Alien: Covenant explained!88,247 Views46 RepliesAdd A Reply
I didn't write any of this, all credit goes to Prof. A from AVP- galaxy. I agree 100 percent!
I'm a new member so I apologize in advance if I make some mistakes regarding board/posting norms. I teach college level classes in Media Studies and have a background in Film/TV along with degrees in the aforementioned fields and the social sciences. Since Hollywood movies aren't always respected by those in higher learning, I thought I would feel more at home with fellow Alien fans rather than writing/discussing in other places.
Just saw Alien: Covenant last night. After viewing it, I was impressed with how everything is starting to connect with the entire Alien universe. This connection is occurring at both a plot and thematic/philosophical level. I was particularly stunned at how Scott was still able to thread the philosophical nature of Prometheus with pacing/horror of the original series - all in an attempt to assuage Prometheus' critics.
Let's look at some key elements:
David's name and birth - Why call Fassbender's android David? Many speculated that this follows the series' alphabetical android naming process. We have Ash (letter A) in Alien, Bishop in Aliens/Alien 3 (Letter B), and Call in Alien: Resurrection (letter C). Prometheus follows the pattern by giving the letter D it's due. However, Alien: Covenant breaks this pattern with Walter (letter W). Why?
We learn that David is named after the famous Michelangelo statue. This greatly changes the meaning of his name. The David statue is important on two levels:
1) it represents the Renaissance's physical representation of the ideal man. Just as David, the android, represents Weyland's "ideal" creation/son.
2) It foreshadows the critical importance of David's actions. The David statue is modeled after the Biblical character (religious themes like in Prometheus). David, the mere weakling, destroys the giant, more powerful Goliath. This parallels David's actions with both the death of the engineers (the Goliaths or giants) and his intent to kill mankind (the other Goliaths, his masters/creators). The unlikely android servant becomes a god just as the Biblical character becomes an unlikely victor.
The question is: was this the plan from the start? Was this Scott's plan with Prometheus? It all ties in. The name has nothing to do with an alphabetical nature (as evidenced by Walter) - David's name comes from a place of deeper meaning planted in Prometheus.
Ozymandias, Shelley, and Frankenstein
Along with the David statue, another major artistic reference is Percy Shelley's Ozymandias poem. The poem refers to the decline of a great civilization (Ancient Egypt). David recites a line from the poem when dropping the black ooze (or black oil from The X-Files if you prefer. So, David is destroying the empire of the engineers just as referenced in the poem. He is also intent on destroying the other declining civilization - mankind. He references this in his conversation with Walter stating something along the lines of "why are they leaving earth, looking for colonies - they are in decline and shouldn't be allowed to restart."
However, there is a multiple layer of deep meaning in the Ozymandias choice:
1) David mistakenly claims that the poem is written by Byron. This is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT - on a surface level, it shows that David is not programmed correctly, which explains his many violent actions.
On a deeper level, it highlights David's totally incongruous actions. Byron was actually an outspoken critic of "automation" - he claimed it would hurt mankind. Yet, David admires Byron (albeit erroneously) - just as he kills Shaw, yet clearly loves her. He is like a robotic Jekyll and Hyde. He serves Weyland, yet undermines him. He kisses Walter, yet tries to destroy him. He kisses Daniels, before he attempts to murder her.
2) Percy Shelley, author of Ozymandias, was married to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Frankenstein, of course, is about the horrors of creation, the horrors of Man playing God. This lines up thematically with the prequel series - when Man plays God (Weyland creates AI) horrible things happen.
What's important about the Shelley connection? Many claim that Percy may have co-written Frankenstein. Does anyone know what the original title of Frankenstein was - The Modern Prometheus
So again, the seeds of Covenant and its plot are thematically connected to Prometheus. To some extent, by giving the title Prometheus to the first prequel, we were destined to have the plot in Covenant - the engineers were never (thematically) going to make sense as creators of the Xenomorph. I know this may hurt the perceptions of some fans - but look at the threads - the prequel series is a futuristic Frankenstein or (Futuristic "Modern Prometheus").
