BioShock – Confronting Andrew Ryan
It’s one of the moments that defined the first BioShock: the haunting pre-mortem soliloquy of Andrew Ryan.
Here was a man who so despised Altruism – he believed every man was “entitled to the sweat of his own brow” – that he rejected the social hierarchies of sea-level civilization to construct his own metropolis, Rapture, leagues-deep in the middle of the Atlantic. He convinced society’s finest minds – doctors, scientists, entrepreneurial geniuses – to join him, and together they forged a thriving cultural mecca. At least, that’s how it began.
This Utopian ambition is introduced to us in an opening monologue that’s spectacular on its own – but even more powerful is our first/final live encounter with Ryan, after his dream has crumbled into pieces. It is at this moment when we witness his life’s cruel irony: a man of such Altruism animus, initiating his own death when it will only save others – Jack; Dr. Tenenbaum; the Little Sisters, if they’re alive – hollow objects of welfare, now, with his real love, the fruit of his labor, spoiling into decay.
But the speech isn’t memorable for its deadly swings of fate (if of golf clubs). In the end, we look back on Andrew Ryan’s death the way we do his life. In the end, he chose; a man, not a slave.