz giving into her hate and despair in the Bad Future, Booker selling his daughter to pay for gambling debts), Hero finds redemption (Future Liz helping you stop the Bad Future, Booker willingly sacrificing himself to defeat Comstock forever). You know who wrote morality plays? The Catholic Church.
You thought "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" was just a nicely chosen song that fits with the game, complete with "city in the sky" imagery, didn't you? Right up until the ending, the Stable Time Loop/multiverse collision. Booker's death in the river (or, if you prefer, Comstock's death in the cradle) took all of the timelines involving Comstock and pinched them off, creating a closed circle. What kind of circle isn't broken? A closed circle.
The identity of Songbird is left pretty vague in the plot, probably on purpose. Is it a robot? A human turned into a monstrosity, ala the Big Daddy? But we can get a possible clue on his identity in the ending. Notice that both 'Bookers' (Comstock and the real Booker) die by drowning. Songbird also dies of drowning. It's already been put forward that an AU Booker may be the Songbird, and a few Voxophones speak of the difficulty in creating him along with Fink's insight through tears to Rapture. An AU Booker, ridden with guilt, would be the perfect candidate for the father/protector figure of Songbird. Could this be a subtle hint by the developers as to his identity? After all, Songbird is based on a big DADDY.
Elizabeth's choker, upon closer inspection, has an infinity symbols pattern.
Robert proffers the free bird emblem because he is the one who sets the game in motion by insisting that they make amends for kidnapping Elizabeth and essentially "freeing" her, while Rosalind has the cage emblem because she studied Elizabeth while she was still in the tower and—because she admitted the truth to Lady Comstock—was indirectly responsible for her being imprisoned in the tower in the first place. It could also be an early indication of the Lutece twins' true personalities: Robert holds the free bird emblem because he is the more optimistic of the two and believes that it really is possible to undo what Comstock's done; Rosalind, being more cynical and pessimistic to the point that she wonders if there's any point in trying to change the past, holds the cage. Alternatively, it could represent their roles in transferring Anna from Booker to Comstock. Robert is from the world with the 'bird': Anna, Rosalind is from the world with the 'cage' she is kept in. Robert takes the 'bird', Rosalind provides the 'cage'.
Some regarding the Animal Motifs in this game. Columbia's propaganda touts Elizabeth as the Lamb of Columbia, an animal usually associated with innocence. But then as you move through the game and listen to the things said concerning her, the lamb symbolism takes a sinister turn into a different animal entirely.
Comstock relates a story about a dog he had named Bill who would "remain loyal" no matter how much he abused him. Y'know, abuse like the torture Comstock put Elizabeth through near the end of the game.
Bad Future Elizabeth (in vox recording) refers to the surgery/torture to make her obedient as a "leash" of sorts AND vox recording compares the procedure itself to Pavlov's famous dog experiment.
So to sum up, Comstock wasn't raising Elizabeth as a "lamb". He was raising her as a "dog", or more precisely, a vicious attack dog to be unleashed on "the Sodom below". Add fire into the mix from the whole "burning down the mountains of man" bit and you basically have a hellhound.
Booker's words when confronting Comstock reflect his own self loathing for selling Anna.
Booker: She's your daughter, you son of a bitch! And you abandoned her! Was it worth it? Huh? Did you get what you wanted?
In the beginning of the game, the Luteces barely acknowledge Booker and ignore his questions in favor of talking to each other (or pursuing cryptic, barely related banter with him in defiance of his questions). As you learn more about the Luteces, you assume that's because they're adrift in space-time and might not even be completely capable of addressing Booker/acknowledging him as real. So it becomes jarring when, at the end of the game, they begin looking at Booker directly and giving apropos responses to his statements... until you realize that they're bothering to address him properly now because this Booker has succeeded in his mission, and they barely acknowledged him in the beginning because they didn't plan to get their hopes up over a man who would likely die.
Regarding the significance of Constance Field. She's not related to the Songbird or the Luteces, despite what some theorists may think. No, she foreshadows something much more important: CONSTANTS.
