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If the two worlds in which Booker/Comstock exists are completely separate, how did one get into the other? What exactly happens in the ending? Why is there a reference to Rapture from the first Bioshock game?

Booker DeWitt is actually Zachary Comstock, as they are both the same person. Booker Dewitt, after going through war (Battle of Wounded Knee), a gambling addiction, and alcoholism, loses his child Anna to repay some debts. After questioning himself, he decides to go for a baptism. However, at the last second in one universe, Booker rejects the baptism, and in another universe, he goes through with it and is "reborn" as Zachary Comstock. What I'm more curious about is how does Zachary Comstock enter Booker DeWitt's world.

There had to be a reason why Zachary Comstock did not want Booker Dewitt to capture Elizabeth; he had to label Booker as a false prophet. Was this to keep their society alive (if Booker showed Elizabeth the "truth", would everything they created cease to exist)?

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To asker & answerers: Put everything in spoilers, please. –  Oblivious Sage Mar 26 '13 at 19:12
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No, do not put everything in spoilers. You're browsing a Question and Answer site; we're not going to dance around the answer. You should be prepared for spoilers if you're looking here. We might put some info in spoiler tags as a nod to finding it out yourself, but it's not a requirement to do so. A good answer will definitively answer the question. –  Frank Mar 26 '13 at 20:23
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@ObliviousSage I think the best bet if you want to avoid spoilers, is avoid questions titled "Understanding the ending of..." –  kalina Mar 26 '13 at 20:25
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@kalina: I do, whenever possible. But the first couple non-spoilered lines from the question show up in the questions list. –  Oblivious Sage Mar 26 '13 at 20:27
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@Retrosaur As Oblivious Sage said, the first non-spoilered lines appear on the questions list. Clicking on the question is not required. If the entire text of the question is a spoiler, then it should be in spoiler tags. –  Brant Mar 27 '13 at 19:10

7 Answers 7

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What I'm more curious about is how does Zachary Comstock enter Booker DeWitt's world. If the two worlds in which Booker/Comstock exists are completely separate, how did one get into the other?

"One man goes into the waters of baptism. A different man comes out, born again. But who is that man who lies submerged? Perhaps that swimmer is both sinner and saint, until he is revealed unto the eyes of man."
Zachary Hale Comstock, "Everyman, All at Once"

"A young Booker participates in the massacre at Wounded Knee and is tramautized by the experience. Booker considers baptism as a means of escaping his sin. In one universe ... Booker refuses, believing that a baptism cannot erase sin. In another universe ... Booker accepts the baptism and is 'born again' as Comstock. The crucial split occurs here. Comstock and Booker both reflect on their actions at Wounded Knee (though nobody remembers Comstock being there since he assumed a new identity, Comstock reflects on his time at Wounded Knee in one of his Voxophone voice records)."*

The baptized Booker DeWitt (now known as Comstock) has funded Rosalind Lutece's (whose research allowed for technology that makes Columbia fly) research of Lutece Fields (which led to the tears), which is how he gleaned through other worlds and where he got his "prophecies". The tears made him sterile and grow prematurely old. This is why Comstock looks way older than unbaptized Booker, even though they should have been the same age, which is 38 during most of the events of the game).

From his "prophecies" he learned that "it is his 'seed' that will essentially bring about the next apocalypse by raining fire on the land below and having Columbia serve as the next 'ark'".*

This made Comstock hatch a plan to take his alternate universe counterpart's (unbaptized Booker DeWitt) baby (Anna/Elizabeth) and groom her to be his successor, with the assistance of and using the technology (tears) made by Rosalind Lutece.

Comstock and Rosalind Lutece was assisted by Rosalind Lutece's alternate universe counterpart, Robert Lutece (same universe as unbaptized Booker DeWitt), who has been able to communicate with Rosalind Lutece by communicating through "Lutece Fields", which he also discovered in his universe.

Booker DeWitt (unbaptized) feeling guilty about the events of the Wounded Knee massacre, dealt with his guilt by gambling. He then built up a huge debt to "people one would not want to owe money to".

To forward Comstock's plan, Robert Lutece approached Booker DeWitt claiming that he will "wipe away the debt" if Booker sold his baby (Anna) to Comstock. Booker DeWitt realizes/remembers in the end of the game that it was Robert Lutece who asked him to "bring us the girl and wipe away the debt".

Booker DeWitt agreed to the terms and gave up Anna to Comstock. (Comstock traveled through a tear to get Anna.) However, Booker tried to stop Comstock from taking Anna in the last minute, but failed to do so. More info regarding this event here: How did Elizabeth lose her small finger?

Why is there a reference to Rapture, from Bioshock 1?

