*Spoiler Warning* from the start this article contains spoilers to both the ending of Bioshock Infinite and Burial at Sea Episode 1.
The ending to the first part of Bioshock Infinite’s Burial At Sea DLC was unexpected, brilliant and bound to cause some understandable confusion amongst the people playing the game. At the end of Bioshock Infinite we saw Booker De Witt allow multiple Elizabeth’s to kill him in order to prevent Comstock’s “birth” and by extension Columbia and all that came with it from ever occurring in the first place, so how Burial At Sea put the player in the shoes of one of the many Comstocks from across the Bioshock multiverse? Surely he shouldn’t even exist right? Well yes and no.
I’ve already read one theory which states that this version of Comstock managed to somehow escape the effects of the first game, and that Elizabeth’s presence in the game is to perform a sort of cosmic clean up and remove the last traces of Comstock from the multiverse.
My theory however is different. I believe that this version of Comstock (who will be called Comstock(BAS) for the sake of clarity) did not manage to escape the effects the main game, and he was erased from existence with all the other Comstocks, it just hasn’t happened yet.
I know it must seem stupid that I have said that an event that has already occurred to a set of characters “hasn’t happened yet” when by talking about it in the past tense I am indicating that it has, the problem in my mind comes from trying to take a strictly linear view of Bioshock Infinite’s story.
Think back to the main game, at the very end all of the events in the game were erased from existence, yet the player, through the eyes of the main character did perceive them, we saw the key events that led up to them and through meeting the aged version of Elizabeth the player learned what one of the future’s held for main character Elizabeth. Even if in the timeline of the games the events depicted in Infinite didn’t take place at one point they did.
One of the most important parts of fiction is convincing your audience that they are looking at only one small fragment of a larger world, that these characters have full lives of which we only get to see a glimpse.
If you keep that in mind it suddenly becomes much easier to accept that the story of Burial At Sea and Comstock (BAS) take place after events that make their very existence in the world of Bioshock impossible. We, the players are not getting a look at what occurred after the events of Bioshock Infinite but at another set of circumstances that the ending of Bioshock Infinite erased.
The reason that, as a Bioshock fan I am fond of this theory is that it means that the worlds of Columbia and all the characters contained within are still open to be explored without contradicting the end of Bioshock Infinite, it will be possible for Ken Levine and the other people behind Bisohock to explore new possibilities within the worlds they have created so far without the need to try and find a work around the end of Bioshock Infinite to make it possible for such stories to happen.