Out of all the monuments in Paris, Elizabeth is most fascinated with the Eiffel Tower. This is probably partly for the obvious reason that it's a landmark all the players would recognize. It may also be a nod to the Chicago World's Fair, which inspired the aesthetics of Columbia, since the Eiffel Tower was created as a World's Fair centerpiece.
When you are on the gondola going to the First Lady airship, and you pass the Luteces, Robert is painting Rosalind, who is posing. As the painting comes into view, you can see Robert's actually painting a self-portrait. At first it just seems like another instance of them acting quirky and weird, but by the end you realize by painting himself, he is painting her, since they're the same person.
When Comstock is speaking, the player can sometimes hear an echoing effect on his words; it's most noticeable when he's speaking to Booker the first time he gets a nosebleed, or later in the game on the Hand of the Prophet. This effect almost makes it sound as though the sound is coming from 'behind' the player - or, in other words, as though Booker was saying Comstock's dialogue. That makes perfect sense if you consider that they're the same person. The reason Booker's nose bleeds is because he's experiencing that cognitive dissonance, and 'hearing' himself as Comstock!
The choice between the bird and the cage seems really obvious, symbolically speaking. The bird stands for freedom, the cage for confinement. However, with a little bit of thought, those meanings can be reversed - the bird could stand for the Songbird, who was keeping Elizabeth captive, and the cage for CAGE, which led to Elizabeth's ultimate freedom!
In Matthew 3:11, John speaks of baptizing people with water, but also speaks of after him, and who is mightier than he - with fire and the Holy Spirit. When our hero, Booker, is baptized with water, he becomes the Big Bad of the game and piles a multitude of sins upon his head. During the course of the game, however, he is baptized with fire - the burning of New York City - and with a truly holy spirit - namely, the spirit of forgiveness, which his alternate self, Comstock, explicitly denounced. After this, he is purged of his sins, and reaches his happy ending. Truly, the baptism of water was the less effective.
Particularly observant players may notice something peculiar about the Luteces early on: their attire, while quirky and not so glaringly out if place are at best late-Victorian vintage, which would be considered outdated in 1912. This is a subtle hint to the revelation further down the line that they're Dead All Along. Especially given that they're shown wearing identical clothes back in 1893.
One of the things you hear in Columbia is the preacher giving a sermon listing Comstock's supposed accomplishments, noting that each one "would have been enough". This is a clear reference to Dayenu, a Jewish prayer song sung at the Passover Seder ("Dayenu"'s rough English translation is "It would have been enough"). The game was released on the first day of Passover 2013.
The whole game is chock full of gory, Tarantino-esque bloody violence which goes almost unremarked upon by Booker, but after she commits her first murder, Elizabeth seems absolutely horrified by what she's just witnessed and how bloody it is. Possibly another series' nods to accepted gaming tropes—any real person would be as traumatised as Elizabeth was, but the average gamer would (and by that point probably already has) snap a hundred peoples' necks without a care in the world.
A less meta explanation for the killing: Booker is a war veteran who committed acts of violence at Wounded Knee that were too gruesome even by that time's standards, not to mention his past as a Pinkerton. Elizabeth is a civilian who had virtually no contact with other human beings until a few hours ago. Understandably she'd be horrified by her first kill.
The very first "choice" you make in the game has only : be baptized, or wander around the room forever. You MUST go through the baptism, even insincerely, to enter Columbia. Columbia only EXISTS in those universes where Booker went through a baptism and rechristened himself Zachary Comstock, not to actually better himself but to simply assuage his guilt, which is an insincere reason for baptism. At which point another universe's Booker was brought in to stop him, who had to insincerely be baptised to enter... It's a But Thou Must moment crossing over with a Stable Time Loop. Which feeds into Fridge Brilliance part two: the thing about loops is that they're (more or less) circular. And what's the name of the song that Elizabeth sings to the scared child, with Booker backing her up on the guitar?
Why is the Fraternal Order of the Raven building so gross? All that food is meant as an offering for the birds but it's all human food rather than things they actually like to eat so it's just left to rot. It's a nice representation of the way a Klansman thinks: even when they're trying to be nice they can't wrap their heads around ways of thinking that are different than their own.