"Rapture story is a variable of this story in an alternative universe, but they're not the same people and not in the same time (by the way, that would put Andrew Ryan in his 90's during the events of the first game, which obviously isn't true). Elizabeth said there's always a man and always a city, but she didn't say it was always the same man and city. There are an infinite number of possible variations of men and cities, each with their own infinite variations. That's the multiverse theory: infinite worlds with infinite possibilities."

Source: comment at Reddit /r/BioShock post, "My detailed ending explanation. My attempt at the most accurate ending explanation/discussion. [Ultimate Spoilers]" by Reddit user, brokenbirthday

"Andrew Ryan is related to Comstock in a universe that plays out with different 'variables':

Throughout BioShock, the bathyspheres are used by Jack as a mode of transportation to travel around Rapture and its 'abandoned' city sections. It is revealed that Jack can use the bathyspheres only because his genetic signature is close enough to Ryan's that the security system doesn't deny him access. Sullivan clearly states this in one of his Audio Diaries 'Sisters, cousins — anyone in the ballpark genetically will be able to come and go as they see fit.'

--- Booker is able to use the bathysphere to reach the surface. This occurs after the civil war when genetic restrictions on Bathysphere travel were put in place to stop rebels/dissidents from escaping."*

"Elizabeth needed a place to destroy Songbird, and the best place would be deep underwater, where he wouldn't be able to survive under immense pressure. This is seen in many of Fink's blueprints concerning Songbird and Songbird's reaction to water, seen the first time he attacks you when you and Elizabeth crash into Battleship Bay.

Another reason is to tie Columbia and Rapture thematically. Rapture, like Columbia, is very much a dystopia, and the game BioShock holds many similarities with BioShock Infinite. This suggests that Rapture is an alternate dimension of Columbia. This is further exemplified when Elizabeth mentions 'There's always a lighthouse, there's always a city, there's always a man"' pointing to the main thematic similarities between both cities, and the overarching themes of the series and possible future iterations of the series."

Source: Reddit /r/BioShock post, "Bioshock Infinite: The Ultimate Spoiler FAQ" by Reddit user, awchern

There had to be a reason why Zachary Comstock did not want Booker Dewitt to capture Elizabeth; he had to label Booker as a false prophet. Was this to keep their society alive (if Booker showed Elizabeth the "truth", would everything they created cease to exist)?

"It is one thing to imagine one's future, and another to see it. I have seen the seeds of fire that will prepare the Sodom below for the coming of the Lord. But Elizabeth shall sow those seeds, not I. I will fall before the job is done...but she shall take up my mantle. The Lord is calling me home. I feel His love in every tumor, because they are the train which takes me to his station. And I go with joy, knowing that Elizabeth will take my earthly place. But the False Shepherd is coming to lead my Lamb astray. I will not board that train until she is safe from his deceptions."
Zachary Hale Comstock, "A Reward, Deferred"

"And the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great. And He repented He had made man on the Earth." Rain! Forty days and forty nights of the stuff. And He left not a thing that walked alive. You see, my friends, even God is entitled to a do-over. And what is Columbia if not another Ark, for another time?"
Zachary Hale Comstock, "Another Ark for Another Time"

Comstock has received "a prophecy that it is his 'seed' that will essentially bring about the next apocalypse by raining fire on the land below and having Columbia serve as the next 'ark'".*

Booker DeWitt has seen this event in a dream (New York in flames) and has actually seen it when an older Elizabeth (from an alternate universe where Booker failed to rescue her) showed it to him. The older Elizabeth in that alternate universe was broken by prolonged capture and hopelessness because Booker failed to rescue her, that she gave in to that universe's Comstock's indoctrination. Comstock doesn't want Booker to stop this "prophecy" of his from happening.

What exactly happens in the ending?

This BioShock Infinite Timeline posted in the Reddit /r/BioShock subreddit by Reddit user, haettenschweiler, gives a great explanation of that:
(click on image preview below to view complete, original-size image)

BioShock Infinite Timeline

Other questions with answers where the ending is expounded upon are:


* Source: Reddit /r/BioShock post, "My detailed ending explanation. My attempt at the most accurate ending explanation/discussion. [Ultimate Spoilers]" by Reddit user, Jusicarchon

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Another important point which wasn't mentioned can be found here –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 11 '13 at 10:39
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I wish I could +10!!!!! :< –  Kevin Apr 17 '13 at 12:37
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Cripes! This is one of the better answers I've seen in quite some time. –  Fluttershy Apr 17 '13 at 14:39
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Wow just blown away by the amount of time spent on this one. Thanks. + 1 –  ヴァイシャリ Aug 25 '13 at 15:11

What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that Comstock is a completely different person that the Booker we play as. Yes, they are the same person physically, but mentally they went on to live completely different lives after a turning point in their lives. We don't even know his original purpose in kidnapping Elizabeth from our Booker. I'm sure it has something to do with the Lutece twins though and his need for an heir.