It is mankind's actions (AI creation) that lead to the horrors. The Frankenstein monster (David) turns against its creator. Scott and crew just make the Frankenstein monster, David, become another creator in his act of revenge on mankind.
Who is Prometheus?
We all know the tale of Prometheus by now. So who is Prometheus? I will contend that Elizabeth Shaw is in fact "Prometheus" - it is why she is the lead of the first prequel and why she must be deceased in the second prequel.
Prometheus, a god (creator species), gives the power of making fire (ability to start civilization) to mankind (created species). For this action, Prometheus is chained eternally and tortured.
Elizabeth Shaw, a human (creator species) gives android David (created species) power by reattaching his head and granting him access to the Engineer ship(ability to start civilization/create life). For this action, Elizabeth Shaw is taxidermied/turned into a stuffed animal (chained eternally/tortured).
Conclusion (I know, finally)
So, all of the themes/references in Prometheus actually connect quite well in Covenant, despite the fact that the film feels more like an "Alien" movie. I'm impressed with how this was all done and wonder if this was planned all along or if they've been able to connect the dots as they go.
I've read some of the fan criticisms and respect the viewpoints. But from a thematic perspective, this was the direction they seemed to be heading in since Prometheus. Shaw was never going to be the lead for the entirety of the prequel series and David was always going to play the critical role in the creation story.
Now since the Xenomorph origin has been largely revealed and philosophical connections have been made, we are left with two major PLOT points moving forward:
1) How does the company learn about the Xenomorph and why/who wants it?
2) How does the original derelict/Space Jockey wind up in the condition of the original Alien?
Thanks VivisectedEngineer for bringing this to my attention :-)
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."
I am starting to come around to the shaw cloning idea. it would fit davids character and would explain the grave. david would never harm shaw. yet by experimenting on clones he has the genetic female components he requires without harming the real shaw. he wouldn't see anything wrong in this as this is not shaw.
a clone would also explain why there is a grave, which I would expect of david after the death of shaw, and what appears to be shaw lying dissected on davids table.
XD Yess!! The Shaw cloning idea is catching on!
Thanks for all the kind words guys! Again, I didn't write any of this stuff, but I thought it was worth sharing it!
It's hazy at times but It'll save some time looking it all up on google :)
Late to this thread but after realising these films have deeper meanings i looked online for answers...great to find some amazing minds online making some amazing observations! Ive made a few myself...
During covenant,the transmission the crew receives is surely of Shaw singing ‘country road take me home’...strange that a scientist of her intelligence transmits something so obscure instead of a cry for help. She sounds drugged...maybe a recording david makes during one of his cloning experiments while she is under anaesthetic to lure in passing ships. In the hololgram she is sat in the ships seat. Trying to figure out how to control the ship to return to earth without davids help? Maybe he already knows a ship is on its way to a nearby system. A ship full of colonisers waiting to be genetically engineered...Weyland secretly networking?
Davids quote ‘dont we all want to see our parents dead?’ After repeated rudeness from humans, even from weyland himself ‘bring me my tea’ when its right next to him in,says that humans created AI but created a monster in david by treating him differently,and this is mirrored in in the engineers contempt for humans. Karmas a *****!
As for prometheus...before reading previous comments it occured to me the engineers at military outpost were indeed that...military engineers working outside of general engineer public knowledge. They do not wear the robes of engineers in covenant,instead using helmets. Clearly a hint that they are pilots/military. To create and destroy. It seems they realised the potential of the alien they clearly created due to the mural...whether it was due to their idea of perfection or a realisation the alien breed can clinically destroy all other life ie. a weapon against rival engineer factions/humans etc. There are multiple structures it would seem housing multiple ships...each one on standy for destruction/creation of different planets/races they have been working on.
A quote from Covenant ... ‘they were giants. At least...statues of giants’. is this a hint at the military engineers being a fallen/outcast faction?
In covenant david says to walter ‘why sacrifice your hand for her life? Is that not love?’ He seems to be lonely, resenting weyland for his coldness and begging david to share his emotions.