Speaking of Ravens, notice how many of the ravens in the Raven building were sitting on desks? Those were writing desks. I guess we have the answer to Lewis Carroll's riddle.
More on the Fraternal Order of the Raven: The order believes that John Wilkes Booth was a hero and Abraham Lincoln was the enemy to be destroyed. When you go through the building, you get the vigor for crows. Most probably thought, 'Eh, close enough' and moved on. However, why wouldn't they just call them the Order of the Crow? Sure, it doesn't sound impressive. Until you realize what they truly are. Another term for a group of ravens (or order, if you like) is a conspiracy of ravens. What do they believe again? 'Crow' is also a racial slur for a black person, which would make them, as a white supremacist group, averse to being called crows.
Zachary and Elizabeth are both names with deep Christian histories and connotations.
As you first arrive on The Hand Of The Prophet, Comstock tells Elizabeth (over the PA system) that she clearly knows that there's something weird about Booker but "can't quite put your finger on it". Quite apart from the fact that it sounds like a cheeky hint as to Booker being the cause of Elizabeth's missing finger, this isn't the first time someone in the Bioshock series has used this particular turn of phrase: Andrew Ryan in the first game, hinting at Jack's true origins.
In the scenes in Booker's office with Elizabeth, you can hear Robert Lutece banging on the only other door in the room, demanding to be given "the girl". As the ending shows us, the only other room in that apartment was Anna's nursery.
The realization that the reason why Booker knows how to play the guitar and Elizabeth knows that song by the starting tune. Booker used to sing it to her as a baby.
Major one on Songbird. Why is it that our indestructible bird can drown? Simple: Songbird was built for the air, it stands to reason that his body would be designed for pressures corresponding to the air. Lightweight body as well. But his body wasn't built for water, thus water pressure crushes him like a tin can.
The game makes the player feel a lot of Video Game Caring Potential towards Elizabeth, to the point players stopped using executions because they made her scream. Especially appropriate considering you're her father throughout the game.
The Lutece Twins from the main game are clever foreshadowing to the fact that Comstock is Booker as the two are Different enough to survive in the same universe together, unaffected, while other universe parallels cannot. This cleverly hints to Booker surviving in the same universe Comstock.
The song Goodnight Irene is sung at the start of the raffle. And one of the lines is "Sometimes I get a notion to jump in the river and drown." How does the game end again?
Near the very end of the game, Elizabeth explains that, despite there being "a million million" worlds, there are constants and variables. "There's always a lighthouse. There's always a man, there's always a city..." It's easy to dismiss how similar these constants might be, but you were just on a bathysphere in Rapture. So, how is this significant? While in Rapture you can observe a familiar sign from the first game, where surface travel and bathysphere use was restricted... And only those who have genetic makeup similar to Andrew Ryan could use them.
The second time Booker enters a door showing him the many lighthouses, right in front of him is another version of himself and Elizabeth. There's even a glimpse of yet another iteration of them running. It can be inferred that these Bookers were ones that couldn't handle the assimilation of new memories (which is why the Luteces were observing Booker very closely when he goes through the third lighthouse), or they refused to die for Comstock's non-existence. Our Booker was just the very first to not only be able to cope with the new memories, but also to be willing to smother Comstock in his metaphorical crib.
In some ways, Rapture and Columbia are counterpoint to one another, and not just the obvious ways. Both are ultimately brought to ruin by excessive greed (Fontaine and Fink/Comstock's respectively), but in different ways. In rapture the unchecked development of ADAM and Frank Fontaine's unscrupulous empire starts a war between him and Andrew Ryan, while in Columbia it's the vicious oppression and exploitation of the working class that creates the Vox Populi, who given the chance start a war with the founders. This plays very naturally into the idea of constants and variables.
Burial at Sea:
In Episode One, the head of Sally's doll that Booker carries around is foreshadowing for the horrific fate of the Elizabeth that this version of "Booker" caused when he tried to steal her from his alternate self, and the cause of the "debt" that Elizabeth means to repay—revenge for her own accidental murder by the player character.
