Disclaimer: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by the various authors (including me) do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Neoseeker. Beware of major spoilers!
A week ago, BioShock Infinite came to a conclusion with part two of its Burial at Sea DLC. We were once again transported to Rapture, just moments after the ending of Burial at Sea - Episode One. This time, however (and for the first time in BioShock Infinite), you are Elizabeth.
Yes, Burial at Sea - Episode Two finally lets the player take the role of Elizabeth and witness the fall of Rapture through her eyes, while learning of its secrets and connection to Columbia. If you had any lingering questions from BioShock Infinite or even the first BioShock, then Episode Two will prove an enlightening experience. Confusing, but enlightening all the same.
More than ever, Elizabeth proves to be an integral cog in Ken Levine's machinations. The whole of Burial at Sea - Episode Two is dedicated to explaining the bond between Rapture and Columbia, and the omniscient Elizabeth sits at the center of it all. At times, her place in the greater BioShock narrative feels a tad ham-fisted, but overall, Levine and Irrational pulled it all off with style. Even knowing all this, the finale comes as a surprise, so unexpected yet appropriate; in that respect, it's very much BioShock.
The (Real) Ending
Last time we were with Booker and Elizabeth, the former had suffered a violent death, perhaps somewhat unpredictably. He doesn't seem like someone who comes by happy endings very often, regardless of which alternate universe he finds himself in. But what happened to Elizabeth?
Well, she appears to be alive, if a little worse for wear. Burial at Sea - Episode One supposedly took place prior to the fall of Rapture, while Episode Two is set during the conflict. As such, Elizabeth finds herself caught in the middle of it all, working for Atlas in an effort to save the Little Sister, Sally, whom Booker had previously adopted. To make matters more difficult, she can't remember how she wound up back in Rapture.
So aside from being forced to work for a megalomaniac disguised as the benevolent voice of the everyman, Elizabeth soon discovers she's actually dead, after stumbling upon her corpse. Over time and the course of Burial at Sea - Episode Two, we learn that Miss DeWitt was killed by the Big Daddy from Episode One, only her powers allowed her to continue existing in some form. Guilty about the way she used Sally to get at Booker, however, Elizabeth refuses to stay away from Rapture. She has the Luteces bring her back to the world in which she had died, all in an effort to repay her debt to the girl.
Sounds very familiar, doesn't it? The only issue here is returning to that world caused a "quantum superposition," which is just how the Luteces described her losing all her powers and memories -- not to mention regaining her pinky and mortality. Okay, any part of Burial at Sea that involves Elizabeth is exceptionally (if expectedly) convoluted, but we can just chock that up to her ability to bend time and space. Normally, she can see through all the "doors," or different realities and their occurrences, but is unable to for most of Episode Two.
Her trials take her through Rapture, back to Columbia, and then Rapture again. Over time, her memories return bit by bit, fragmented, and serve as a means of letting the player learn alongside her. As Elizabeth gains more of her lost knowledge, so do we.
Revelations from Episode Two
- In 1958, Elizabeth arrives in Rapture through a Tear. A witness reports this to the authorities, and Yi Suchong begins researching the phenomenon. Incidentally, this is the same year Jack is smuggled to the surface.
- Thanks to the Tears, Suchong comes in contact with Jeremiah Fink, and the two exchange ideas, resulting in the similarities between Rapture and Columbia. Fink inspires the "Protector Program" for Big Daddies with Songbird, while Suchong's Plasmids lead Fink to inventing Vigors.
- Holy crap, Daisy wasn't totally crazy! Indeed, Daisy Fitzroy, leader of the Vox Populi, was previously murdered in BioShock Infinite by Elizabeth in order to prevent her from murdering Fink's son. Turns out, the Luteces were helping Daisy with her revolution, and they're the ones who convince her to hold the boy hostage in order to provoke Elizabeth. Never intending to harm the boy, Daisy goes along anyway, convinced this will ultimately bring down Comstock.
- Elizabeth inadvertently causes Suchong's death by rescuing the Big Daddy responsible just moments before, when she helps it bond with two Little Sister, one of whom Suchong physically strikes out of annoyance. Shouldn't have done that!
- Atlas, actually Frank Fontaine, is searching for a weapon called "Ace in the Hole." When Elizabeth is sent to retrieve it from Suchong's lab, she finds a piece of paper with the phrase "Would you kindly." Atlas' ace in the hole is the trigger phrase for controlling Jack, which he uses to bring Jack back to Rapture as part of his plans to overthrow founder Andrew Ryan.
- Sally, the Little Sister seen in Burial at Sea and rescued by Elizabeth, is actually one of the girls seen at the end of BioShock. In the canon (good) ending, Jack brings with him five Little Sisters to the surface, where they are raised normally as his daughters.
In the end, Elizabeth's recklessness leads to her own death by way of a metal rod to the head. Not before regaining her powers of omniscience, at least, and before confronting a seemingly inevitable demise, she sees Jack's arrival by plane crash, Atlas' rather horrific death at the hands of the Little Sisters, and an end to this cycle of violence. Turns out, the circle can be broken.
Like her father before her, Elizabeth resigns to her fate. Booker allowed his own murder because he knew it had to be done, and Elizabeth similarly allows Atlas to kill her because she knows she's played her part. After regaining her ability to see all the "doors" again, she learns that Atlas will fail, and Sally will be saved after all. To Elizabeth, this is a happy enough ending.
In all honesty, I wasn't completely in love with the idea of making Elizabeth the center of so many pivotal events. A major appeal behind the BioShock games, at least from my perspective, is the mystery of Rapture and Columbia, and how each city came to be, how they continue to thrive. To insert a single element and rely on it so heavily as a catalyst just doesn't doesn't sit well with me. A single drop creating ripples, and all that. That being said, I still found myself drawing to Elizabeth's story, because at the end of the day, she's the woman we met in and fell in love with in BioShock Infinite. More than that; Rapture is a world I care about.
Everything comes down to execution, and Irrational Games never seemed to have an issue with that. Bringing Booker back as a manifestation of Elizabeth's latent memories was sheer brilliance, in my mind. I was completely mesmerized by the exchange between this incredible character and her subconscious.
During one of her more vulnerable moments, for instance, Elizabeth confessed that she missed Booker, but when this hallucination tries to remind her that he isn't real, she begs him to let her have this. To that, this non-Booker replies, "I'm sure Booker would miss you too."
It was an incredibly emotional scene, both simple yet moving. This inward struggle was just so effectively portrayed that it drove the narrative all on its own, almost better than the overarching tale of Rapture, Atlas, the Little Sisters, and fatalism. Sure, I came here for more mind-bending revelations, but I stuck around for Elizabeth -- and imaginary Booker. They were always the best part in BioShock Infinite, and that really hasn't changed with Burial at Sea.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of all this is the parallel between the end of Booker and Elizabeth to that of Irrational Games. Strange as it may sound, Episode Two can be seen as an allegory for Irrational's closure, in how well it captures that detached sense of loss and reluctant acceptance.
None of us can predict with great confidence what will happen to the BioShock franchise now that Ken Levine has moved on and Irrational is gone. If BioShock does end with the dismantling of its parent studio, however, I could think of no better conclusion than the one we were given.
Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.