My theory is that Comstock has his reasons for wanting to purge the world in fire(most likely because of what happened at the Battle of Wounded Knee). So at some point he probably meets the Letece twins and they help him create the machine to go into other worlds. Now we also know that he needed an heir for his throne according to the Arc Angel Gabriel, well the problem is, he's sterile. So he most likely gets the idea to kidnap Anna/Elizabeth from our Booker. He uses Booker's debt as a means to acquire her from him.

So now that Comstock has Elizabeth he has to get rid of anyone who knows the truth i.e. the Letece twins and Lady Comstock. But the Twins are aware that they exist in more than one universe and because of that they use Booker to undo all the wrong they did. Thus the events of the game unfold. The same thing applies to Elizabeth, at the end of the game she realizes that she is a constant force in every universe, that is also why she says she can see through all the doors and see each outcome.

Comstock's reasons for keeping Elizabeth locked up are: A) He does not want Booker getting to her B) He is preparing her to take over as his heir

So back to the ending we learn that Booker is just a pawn in a never ending cycle that is slightly different each time, hence why they say "Constants and variables". The Constants are Elizabeth, Booker and Comstock and the variables are all the small changes that happen to him. So now that Booker learns he will always become Comstock and always stay as Booker Dewitt he let's Elizabeth kill him to stop everything from happening. By doing this he cancels out the cycle stopping any of these events from happening.

But by doing this he creates a new cycle where he keeps Anna/Elizabeth as a baby. This also means he most likely has no memory of anything that happened in the game.

The reason I think Elizabeth has all these powers is possibly because she came from a different universe and grew up reading books on Quantum Physics enabling her with the ability to manipulate the fabric of time.

Now one of my theory on the visit to Rapture in the end is that it's just another outcome of "Constants and Variables". Andrew Ryan is Comstock, Booker DeWitt is Atlas and Elizabeth is Jack and Rapture in Columbia. Now you also have to take into account all the different variables that could have happened to lead to this outcome.

It is also possible that Bioshock 1 and 2 could just be another part of the cycle and have nothing to do with Infinite besides the fact that they exist in the same universe.

The whole thing makes your head hurt when you try to figure it out, which is what makes me love the story so much. Nothings better than a game that gets you thinking. I will say though the story in this game really takes away from the first 2, It's like why do those stories even matter, but I guess the best way to look at it is a new story in a never ending book. Also this is all just my take on what happened and how I think everything went down.

The title also makes sense now, It's called Bioshock Infinite because there is an infinite number of possibilities.

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Also Elizabeth is never born to Comstock Booker, him becoming Comstock stops Elizabeth from being born in his universe, which is why he has to kidnap her from our Booker. –  user44752 Mar 27 '13 at 3:21
    
Makes sense. THanks. A great definitive answer. –  lumbricus lubricant Mar 27 '13 at 3:45
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I'm kind of interested in the fact that they say Elizabeth looks like Lady Comstock. Does this mean that Booker met her alternate in HIS universe, and if so, what happened to her? –  Jeremy Walton Mar 28 '13 at 16:41
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The problem I have with this ending (like all issues with parallel universes): why does killing current timeline Booker kill all parallel Bookers? You still gotta go kill him off infinitely in every other timeline you know. –  David Liu Mar 29 '13 at 8:31
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Also @David: They say the timeline splits at important events. If Booker is killed before he ever makes the choice to be baptised or not, the timeline never splits. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 11 '13 at 19:29

Here's what I've worked out so far:

There is a single moment in Booker's history that forks into two sets of multiple universes.

In one set, he does not go through with the baptism, so all his sins from the war still weigh on him, making him spiral out of control into drinking and gambling. Some time after the (failed) baptism he gets married and has Anna (I don't know if there is an official source that says he has Anna before the baptism, but everything works if he had her after)
In the other set, he goes through with it, he becomes Comstock, builds Columbia, becomes sterile, needs an heir, and decides to buy Anna from a Booker in the previous set.

This happens a lot of times, in a lot of universes, with always the same (similar) results.

The first Booker regrets the decision, tries to get her back, and everything that happens in the game unfolds as he tries to find her with the help of Luteces, who have their own agenda (to undo what they did, specifically, building the machine which is tearing the space-time continuum).

So, the only reason to stop the multiverse from collapsing, is to avoid building the machine, ie, stopping Columbia from being built.