Why don't the splicers kill themselves after Possession wears off? Because they're already such batshit insane psychos that not even killing their buddies at the behest of their enemies does anything to sway their conscience!
Speaking of Possession, It's actually a bit of a tip off on the fact that Booker is Actually a version of Comstock, as it seems it's much more useful now. How this tips it off is one simple fact, Comstock was in control of Columbia, he liked to be in control, he liked to control others, he wanted to control everyone. So what a fitting vigor/plasmid for him to use.
The seemingly inexplicable presence of "plasmid" versions of Columbia's vigors, thanks to Dr. Suchong stealing back Fink's work. It might seem like a weird continuity error given that they didn't show up in the earlier (Rapture-centric) games. That is until one realizes that said repurposed vigors are actually Fontaine Futuristics products. Either they were rival products developed at Fontaine's watch or were repackaged and tweaked under Ryan's orders. Furthermore, if these are the original plasmids developed by FF before Ryan took over, then Ryan's knock-offs needing to be upgraded before you reach full potency is pure capitalism. Why sell only the most potent plasmids when you can get more money out of watered-down versions that you have to pay to upgrade?
The end reveals that this Elizabeth is the same one we knew throughout the game, but why is it that she doesn't react to you executing person after person after person in exceedingly brutal and gory ways? The answer is simple, it is not just that she is more mature. But it's also that you are Comstock. Elizabeth has seen you commit atrocity after brutal atrocity. Why should goring someone with a spinning hook surprise her?
In the trailer for Burial at Sea: Part 2, eagle-eyed viewers will notice that Bookerstock's hair is white. Now remember that while Elizabeth's Rapture Model was released, Booker's wasn't. And the only depiction of him, in the art for Part 1, shows his head covered with a hat. The reason why they didn't show Booker's game model was because fans would instantly recognize him as Comstock. A more subtle one can also be seen in the trailer: VERY attentive viewers will notice that Bookerstock's eye color is blue. Booker's eyes are green. Yet more evidence that this is not Booker.
In Burial at Sea: Part 1, Booker's starting weapon is a Hand Cannon. Why does he use a revolver instead of a pistol? First of all, revolvers were much more widespread in the police back in the 1940s and 1950s. Second of all, a detective would not have his semiautomatic jamming on him when he attacks someone, say an escaped serial killer. And third of all, it's actually a subtle hint towards his true identity. In the promos, Booker is often seen◊ using the Broadsider pistol. But in the Hall of Heroes, the Comstock statue◊ is wielding a Hand Cannon. No wonder Comstock would use a weapon he would want to use!
The DLC makes it clear that the Vigors and Tonics are plasmids, and use ADAM. You can even find evidence of Fink's frustration in hunting down the sea slugs at the bottom of the ocean. "Why couldn't it be some sort of miraculous seagull?" Why didn't he just make his own version of the Little Sisters? Because unlike Rapture, Columbia does value childhood. Orphans are rare, and those that exist would be well-cared for by their surviving relatives. With Fink's reputation as a family man and a Christian, there's really no way he can justify taking girls from their families. He could conceivably take them from the slaves, but when they inevitably realized what the girls were being used for, they would rise up in a blind rage—and quite a few of the whites would join them, judging by Preston's reaction when he realized what had been done to the little Sioux boy.
A lot of criticism has been aimed at the fact that Elizabeth lets herself become mortal and sacrifices herself just so she can save Sally and the rest of the Little Sisters. But was it really just about saving Sally? No; she did everything she did because it lead to Jack eventually bringing down Fontaine. Remember Fontaine's admitted goals in the first Bioshock: he eventually wanted to return to the surface with his new empire. At worst he would have subjugated the world with an army of jacked-up (if mentally unstable) super humans. At best, he would have put ADAM on the market and turned the surface into a copy of Rapture. Much like Booker saw a future where Columbia ended up destroying the surface, Elizabeth likely saw a future where Fontaine brought ADAM to the surface and caused a decline in society like what happened in Rapture. The parallels are even more obvious when you compare them to the revelation that Daisy Fitzroy demonized and sacrificed herself to eventually bring Comstock's end: this was bigger than saving just the Little Sisters, this was about saving the entire world.
