Evil on the other side of the coin (Bioshock spoilers)

| Tuesday, April 16, 2013
This post has Bioshock Infinite spoilers.  You might want to finish the game.  Then wait a while to sort it out in your head a bit.

Booker DeWitt is an evil man.  Or at least he was.  Let's begin at the beginning.

We first know him as a man who appears to be kidnapping a girl to get rid of gambling debts.  Or maybe it's a rescue.  Or a rescue into a worse confinement.  He never asks.  I'm curious what would have happened if he'd managed to fly her to New York.  Or Paris.  But those realities are all destroyed...

He committed atrocities at Wounded Knee.  You could say that he felt bad about it.  But what did he do about it?  Nothing, except one time make it worse.  This is where he splits.

In one split he's Booker DeWitt.  He follows up his Wounded Knee experiences with some violence against workers, so much that even those who employ people like him couldn't tolerate it.  He drinks too much, gambles too much, and eventually sells his daughter to get rid of his debts.  Now you might be thinking about how he regretted it and then rescued her.  He only regretted it.  As for rescuing her, he did not!  When he goes to the other reality, what does he remember?  His daughter vanishes and instead he's a kidnapper.  He rescued his daughter by accident, or at best by the nudging of a trans-reality physicist.  Left to himself he'd probably have just ended up dead by some means or another.  This is the nice version of him.

His other self accepts God.  He is reborn as Zachary Comstock.  This person is evil, but the evil on the other side of the coin.  Rather than destroying himself with self-loathing, he turns it outward.  Rather than hate himself for his atrocities, he revels in them, proclaims them, and furthers them.  He fully embraces, not God, but himself.  It's a wonderful irony that the False Prophet is him.

His daughter is lost, again by his own hand.  He's rendered himself sterile by his abuse of technology.  So what does he do?  He steals her, from himself.  He steals her from the self who had wallowed in his guilt rather than turning it to pride and feeding on it.  That's the split.  While both are evil, one lets it destroy him, while the other takes it as a source of power and turns it against the world.

Despite kidnapping her, he still does not have his daughter.  He cannot, for he is not a man of love.  He cannot nurture her.  Instead he locks her away and makes her only friend her warden as well.  When she gets out he tortures her and turns her into a monster.

In the end it is not sufficient to only kill Zachary Comstock.  He's not the only evil one.  Instead they must both die.  Yet, can we call it a happy ending?  I don't think so.  He is still the man who killed so many at Wounded Knee.  That past was not erased.  He is therefore still the man with the ability to sell his daughter to pay off a debt.  The next time he does it, will he have the benefit of transdimensional physicists and a daughter who can pick and choose reality?


VinciblePerson said...

Didn't both versions of him die when he drowned in the end before the transformation? Since he dies before being transformed, there is no dewitt left except for the ones that are unrelated (one that didn't go to Wounded Knee etc.). That is why elizabeth also "dies" because if he dewitt drowns, she can't exist.

Klepsacovic said...

I thought the baptism was post-Wounded Knee. If I have my chronology wrong then the ending truly is happier.

As I interpreted it all, Booker DeWitt is the true self, unchanged. From that, due to the baptism, split off Zachary Comstock. The latter is erased. The former is rewound, but not so far as to be free of his sins.

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