What we see at the end, is Elizabeth drowning all the Bookers from the second set, all versions that would become Comstock are killed (smothered while being born, as Booker says near the end).

I believed they only killed the ones from that set, so the original Bookers are still alive, but they never sold their Annas, and that's what we see in the scene at the end (post credits)

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Booker becomes comstock because he gave his daughter away and gets baptised to rid himself of his "sins" aka all the stuff in the war, the gambling, drinking then giving her away ect..

Rebaptised as Zachery Comstock he became obsessed with getting his daughter back and other fanatical ideas through redemption of religion.

As Comstock the prophet he gains wealth and funds the Scientist/physicist Lutece's time tear portal machine. Comstock travels back to a troubled booker who has been gambling and drinking(and i assume lost his wife everything)Then gets the Luteces to offer to wipe his debts/sins for the Girl(his daugher Anna who will become Elizabeth) and Comstock takes her back to his timeline.

i assume Elizabeth has time tearing skills due to being a child from a past/different timeline being brought into one she isnt supposed to be in through a time portal.

The Lutece's question their actions as wrong after being killed by Comstock but realising they still exist in different timelines.

The Lutece's send The Booker(our booker we know) that gave his child away to the future, but his memories are muddled and he thinks hes going "to get the girl to wipe his debt"..

In the end he realises this time line will keep happening as he will become comstock no matter what because this booker GAVE AWAY ELIZABETH. So he lets them drown him to end this timeline.

after the credits it is implied he wakes up to have anna/Elizabeth in the next room.. meaning a NEW COMSTOCK FREE timeline has begun because now he wont give her away and wont become comstock.

its all basically to do with Quantum Physics, mind blowing when you think about it all!

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I don't think this is true, he didn't have Anna/Elizabeth until AFTER his baptism –  Jeremy Walton Mar 28 '13 at 16:42
    
no he had her before, the whole reason he got baptised was because of all the bad things hed done, one of those being giving away elizabeth. After that baptism he became Comstock. And in other universes even if he doesnt get baptised as elizabeth says he will always become comstock and thats because he gave her away. There is a parallel timeline where he doesnt give elizabeth away.. and at the end of the game in dying the timeline where he gives her away is gone and thus he wont become comstock. –  user44733 Mar 29 '13 at 19:23
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That doesn't work, because otherwise he became Zachary Comstock because he gave his daughter away to Zachary Comstock. Plus, when you first see the baptism scene, he says it was 20 years ago. I don't think Elizabeth looks >20, though I'm not sure they mention her age. Additionally, he seems to remember the baptism, but NOT giving her away... you'd think if giving her away was the main motivation for the baptism, he'd remember it. Long story short: He did other awful things in his life, such as during the war, and that's some of the sin he's trying to wash aawy. –  Sterno Mar 30 '13 at 2:50

From what I understood, Comstock is Booker, Booker is Comstock, Comstock being Booker if he had been baptized in a different parallel universe. Comstock entered the universe you play in through a machine (shown in the cinematic where = Elizabeth/Anna's finger is cut off) that created a portal to that universe.

EDIT: Booker + baptism = Comstock = No Elizabeth/Anna

Booker - baptism = Booker = Elizabeth/Anna

Booker + Comstock + Portal Machine = Bioshock: Infinite

Basically Booker let himself get killed by Elizabeth/Anna to kill every Comstock.

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As I writed in other answer, looking at this ending without post-credit scene is not complete experiance.

This last moments make me think that DeWitt earns his redemption by killing all wrong/bad possibilities or maybe like a Siren he lives between death and living in his dream with Anna.

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He dies as a martyr to kill off all of the existing worlds where a Comstock and Booker are fighting each other. In the end, you realize that Anna/Elizabeth is a "time lord", she can control time, send you back to the present or the past. –  lumbricus lubricant Mar 28 '13 at 18:37
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So all those police boxes I saw throughout the game were tiny TARDISes? –  Sterno Mar 29 '13 at 14:15
    
I humble dissagre @Retrosaur. She don't have godlike powers if she had Elizabeth would rule the world/do whatever she wants –  iber Mar 29 '13 at 15:49
    
@Sterno IMO it was more like temporary teleport-copy-thing from other dimension ;) –  iber Mar 29 '13 at 15:51

what i got from it was that comstock was sterile after the baptism, and needed an heir, and as comstock is booker anna/elizabeth is a suitable heir. the reason that anna/elizabeth drowned booker was to prevent the future of comstock and booker therfor destroying all that has happened and preventing the wars, however there would still be a realm where he has decided that he wont be drowned and live on making booker and comstock again.

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