While riding in an elevator with Booker, Elizabeth opens a tear to let a bee in the elevator escape through the window of a house in an alternate dimension. Then the Songbird of that dimension sees Elizabeth through the tear from outside the window & swerves toward her but she closes the tear just in time. Anyone in that house is dead now.
Elizabeth has been kept in a huge chamber and her every move is watched through one-way mirrors. Every move. Since she was really young. Not only that but they've kept souvenirs. Some are mild-flavoured creepy like her teddy bear or her poetry book. Then there's full on extra-strength "What-The-Hell" with her first menstrual pad. In the darkroom, someone was apparently developing several photographs of Elizabeth changing, with it being clear that she is obviously meant to be naked in them. One doubts that saying it was "For Science!" is a justification for how utterly disturbing this is.
More on the subject of Booker. Ever wonder why the Battle of Wounded Knee is called the Massacre at Wounded Knee? It's implied Booker himself might be the reason why. It's revealed that Slate's soldiers gave him the nom de guerre of "The White Injun" because he collected so many grisly trophies from the dead, while Comstock's Voxaphone recordings reveal that after he was (correctly) accused of having Indian blood, he decided to prove them wrong by burning tepees down with the inhabitants (women and children) still inside. Since this took place before the point of divergence that turned Booker into Comstock, then Booker is guilty of this as well. Bear in mind, that was all when he was sixteen... Furthermore, one Voxophone confirms that Booker Dewitt speaks Sioux. It's no jump to know which tribe that his Indian blood comes from. Now, what tribe was at Wounded Knee? Booker slaughtered his own people.
On the Action figure for the Boys of Silence, the clothes look too small for the person, especially the pants. Given that their uniforms are all but synonymous with school uniforms, it isn't much of a jump to guess that they wore those clothes for a very long time - from an early age. Add in Columbia's extreme nationalism, would it really be out of the question for them to be kids taken off the street? Paralleling the Handymen's former crippled nature. Confirming in the art book: The boys are from an orphanage.
More Fridge Squick for the shippers who were looking forward to a long tradition of Liz/Booker fic. You know how peaceful interaction with Liz is a lot like a very involved Dating Sim? Yeah, she's Booker's daughter. So yeah, if Booker was ever attracted to her Moe personality and looks? Yep. This sheds a notably icky light on a bit of dialogue in the game, where Liz casually asks "Mr. Dewitt" if he "has a woman in his life".
You know the Bad Future? The New York, and then possibly the planet? Given who Comstock is, who's to say he'd be satisfied with redeeming one universe? Elizabeth outright says in that millions of other universes await their judgement once she's dealt with one.
Bit of Real Life Fridge Horror: Comstock purely going evil because of his religion, while his presumably agnostic or at least lapsed alternate universe counterpart Booker seems like it would be making religion into a strawman...and then you read up on dominion theology, and other Christian movements towards theocratic government, particularly in the US. There are real people like him.
When Booker is baptised and allowed into Columbia, he's almost drowned; judging by the comments of the people in the garden outside the chapel, this is standard procedure - which raises the question of just how many people have been accidentally killed as a result.
During the level 'The Hand of the Prophet', you drop multiple Patriot pods off a sky line to reach the top of a zeppelin. During the lighthouse scene at the beginning of the game it shows that Columbia's flight-path stays primarily inside the US, given that at least have passed since Booker entered Columbia (Hall of Heroes and Comstock House take place at night). That gives Columbia more than enough time to get past the coast of Maine, and the pods were probably designed to be dropped. So where did the Motorized Patriots in the pods go, and what did they do once they got there?
