In which we walk past war crimes, have a shoot-out with another president and encounter a frightening historical reference.
Aboard the airship we try to talk to Elisabeth. She is… not in the mood. Se we take the helm, set a course and watch the show.
Elisabeth comes back with her hair cut off with the same scissors she killed Fitzroy with, Songbird showed up and crashed the ship, and once again we didn’t leave this damn city. As a bonus we get some character arc.
We meet once again the strange couple, this time playing the piano and terrifying Elisabeth in the process as they try to figure out the melody to call songbird. But we’re not to worry, as you need both the tune and the instrument to control him – and if you have both, you can make him do anything you want.
They also suggest we go to the maestro himself, Comstock, to learn more about this.
Over the next part of the game we also learn some things about these two and the city. Elisabeth remarks recognizing her as Rosalind Lutece, the physicist who made Columbia fly. By fixing quantum particles at a fixed height. Dear designer, slapping “quantum” on a concept doesn’t lead to it making sense. It really does not. Please stop doing this. We also learn that Rosalind managed to open a communication channel to another part of the multiverse, getting in contact with her “brother” Robert and ultimately getting him through the barrier. Seems he was confused due to conflicting memories, but Rosalind was determined to make him sane again. Looks like it worked. I’m sensing a huge brainfuck in our future.
They also state that they cooperate(d) with Comstock, but what he dubbed “prophecies” they call “probabilities”.
On our way to the Comstock residence we pass a bunch of refugees fleeing the oncoming assault of the Vox Populi. We can’t do anything here (we could probably start shooting everybody, but we cannot do anything to help), and the crying lady who can’t summon the courage to jump aboard the police cruiser is outright creepy. We have good voicework here, but the avatar does not and cannot match this. The whole situation seems slightly off. I should have taken a screenshot, but I haven’t and I guess that it works better on a single picture than in an animated scene.
We move on, learning more about the relationship between Elisabeth and Songbird, who started out as her only friend and ended up being the hated jailer, and encounter the question why Comstock locked Elisabeth up. I remember a voicelog from Lady Comstock where she says that she didn’t want to have Comstock’s bastard child around, but the reasoning given here goes down another road.
We continue shooting our way past the Vox troops, encountering the first MECHA-LINCOLN on the way. I personally like Mecha-Washington better: the gatling gun really suits him better than Lincoln.
We also encounter the first war crimes made by the Vox. And I don’t mean “excessive, gruesome use of force” here, I actually mean “war crimes”. Scalping Comstock’s elite and nailing their hair on a board? Let’s do this. We’re an angry mob finally fighting years and years of oppression, so this is totally justified.
Executing (presumably) unarmed civilians? They’re upper class, so they’re the enemy, so sure.
Those people are most likely refugees who got surprised by the attack of the Vox. And by what the game is showing us here, the Vox are not just as bad as Comstock ever was, they’re worse. And that’s quite a feat.
But wait, there’s more: We encounter the radio announcer once again, asking for help. A short time later we hear a Vox announcer, calling out to the troops to “kill every enemy, everyone armed or wearing glasses, and round up the rest” (emphasis mine). This is a reference to the Khmer Rouge, and it’s too obvious to be a coincidence. The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During their rule they tried to build a fully self-sustaining country, a purely agrarian state, killing around 1M7 to 2M2 people. One of their policies was the elimination of every intellectual, and a sufficient condition for “being an intellectual” was “is wearing glasses”. Read the above-linked wp-article. THIS is the level of madness the designers place the Vox Populi in. And that’s an awful lot of madness. It’s another part of the game where I deeply respect the designers for having gone through with this.
At the end of this section we encounter the only combination lock in the game (0451, of course) and have another run in with Songbird. Elisabeth wants us to promise to kill her should he ever catch us for good – Booker avoids giving a straight answer to this request.
We take the elevator downwards and see…
…the Vox tearing apart the city and red flags flying.
The shooting continues in part 9.