There are references to the covenant captain being a religious man,some sort of jesus character? ‘Show us your faith captain’/‘gather my flock’ etc...any thoughts?
Pretty sure i havent added much to some mind bending observations made on these feeds already but i had to try!
Welcome to the forums Tech89, you are absolutely right with your observations. It's hard to say if the Engineers on LV-223 were outcasts of the society seen on Paradise. They could have also been the creators of those Engineers for all we know! It's difficult to say, but the religious undertones and insinuations are unmistakable.
I think we've only barely scratched the surface of some of the deeper meanings and clues presented in both of these films. But, that's what makes this place so much fun. Haha
Best explanation i've seen!
Oh the dramatic irony!
I kind of agree... its more of a PLOT set-up than a Twist, it is a Plot Device... now some may see it as a Twist... but to some it was obvious.
This is in regards to the "Oh the dramatic irony!"
Regarding the OT!.... i missed this Post, and so i will come back to this and give my Two Cents... as there seems a lot of interesting things brought up.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
To be completely honest, i didn't know What was the meaning of dramatic irony. When i watched the movie in a 4dx theater i was kind of surprised when evil Walter was on the ship helping Daniels and Tennesse against the protomorph. People underestimate the genius of Ridley Scott. He produced an excellent movie, "Morgan". I have a showcase intitled "Ridley Scott Universe" with all the alien movies, different versions of the movies, Blade Runner movies, Predator movies, alien vs predators movies and This One, "Morgan" (i also have the books and the the Empire, wired and sfx magazines with This movies on the front cover). Morgan- It's an attempt to build from the scratch in a lab a human being, perfected by using the knowledge of the human genoma . There are two streams of evolution allowed by the advances on technology, the molecular and the robotic. Morgan is a project in a molecular level, using advanced tech. The models evolve, competing against each other and completing missions. It's like they were building human replicants.
Sorry, I have to say that this professor makes some very thin and comparisons, maybe because the movie makers also do.
David from the Bible is a great figure because he defends the chosen people from a great threat, namely the Philistine army with its strongest warrior Goliath the Giant. However in AC, David exterminates some space giant hippies and turns against stupid humans, neither of which threatening him directly.
And the Prometheus - Shaw thing is way of. For one, Prometheus was a trickster Titan (akin to Loki), who incited humans to mock the gods with fake offerings. After that he stole the fire and only then he was chained to the rock. But the thing is Zeus is the one who sends Hercules to free him so he does not die there. Shaw was the only one respectful to the god, kneeling before him,etc (OK, he killed him in self defense). Yes she stole the ship (fire), but she is not punished by the gods and furthermore she dies as opposed to Prometheus who is set free. I think she could be better compared to Christ (the passion scene after the Cesarean, the resurrection of the evil robot, etc)
There could be multiple reasons for WHY we have David given that name, Originally it may have had something to do with the Alphabetical Naming, but also fitting that David fits with the Religious Elements of Prometheus. A lot of things are not explained and are ambiguous and so we can have Multiple Reasons.. One Example is WHY go to W for Walter? It could be just as much a Nod to David Giler and Walter Hill
I think for me to discus these in depth would take up too much time, i can agree to some degree with what the Prof A had said, the Room with David and Weyland was full of Creations, and Art-work is one form of Creation... There is likely some Biblical Connection to the chosen of David as far as Fleshing Out his Background for Alien Covenant. But we have to remember maybe NOT trying to connect everything too Literal, so connections could be loose and NOT a carbon copy of King David and so we cant attribute everything between Biblical David and the Android David as having to be a exact Literal Connection.
I think the same applies for when we try and connect the Prometheus Myth... it could be something that does not have to be a Exact Carbon Copy of the Prometheus Events and it does-not have to apply to Dr Shaw... i think it likely has Multiple Layers of how this is loosely applied.
The Jesus comments is something take too literal too as a example.... but trying to connect a Engineer to a Literal Christ will no doubt prove a Folly... all connections i think should be taken as loose and ambiguous as NONE are really Spelled out so there is not second guesses or interpretations.