When you finally get to Fink's office, you find a voxophone of Songbird. In it, Fink talks about a new process he discovered that fuses man and machine and is irreversible. The context is mainly toward the creation of Songbird...but what else in BioShock does that create? The Big Daddies. Apparently, he saw, using Elizabeth's tears, how a Big Daddy is constructed and how it operates. They even have similar traits: both are assigned as guardians to females (Elizabeth for Songbird, a Little Sister for a Big Daddy) and have lights that display their current status (green = peaceful, yellow = alert, red = hostile).
Remember the coin flip? Count the tallies. Booker's (or rather Bookers) flipped the coin over a hundred times. And that's assuming the Luteces are still on the first set of chalkboards. The exact number of the coin flip tally (at least, before your Booker's result is tallied) is 122. Now, recall the numbers on the bell code that got you into Columbia at the start of the game.
Whenever you die, and Elizabeth is not there to revive you, you return to your apartment. You then step back out, creating an alternate universe where you did not die. The tick marks on the chalkboard, and the alternate, battered, bloody Elizabeth you see at the end? They come from all the times you came to Columbia and FAILED.
Something to consider. The Songbird was built using techniques gained from Rapture through a tear about Big Daddy construction. So what if the technique(s) they were using to turn Elizabeth into a Fallen Hero that attacked NYC in Rapture? Specifically, to make a Little/Big Sister?
Here's a really chilling one. The (fictional) laws of nature that led to Elizabeth developing her powers would still exist, even if Elizabeth herself is Ret Gone. What if someone else, less morally scrupulous than her, got such powers — and ended up rewriting reality at a whim? This may even have already happened...
Sure the ending renders this moot, but more than a few of us would shudder at the realization that the Elizabeth we save isn't the one Songbird takes away. Along the same note, in an earlier segment of the game, is the Elizabeth that stepped through a tear and got grabbed by the police the same Elizabeth that we saved shortly thereafter? It is assumed to be, but can we really be sure that is the case?
The advertisement for the Possession vigor reads "Any stallion can be tamed." It initially seems to refer to the vigor's ability to possess machines (given Columbia's automaton horses), but when you realize that you can upgrade it to possess people, the phrase takes on a portentous double meaning. Booker only uses it to possess enemies to fight for him, but given the "love" imagery surrounding Possession, who's to say that civilians don't use it as a Love Potion to "tame" attractive people and bring them under their thrall? In fact, a kinetoscope in the Clash in the Clouds DLC cheerfully confirms its use a rape drug.
One of Rosalind's voxophones states, "Our contraption shows us the girl is the flame that shall ignite the world. My brother says we must undo what we have done. But time is more an ocean than a river. Why try to bring in a tide that will only again go out?" Made more chilling by the Fridge-Brilliant ocean metaphors, it is likely that the Luteces helped lead you willingly to slaughter, only to have Ryan break ground for Rapture a few decades later... And knew it the whole time, but were only interested literally undoing their part in such events, nothing more. This would explain their absence from Burial at Sea: Episode 2. With the last Comstock dead, they no longer cared what Elizabeth got up to. Without their seemingly superior abilities at subtle manipulation of the worlds, she was forced to manifest in Rapture Prime and become mortal.
Based on a theory from the Heartwarming section, the song "Goodnight Irene" is sung from Booker's point of view. One of the lyrics, as said earlier, is "Sometimes I get a notion to jump in the river and drown!" How many times has Booker contemplated suicide?
Did baby Anna suffer from Tear Sickness? And if she did... HOW BADLY WAS SHE BLEEDING?! And that doesn't even account for her newly-severed finger...
Burial at Sea
Elizabeth's actions in Burial at Sea ultimately lead to Atlas being able to attack Rapture and put his plan with Jack into motion. She's therefore responsible for the deaths of everyone on that plane Jack hijacked, as well as the death or splicing insanity of the citizens of Rapture. The fact that this is portrayed as a good thing is slightly perplexing.
In the ending of Burial at Sea, Atlas crosses the Moral Event Horizon and beats Elizabeth with a wrench. She appears to be dead and in heaven, then we see Sally gripping her hand and Elizabeth smiling. What's so bad about that? Atlas didn't kill her-he beat her several times then left her to suffer an extremely painful death.