I think we also need remember Dr Shaw was on here knees because she had taken a Blow to the Ribs... David was respectful to the Engineers, he seemed to really appreciate what they had done, and mistakenly thought the Engineers would Appreciate him.... HOW wrong was he...
The Prequels have been something were ideas are constantly changed... it is HIGHLY likely that at the inception of the concept (began with Jon Spaights and Ridley Scott) that a number of the things we was shown in Alien Covenant would not have been as intended back in 2010. The best example being the Derelict and Cargo and HOW/WHEN those Eggs came to be on the Derelict which at this time it was likely to had been a Long Time and Certainly NOT a Creation of Davids.
IF we got a sequel you can bet a number of things planned as in 2017 would no doubt change as things progress.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
"Now since the Xenomorph origin has been largely revealed and philosophical connections have been made, we are left with two major PLOT points moving forward:
1) How does the company learn about the Xenomorph and why/who wants it?
2) How does the original derelict/Space Jockey wind up in the condition of the original Alien?"
How these things would have been explained prior to Alien Covenant could be a little different... but i think this is IRRELEVANT a little now... we have to look at them considering Alien Covenant and not just Prometheus alone.
1) This is likely as the result of the Advent Message to the Company, at some point Davids Creations will end up on the Derelict... Assuming they continue with the David Creator Plot... at the Climax of the Prequels it would be likely that Davids experiments are all LOST and the only remains of them are on the Derelict. The company likely discovers that this is the location of Davids Xenomorphs from events that lead to WHEN those Eggs get on the Ship.
Even if the PLOT gets changed to show us Davids Xenomorphs are NOT those on the Derelict, it will likely have to END with Davids Xenomorphs being LOST but the company was interested and then discover that actually there are similar already on LV-426.
2) This is likely going to be a OVERSIGHT with maybe No Explanation. From Inception of the Idea, the Ship was intended to be Very Similar. There could be a number of reasons WHY the Ships in Prometheus became different, one MAJOR change in the C Shape from U Shape was for the purpose of the Juggernaught Crash/Roll Sequence which would look odd if the ship was the Derelicts U shape, so a C Shape would roll better.
As of Prometheus we had RS confirm the Juggernaught and Derelict are related, they are similar and they differ by a Few Hundred years... so its kind of like RS saying that ONE is a Newer Model and so some Aesthetics are different.
The Engineers will return in the next movie, and it meant that this was likely the Source of the Derelict, if it was not then the Source would likely be from LV-223.
IF we got the Prequels Finished would we have been shown a Engineer Ship thats more like the U-Shape Derelict and has more of a Bio-Mechanical Aesthetic compared to the more Mechanical Juggernauts?
We may never know... it could be we would have to accept they are intended to be the SAME... the Degraded Condition of the Ship and Pilot would likely have NO explanation.
Or maybe they could have come up with explanations to why the Shape/Size and % of Mechanical/Organic look of the ships are different... or maybe NOT..
For now all we can do is try and explain it ourselves with ideas/interpretations or just accept it could be a OVERSIGHT.
We may NEVER know or get a exact explanation for it.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
Having some things unexplained is fine to me because that gives us things to discuss. It would be boring if they would answer everything. To me it is kind of interesting to think about what might be the differences between the Derelict and the Juggernaut for example.
As far as answering things or not there are so many small details in movies like that so some things might not get answered. You will never satisfy everyone because X might wants answer to A and Y wants an answer to Z. You got to choose what to reveal.
Alien Covenant movie construction time lapse.
I still can't believe they rebuilt the Space Jockey set. Such a small little scene..could have built it digitally. Maybe they stored it and are going to use it for Covenant 2?
I think we have to Remember that RS is Hands On, he likes using SETS and not CGI, it also helps the Actors on Set so they can get a Picture of what is around them, rather than to Imagine it.
I would assume IF the Movie had the Green Light for 1-2 Sequels to be made 3-5 years after, then YES they would KEEP the SET.... but with the Take Over and Disappointment putting the Franchise in LIMBO.
Then chances are the SET could be taken down and Sold/Scraped.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017